Where are Wyoming-ites Being Scammed the Most?

by Laura Baker, CyberWyoming

In January 2021, CyberWyoming will have reached a one year anniversary in tracking Wyoming reported phone, text, and email scams.

Wyoming-ites can report their scams to phishing@cyberwyoming.org and it is reported back to their friends and neighbors via two methods:
1. the weekly Hacker’s Brief which is sent to the Wyoming Associated Press and
2. the Senior Flyer Alert program which is sent to two thirds of the senior centers statewide.

Education is key, according to the Better Business Bureau report Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-victims? (https://www.bbb.org/ExposedtoScams). Those that know about a scam ahead of time or understand scammer’s techniques are less likely to engage and less likely to lose money.

And who do we listen to about community events? Our friends and neighbors.

Thus the phishing@cyberwyoming.org email address and the feedback loop to Wyoming senior centers and newspapers was born.

Here’s a preview of the data as of December 7, 2020.

Highest numbers of scams are reported in Laramie, Cheyenne, and Sheridan.

This isn’t terribly surprising since each of those communities have active members of the Wyoming CAN (Cybersecurity Action Network) Committee promoting information sharing. (For more about the Wyoming CAN committee, jump to the bottom of the aricle or visit www.wyocan.org)

Amazon, Paypal, Microsoft and the Social Security Administration were the most impersonated company names to gain legitimacy.

However, local companies were also sometimes impersonated – including churches, nonprofit organizations, state government, and economic development agencies.

User credential (user IDs and passwords) theft, fake product sales, identity theft, and extortion motives were the most reported schemes.

But it wasn’t unusual for a text or email to be reported by a wyoming citizen that was just pure fishing, like a text saying “are you there?”

Most schemes were after money, user IDs and passwords, personally identifiable information, or credit card information.

However, there were even schemes about eco terrorism.

CyberWyoming recommends never giving out any personal information over the phone, text, or email. If you receive a highly emotional or time sensitive request for anything involving money or information that can be used for identity theft, then hang up and call the company directly. If they call you and they are honest, they will understand. Only the dishonest people will get upset that you aren’t ‘taking care of an issue now.’

Wyoming State Statute 6-3-901 defines Personally Identifiable Information, basically, as your name plus one other piece of identifying information. So, your name and your address are examples of information that companies need to take care to secure. As citizens, we need to take the same care and protect our personal information.

What to do if you are the victim of fraud?

The FBI has some success with returning money lost via wire transfer. Contact them at https://www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint.

And don’t forget to let your friends and neighbors know via phishing@cyberwyoming.org.

The Wyoming CAN Committee is a grassroots committee committed to raising the level of security awareness in each community in Wyoming.

Wyoming CAN (Cybersecurity Action Network) Committee Members.

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