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DALLAS (CBS11 I-TEAM) – You’ve likely heard of having your identity stolen or your banking account taken over, but what about someone “becoming you” on line?
A new device may be helping some people, and companies, do just that.
It’s a small black box with a single board computer inside.
It is commonly known as a “Raspberry Pi” which retails for about $25-30.
The handheld device can be programmed to do just about anything from fly a drone to driving a car.
But one consumer named Jennifer (who doesn’t want her last name reported) says what the small device did to her just drove her mad!
“It captured every single activity that was taking place,” says Jennifer looking at her computer.
The Chicago woman saw an ad on Craigslist for a company called INR Marketing. The company’s website hails it as an “award-winning….global leader in media monitoring….headquartered in Dallas, Texas.” It will pay you $100 every month if you allow it to follow your activity for social media research.
“I did google the company. …There were no red flags out there about it.”
She filled out the application and received the device in the mail with instructions on how to plug it into her router. Jennifer thought it was easy money, and she said she did not care of anyone watched her on Facebook.
But, days later, ads start popping on her Facebook page–ads that are not approved by Facebook.
“Immediately I was like, what’s that? I didn’t put that there. It literally was if I had posted it.”
And then Jennifer recieved an alert that someone had attempted to wire money from one of her retirement accounts to the First Bank of Texas.
“I got up and ran and yanked the thing right out of the modem,” she says in reference to the mysterious device.
Kelle Slaughter is the lead investigator at the Better Business Bureau in Dallas.
She says they have received hundreds of inquiries about INR Marketing. Slaughter has been investigating the company for a year. She says she has watched them advertise on job seeking sites all over the country.
“Close to 500 people have been using these boxes and allowing INR Marketing to use their accounts, ” says Slaughter.
Slaughter began working with the I-Team one year ago digging into the device. She believes it is programmed to take over your Facebook account and place prohibited ads on it which could shut down your page.
“They become you,” explains Slaughter.
She also believes the device is channeling into your computer and taking blueprints of all of your activity, passwords, and personal information.
“It causes us concern because now they know a lot about you!!”
For months, the BBB has tried to get INR marketing to explain what it is doing, but Slaughter says no one will respond.
So the I-Team also went looking for answers.
Remember, INR Marketing is supposed to be headquartered in Dallas. But we learned the company’s address is a storage facility with a mail center.
An employee working in the mail center told us INR Marketing has a PO Box there. She said a man comes in every couple of days to check the box.
The I-Team repeatedly tried to reach INR Marketing by phone and by returning to the mail center. We left a note inside the PO Box asking someone to contact us. We returned days later and an employee in the mail center confirmed someone had received the note.
We learned the business is not registered in the State of Texas.
Facebook sent us this statement:
“Facebook has no relationship with this organization and does not endorse their activities. We advise people to never share their login information and to be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true.”
“It just mimicked me…pretended to be me,” says Cook. Now, she is asking, “What else have they done that i am not aware of yet?”
The I-Team never received a response from INR Marketing.
Investigators at the BBB tell us they have passed their information along to the Texas Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.
For the Dallas Better Business Bureau’s review of the company, click here.
And, you can click here for more information on what the Better Business Bureau is dubbing “Social Spoofing.”
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