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Cyber-Scammer Alert Issued By Plano Police

Learn how scammers manipulate search results and crucial tips to protect yourself online
Photo: LALAKA / Shutterstock

In a recent Facebook post, the Plano Police Department warned about cyber-scammers exploiting search engine algorithms. According to the department's post, cybercriminals are utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics to place fraudulent websites at the top of search results.

"Scammers purchase ads to position fraudulent websites at the TOP of search results, disguising them to mimic trustworthy sites," the Plano Police Department stated in the Facebook post.

These fraudulent websites often mimic legitimate company logos and websites dealing with payments, transfers or purchases, such as PayPal or Lowe’s. The scammers then create a near-identical fake website and offer a link in the ad that directs users directly to the imposter site where they pose as legitimate company employees. Unsuspecting users then unknowingly provide sensitive information, including account details, security codes, usernames, and passwords.

The Plano Police Department advises citizens to be cautious when searching online and to employ several preventative measures:

  • Bookmark frequently visited websites, especially social media and financial platforms, to avoid relying on search results.
  • Refrain from clicking on links within search results. Instead, manually type the website address directly into the browser's address bar.
  • Opt to use official applications from reputable companies for added security.
  • Regularly run antivirus software on all devices to remove any ad-generating malware.

The department also encourages users to remain vigilant, report scam sites to the affected companies' fraud departments, and contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center if they encounter fraudulent activity online. Victims of such scams are urged to contact their local law enforcement agencies to file reports and receive additional guidance on safeguarding their accounts.

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