Online Scammers 'Phish' for New HD Set Owners

The well-publicized jump in sales of HD products in the holiday selling period of late 2006, coupled with last weekend's Super Bowl, apparently captured the attention of some Internet scam artists. The perpetrators used their technical prowess to "phish" for possible victims by sending e-mail disguised as coming from the same electronics stores where customers in the state of Washington had recently purchased HD sets, according to KOMO-TV in Seattle.

The typical phishing e-mail read, in part, "Thank you for purchasing your new wide-screen, high-definition television. We hope you enjoyed the big game [Super Bowl] Sunday. We're having a problem processing your credit card." Or sometimes it may tell the unsuspecting e-mail recipient, "We can't file your warranty." The e-mail then courteously requests the reader fill in some pertinent data (notably credit card numbers) in order to "verify" the HD transaction.

The scam, which is similar to ones used to replicate official e-mail and Web sites of banks and other bona fide institutions, has mimicked tens of thousands of legitimate businesses by hijacking logos and trademarks. Experts say while most e-mail recipients know better than to fall for such schemes, the scam artists are reliably counting on a small percentage of people to eagerly respond with their valuable personal information--a brief lapse in judgment that often leads to identity theft that may take years to correct.