Nov 24, 2023NewsroomThreat Analysis / Dark Web
More details have emerged about a malicious Telegram bot called Telekopye that's used by threat actors to pull off large-scale phishing scams.
"Telekopye can craft phishing websites, emails, SMS messages, and more," ESET security researcher Radek Jizba said in a new analysis.
The threat actors behind the operation – codenamed Neanderthals – are known to run the criminal enterprise as a legitimate company, spawning a hierarchical structure that encompasses different members who take on various roles.
Once aspiring Neanderthals are recruited via advertisements on underground forums, they are invited to join designated Telegram channels that are used for communicating with other Neanderthals and keep track of transaction logs.
The ultimate goal of the operation is to pull off one of the three types of scams: seller, buyer, or refund.
In the case of the former, Neanderthals pose as sellers and try to lure unwary Mammoths into purchasing a non-existent item. Buyer scams entail the Neaderthals masquerading as buyers so as to dupe the Mammoths (i.e., merchants) into entering their financial details to part with their funds.
Other scenarios fall into a category called refund scams wherein Neaderthals trick the Mammoths a second time under the pretext of offering a refund, only to deduct the same amount of money again.
Singapore headquartered cybersecurity firm Group-IB previously told The Hacker News that the activity tracked as Telekopye is the same as Classiscam, which refers to a scam-as-a-service program that has netted the criminal actors $64.5 million in illicit profits since its emergence in 2019.
"For the Seller scam scenario, Neanderthals are advised to prepare additional photos of the item to be ready if Mammoths ask for additional details," Jizba noted. "If Neanderthals are using pictures they downloaded online, they are supposed to edit them to make image search more difficult."
Choosing a Mammoth for a buyer scam is a deliberate process that takes into account the victim's gender, age, experience in online marketplaces, rating, reviews, number of completed trades, and the type of items they are selling, indicating a preparatory stage that involves extensive market research.
Also utilized by Neanderthals are web scrapers to sift through online marketplace listings and pick an ideal Mammoth who is likely to fall for the bogus scheme.
Should a mammoth prefer in-person payment and in-person delivery for sold goods, the Neanderthals claim "they are too far away or that they are leaving the city for a business trip for a few days," while simultaneously demonstrating heightened interest in the item to increase the likelihood of success of the scam.
Neanderthals have also been observed use VPNs, proxies, and TOR to stay anonymous, while also exploring real estate scams wherein they create bogus websites with apartment listings and entice Mammoths into paying for a reservation fee by clicking on a link that points to a phishing website.
"Neanderthals write to a legitimate owner of an apartment, pretending to be interested and ask for various details, such as additional pictures and what kind of neighbors the apartment has," Jizba said.
"The Neanderthals then take all this information and create their own listing on another website, offering the apartment for rent. They cut the expected market price by about 20%. The rest of the scenario is identical to the Seller scam scenario."
The disclosure comes as Check Point detailed a rug pull scam that managed to pilfer nearly $1 million by luring unsuspecting victims into investing in fake tokens and executing simulated trades to create a veneer of legitimacy.
"Once the token had sufficiently lured in investors, the scammer executed the final move – withdrawal of liquidity from the token pool, leaving token purchasers with empty hands and depleted funds," the company said.
from The Hacker News https://bit.ly/47O490h