(Courtesy of Symantec)

With prices rising out-of-control and foreclosure signs being used to market real estate, one might think that scam artists and other less than ethical people would lay off for awhile. Think again, they are out in force and coming up with devious methods to make bad situations, worse.

I follow Symantec’s spam report on a monthly basis. If you want to get an idea of what fraud campaigns are being run by cyber criminals, or what new twists to old scams are surfacing – it’s a great place to get an overview.

Interestingly enough, the report starts with a comparison of e-mail spam to the lunch meat it is named after:

The harsh economic times can be witnessed from every angle, with the rise not only in email spam, but also the sales of the actual lunchmeat product, Spam. According to NBC’s Brian Williams, the spike in Spam sales is a huge economic indicator of the times, and families trying to do more with less. The exact same could be said for email spam. With spam messages accounting for over 80% of email in May 2008, the economic slowdown and its effects are definitely being targeted by spammers – preying on the hardships of people not only in the United States, but Worldwide.

In the past month, the economic stimilus program and the disasters in China and Myanmar have clogged inboxes with come-ons designed to trick people out of their money, or even worse (if a little malware is dropped) all the personal and financial information off their computer.

The report also highlights a campaign in China, offering fake invoices to avoid paying taxes.

Also noted was a scam to sell tickets to the Championship League Final, which was the biggest football (soccer) event in recent times:

The biggest football game in the European football calendar took place on May 21, 2008 in Moscow. Tickets were in big demand all over Europe for this event, and spammers certainly took notice.

Under the guise of a travel agency, the spammer offered the recipient “a unique opportunity” to acquire tickets for the game. The prospective customer was asked to click on a link to purchase the tickets and provide personal details. The recipient was then instructed to go to a legitimate online payment site to complete the transaction.

When the recipient paid for the tickets using the legitimate online payment site, the spammer requested that they email their name, surname and the unique online payment voucher number to the spammer in order to receive the tickets. The legitimate online payment website for the Champions League Final clearly states that the unique voucher number should never be emailed and only used on secure websites that accept their payments.

Please note that ticket scams are nothing new and the more popular the event is, the more likely spammers (scammers) are going to try to dupe people out of their money in the hopes of securing a ticket.

The June report highlights how spam has become a problem that has become International in nature!

Full June report from Symantec can be accessed, here.

Previous posts I’ve done on the monthly Spam Report can be seen, here.

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