CASPER, Wyo. — On Thursday, the CyberWyoming Alliance announced information it has tracked related to common scams and phishing attacks in Wyoming. The organization tracked reported scams that occurred in 2021, providing the scam tracking analysis for the second year in a row.
“Most scams reported by Wyomingites are what the CyberWyoming Alliance labels the ‘fakes,’” the release states. “These include fake delivery notices on text or email impersonating UPS to a fake craft fair advertised by a scammer for the Gillette community.”
Fake notifications alerting users of well-known brands that their identification and passwords had been suspended, fake product offers and fake product sales were the most commonly reported scams in Wyoming in 2021.
“If you’ve ever felt that small sense of panic because you got an email from Amazon confirming a purchase for hundreds of dollars that you didn’t make, then you have received a fake product sale notification,” CyberWyoming President Laura Baker said.
The CyberWyoming Alliance noted that brand impersonation was common in 2021, with scammers most often impersonating Amazon, Microsoft, Norton (antivirus software), PayPal, and McAfee (antivirus software). Nationwide, Proofpoint’s State of the Phish 2021 report found that Amazon and Microsoft were the most commonly impersonated brands, according to the press release.
“It is important to note that it isn’t just the large, nationwide companies whose brands were impersonated,” Baker said. “Even local churches in Wyoming have been impersonated.”
CyberWyoming encourages people to get in the habit of “opening a new browser window and typing in the website address, logging into your account, and checking your balance instead of calling or following the links in the email. Clicking on links in emails from well-known brands can be dangerous because of brand abuse.”
CyberWyoming said that the second highest category of scams reported in Wyoming in the past two years consists of scams involving “some sort of money trade.”
“For instance, if you help move this money or donate this money to charities, then you will get a percentage,” Baker said. “These often disguise themselves as foreign funds found, dying widows, and foreign government impersonations.”
Third most common were scams about people winning prizes or asking people to take surveys to win prizes. Such surveys often ask people questions that could help scammers determine answers to password reset questions such as “Where did you go to high school?”
“Usually, the surveys or prizes are disguised with well-known branding, and many have been reported impersonating stores like Sam’s Club and online services like Netflix,” the press release states.
The other category of common scams involves government impersonation.
“These are usually via phone and the bad actors claim to be from the Social Security Administration, Medicare, or the IRS,” Baker said. “They make arrest threats if you don’t pay or provide sensitive information. One of the most widely reported phone scams was ‘we are changing your Medicare card so please verify your personal information.’”
The CyberWyoming Alliance said that it offers a free scam awareness program.
“A free scam awareness program that anyone in Wyoming can take advantage of is subscribing to the CyberWyoming Alliance Hacker’s Brief, a weekly report of scams seen in the state as reported by Wyomingites,” the release states. “Statistics show that prior knowledge of a scam reduces the chances of a potential victim engaging with the scammer. (Exposed to Scams: What separates victims from non-victims? BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, Stanford Center on Longevity and Finra Investor Education Foundation. Published September 2019).”
“In addition, Wyoming AARP and the CyberWyoming Alliance publish senior alert flyers for 2/3 of the senior center statewide as a free service, based off of the Wyoming reports of scams. To report a scam, describe the scam phone call or forward texts and emails to email@example.com.”