Internet Scams and Safety

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from: Longevity Explorers | Providence

Discussion Summary

Talk, by Captain John Alfred, RI State Police, June 28, 2018.

Captain Alfred directs the cyber crimes and the state fusion units with the Rhode Island State Police. He also oversees a joint cyber task force that in 2009 was the first state-wide public/private partnership of cyber professionals in the US. Captain Alfred’s unit covers child exploitation cases, computer forensics, and helping the public become more aware of phishing expeditions and scams of various sorts.


Seniors and Cybercrime

Older people, according to Alfred (and scammers), are more trusting. We were raised in a time when one’s word meant something. Scammers target people over the age of 65 because they are more likely to be at home and are more credulous and sometimes gullible. Scammers research their targets (us) by gathering personal data available on the internet. We need to become sufficiently proficient in computer and smart phones use to understand how to avoid frauds and scams and attempts to exploit us. Some cynicism is warranted.

Rhode Island is working with three other states to make the 211 network (United Way) network and with trained operators available to receive complaints of cyber crime. Even so there is a low rate of reporting, and since scammers often operate from outside the United States, issues of jurisdiction make prosecution difficult.


Advice from Captain Alfred about Specific Scams

The most prevalent scams work because scammers can phish and gain background information about people. Phishing e-mails go out at a rate of about one million an hour, Captain Alfred said.

The IRS scam. The IRS will never call or e-mail you asking for money or threaten that someone is going to come to arrest you for back taxes

The grandparent scam. If contacted by an alleged grandchild in trouble, don’t send money. Authenticate; ask a question the answer to which only your grandchild could know and tell someone about the attempted scam

You’ve won the lottery. A hoax; with a real lottery, you have the ticket; you are the only one who knows if you’ve won. “Nobody in the world has given you money except your parents.”

Medicare Medicare cards are free so ignore those e-mails trying to get you to buy one

Phony sites. Search engines may direct you to an inauthentic site that looks like the real, trustworthy one. Inauthentic sites have existed for Fed Ex, Amazon, Apple support and other major retailers

The tech support scam, offering to fix your infected technical device. Tech support is not going to call you for no reason

Worthy cause scams. Be careful with making donations, even to good causes, on line. Be particularly careful about setting up automatic, recurring payments.

Romance scams. These are almost never reported. They begin with what seems to be an promising internet relationship. Some turn into requests for money; some turn into scamming someone into becoming a “mule,” unwittingly transporting stolen goods or drugs








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