Dozens of Deceptive Websites Created to Attract Military Community, Report Says

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A page from a website that mimicked those of military organizations was one of many created by crooks seeking to dupe the military community, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Lookout, Inc. (Lookout, Inc.)

Crooks targeting the military community have created a network of 50 websites that aim to steal personal information or advertise treatment packages and phone cards to troops at exorbitant prices, a cybersecurity firm said in a new report. report.

The scam led more than 100 people to complain in an online forum that they had been duped, said Hank Schless, senior director of San Francisco-based Lookout, Inc.

Some pages have billed hundreds of dollars in offers of purported phone cards to help family members get in touch with deployed troops.

Others offered care packages at greatly inflated prices. The cheapest box with protein powder, cookies, and two bottles of energy drinks cost $ 800.

“These sites look pretty legitimate,” Schless said in a phone call Monday. “Looks like the scammer managed to cheat a number of people.”

The crooks masqueraded as military support organizations, with websites that used the same fonts, colors and layout as official military websites, Schless said.

A page on a website that mimicked those of military organizations was one of many created by crooks seeking to dupe the military community, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Lookout, Inc ..

A page from a website that mimicked those of military organizations was one of many created by crooks seeking to dupe the military community, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Lookout, Inc. (Lookout, Inc.)

The most morbid bogus service targeted people whose family member was killed in the line of duty. The sites offered post-death compensation in exchange for sensitive data, such as photo ID, bank account information, names, addresses and phone numbers.

“It was a pretty dumb way to play on someone’s emotions,” Schless said.

Researchers believe the scam network is based in West Africa, as the websites were mostly hosted by Nigerian providers, according to the Lookout report.

Researchers also found a phone number for one of the web developers accidentally left on the draft site, and the number contained the country code for Nigeria.

The sites have been reported to their hosting providers, who are working to shut them down, Schless said.

Scammers frequently target the military community, according to the military’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Army investigators receive hundreds of allegations per month from people who were victimized by someone they believed to be an American soldier, according to a 2019 Pentagon statement.

A woman lost more than $ 70,000 after refinancing her house to help a con artist she believed to be her beau in the military, according to an earlier statement.

Scammers take advantage of misinformation and uncertainty, Schless said. The number of scams has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan has also led to an increase in attempted scams, he said.

“It taps into that innate desire to have information about something that we don’t know much about but need to understand,” Schless said.


portrait of the author

JP Laurent

Jp Lawrence reports on the US military in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He served in the United States Army from 2008 to 2017. He graduated from Columbia Journalism School and Bard College and is a first generation immigrant from the Philippines.



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