Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Scams advertising fake ChatGPT and AI flood Facebook; can contain malware

 FTC announces major collective effort against telemarketing scams

  • Over 100 state and federal enforcement actions; including criminal cases; includes five new FTC cases
  • One against Fluent filed by DOJ involves tricking people into consenting to receive calls, including robocalls; settles for $2.5 million
  • Another FTC complaint alleges California company tricked job seekers into “agreeing” to get robocalls
  • Third FTC settlement with Florida company that made illegal robocalls; 1.4 billion calls made
  • Fourth with Arizona AG ; settlement over robocalls trying to sell solar panels
  • Fifth FTC complaint against Florida company that helped overseas robocallers pretending to be Amazon
  • Here is a list of all cases in this effort
 India: Police bust call center targeting Canadians  and asking them to pay for nonexistent online purchases; 23 arrested

Europol issues threat assessment finding that Cybercrime is big businessreport itself here

Podcast by Int’l Ass’n of Financial Investigators on pet scams featuring Steve Baker

Does consumer consumer education about fraud work, and do we know if it is effective? By Anthony Pratkanis

Along with law enforcement and policy interventions, consumer education is one of the primary ways to prevent fraud crimes.  Fraud fighters create a steady stream of warnings, fliers, handouts, videos, mailers, web pages, and seminars.  If we are honest, we really don’t know if these interventions are working. More research in this area would be really helpful.

Considerable research finds that information campaigns are generally ineffective.  As Elliot Aronson and I describe in Age of Propaganda, information campaigns fail because it is difficult to break through a message-dense environment and recipients often find information uninteresting and telling them something they may not want to hear.  Education about fraud faces additional obstacles:  the target may have an illusion of invulnerability, be in a rationalize trap, is experiencing warning fatigue, and may perceive the prevention measures as too difficult to implement.  In addition, the con criminal is morphing and changing the scam, and, most importantly, con grifters’ mimicry is purposefully difficult to detect.

For the researcher, the challenge is developing research paradigms that provide efficient, timely evaluations of fraud prevention messages to accumulate knowledge of what works.  This requires being able to “trap the dependent variable” of victimization, which can be difficult to measure in the wild especially using self-reports. I developed the sting methodology (discussed in response to Myth #8) to address this issue.  Other potentially fruitful approaches include the development of proxy, intervening, and mediational measures.

Another valuable source for consumer education is the science of social influence (which I used to develop an investment seminar that reduced victimization by 50%) and fields such as social marketing, public health, drug and tobacco prevention, risk warnings, and public communication.  The knowledge base of these fields can provide guidance on creating and testing effective social influence campaigns to prevent fraud.  

Editors Note:  My best judgment is that generalized advice such as “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is worthless, and providing education with no context on how common a scam is little better.  A piece that provides a few details on how a scam works, somewhat like the detail to explain a magic trick, is far more effective.  But we could all benefit from more research on what works – and what does not.

Fraud Studies: Here are links to the studies I’ve written for the Better Business Bureau: puppy fraudromance fraud; BEC fraudsweepstakes/lottery fraud,  tech support fraudromance fraud money mulescrooked movers, government impostersonline vehicle sale scamsrental fraud, gift cards,  free trial offer frauds,  job scams,  online shopping fraud,  fake check fraudand crypto scams
Want to see Taylor Swift? BBB warns that it got 21,000 complaints about ticket fraud last year, a big increase.   Be VERY careful about where you buy tickets
Fraud News Around the worldHumor                                                                               FTC and CFPB  Virus Benefit Theft Social mediaBusiness Email compromise fraud RansomwareData Breaches Bitcoin and cryptocurrencyJamaica and Lottery FraudRomance Fraud and Sextortion