How to safely shop on eBay!

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With today’s internet technology, you can pretty much buy anything with the click of a mouse.. literally. Companies like eBay and amazon give sellers the ability to profit off their goods, while at the same time helping others seek whey desire. Unfortunately eBay buyers and others do not fall short of becoming the victim of countless scams and fraudulent products.

We’ve come up with a list of procedures you should check before purchasing from sellers online. We hope these will be sufficient enough to make your chances of a scam, less.

CHECK THE SELLER’S COMMENTS AND POSITIVE FEEDBACK

When you’re interested in purchasing an item, make sure you check the feedback before pressing submit & pay. A lot of sellers have a positive or negative feedback on their profile. If you need more negative than positive, it might not be a good idea to proceed.

USE CAUTION WHEN PURCHASING FROM A NEW SELLER ACCOUNT

Many scammers will create brand new seller accounts, in an effort to avoid being detected. If the account is new, there is no feedback, use caution. You might want to see if there’s a better deal from another seller.

AVOID SELLERS WHO WANT TO RECEIVE PAYMENTS IN OTHER WAYS

eBay and others have strict policies on how payments can be sent to the seller. eBay mostly prefers you use their website or PayPal to send transactions. Avoid sellers who want you to take payments off eBay’s website and request money orders or gift cards.

READ THE ITEM’S DESCRIPTION BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH PURCHASE

As much as we hate to say it, many buyers have failed to read the description of items before purchasing. Scammers will add in small bits of text, saying something to the effect of “This is a PlayStation One picture”, while the buyer misses that part, believing it is an actual PlayStation One console.

ONLY PURCHASE FROM REPUTABLE WEBSITES

Avoid buying from websites that are completely unknown to you. If you search for an item and stumble across http://www.johndoesstuff.com, you might want to avoid it, especially if it cannot be proven to be reputable.

With these mentioned, we hope it’ll better protect you and your friends, in avoiding online scams!

 

Sextortion and how to prevent it

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Cyber Crime Response Agency receives many calls per week from individuals reporting that an online sexual encounter took place, with the opposite sex on camera. These situations typically result in the other party threatening to post private images of the victim online, unless that victim pays an amount of money.

A lot of the reportees we receive are worried that they’ve committed a type of crime. This could be further from the truth. As long as both parties involved understand that both are legal adults, anyone can have any type of encounter with another.

So how exactly do these suspects find their victims? Many of them search Facebook for random Facebook accounts, while others post in personals online. On Facebook, it typically starts off with a random friend request from the opposite sex. Once the account owner accepts the friend request, the suspect will then attempt to entice and encourage the account owner to come on camera, to engage in sexual activities. The threat can occur at any time, from the middle to the end of the encounter. Threats typically consist of statements that videos or pictures have been saved and will be posted or sent to family, if an amount of money isn’t sent.

Humiliating, right? So how can you avoid these types of situations? Simple! Don’t have them. Although crimes aren’t being committed by having the encounter, you have to take into consideration, the possibilities of threats. Should you fall for these types of crimes, do not make payment to anyone, for any reason, no matter how severe the threat is. In our experience, 95% of suspects to threaten, do not actually follow through with their threats. Why? Because they have nothing to gain from it.

You can make reports of these situations to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Online predators push Irish children to share compromising pictures within 4 to 5 questions

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Detective Superintendent Declan Daly heads up the recently formed Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and in an exclusive interview with Independent.ie he revealed how his officers have witnessed an increase in children being targeted for naked pictures online.

D-Supt Daly called on parents not to be naive and to educate both themselves and their children about the dangers online.

“The internet has many fantastic uses but one of the downsides is that at any given time there are perpetrators who are looking to target our children sexually and exploit our children.

He continued: “A child who’s innocently online may be unaware that they are being targeted by an online predator.”

The GNPSB was set up in 2015. Previously it operated at the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).

However garda chiefs felt it was important to create an independent unit that dealt specifically with crimes of a sexual nature.

The sensitive nature of the work carried out by the skilled detectives means that many details of the crimes they work on cannot be published.

However D-Supt Daly explained that he wants to make parents and children aware of the serious dangers that exist. The unit is in constant contact with policing bodies across the globe including the FBI in the US, Interpol and Europol. Police and agents alert gardaí to the presence of particular predators and photographs online. The GNPSB then process the information and disseminate it to districts across the country where local garda units deal with perpetrators and victims.

D-Supt Daly explained that they have seen a “worrying increase” in self-taken child images ending up in the hands of predators.

“This is where a child takes an image of themselves, either partially clothed or fully unclothed and posts that image online,”he explained.

“The child then either knowingly or unknowingly maybe gives that image to somebody. Maybe emails that image to another child, or what they believe is another child, but ultimately that image makes its way onto the internet by a number of means. Obviously you have the difficulties there.”

Asked how children fall for this plot D-Supt Daly explained that criminals often operate a form of ‘catfishing’ where they pretend to be someone they are not.
“At any one time there are perpetrators pretending to be young children and then trying to build up credibility with a child.

“For example, an adult male posing as a teenage girl to try and get pictures of young boys. The boy believes that he’s interacting with a young girl and innocently sends the image, believing that he is sending it to a young girl. He may or may not find out that it is an adult that he is interacting with.”

Although he could not provide specific numbers for the amount of these cases that have happened D-Supt Daly explained that at any one time his unit would be carrying out several investigations.

He explained that conversations between predators and victims develop worryingly fast.

“What we find is that when we look at the interacting that would happen between a suspect and a victim. It progresses into a request for images, or to meet, very quickly.”

Asked how quickly, the garda chief responded: “Within four or five questions. Obviously I can’t put a figure on every case but what we have seen is a suspect will be online and he will be eager to find out somebody who is amenable to his advances or his interaction.
“They seem to get down to the point very quickly. They ask name, age, sex, location and then it’s into that sexualised chat very quickly.”

Gardaí use a number of tools to follow the footprint that leads to the criminals but D-Supt Daly said parents need to take control of the situation before it gets to that point.

He urged mothers and fathers to educate themselves and to adapt real-world thinking to the online sphere.

“If a parent is in the house and they looked out the window and they saw their child speaking with a stranger, they would react immediately because they would be horrified to think: ‘Who is my child talking to? What is my child talking to this person about? What danger does this person pose?’ So when the child comes in we would ask our child a number of questions about this interaction.

“However on the internet we give our children access. And how many strangers do our children speak to without any critique or questions posed?”

He added that communication between parent and child is crucial so that the child is not “overly criticised” for communicating with a stranger.

]“What you don’t want is a situation where a child is simply not going to interact with the parent and not going to come forward and tell their story,” he said.

“If a child is a victim of sexplay, for example, you want that communication piece that the child is confident and able to go to parents and say ‘somebody is trying to target me online and I’m worried about it’. You don’t want the child holding that in, you want them to tell you.”

How safe is Bigo Live for minors?

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Severity level: HIGH

A few months ago, CCRA reported on a cell phone video application named Live.me. When our online investigators started observing the program, we were floored at the amount of online enticement incidents we observed. Not only were the number of underage users high in numbers, but so were the predators.

Today, CCRA was made aware of the cell phone video application named Bigo Live, owned and operated by Bigo Technology, located out of Singapore. At first, it looks cute and innocent with the cartoon dinosaur logo, but when we first logged in, what we spotted made Live.me look like a joke along the lines of “dangerous applications”.

When making our first observations of the broadcasters, not only were we shocked at the large number of underage users from around the world, but in seconds, multiple messages to those users from grown adults, were making requests that should never be made to children. Not only were we appalled over the requests, but the fact of how Bigo Live makes available personal information on these minors as well. Anything can be found on their profiles from IP addresses, phone numbers and cities and states. We knew when spotting this that the danger level for minors was absolutely ridiculous.

Our staff made several attempts to contact Bigo Live support, however, their support team gives out no phone number, no email address and only allows you to contact them via their application’s instant message. We’ll be shocked if we even receive back a response.

Due to the danger level of this application, we strongly suggest that parents check their children’s phones and remove this application as soon as possible. The Bigo Technology group appears to show no interest in the safety of their users, particularly towards minors.

Why screen names should be different


Most of us at one point, if not always have created a username or screen name for a website or program we use. Programs like Kik and others require a screen name to use. Most of us tend to get into the habit of using the same screen name over and over again for different programs and sites. Sure, it makes it easy for us to remember and for friends to find us, but could this be an issue?

According to reports and observations from CCRA, it actually and lead to a bad idea. How so? Put simply, it makes your information easy to find. Most sites and programs ask for your full name, city and state and where you work or go to school. While it’s true some do not, if you have the same username on programs that do ask that, it makes it easy for someone to Google your screen name and pull up those profiles where the information is held.

When speaking with the CCRA Executive Director about this situation, he commented, stating, “What we’re seeing is stalking suspects trying to track down their victims online. They can’t find the information on the initial platform, so they search on the web for that username. They find sites that do give out personal information, sometimes even addresses and further their stalking with that information.” He said.

The agency always suggests using different screen names or usernames on different sites for this purpose. Don’t let your same username lead to people discovering your other profiles with detailed information. Think of new usernames instead and limit what you provide in general.

Proper Way of Handling Predators


We can all agree that nobody likes online predators (except other predators). Every year seems like the problem keeps increasing with the large number of predator arrests made.

Most everyone would love the opportunity of confronting a predator and doing a justice for the community. Of course, the law does not support these actions as all are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. So what exactly can the community do to put a stop to online predators? Unfortunately this is an issue that isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

“There’s too many of them, secret websites and the dark web are rising in numbers as we speak.” said Matthew Baumgartner, Vice Executive of CCRA. “We can’t stop them all, but we can do our best to stop many of them.”

What exactly does this mean? What is there left to do? Making reports to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is the best course of action at this point. Ensuring parental controls are active on computers and keeping them in public areas of the house, such as the living room dramatically decrease the chances of children from becoming a victim.

As much as every minor hates it, checking your child’s phone for suspicious applications, such as Kik and Live.me are also advisable as those two apps have been known to cause much issue in the community.

Should a predator ever arrange a meeting with your child, do not under any circumstances attempt to engage them yourself. Contact law enforcement and they will properly and legally deal with the issue. Many vigilante groups have attempted to take matters into their own hands these past couple of years, by meeting the predators and recording their confrontations, which have caused many issues such as traffic accidents, injuries and mistaken identities. We have spoken to several of these vigilante groups who actually by no surprise are currently in civil suits by their accused predators.

By taking these steps and precautions you’ll ensure the predators receive the true justice they’ll get. After all, prison has been known to not being so friendly towards child predators.