Saturday, December 30, 2017

Fake News, Fake Businesses, Fake Academic Conferences: Real Scams

A recent headline in The Japan News (Dec 21, 2017) reads:

Cybersecurity survey in Japan finds 20,000 fake shopping sites

A cybersecurity survey has found that around 20,000 fake shopping sites were in operation in the second half of this year, Japan’s National Police Agency said Thursday, warning that the sites are designed to swindle money from unsuspecting shoppers.

Most of the websites use a hyperlink with a fake ad to lead victims to a scam site, the NPA said, based on the survey by the Japan Cybercrime Control Center involving information security and online service providers.

Typically, victims are led to the fake sites after using a search engine to look for information about a product they want to buy and then clicking on a hyperlink that includes an enticing phrase, such as “brand wristwatch, high quality.”

Link to article:

I suppose it is not so surprising that bad people are trying to cheat buyers on the internet - it is a part of the times along with computer hacking and so-called fake news. But academics also need to beware. I found myself recently using a search engine and I saw my own name on an unexpected site. I was listed as a member of a review board for a multidisciplinary social science research conference I had never heard of before. Even a casual glance at the website and organization made it obvious it was suspicious. Eventually I contacted my university's Personal Information Protection Committee and they looked into it further by contacting the listed organizing committee chair who also had no idea that his name (and photograph) were being used. Another surprised professor found his name and contacted the suspicious organization directly demanding that his name be removed. He was subsequently attacked with frequent spam mail. So now my university along with 3 others whose faculty members and institutions are victims of identity theft are working together with the authorities to find out who they are and have the website shut down. As of now all of our names and affiliations have been removed from the website and replaced with other professors from outside Japan.

So again, be careful and beware on the internet. We certainly do have much pressure to present and publish papers but need to use good judgement when offering our precious research (and money).

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