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Cyber crime expert’s tips after businesses hit in ‘reputation attacks’

PUBLISHED: 15:28 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 April 2020

Cyber crime expert Deborah Cubbin has tips on how to stay safe online amid coronavirus scams after an estate agent received a 'reputation attack' on his business. Pic: Cyberfen/Minors & Brady/Archant

Cyber crime expert Deborah Cubbin has tips on how to stay safe online amid coronavirus scams after an estate agent received a 'reputation attack' on his business. Pic: Cyberfen/Minors & Brady/Archant

The boss of a Norwich firm which fights cyber fraud has advised business owners on steps to take if they are targeted by scammers.

Jamie Minors, an estate agent, was targeted by a bribery scam. Pic: Jamie Minors/ArchantJamie Minors, an estate agent, was targeted by a bribery scam. Pic: Jamie Minors/Archant

Deborah Cubbin, of Cyberfen, which is based in Palace Street, said people using the internet more as they work remotely during coronavirus was resulting in more fraud and scams.

It comes as a local firm of estate agents, Minors & Brady, contacted police after they were targeted recently by a gang who conducted a ‘reputation attack’.

The agents were threatened in a message on social media by people saying they would post negative reviews on Facebook if they weren’t paid £199.

When boss Jamie Minors refused to pay, he awoke the next day to find a catalogue of one-star reviews left on his firm’s social media. Two other Norwich businesses, a market florist and a mortgage firm, were also targeted in the same way.

Jamie Minors, of Minors & Brady, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & Brady,Jamie Minors, of Minors & Brady, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & Brady,

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Mrs Cubbin, who runs Cyberfen with husband Peter, said: “Unfortunately, there will always be people eager to make money out of others. Because everyone is relying on online working systems at the moment, it means that there are more people online than usual.

Deborah Cubbin, co-founder of Cyberfen, a firm which fights cyber crime. Pic: CyberfenDeborah Cubbin, co-founder of Cyberfen, a firm which fights cyber crime. Pic: Cyberfen

“These situations will always mean there will be some people looking to make money during what they see as a window of opportunity. I would suspect that the reviews have been posted by ‘bots’, automated programmes that circulate around the internet, which most people will find easy to recognise when looking at reviews.

“Mr Minors can report it to Facebook with a copy of the demand for £199 that he received, they should then be able to delete the fake reviews. In the meantime he can reply to the fake reviewers explaining that he has no record of them on his database and would like them to confirm when they were a customer of his.

“Also I would suggest he does a post of his own explaining what has happened.”

Mr Minors has given the details of the cyber attack to police and said he was overwhelmed by the amount of support from real customers, who took to social media to post positive reviews and comments.

He said: “We’ve had incredible support, I’ve been overwhelmed with it, to be frank. Sadly the cyber criminals have hammered a lot of other small businesses. I am now submitting the details to the police.”

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