New scams use fake traffic tickets

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traffic ticket

This is what a real N.Y. traffic ticket looks like, and it doesn't come by email. Image: grilled cheese/Flickr/CC BY-ND

A new scam is targeting motorists worldwide. It is an email alert demanding drivers pay up for an old speeding ticket in New York State. Opening the attached zip file looses a Trojan Horse virus in the recipient’s computer. This is not the only traffic ticket scam out there.

Could be used to steal identity

The email subject reads “UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET,” with a return address Recipients are asked to print out the attachment and send it to the New York-sounding Chatham Hall. It looks legitimate, but when the file is opened a Trojan Horse virus in unleashed that could be used to track private information and, subsequently, steal identities.

Spammed worldwide

With red-light cameras as prominent as they are today, getting a ticket in the mail may not, in and of itself, seem suspicious. However, most recipients will know right away that it is a scam, or at the very least a mistake, unless they have actually driven through New York State at some point.

Beth Jones, senior threat researcher for SophosLabs U.S., said:

“It wasn’t very sophisticated as they spammed it worldwide, rather than narrowing the focus to the U.S. or even to New York. It easily could’ve been some kid in his room who wanted to see if he could make some ‘easy money’ from hard-working folks.”

Comments on SophosLabs’ Facebook page show that many recipients outside the U.S. are rejecting the emails at a glance.

Marike van Breugel wrote:

“I got 4 of these today. Considering I live in Thailand it seems absurd. Can’t the spammers sort by country even?”

Old scam, new tactic

According to Jones, the scam is unique in its subject matter. Using a speeding ticket as a way to persuade recipients to open an attachment, she said, has not been seen before.

A second scam

Long Island, N.Y.’s Cablevision News 12 reported a similar, though more targeted, scam last week. Suffolk County residents, according to the news outlet, are receiving emails claiming that they were caught running a red light by a red-light camera. The email threatens points against the driver’s license if the “citation” is not paid.

Suffolk County authorities responded, saying legitimate citations will only be sent through traditional ground mail and that actual red-light camera photos are all posted on the county’s website.


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