Saturday, December 22, 2012

The "Legal Threat" Scam

Image representing RIAA, Recording Industry As...
Image via CrunchBase
One of the latest ways to scam people is to pretend to threaten them with legal action... unless they pay up.

Basically, any sort of big news that involves government or lawsuit may be mentioned a scam.

One example: you got a robocall that claims the government tracked your visit to the Wikileaks site, which leaked a lot of US government diplomatic messages and caused some severe embarrassment. And now US government is going to take action against you... You may want to pay a fine and make them go away.

Except US government had taken NO such action.

But wait, there's more!

Another example: you get email that claims to be RIAA or MIAA that they detected you pirating movies or music, and unless you pay up right away they're going to sue you for tens of thousands of dollars.

While RIAA and MIAA have taken action against some individuals, this is done via real lawyers and real lawyer letters, not random emails and robo-calls.

Another variation on this is recent ransomware, where a virus encrypts your media files (pictures, movies, MP3 music) claims they were pirated and you need to pay them a fee to unlock them.

These all operate on fear and confusion. Remember, be a skeptic: trust, but VERIFY.

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