The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) from the UK has
removed more than 300,000 URLs linked to ‘quick-get-rich’ frauds that used fake
articles from personalities to trick people into sending money to
The use of fake articles and quotes from famous people to
send a bogus product is not new. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but
with an online twist in this situation. Instead of trying to con people into
buying a fake product that will never arrive, cybercriminals tried to convince
people to send them money directly, under the guise of real investments.
Such frauds are not uncommon, and it would have remained
under the radar if not for the sheer size of the campaign. With more than
300,000 URLs blocked by the NCSC, it’s one of the most extensive operations of
“Over the last four months, the National Cyber
Security Centre (NCSC) has taken down over 300,000 malicious URLs linking to
fake celebrity-endorsed investment schemes featuring famous faces such as Sir
Richard Branson and Martin Lewis,” says the NCSC advisory.
“An increasing number of these investment scams, which come in the form of
mocked-up online news articles featuring the rich and famous, has prompted the
warning from security experts.”
Earlier this year, NCSC set up a new program called
Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), allowing people to send reports of
suspicious online activity. Law enforcement agencies have already dismantled quite
a few of these operations using the public’s reports.
Unfortunately, the NCSC can’t do much about the people
behind these operations. They likely don’t operate from the UK or any place
within the reach of European law enforcement, which means the campaign is
likely to surface again.
People need to wary of any messages that promise quick
investment returns, or that ask them for money or even for credentials. Of
course, it always helps to have a security solution installed on the mobile
device or PC.