Wrong Number: Phone Scammers Run Off With Millions by Impersonating Chinese Consulate Staff

Remember prank calls? We all used to make them as kids as a way to fake out friends and classmates. The age-old tradition isn’t just exclusive to teens, however, as cybercriminals still use the tactic modern day. Only their intentions are a bit more malicious than your average middle schooler. In fact, just this week, phone scammers pretending to be from a Chinese Consulate office are tricking people in the U.S. into giving them large amounts of money.

First reported to The Verge, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it believes scammers are targeting people who have recently immigrated from China to the U.S. and have been asking these people to pick up packages or provide personal data to the “consulate staff.” Conveniently enough, this data is largely financial information. Unfortunately, the scam has seen some success, as the New York Police Department has reported that 21 Chinese immigrants have been scammed out of $2.5 million since December 21st, 2017. The majority of these victims are seniors.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of phone scammers taking advantage of innocent people – as many out there have fallen victim to easily believable social engineering schemes such as this. Therefore, in order to avoid tricky scams like this one, be sure to follow these tips: 

  • Don’t give up your financial data to anyone other than your bank. If you receive a phone call from either a person or a recording requesting this data, remain skeptical and hang up. Then, call your official bank directly and check with them if there’s an issue you need to discuss.
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest social engineering scams. It’s important you stay in the loop so you know what scams to look out for. This means reading up the latest security news and knowing what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to random emails, phone calls, and text messages.
  • Reduce your exposure. Register your mobile phone number, as well as your home phone, on the “do not call” registry to keep your number uninvolved in the latest social engineering scheme.
  • Use an identity theft protection solution. If for some reason a scammer does compromise your personal information, it’s important to get prepared about protecting yourself against identity theft. McAfee Identity Theft Protection allows users to take a proactive approach to protecting their identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep their identities personal and secured.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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