Spammers are putting a new twist on pump-and-dump scams, according to a new report by McAfee.
Pump-and -dump scams artificially inflate stock prices with misleading information so they can be sold at a higher price. In the world of cyber-crime, this is done through spam campaigns promoting particular stocks.
"An interesting twist in a new campaign targeting over-the-counter stock Ganas Corp. (GACR) is that scammers are using the company's YouTube video channel, which legitimately advertises its all-electric SUV, to lure users into buying the stock," blogged Sam Masiello, director of Messaging Security Research at McAfee. "The campaign appears to have worked...Although many factors can influence the price, the recent peaks and valleys seem to indicate that there have been multiple spam runs on this particular security, the most recent at the end of the day Nov. 2, in which the price jumped about 30 percent in a couple of hours."
"This stock appears even more attractive to unwitting buyers because the year-to-date price is down about 70 percent, leading the victims to believe that this is a really good deal--while remaining oblivious to the fact that they are about to be left holding the bag after the scammers sell their shares," he added.
Masiello predicted more cyber-criminals will use a company's social media channels for profit as social media platforms and the ads that can be delivered through them become more open. In the meantime, YouTube and other open platforms are fair game for the bad guys, he wrote.
"Even if you invest in the stock market and think you have this game figured out, I suggest you not try to outsmart the criminals," he blogged. "You might believe that you can play the system and make money on a pump-and-dump campaign along with the scammers. But they hold all the cards: Only they know when they are going to get in and get out and manipulate the stock price to their advantage."