This can apply to photos sent via email or ones downloaded from social media or photo-sharing websites, even Google Drive (Docs).
There is a constant increase in cybercriminals who use online photo-sharing programs and email attachments to engage in scams and harm victims’ computers.
One common ploy is that these criminals use advertising of anything from vehicles online but will not provide pictures in the advertisement. They will send photos on request.
Sometimes the photo is a single file sent as an e-mail attachment, and sometimes the victim receives a link to an online photo gallery.
The photos can/often contain malicious software that infects the victims’ computers, directing them to fake websites that look nearly identical to the real site where they originally saw the advertisement. The cybercriminals run all aspects of these fake websites, including tech support or live chat support, and any “recommended” related services. In the case of car-buying scams – after the victim agrees to purchase the item and makes the payment, the criminals stop responding to correspondence. The victims never receive any merchandise.
Always protect yourself when shopping online
Here are a few tips for staying safe:
- Be cautious if you are on an auction site and lose an auction and the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through.
- Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. Use only well-known escrow services.
- Research to determine if a car dealership is real and how long it has been in business.
- Be wary if the price for the item you’d like to buy is severely undervalued; if it is, the item is likely fraudulent.
- Scan files before downloading them to your computer.
- Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches.
- Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current – they can help prevent malware infections.
It is not always possible to scan a file before you download it. The key is DON’T OPEN IT, CLICK ON IT, OR RUN IT UNTIL IT IS SCANNED!
If you receive photos in an email in a ZIP file. Save the zip file then run a security / anti-virus scan on the file before opening it!