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Security Response

SMS Privato Spy Cheating You Out of Your Money

Created: 08 Dec 2011 11:31:04 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:18:10 GMT • Translations available: 日本語
Peter Coogan's picture
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As underhanded as it is, there are people out there who want to spy on other people’s smartphone activity. However anyone looking to invade the privacy of a smartphone user may just as likely find themselves becoming a victim of fraud. SMS Privato Spy is a product that is marketed as allowing you to view the phone screen live, activate and listen on the microphone, view call logs, and perform GPS tracking at all times.  Sounds impressive, and all for a price tag of $50-125 depending on the package chosen.

If you are still not sold on the product they even provide a video on the site showing an interview on Myfoxla.com with a company called the Federal Forensics Group reviewing what is supposedly SMS Privato Spy.

The thing is there is no such product as SMS Privato Spy. The interview on Myfoxla.com with Elluma Discovery (formerly Federal Forensics Group) was for a different piece of legitimate software. In an attempt to add credibility to the scam, these fraudsters have taken a real interview for a different product and rereleased it as though it was for their own product. Eric Robi of Elluma Discovery who is featured in the interview with Foxla.com had the following to say about their interview being hijacked by these scammers.

“Unfortunately more than a few scammers such as Privato have embedded the video on their advertising page to make it look like we are endorsing them. There is little we can do about this deceptive practice. We receive many angry callers and emails from people who have been scammed and they think we have sold them the software or endorsed a product - which of course we have not.“

So what do the victims get for parting with their money on this site? Nothing.  If a victim follows the instructions on the site they will obtain a voucher pin code from an online payment site for the payment amount.  Once they use this payment pin code to register and purchase the product on the site, they are presented with the message below telling them that their order is being processed.

No further contact is made with the victim and the scammers take the unprocessed payment voucher pin code and use it for their own purposes.  We are aware of one case where the scammers seemed to have used the payment voucher to purchase items through an online gaming Web shop.  The game in question is a hugely popular online game and the fraudsters may have being purchasing points that are used as an in game currency.  Although NOT condoned by the gaming company, there is an online black market where gamers can buy and sell these points for real money.  This may have been the intention of the fraudsters in an attempt to try and launder their ill-gotten, monetary gains.

Selling nonexistent goods is nothing new and we have blogged about these types of fraudulent scams in the past.  As we have seen in this blog, scammers will go the extra length to convince potential victims that their product and website is legitimate. Always try to be vigilant when purchasing goods online.

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