Consumer Awareness: Beware of Photo-Sharing Scams

The FBI is reporting that there has been an increase in events where cyber criminals use online photo sharing venues to distribute viruses or other programs.

What happens is that the victim will see something for sale at an online bulletin board website (like Craigslist), but in the advertisement, there's no images.  In the ad it's suggested you contact the seller for the images.

The victim then receives a single "attachment" or a link to a gallery of images.

But what's really happening is that the images the victim looks at, contain what the FBI calls malicious software.  This software then infects the victim's computer, and the victim is then redicted to websites that look identical to the real ones, where they even include tech or live chat support options.

But once the victim pays for the product, poof, the a-holes are gone with your money.

Below are some recommendations from the FBI:

  • Be cautious if you lose an auction on an auction site, but the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through.
  • Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online.
  • Use only well-known escrow services.
  • Research to determine if an involved car dealership is real and how long it has been in business.
  • Be wary of severely under-priced items; if severely under priced, the item is likely fraudulent.
  • Scan files before downloading them to your computer.
  • Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches.
  • Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current—they can help prevent malware infections.

If you have fallen victim to this type of scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at