Canada Vancouver man says scammers stole his phone number to access his online accounts
Ontario police warn of 'SIM swapping' fraud
Ontario residents are being warned about a relatively new kind of fraud called "SIM swapping" in which criminals steal personal information via mobile phones in order to gain access to bank accounts. A "fraudster" will impersonate a person and call their mobile service provider to report a lost or stolen phone, said Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Serious Fraud Office.
A Vancouver man is warning others of a sophisticated sim card scam that left him without access to his own phone number and hit with thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent charges.
Stu Hunter, a Vancouver visual effects artist, said he was at work last Wednesday when he received a text message alerting him that a carrier move had been initiated for his cell phone number. Having been a Rogers customer for 15 years and having no plans to leave, Hunter found the message odd.
Attempted sextortion leads to call for stricter phone porting rules
A Toronto man is calling for stricter regulations after a fraudster locked down his laptop, accessed his personal files and threatened to release intimate videos, just by using his cellphone number. It had been fraudulently “ported” — transferred from his Rogers account to a Bell prepaid customer. The fraudster then seems to have used a password retrieval process involving text message verification to gain access to Baran-Chong's Microsoft account, tied to his computer's operating system and a cloud-based file backup service.
“My first thought was, OK, that sucks – I didn’t do this,” said Hunter, who thought it was an error at first. “In my mind, I wasn’t thinking it was fraud.”
That’s when Hunter, 45, said he logged into his online account and found that his Rogers account had been closed. Unable to contact Rogers through his inactive cell phone number, he connected with their online chat support via wifi and learned his number had been ported over to Telus under a new account without him knowing.
While chatting with Rogers support, Hunter received an email from PayPal, alerting him to an email address change. A few minutes later, wifi alerts on his phone let him know that three charges each of $3,700 for a Canadian appliance company had been placed on his Visa. Just 12 minutes had passed between Hunter being alerted to the carrier change and the last of the three charges.
Telescammers not only want your money. They're also after your phone number
Telescammers not only want your money. They're also after your phone numberIt turned out to be from an elaborate telephone scam whereby fraudsters steal phone numbers to make their calls — the latest twist in a long line of similar schemes that have bilked people across Canada out of millions of dollars.
What happened to Hunter was unauthorized porting – a new type of scam that targets digital users.
Under Canadian law, customers can retain their phone numbers when moving to a new carrier, in a process called porting, ordered by the CRTC in 2005. The CRTC determined that the entire process should take no longer than two-and-a-half hours.
“Like clockwork, they knew they were on limited time, I guess, for me to react to it,” said Hunter of whoever orchestrated the scam.
“Eventually, I got all the bleeding stopped, I got my credit card cancelled … I got PayPal – that took forever, what a hassle that was – fully restored to me.”
Hunter was able to regain access to his phone number later that day and his PayPal account later that week, but he said the experience has left him stressed and paranoid about digital security. His weekend was spent combing through his online accounts and updating passwords.
Watch: Canada Revenue scammer calls. A police officer answers
When one scammer impersonating a Canada Revenue Agency representative hung up the phone, they probably didn’t realize who they had just called — Const. Matt Rutherford of the Victoria Police Department in British Columbia. A video from Friday shows the officer in full uniform sitting at his desk and answering his iPhone, eagerly waiting for the ruse to begin. When Rutherford saw the number light up on his phone, frustration prompted him to take action. “It was about the 10th call I had received in a couple of days,” he said in a phone interview.
Now Hunter, who considers himself tech-savvy, is warning others of the complicated scam that works to get around two-factor authentication security protocols that are now popular with savvy digital users.
Two-factor authentication requires a person verify their identity through a secondary device or contact method – such as a one-time use code texted to your phone – and is generally the recommended practice for anyone looking to ensure their online security. With unauthorized porting, scammers can gain access to your two-factor authentication devices and change passwords and emails to other online accounts.
Hunter said Rogers so far has offered to reduce his monthly bill but he would prefer to cancel his account and have his remaining device balance waived so he can move on to a new carrier.
Rogers says it is aware of the scam and is working with its wireless competitors to come up with new protections for customers.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which represents major telecoms, says Rogers isn’t the only carrier being targeted by fraudsters.
Thousands of Disney+ user accounts have already been hacked and resold online
Not even a week into its debut in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands, hackers are already disrupting thousands of Disney+ users. An investigation by ZDNet , a business technology news website, has discovered that many accounts are being hijacked and the information is being listed on hacking forums either for free or for prices that range between $3 and $11. The hacks started just hours after the streaming service — which provides access to a library of films and shows from Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and Disney — launched on Nov. 12. It’s a tough reality for Disney+, which secured 10-million customers in its first 24 hours, with a subscription fee of $8.
“Each carrier will have their own specific security measures they employ to protect their subscribers. But we can tell you that, from an industry perspective, our members take their customers’ privacy and security very seriously, and as fraudsters are constantly evolving techniques to try to take advantage of wireless consumers, our members continually strengthen their security measures and verification procedures to protect their customers against fraudulent activity,” the CWTA said in a statement.
According to current CWTA, a customer wanting to port their number must show the new carrier their most recent phone bill or present them with either their wireless account number, a password/PIN, or the ESN/IMEI numbers located on the back of their phone.
With files from Scott Brown
10 tips to avoid being scammed shopping online this holiday season .
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