Beware: Dog Registration Scam

We’ve just gone through a spate of the infamous “Unclaimed Parcel” scam here in Australia and now, it seems, the scammers have come up with yet another ingenious means to dupe innocent victims. Separate instances of the following text message was received by both my daughter-in-law and wife during the past week:

The illegitimacy of this message might be obvious to the savvy user – the message is addressing no one in particular plus the link’s URL is clearly obfuscated – but it is actually a very clever scam, and I’ll explain why.

Here in Australia, dog registrations are handled by local government, so terms differ from region to region. Where I live, for example, the fee sits at around $50.00AU per dog and is paid annually. Now, here’s the ingenious part… all dog registrations share a common expiry and renewal date regardless of when a dog has first been registered. That date is in September which is just around the corner.

Lots of people own dogs so, if the scammers send out thousands of these messages, the vast majority are going to be received by dog owners. Factor in that all dog registrations are, in fact, almost due for renewal (in September, remember) and it’s not difficult to see how some people could be fooled.

What Happens If You Click The Link

Clicking the link could result in a couple of possible scenarios:

  1. The user will be taken to a fake website where they’ll be prompted to pay a fee and input credit card details which, if the user complies, would lead to loss of money and, worse still, their credit card details being used for fraudulent purposes
  2. The device will be instantly infected with malware, most likely spyware or a keylogger, with potentially disastrous consequences

We recently published an article covering this very topic which suggested one simple rule to help keep users safe:

Always treat everything with a healthy degree of skepticism and an abundance of caution

If you think they’re out to get us, you’d be 100% correct. These scammers can seemingly come up with an unending supply of new and innovative methods to either extract money from unsuspecting users, gather personal information (including financial details), or both.

I cannot emphasize the importance of employing that one simple rule enough. And, if you’re a savvy user but know of vulnerable folk among your circle of family and friends, do them a favor and please pass along that advice.

Stay safe out there!

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