Fake calls dupe US citizens for WikiLeaks access

    By IANS,

    London : US citizens have been warned against fake calls that dupe people to give money by threatening them of legal actions for accessing WikiLeaks website despite a ban imposed by the government on accessing leaked classified documents.

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    The Guardian reported here that Americans are being targeted by the fake phone message which says: “Your computer and IP address have been noted as visiting the WikiLeaks site.”

    The whistle-blower website has published thousands of documents, including files related to the US-led war in Afghanistan and Iraq war and diplomatic cables sent to and from American embassies across the globe.

    The recorded message says reading leaked cables could lead to imprisonment or a hefty fine. The penalty for doing this: a $250,000 or $25,000 fine, and the possibility of imprisonment.

    The call also leaves a number to call where the fine can be paid – with a reduction for prompt settlement and without the unpleasantness of a court case.

    The message prompts Americans to act as they are concerned about the ban on government workers against visiting WikiLeaks site which has been accused of breaking the country’s law.

    The US authorities have also issued subpoenas for the records of some of the 700,000 people who follow the WikiLeaks Twitter account.

    But the call is just the latest manifestation of fraudsters’ ability to pick up on concerns and milk them, the British daily said.

    The Spokane arm of the US’s Better Business Bureau, an independent organisation which accredits businesses, has warned people to beware of such calls.

    “It was only a matter of time before clever scammers would reveal a ‘latest’ approach at attempting to part people with their money in 2011,” the organisation was quoted as saying.

    “If you are military personnel, this type of call could seem very real or hold more significance because the US Pentagon openly banned military personnel from visiting WikiLeaks for security reasons.”

    Federal staff were told in December they may not access the site because its information is formally classified – despite more than a million US staff having fully authorised access to the content of the cables that were leaked.

    The Library of Congress also banned access, and students at Columbia University were told it could harm their job prospects if they accessed the cables.

    There are no confirmed reports so far of anyone falling prey to the scam, the daily said, but they may have been told they’re not allowed to speak about it because they’ll be guilty of treason.