Bulgarian Police Report Boom in Phishing Attacks, Rock Star among Victims

Society | March 11, 2021, Thursday // 10:40|  views

There’s a boom in bank card scams after internet purchases in Bulgaria. This is what dozens of Nova TV viewers report. Among the victims is rock singer Milena Slavova. Why did her bank account was emptied of over 700 euros? And how does the latest cybercriminals’ scheme work? Cybersecurity expert Georgi Georgiev, guest of the On Your Side show answers.

In just one day, the General Directorate for Organized Crime Combat received 70 reports of fraud on the Internet, as there are thousands of defrauded victims so far.  Under the latest scheme, to pretend to be legitimate, fraudsters use the name and logo of a courier company.

This time the targets are not buyers, but sellers who have posted sale ads for various goods. To be paid for the order, they are referred to fake payment pages that imitate the website of courier companies. Instead of getting their money, however, their bank accounts were emptied. A month ago, the singer Milena Slavova discovered that her bank account was skimmed.

"One morning I saw that I was out  EUR 29 from the card," she said.

After a quick review of the transactions, she realizes that the missing amount is not a one-time withdrawal, but someone did it every month. "Hidden" fees, it turns out, begin to pile up after a purchase from a foreign site. Upon registration, the singer enters a name as well as card information to pay automatically when ordering on the platform.

She was unaware, however, that her personal data activates a monthly subscription to a completely unknown site.

 "So, for two years every 5th of the month I have been out EUR 29," Milena said.

In two years more than 700 euros has been withdrawn from her card. Milena sought assistance from the bank and they blocked her card right away.

"In order to get a recoup, I had to hire a lawyer. The bank told me they could only give the money back to me if no more than 45 days had passed but by the moment it was two years. And after a few meetings with people from the bank they promised to recoup the money," the singer said.

Milena claims that several of her friends also suffered from a similar scam after purchasing something on the internet. For the singer this not the first case of fraud. Ten years ago when she lived in England, her account was emptied of£9,000.

The scheme is a classic example of phishing, in which hackers collect personal and bank data when you are purchasing from unverified online stores, reveals cybersecurity expert Georgi Dimitrov. In order not to let you find out about the "hidden" subscription fees, cybercriminals usually withdraw small amounts, but do it often.

"Very often a person does not feel the differences in the trnsactions on his accounts, because if the subscription is 1-2 euros per month, we will not find it out", explained Dimitrov.

The Interior Ministry also reports a boom in internet fraud attempts during the pandemic.  Hackers empty users' accounts using five schemes, and most often it is phishing attacks, experts reveal.

The plots and scenarios are different, but the ultimate goal is always one – to cheat victims out of their bank info. In recent days, hundreds of users have been attacked under a new scheme. This time, hackers‘ targets are not buyers, but sellers posting ads on free advertizing platforms.




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Tags: Bulgaria, internet scams, victims


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