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Scam Alert: New E-mail Scam (Phishing E-mail) Targeting OFWs

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In a recent news article, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh warned the general public, especially Overseas Filipino Workers, against a new e-mail scam claiming to be from Philippine embassies, promising cash prizes and asking for personal details.

This new email scam is one form of phishing e-mails used by cyber criminals for identity theft.

Scam Alert: New E-mail Scam (Phishing E-mail) Targeting OFWs
Phishing e-mails are used for identity theft.
Image from here.

The warning came about after an OFW wisely approached the Philippine Consulate General in Saipan after receiving such an email. The e-mail is supposedly from the Philippine Embassy in Muscat, Oman informing him of a cash prize amounting to 500, 000 pounds and asking his personal details for him to to receive the prize money.

This website voices the same warning to OFWs, and to internet users in general. Use logic. How can you win in a contest/promo you did not join? It is close to impossible to be that lucky. No government authority like an embassy asks for personal information via e-mail.

Here's a few to things to spot phishing e-mails and avoid being scammed.
The e-mail does not contain your complete name. Regular phishers blasts out these kind of e-mails by the thousands. They won't have the time to know your complete name. Even if they do, it would be tedious for them to send specific e-mails to respective names. As a result, greetings/salutations in these e-mails are generic like Dear OFW, etc.

There are obvious misspelled words and wrong grammar. For many phishers, English is a secondary language.

Links or URLs posted in the e-mail do not really point you to the right website/webpage. You can check this by hovering the mouse pointer over the link/URL. Examine them if they really point to the official website of the embassy it claims to be. Check if there are mispellings, inserted hyphens, reversed letters etc. More sophisticated phishers can put the real link/URL but divert victims to a pop up page or different website.

Even with these tips and those from other websites, no internet user can really be 100% phishing-free, no matter how smart they are. The best defense against phishing e-mails is better judgement.

For those who have taken interest with similar e-mails, the best course of action is to verify directly with the embassy where the e-mail claims to be coming from.

And in case you spot a phishing e-mail, it would be helpful to report it to authorities and share it with friends and relatives. Spreading the word about it will make life harder for these scammers victimize OFWs.

Here are additional resources about identifying and avoiding phishing e-mails on credit card, banking and financial institutions.


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