Scamwatch: Google Chrome fraud

Scamwatch: Google Chrome fraud
Scamwatch: Google Chrome fraud

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we highlight a dangerous new credit card scam that involves malicious software, or malware, designed to look like popular web browser Google Chrome.

How does it work?

With this new scam, malware appears on the desktop of your computer with the standard Google Chrome icon, making it almost indistinguishable from the real application.

The window that opens up looks the same; the navigation bar looks the same; even the HTPPS lock icon is the same as the one used by the popular browser.

The aim is that users are tricked into thinking they are safe when the malware, dubbed Betaling, loads a page with a form requesting users enter their payment details.

However, any credit or debit card information entered into the fraudulent form is stored without the user's knowledge or permission, and sent to the cybercriminals behind the scam.

How can I avoid being caught out?

Scams of this kind are dangerous because they are very sneaky and convincing.

But the good news is that Betaling, which has only so far been used to scam Chrome users in Holland, is not a perfect Google Chrome clone.

Telltale signs to be on the lookout for include that it requires users have a minimum version of .NET Framework 4.0 or higher installed, and has a Windows 8-style Metro design, even when you are running the app on an earlier version of Windows.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are taken in by a scam of this kind, you should report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).

Other steps you must take to protect yourself include contacting your bank to cancel the card concerned, changing passwords and login details to prevent hackers accessing your accounts, and running an online virus scanner such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner.