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News

Florida used car scam could spread further

AdaptiveMobile : 23 July, 2013  (Technical Article)
APT for mobile platforms exploits sellers of old cars in attack focused on Florida but with potential to spread widely
Florida used car scam could spread further

AdaptiveMobile is announcing the release of a new Advanced Persistent Threat which may soon be coming to Europe. According to AdaptiveMobile’s Ongoing Threat Analysis, mobile spammers and cyber criminals are now using highly sophisticated and cross-channel methods for conducting attacks. For example, in the 786 area code in Florida, 18% of the population sits below the poverty line and AdaptiveMobile has seen these people hit significantly by unsolicited spam promising to buy junk cars in English and Spanish for $450 - $500. These threats may soon be coming across to the UK and wider continental Europe.

“This is a highly advanced scam using technological, economic and geopolitical insight,” says Ciaran Bradley, VP Handset Security at AdaptiveMobile. “Not only are vulnerable groups more likely to be hit by this scam, but it may also from a lucrative business plan: according to Lonely Planet, junk cars are extremely easy to buy in Northern America, but hard to pick up in Central America in countries such as Guatemala, for example, making the shipping of them very profitable.”

This attack forms part of a new wave of spam and malware using personalised data combined with a spam offer to make the offer seem more bespoke. For example, in the USA, subscribers’ names, gender, ethnicity, full address, cell phone number and provider is all available for a small fee. Spammers can gain as many as 47,000 contact details for as little as $199 and similar arrangements are in place in the UK via background checks and public electoral role records, for example.

“Spammers are smart, motivated and understand geo-political trends,” continued Bradley. “They are starting to capitalise on these intra- and inter-country differences, use this as a revenue generator and I strongly suspect that we will see similar trends across the UK in the near future. Although some of these campaigns will be tied to genuine business ideas, many more will be fraudulent – and most of the texts are unsolicited and unwanted. If the SMS channel is to be kept clean and well-respected, operators and consumers should be very wary – if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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