The Beekeeper Movie and Real-Life Fraud

Fake Tech Support Screen

The Beekeeper Movie and Real-Life Fraud

In the world of cinema, filmmakers often draw inspiration from real-life events to craft compelling narratives that captivate audiences. One such film that delves into the intricate web of deception is “The Beekeeper.” Typical of a Jason Statham movie, there’s a lot of fight scenes and explosions, but the beginning of the movie shows a senior citizen falling victim to an online fraud scam. As viewers are drawn into the twists and turns of the storyline, a lingering question emerges: Is the fraud depicted in “The Beekeeper” true to life?

Is the scam in “the Beekeeper” real?

Short answer: yes. According to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (ic3.gov), tech support is in the top 5 crime types between 2019 and their latest annual report in 2022. In 2022, tech and customer support scams totaled over $800 million in American losses.

“Call centers overwhelmingly target the elderly, with devastating effects. Almost half the victims report to be over 60 (46%), and experience 69% of the losses (over $724 million),” according to the FBI’s 2022 Annual Report.

However, the movie gets one thing wrong – the location of the scamming call centers. The FBI 2022 report notes that the scams primarily emanate from call centers in India and, as a result, the US Department of Justice and the FBI are collaborating with the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi and local Indian state departments. There has been some success, too. In 2022, Indian law enforcement raided, disrupted, seized, and arrested individuals alleged to be involved in perpetrating cyber-enabled financial crimes and global telemarketing frauds.

Have we seen tech support scams in Wyoming?

CyberWyoming has had reports of tech support scams. Often these start with a pop-up window saying your computer has been compromised and the note urges you to call the number on the window. Sometimes these pop ups are programmed to scream sirens or make annoying beeping noises. The number is fake and connects you to someone who is trying to get your banking information.

Fake Tech Support Screen
Screen shot taken by a Wyomingite experiencing the tech support scam.

“The scammers capitalize on your reactive brain and the sense of urgency. If they can get you into a state of stress or panic with the flashing lights, sounds, and urgent message, then you are more likely to call the 800 number on the screen and talk to a fake Microsoft representative,” said Laura Baker, President of the CyberWyoming Alliance. Baker noted that often the scammers impersonate company brand names you trust, which adds to the illusion of the truth.

What if you get a tech support scam pop-up notice like the one in “the Beekeeper”?

Unplug your computer from the internet, shut it off, and take it to someone you trust. They will

  1. Clean and clear your browser settings.
  2. Run an antivirus/antimalware on it.
  3. Give you an idea of how you may have gotten the pop-up window in the first place.

And, then you can avoid that website, check your home internet settings to see if they are secure (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_BWIBBH1tU), change your password to your online banking accounts, and make sure you have a credit freeze on your accounts at TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

What can you do to protect yourself?

While “The Beekeeper” is a work of fiction, it draws inspiration from real-world incidents of fraud and manipulation, so familiarize yourself with typical scam tactics.

  1. Sign up for CyberWyoming’s free weekly Hacker’s Brief, a publication of reports of scams seen in Wyoming and across the nation. Send an email to info@cyberwyoming.org to be added.
  2. Place a credit freeze on your accounts at TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. That way, if you make a mistake, you will know they can’t take out a credit card in your name.
  3. Follow the Federal Trade Commission’s fraud blog here: https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts and remember to report fraud you experience to the FTC https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ and the FBI https://www.ic3.gov/.

What do you do if you lose money to a scam?

Start calling everyone! Be the squeaky wheel.

  1. Call Local Law Enforcement and get their advice about next steps.
    Don’t be ashamed – you would call the local police if someone walked into your house and stole your social security card and money! It is the same with stealing your bank account information through a tech support scam.
  2. Call your bank and report the fraud to see if they can stop the charges.
  3. Report it to the FBI at ic3.gov. Sometimes, if you call fast enough, the FBI can even stop the wire transfer.
  4. And if you don’t get a response, keep calling the US Secret Service office in Denver, your local FBI office, Wyoming DCI, and the Sheriff’s office. Call until you get someone to help.
  5. Put a freeze on your credit: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

 

Although The Beekeeper is a work of fiction, the deception shown in the movie is all too real. Be aware of what might happen and how to prevent and/or respond.

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