New York Times: Prosecutors Struggle to Catch Up to a Tidal Wave of Pandemic Fraud

New York Times: Prosecutors Struggle to Catch Up to a Tidal Wave of Pandemic Fraud. “As the virus shuttered businesses and forced people out of work, the federal government sent a flood of relief money into programs aimed at helping the newly unemployed and boosting the economy. That included $3.1 trillion that former President Donald J. Trump approved in 2020, followed by a $1.9 trillion package signed into law in 2021 by President Biden. But those dollars came with few strings and minimal oversight. The result: one of the largest frauds in American history, with billions of dollars stolen by thousands of people, including at least one amateur who boasted of his criminal activity on YouTube.”

Column: Shame, suicide attempts, ‘financial death’ — the devastating toll of a crypto firm’s failure (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times: Column: Shame, suicide attempts, ‘financial death’ — the devastating toll of a crypto firm’s failure. “To hundreds of Celsius’ 1.7 million customers, the value of the $11.7 billion in assets they deposited with the firm might as well be zero. ‘[Alex] Mashinsky always talked very confidently about how strong Celsius was and how much better than banks,’ recalls Harold M. Lott, 35, a Nashville-area nurse who had as much as $14,000 in cryptocurrency assets deposited at Celsius at the peak of the crypto market. ‘He never gave any indication that there was a problem,’ Lott says. ‘But suddenly, out of the blue, they just stopped all transfers.’”

Reuters: Scam loan apps extorting Mexicans thrive in Google Play Store

Reuters: Scam loan apps extorting Mexicans thrive in Google Play Store. “[Pedro] Figueroa is one of more than 2,230 people who fell prey to fraudulent loan apps in Mexico between June 2021 and January 2022, according to data compiled by the Citizen Council for Justice and Security, an advocacy group based in Mexico City. The Thomson Reuters Foundation found 29 loan apps with millions of downloads in the Google Play Store that have been reported to the authorities for extortion, fraud, violation of Mexican privacy law, and abusive financial practices.”

New York Times: You, Too, Can Strike It Rich on YouTube!

New York Times: You, Too, Can Strike It Rich on YouTube!. “YouTube automation has led to a cottage industry with online influencers offering tutorials and opportunities for fast money. But, as is often the case with promises of quickly made fortunes in online businesses, the YouTube automation process can be a money pit for aspiring internet entrepreneurs and a magnet for poseurs selling unhelpful services.”

Bleeping Computer: Huge network of 11,000 fake investment sites targets Europe

Bleeping Computer: Huge network of 11,000 fake investment sites targets Europe. “Researchers have uncovered a gigantic network of more than 11,000 domains used to promote numerous fake investment schemes to users in Europe. The platforms show fabricated evidence of enrichment and falsified celebrity endorsements to create an image of legitimacy and lure in a larger number of victims.”

TechCrunch: Google announces new Play Store policies around intrusive ads, impersonation and more

TechCrunch: Google announces new Play Store policies around intrusive ads, impersonation and more. “Google announced new Play Store policies for developers on Wednesday that aim to address issues with intrusive ads, alarms, VPNs and impersonation of brands and other apps. The company said these policies will go into effect during different timeframes so developers have ample time to make changes to their apps.”

Al Jazeera: Social media ‘gurus’ prey on India’s small retail investors

Al Jazeera: Social media ‘gurus’ prey on India’s small retail investors. “India’s mom-and-pop investors are facing testing times. During a pandemic-era surge in the stock market, millions poured their savings into equities, drawing on advice from unauthorized financial advisers and social media ‘gurus’ to help identify the next big ticket. But a recent slide in stock values has laid bare the dangers of India’s lax capital market regulations.”

US Department of Justice: Man Arrested For Leading Role In $10 Million Tech Support Fraud Scheme That Exploited Elderly Victims

US Department of Justice: Man Arrested For Leading Role In $10 Million Tech Support Fraud Scheme That Exploited Elderly Victims . “Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced charges against VINOTH PONMARAN for participating in a conspiracy that for several years exploited elderly victims by remotely accessing their computers and convincing victims to pay for computer support services they did not need, and which were never actually provided. In total, the conspiracy generated more than $10 million in proceeds from at least approximately 7,500 victims.”

TechCrunch: Amazon sues admins from 10,000 Facebook groups over fake reviews

TechCrunch: Amazon sues admins from 10,000 Facebook groups over fake reviews. “Amazon filed a lawsuit Monday against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that coordinate cash or goods for buyers willing to post bogus product reviews. The global groups served to recruit would-be fake reviewers and operated in Amazon’s online storefronts in the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy.”

Vice: From Industrial-Scale Scam Centers, Trafficking Victims Are Being Forced to Steal Billions

Vice: From Industrial-Scale Scam Centers, Trafficking Victims Are Being Forced to Steal Billions. “From industrial-scale scam centers in Southeast Asia, criminal syndicates have spent the pandemic perfecting an intricate romance-meets-investment fraud called Shāzhūpán (pig butchering scams). Teams of scammers use sophisticated scripts to ‘fatten up’ their targets, grooming individuals like [Cindy] Tsai and enticing them into investment schemes increasingly centered on cryptocurrency, before going in for the ‘slaughter’ and stealing their money.”

TTP Investigation: Google Allowing Student Loan Relief Scam Ads (Campaign for Accountability)

Campaign for Accountability: TTP Investigation: Google Allowing Student Loan Relief Scam Ads. “Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report revealing that more than one in 10 ads served to Google users searching for information about student loan relief direct the user to websites that violate Google’s policies or have characteristics of a financial scam.”

TIME: Inside the War on Fake Consumer Reviews

TIME: Inside the War on Fake Consumer Reviews. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to supercharge global e-commerce, this kind of fraud has emerged as one of the most significant factors contributing to an erosion of consumer confidence in the online marketplace. Fake reviews influenced around $152 billion in global spending on lackluster products and services last year, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.”