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PayPal and Apple Email Fraud Expands at an Alarming Rate

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) While spam is reportedly declining, phishing emails are becoming more sophisticated and, at for at least one common target, more prevalent. Fraudulent emails pretending to be sent from PayPal are up more than 70% from last year, according to research issued by Cyren, an information security company. The phishing email attempts to scam recipients into revealing their name, address and Social Security number in an effort to gain access to PayPal account holders' financial data and assets.

"In the first quarter of 2014, spam levels continued their general downward trend. The new year period produced the traditional drop with spam representing only 57% of all global email at its lowest," the Cyren Internet Threat Trends Report says. "The average daily spam level for the quarter was 54 billion emails per day with some days seeing levels approaching 30 billion emails."

Apple is the second most frequently phished brand according to the report, with fraudulent emails attempting to gain Apple IDs and billing information.

Cyren says the volume of pharmaceutical product spam emails (especially Viagra and similar products) rose 45% from last quarter's analysis, leading all categories.

Emails touting fast, easy income were the second most prevalent, accounting for approximately 15% of all spam email, followed by pitches for diet products (1%).

Gmail accounts are frequent targets for hackers, with one recent email focusing on high net worth individuals. The email, with a subject line of "Wealth management article for your review," is very careful in its attempt to limit responses to those who are financially qualified:

"Hi All,

Attached is an article for your review. It is quite a good read and definitely the most insightful I have read on wealth management.

NOTE: This is a general message I'm sending to my contact list, to enlighten friends and family on wealth management, so feel free to login and view document for your financial enlightenment, this is only useful to those with wealth to manage and if you've no wealth to manage, don't bother opening."

The email leads the recipient to a fake Google login/phishing site, asking for the user's Google ID and password as well as sign on credentials for a number of other sites.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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