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Scam watch: Fake news sites, smartphone viruses, BBB scam stopper

October 21, 2012|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • Cellphones that use Google's Android operating system -- such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, above -- are vulnerable to a virus that can enable criminals to control the phone no matter where it is, the FBI warns.
Cellphones that use Google's Android operating system -- such as… (Bebeto Matthews / Associated…)

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Fake news sites: A company accused of setting up fake news websites to deceptively market weight-loss products and other goods has agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC accused Circa Direct and its owner, Andrew Davidson, of running online advertisements that looked like news websites with titles such as “News 6.” The links led consumers to fake news reports about weight-loss beverages, penny-stock investments and work-at-home schemes, the FTC said. The agency accused Circa Direct of making false claims about products it was promoting.

Smartphone viruses: The FBI is warning consumers to take precautions to avoid loading malicious software on their smartphones. Many such attacks come through links via a Web browser or text messages, the FBI said. People should avoid clicking links unless they are certain the links are from a trusted source. In addition, the FBI said, people should password-protect their mobile devices and use an antivirus app.

BBB Scam Stopper: The Better Business Bureau has teamed with Western Union on a program to help people in the United States and Canada avoid scams. BBB Scam Stopper will inform consumers about common scams, such as the one in which victims receive emails or telephone calls saying a loved one needs immediate cash to deal with an emergency. Many of these scams rely on the use of Western Union to transfer money from victim to criminal. “Our agents are trained to intervene if they suspect a customer is the victim of a scam,” said Shelley Bernhardt, Western Union's director of consumer protection. “Through our partnership with BBB, we aim to give consumers the information and resources they need to protect themselves and help stop fraud before it gets that far.”

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