US Secret Service court documents reveal new tactics in antivirus renewal phishing scam

A bank card skewered on the end of a fishhook in front of a white computer keyboard.
(Image credit: Getty Images / Peter Dazeley)

New documents submitted by the US Secret Service as part of a recent seizure warrant have revealed an all-new form of phishing scam techniques centered around antivirus renewal.

In this instance, a scammer stole $34,000 after emailing the victim stating that there was an auto-renewal of $349.95 on their account that would be charged unless cancelled.

The victim then called the scammers to do so, and was told to provide remote access to their laptop in order to ensure the refund went through.

 Executed Warrant 

The warrant, submitted by Special Agent Jollif of the United States Secret Service, hopes to return the $34,000 to the victim as the funds are currently suspended in a JP Morgan Chase suspense account due to the detection of a potentially fraudulent transaction.

The scammer, identified as “Bingsong Zhou” in the warrant application, tricked their victim into installing remote access software which Zhou then used to transfer the funds from the victims savings account into their own while disguising their actions under an overlaid bluescreen.

Jollif stated in the document that while tactics like this have existed for several years, they are seeing increasing use. In the document, Jollif states, “Criminals are posing as legitimate representatives of real companies and, through a series of impersonations, are negotiating the transfer of funds via wire transfers from a victim bank account to an account controlled by the criminal.

“Once the criminal receives the fraudulently obtained funds, it is common practice to move the funds rapidly between accounts to prevent law enforcement detection.”

Via BleepingComputer

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.