Cybercriminals prey on the unemployed

Monday - 4/12/2010, 8:45am EDT

Cybersecurity Update - Tune in weekdays at 30 minutes past the hour for the latest cybersecurity news on The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Jane Norris (6-10 a.m.) and The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris (3-7 p.m.). Listen live at FederalNewsRadio.com or on the radio at 1500 and 820 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

  • Cybercrime is being used more and more to pay for.... cybercrime. The Wall Street Journal reports federal law enforcement has started to track increasingly common scams called "mule operations." US job seekers are "hired" to buy things like expensive electronics, and ship the goods overseas, where scam operators sell them. In the end, the job applicants end up with neither a job nor a paycheck. A federal law-enforcement official said authorities have seen these types of fraudulent transactions fueling other cybercrime operations.

  • Tax day now holds new risks for on-line filers. Fake IRS websites are flooding inboxes with spam and slick promotions for overnight tax-preparation services and instant refunds. The sites are turning up in Google search results and Twitter micro-blog postings as well. The IRS and tech security experts say consumers should be wary. The Web is littered with scams to get users to divulge sensitive information, like your Social Security number and online account logons. The data are then used in identity theft scams. Some ask for money in advance to realize a larger gain. And some cybergangs are using tax-related ruses to silently take over full control of your PC. The bad guys can use infected workplace PCs to probe deeper into company networks. The IRS offers extensive guidance at www.irs.gov on how to avoid being scammed. One big tip: Ignore any e-mail that purports to come from the IRS, no matter how official-looking. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers.