Over the past couple weeks I have been contacted by multiple people who have lost money to scams involving fraudulent businesses that seek investments while claiming that I am part of their teams. Likewise, I have been notified of several operations that, as part of their efforts to drum up business, state that I and other information security professionals are part of their teams, when, in fact, neither I, nor any of the other folks mentioned as references, have anything to do with those businesses.
Some of the fraudsters appear to run cybersecurity-related businesses, others claim to be in various emerging technology fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) or blockchain/cryptocurrency. Some claim various experts are part of their operations teams, others claim them as Advisory Board members. Many of the scammers run professionally-designed websites that appear to represent legitimate businesses; some even offer 24×7 support via online chat.
While I have issued warnings about similar identity-theft-type scams in the past, with crooks once again victimizing innocent people, I will remind everyone:
Do not believe that any professional is a member of any business just because the business claims that he or she is part of its team.
Check the relevant person’s website and social media profiles – if he or she does not mention anything about the particular business in question you should see giant red flags flying and an alarm blaring.
Of course, before you invest any money in anything, exercise diligence; if your decision to invest in a specific project is based in part on the participation of some particular expert, make sure to communicate with him or her in advance to verify what role he or she actually plays.
And, remember, scammers are experts at tricking people – neither you, nor I, are too smart or too sophisticated to fall for a scam. In fact, anyone who believes that he or she is immune to scammers is likely at greater risk of becoming a victim than those of us who know we can be tricked.
Stay vigilant – and stay safe!