Child Predator Email Scam

Fake email warnings about a child predator being in the neighborhood are the latest methods scammers are using to steal personal identity information, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  These “community safety” alerts are designed to look official.

The subject line of a typical scam email states “Alert: A child-predator just moved into your neighborhood. Alert #123107756”. The email claims to be a notification that is automatically generated and is being sent based on the recipient’s computer IP address as well as zip code. Included in the message is a link to click that will provide the reader with more information about the predator.

Clicking on the link takes the user to a series of redirected site.  The first linked site infects the computer.  The other successive link simply distract the user who eventually lands on the website for a BBB Accredited Business located in Santa Barbara, Calif., that sells localized reports on sex offenders.

“This Accredited Business is being used by the ID thieves as a way to lend credibility to their email and distract from the actual scam,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The first click of the scam email does the damage with malware that will attempt to search for stored information such as user names, passwords and credit card numbers.”

A general rule of thumb is to never click on links in unsolicited emails. For more information use the browser to search for the business.

Here are tips on how to spot an email scam:

  • Check out the “From” field: Scammers can mask email addresses, making them appear to come from legitimate sources. Look out for email addresses that don’t match the brand used in the email message.
  • Typos and grammar – Brand logos and email formats can easily be copied, but bad grammar and poor writing typically indicate that the message is a scam.
  • Check URL’s – Hover over URL’s to determine their real destination. Usually, the hyperlink text will say one thing and the link will point somewhere else.
  • Personalized emails – Scams often pretend to be personalized, but they are actually blast emails. If the receiver never signed up for custom email alerts, the person should not be receiving them.