March 6, 2012, Milwaukee, Wis. – Businesses and consumers across the country have been hit by an on-going email scam that appears to be from the Better Business Bureau, but it is not. The fake emails started in November, and have changed forms a number of times. Most of them include a virus – if the recipient clicks on a link.
No BBB databases have been compromised, and it appears that the scammers were using a bot to acquire the businesses’ email addresses. Similar organizations, such as the FDIC and IRS, have had their names stolen and used in phishing attacks, too.
The Wisconsin BBB was alerted by an Accredited Business Monday about the latest version, which accused the business of illegal activities:
From: Better Business Bureau
Sent: Monday, March 5, 2012 7:08 AM
Subject: Your business is accused of illegal activities.
One of your business customers has filed a complaint with The Better Business Bureau concerning the unsatisfactory experience he had with your company. The consumer report is attached below. Please provide your statement regarding this matter as within 14 days. The most efficient way to submit your response is by using the Online Complaint system. Please follow the following URL to evaluate the above-mentioned customer complaint and submit your response to it:
Link to “BBB Complaint Center”
Use the following data to login:
Case ID: #6860608
This version of the scam appears to be sent from the email address email@example.com. However, legitimate complaint emails do not come from @bbb.org. Instead, they come from local BBB offices, whose location would precede bbb.org, such as @wisconsin.bbb.org.
Past versions of this scam have included attachments and have targeted certain industries. One such scam in February used a BBB.org email address in conjunction with the American Institute of CPAs’ logo and name. The message informs recipients that their CPA license is being terminated due to tax fraud allegations and encourages them to click on a link and reply to the charges. The link leads to a third party website that downloads a virus on to the recipient’s computer. This email scam primarily targets accountants, but BBB has received reports of other professionals receiving the emails.
Another wave of BBB phishing emails contain a subject line reading "BBB SBQ Form," followed by a series of numbers. Recipients are asked to click on a link to update their information with Better Business Bureau. The link supposedly leads to a form on BBB.org, but it really goes to a third party website that downloads a virus on your computer.
In addition to the latest wave of emails, the original version of the email scam is still out there. In this, recipients are told that a complaint has been filed against their business, and they need to respond by clicking on a link in the email. Again, the link takes them to a third-party website that infects their computer with a virus.
Steps to take:
Should you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on any links. You can test the links by using your mouse to hover over them. The destination of the links will appear in a small pop up box next to the link or at the bottom of the screen. If the email is a scam, the website shown will not be a BBB.org URL.
After you have identified a scam, please forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and delete it from your inbox. Also, make sure your virus software is up to date.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus continues to work with the FBI and a phishing deactivation service to shut down those websites that are linked to the phishing emails and are hosting malware. To date, they have succeeded in shutting down more than 50 fraudulent websites.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).
The Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that brings more than 70 years of experience in fostering ethical business practices; providing dispute resolution alternatives; offering consumer and business education; and promoting customer service excellence. Our Business Reviews provide the general public with critical information about companies and charities both locally and nationally.