Beware: Fake VPNs emerge after US privacy changes

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It seems that online scammers are already trying to take advantage of the recent surge in interest in VPNs in the USA, with evidence of fake VPNs already emerging.

As we reported earlier in the week, the recent legislation in the US which rolls back internet privacy law and allows ISPs to sell user data without getting permission has seen a huge spike in interest in VPNs in the USA and beyond.

VPN providers are reporting increases in traffic of up to 50% and this is no doubt being accompanied by a jump in subscriber numbers too. Obviously, subscribers mean people who pay money and a spike in interest suggests plenty of people who are perhaps not completely familiar with what makes a good VPN. For online scammers, this is potentially rich pickings. And they haven’t been slow to seek to cash in.

Even though the law change was only signed off a few days ago, there is already evidence of information about fake VPNs coming to light.

MySafeVPN – a fake VPN provider

The Vice tech pages, Motherboard, have reported about a service which calls itself MySafeVPN and which has been promoted in a number of scam emails. Their journalist received an email promoting the service and claiming it was linked to a company called Plex, which operates a media streaming platform.

The email referred to the recent changes in US law, the UK’s recent Investigatory Powers Bill, and suggested that Plex users should sign up with their new VPN. However, when the journalist forwarded the email to Plex’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Scott Olechowski, he swiftly replied saying the email was “*absolutely not* a Plex affiliated service or offering” and that he would suggest using “almost any other VPN service” as this one seemed “super sketchy”.

It then came to light that former users of Boxee, a former rival service to Flex which shut down in 2015 had also received emails suggesting that the service had relaunched as MySafeVPN.

Now as Motherboard points out, one thing that Plex and Boxee have in common is that both have fallen victims to hacks in the past which saw user emails being lost. It appears likely that these email lists are being applied, with the knowledge that users are, or were users of Plex or Boxee, to try and persuade people to sign up for a fake VPN.

Such practice is far from new and is one of the reasons why it is so important for users to protect their online data. Even with two such innocuous pieces of information, hackers can set up a scam which some users will no doubt have fallen for

Definitely fraudulent

If this isn’t enough to convince you that MySafeVPN is definitely fraudulent, then there is more.

Further digging revealed that the mySafeVPN website was registered on March 30th 2017 and automatically triggers a virus warning when you connect to it Meanwhile, their Twitter account had just two tweets on it. All of this is pretty suspicious, to put it mildly.

Motherboard made various attempts to contact MySafeVPN for comment, and after getting through to someone on the phone was fobbed off with a claim that while Plex hadn’t officially affiliated, the product was developed by Plex developers. This is in direct contradiction to what the email claims.

They also contacted a Plex message board user who did try to subscribe and paid $24.99 via Paypal. He informed them that he had been unable to find an actual VPN server to connect to and eventually got PayPal to refund his money.

On his invoice, further contact details were given which Motherboard also called. After sending an email to a guy called Pav and leaving a voicemail on the phone of someone called Emily, the journalist then received a phone call from Pav who proceeded to verbally abuse him for writing the story and then hung up.

Use a reliable VPN

While MySafeVPN a pretty obvious fake for those with even a modicum of technological knowledge, it will no doubt have fooled some people. And in the current climate, there are inevitably going to be more sophisticated fake VPNs out there trying to swindle people out of their hard-earned cash too.

The lesson from this story is a simple one. Yes, it is advisable to use a VPN when logging onto the internet in the USA, the UK, and indeed everywhere else. But be sure to use a reputable and established VPN provider.

Here at VPNCompare.co.uk, we regularly road-test scores of VPNs so we can provide our customers with honest and readable reviews and recommendations they can trust. So for anyone looking to sign up for a VPN for the first time, take a look at our reviews and have a read of our Guides.

Let us guide you to the right VPN for you, and keep you safe from the fake VPNs, like MySafeVPN, who are just after your money.

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