Hackers use Argentina, Chile as testing ground for new ransomware attacks

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  • aficionado

    Changed the title of the thread from “Hackers use argentina, Chile as testing ground for new ransomware attacks” to “Hackers use Argentina, Chile as testing ground for new ransomware attacks”.
  • Today, I fell victim of an online scammer, who apparently has been targeting Expats in Buenos Aires specifically.

    They post items for sale because of a move, and - obviously - they are all nice imported items that are impossible to get here.

    Also, they close comments on the post immediately and ask to be contacted by PM only, which made sense since there are a lot of people just teasing whomever posts because of price, condition etc. (as we were discussing with GlasgowJohn recently).

    The name is Hidat Lizzy, and they posed as a lady (I am using "they" on purpose here - more on that later). Once you start messaging with this person, they say they need a deposit to reserve the item(s), because there are several people interested and are in high demand (which seemed plausible, since they are very rare in Argentina, like a DeLonghi coffee maker, Dyson hair care products, a gaming console, kids electric cars, a Kitchen Aid Robot, a Smeg kettle etc. - and also because here people are known to not keep their word, as it happened when we were selling our stuff and if I had a dollar for every people who "reserved" and never showed up, I'd be rich).

    They request the deposit via bank transfer or Zelle to Danielle DePierri with phone number 407-230-4054.

    They also said it was their husband's account, which seemed odd since Danielle is a female name, but since I too have Zelle and it was a pain to get (you need a real US phone number to verify your identity) I thought it was just some dumb lady using a screen name on FB and the husband was checking the bank account.

    I had also looked for previous posts by this person in the group because I had already heard that name, and I found another post in the same group from 3/25. Their profile was bare and private, but the stated gender was "male". Again, I thought it was a fake profile for privacy (as people coming here with that sort of things are diplomats or high profile CEOs, and likely they don't want to showcase their stuff on the internet where they could be traced back to their real identity)

    They also asked for the sender's name, which at the moment didn't seemed suspicious since she was selling very interesting stuff, and said she had multiple interested people, so maybe they just needed to understand who had sent a deposit and who didn't. After I sent the deposit, she said that "the husband" said I should have sent twice as much as a deposit, and it was "her fault" because she was misunderstood by the husband but that she said I'd be topping up the deposit to make the husband happy. At this point, I said "no way", as I was going out on a limb. They didn't understand the expression "to go out on a limb" and replied with ?? (two question marks). I even felt bad because perhaps she was just a foreigner married to an American and English wasn't their native language. I added "he can wait until this evening when we meet and get the rest on the spot".

    When it was about time to meet, my messages through FB Messenger "failed to send", but I was also in an area with low signal. So I wanted to check again their post, and in the same group, on top, there was a post from another member alerting that Hidat Lizzy was a scammer. Unfortunately, another lady in the same group was also scammed today. Later on, another person commented that there was a post alerting of this scammer on another Expat group (parents) a month ago. So I think they reactivate the same FB profile, or create a new one under the same name (although it doesn't make much sense - wouldn't it be more practical to just use a different alias every time?)

    Besides the money, I am more hurt because of the emotional play.

    I wanted to buy some items as a gift for our family, they are impossible or hard to get in Argentina (because of size or price), as a reward for our hard work. I even felt bad/racist because I was judging their English or justifying the red flags as technological/technical "impairments". I paid a deposit because I was myself a seller long ago and I knew how frustrating it was dealing with promises of purchase that fell through.

    Instead, I got scammed by an estafador.

    I just want to add that my bank s.u.c.k.s. big time, as there was NO WAY to speak with an agent, neither in chat nor over the phone, because of technical difficulties on their end. Frankly, I am not going to sleep well tonight.

    Is the money in my bank safe? Are they hacking my account, too?

  • I called Zelle and the automatic system said that if you had used Zelle through your banking app, you should contact your bank. I am going in circle. 😡

    I have been googling like crazy to find other contact numbers to speak with my bank but they all let me down. There isn’t even a messaging system to leave a message and request to be called back.

    Ironically, when googling about fraud and my bank, I found a leaflet where they say that time is of the essence and that I should get in touch with my bank as soon as possible. Very funny (or maybe not)

  • How awful, serafina . I’m so terribly sorry that these people took advantage of your good nature. They sound like very professional scammers, so DO NOT beat yourself up. Your own experience at selling items completely predisposed you to understand their request for a deposit. But your excellent instincts kicked in when they suddenly demanded more money. You’re my hero!

  • I spoke with the Fraud Department of my bank today and filed a dispute. They said I should see the money back in 10 days. They also reassured me that if I didn't provide my bank details to access my account, my money would be safe.

    They were extremely helpful. I still kind of shaken by the whole experience.

    I don't care much about the money lost, I care more about my savings being safe in the bank.

    I appreciate the words of support I have received from forum members both in this thread and privately.

    If I am that dumb in my 40s, what am I going to do when I am older?

  • serafina !!! Quit beating yourself! You are ANYTHING but dumb, and you copped onto the scam so early that they didn’t get any more money out of you than the original ”deposit,” which absolutely anyone would have paid, because those are the rules of local sales via internet.

    You are probably the first person with enough experience and common sense to have realized what was happening, and to have stopped it. Moreover, you’re going to get the “deposit” back, and you’ve undoubtedly contributed to the apprehension of these criminals. Start patting yourself on the back for what you’ve done! I’m proud of you!

  • Sorry to hear about his serafina

    Scamming is now a fine art in Argentina. Only the other day Adri's mum received a phone call from a woman pretending to be Adri and asking for a short term loan to tide her over. Her mum being 87 is wise to this kind of thing and rumbled her straight away.

    WhatsApp scams are really doing the rounds as well.

    Yes there's been several similar scams like that carried out here successfully. One of my wîfe's friends was a victim and she's not that old.

  • scamming is becoming so much harder to sniff out, don't beat yourself up too much.

    this week alone, i have received phone calls which appear to come from two major US banks/credit card companies (with caller ID stating both companies names). i almost never answer any call, and out of curiosity i googled the number which clearly comes back as a supposed "valid' number for that bank branch or company. the problem is, i have accounts with neither of them.

    the scammers' spoofing ability these days is really hard to catch.

  • To add up, today my husband is trying to find out if he was scammed, too.

    He received calls from a firm working for Movistar to switch to Movistar (we have Personal). It seemed legit because the person with whom he was speaking asked him if he was with Movistar two years ago, which is true. My husband sent them his DNI and the paperwork to make the switch. However, it’s been some weeks and no switch has taken place.

    Today he received a pin request over WhatsApp and he got suspicious, so he called Movistar and they said they have no record of his switch. However, they have confirmed that they outsource this marketing service to 3rd parties.

    He is now calling half world to find out if he is at risk of getting his WhatsApp and/or e-SIM cloned. Movistar and Personal said that they can’t put a block on portability because it is managed by a central agency. They also said that since he provided his details to the alleged scammer, they could legitimately ask for his contract to be switched to another carrier.

    We are unsure how exactly it works and what are the risks involved. I have had 2-factor authentication on WhatsApp for a while now, whereas he just did it today in light of this mess.

    Besides the scam itself, the most upsetting and shaking thing is that no one is sure about the potential consequences.

    They could be legit or they could be scammers. We are trying to find out.

    My sister in law had her WhatsApp cloned by clicking on a WhatsApp link. I think that in her case the scammers used her WhatsApp to request money to her contacts and someone fell for it.

    I am out for work-related errands and I hope things will have calmed down by the time I am back. The uncertainty and lack of definitive answers is baffling.

  • Goodness sake serafina!! :(

    After reading that I had to ask my missus how she recently changed her service provider. Fortunately she contacted them and not the other way around. She moved to Personal from Movistar though.