cyber fraud

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A job offer that seeks one's bank account, or a person on a dating site asking for financial help.

These are among common types of cyberfraud that the Covid-19 pandemic amplified as more people lost their job, started working from home, or spent more time on online romance, an FBI agent told members and guests of the Guam Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

FBI Special Agent David Carrigan, a digital forensic expert and a certified cyber agent, was the guest speaker at the business organization's monthly membership meeting and presented on the issue of cybersecurity.

With pandemic unemployment so high, he said, there were more opportunities for predators to seek money mules.

For someone in criminal activity, a money mule is someone who transfers or moves illegally acquired money on behalf of someone else. Acting as a mule is illegal and punishable, even if one isn't aware of it, he said.

And there's also the common "advance fee" fraud that tells a person he's about to receive a major prize, a gift or an investment, but has to first pay a fee to get it.

The FBI agent said there are possible red flags that will help people protect themselves from cyberfraud.

"Basically, if it’s too good to be true, as we know now, we’ve been around long enough in this world that there's not very many good things that are amazing for us so if it's really good to be true, if the deal is so great, it’s so cheap…that is a red flag," Carrigan said.

Protecting oneself from cyberfraud is mostly easy, he said, such as not giving your personal information or bank account over the phone to any person you're not familiar with, or by turning off the feature on your mobile phone that automatically connects it to a Wi-Fi network.

If one's email is breached, the easiest thing to do is change your password, Carrigan said.

If it's a malware issue, work with the company's IT personnel. It's best to educate oneself, consult with experts or call the authorities if one's dealing with cyberfraud like sextortion, ransomware and identity theft, among other things.

Ed Untalan, vice chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, and senior vice president of First Hawaiian Bank-Guam and CNMI, said as a result of the pandemic, many businesses are relying more on technology and digital platforms to do business.

"With this, the potential for fraud and other schemes have risen dramatically. As I work for a bank this is becoming extremely important as we take every measure to protect our customers and the institution as a whole," he said.

Untalan said one of the first things he'd do after the FBI agent's presentation would be to check whether his email has been compromised, by logging into haveibeenpwned.com

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