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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Are the proceeds really going to charity? 

    Are the proceeds really going to charity?

    We’ve all seen the commercials on TV where if you buy a certain item a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a specific charity. Usually, those TV ads are sponsored by a major corporation whose product is a known item with a reasonable reputation. Also, the proceeds are usually going to a well-known charity that has done good across the country if not the globe. However, in these days of multiple avenues of media, it’s not just television where these ads are appearing. The problem is that some of these ads are trying to take advantage of your generosity.

    The Better Business Bureau is reporting that there are ads appearing on social media that purport to be selling an item for charity. Some of these supposed merchants will even go as far as direct messaging people and will ask them to help spread the word about the alleged charity. What really happens is that there is no charity and you won’t be receiving any item. Instead, the phony vendor is just trying to make off with your hard-earned money, or worse, trying to steal your financial information.

    If you come across one of these ads and are tempted to buy the product you should first do your research. The BBB recommends checking for reviews of the company first to see if they have any complaints filed against them. You shouldn’t be fooled by a slick-looking website either as they can be put up and dismantled in a matter of moments. You can also research the charity at Give.org which is also maintained by the BBB.

    There really is no level that online scammers won’t stoop to. If you just take a few moments to do a modicum of investigation, you can protect yourself from falling victim to these con artists.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cincinnati, fitness trainer, ,   

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam 

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam

    A woman from Cincinnati recently came forward to the media after falling victim to an online romance scam. This is significant as many victims are too embarrassed to report the scam to police let alone the press. She met the scammer on Instagram where they posed as a sort of fitness trainer to the stars. The scammer claimed that he trained many contestants on a popular reality show. They would include pictures of the trainer working out with many of the show’s cast members. The scammer messaged the woman saying he wanted to get to know her better.

    He invited the woman to his fitness studio in New York but first, he had to travel to Africa on business. It was while the supposed trainer was in Africa when the money requests started. First, the scammer requested money for a plane ticket after he got stranded in Africa. The woman wired the money to him. After receiving the first money transfer, the scammer went back to the well asking for more money claiming that he had to pay back taxes to the local African government or they wouldn’t let him go. The woman wired the additional funds to Africa to the awaiting scammer.

    This scammer was clever enough to the point where he instructed his victim to visit different wire service locations so clerks couldn’t recognize the woman as a repeat customer and warn her of the scam. A friend of the woman felt something was up and told the victim to try to contact the scammer on FaceTime. The scammer replied that he couldn’t communicate with her over FaceTime, Skype, or even through a regular phone call. It was at this point that the scammer stopped responding to the victim but not before she was out of $2,076.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are they’re trying to scam you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams, as does the FBI. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business email compromise, Operation reWired,   

    Close to 300 email scammers arrested in global operation 

    Close to 300 email scammers arrested in global operation

    Recently, the Justice Department announced the arrests of 281 scammers that were allegedly involved in email and wire fraud. The scams that were involved ran the gamut including business email compromise schemes, phony employment scams, lottery scams, phony car sales, and, of course, romance scams. These particualr scammers are said to have scammed their victims in the US out of $3.7 million. Those arrested are from all over the globe including Nigeria, the United States, Turkey, Ghana, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.

    The business email compromise scheme is probably the costliest scam to hit the United States in recent times. In this scam, phony emails that look legitimate are sent to the financial departments of corporations trying to get money wired to overseas accounts. Often the emails will appear like they’ve been sent by the corporation’s CEO or some other high ranking official. According to the FBI, this scam has cost various companies tens of billions of dollars.

    While this sweep, dubbed Operation reWired, was a major success for the DOJ, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a drop in the bucket. As technology advances, so do the scammers. They’re constantly refining their techniques to outsmart their victims while the rest of us are trying to play catch up. The best any of us can do is to continue educating ourselves on what scams to currently look out for as they continue to emerge.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    How to get the new iPhone without being ripped off 

    How to get the new iPhone without being ripped off

    Yesterday at one of their annual events, Apple announced the upcoming release of the iPhone 11. While the new generation of iPhones aren’t that much different than the iPhone X, they are said to have better cameras and better battery life along with a faster processor. Apple even took a step that they don’t normally do by offering these devices at a lower price than their predecessor. The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are being sold at prices of $699, $999, and $1,099 respectively for the base 64GB models. If you skipped the iPhone X this may be the time for you to pick up a new device. However, you shouldn’t let your eagerness for a new phone override your common sense when it comes to getting a deal.

    As soon as new iPhones are announced, scammers are probably already looking to take your money or sell you knockoffs. The iPhone 11 does not officially go on sale online through Apple until this Friday. At 5am PT on the 13th, you’ll be able to order an iPhone 11 through Apple’s online store. Then the devices will be available through retail outlets come the 20th. While iPhones are still wildly popular, they don’t have the demand like they used to when people would camp out at Apple stores trying to get their hands on the limited supply. That doesn’t mean that scammers won’t try to make a buck off of you.

    Often, scammers will post iPhones for sale claiming that they bought two by accident and are trying to get rid of one. Or they’ll say they bought one then got another one as a gift. These could be serious red flags when it comes to buying a new iPhone second hand. If you are going to buy an iPhone second hand, try to avoid the usual scams such as wiring money to the seller. If the seller can’t meet you at a local police station then the odds are pretty good you saved yourself from fraud.

    If you miss out on the first round of orders from Apple, just be patient. After the hoopla dies down you’ll probably be able to get a decent deal from one of the top phone carriers as we get closer to the holiday season.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Majority of puppy listings are fake 

    Majority of puppy listings are fake

    We’ve discussed the puppy scam in great detail many times before. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, it’s when scammers advertise puppies for sale online but the puppy doesn’t exist. Instead, the scammers get you to pay for the puppy up front before disappearing with your money. They usually have you wire the money to them so they can’t be traced. So just how common is this scam? The Better Business Bureau estimates that 80% of online sponsored ads about pets could be bogus.

    That’s not even taking into account the number of backyard breeders or puppy mills who are selling sick pets to unsuspecting customers. Often people will breed popular breeds of dogs just to cash in on their popularity. Too many times these unlicensed breeders will have little regard for the animals’ health. There have been many instances where a dog was sold online only for the new owners get the puppy home and discover that the new addition to their family had the deadly parvovirus.

    As always, if a deal seems too good to be true, especially for a living creature, then it probably is. If you are going to purchase a pet, we always recommend avoiding online and the pet store as they tend to be avenues for frauds and puppy mills. Instead, we recommend either dealing with a licensed breeder or your local animal shelter. Even then, consumers should still do their research into these facilities to make sure the animals are being treated ethically.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Protect yourself against deepfake fraud 

    Protect yourself against deepfake fraud

    Last week, it was revealed that a German energy company doing business in the UK was conned out of more than $240,000. The scammers were using a form of deepfake technology that mimicked the voice of the company’s CEO. A director of the company was instructed by the phony CEO over both phone and email to wire payment to an account in Hungary to avoid a late payment fine. Reports say that the director could not distinguish between the AI-assisted deepfake and the CEO’s actual voice so the money was wired without question. The plot may not have been uncovered if it wasn’t for the scammers’ greed.

    The scammers tried getting the director to wire more funds to another account. At this point, the director felt like something was up and called the CEO himself. It was at this point that the scammers posing as the CEO called the director while the director was on the phone with the CEO himself. Unfortunately, by this time it was too late to do anything about the original payment. The funds had been scattered across the globe after being wired to the initial account and no suspects have been named as of yet.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some good news and bad news about deepfake audio though. The bad news is that the technology is advancing at such a rapid pace it could only be a matter of time before scammers would only need to keep you on the phone for a minute before getting enough of your voice to make a deepfake out of you. However, the good news is that companies can fight deepfakes by instilling a culture of security. They suggest that companies should confirm transactions like this by calling the person who supposedly requested the transaction directly.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , eavesdropping, , ,   

    Is your phone really eavesdropping on you? 

    Is your phone really eavesdropping on you?

    Has this ever happened to you? You’re just innocently talking with your friends or family about something you normally don’t talk about. Then you see an ad on your phone for the very thing you were talking about. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that companies like Facebook and Google are eavesdropping on your private conversations so they can serve you more targeted ads. It’s compounded by the fact that companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have admitted that human contractors listen in on conversations heard by digital assistants. However, at least one study says that the eavesdropping phone is largely a myth.

    A mobile security company called Wandera has said that they’ve conducted research which they say shows that tech companies are not listening to your conversations. They placed an iPhone and an Android phone in a chamber where pet food advertisements continuously played. Both phones were running Facebook, Instagram, Chrome, SnapChat, YouTube, and Amazon in the background. However, the researchers did not witness any related ads on the devices in question. The researchers also say that the data used by both devices indicate that conversations are not being sent to the major tech companies. That’s not to say that tech companies aren’t tracking us in other ways.

    Other things like location data and browsing histories are said to be more effective in serving us targeted ads. Also, if you use a loyalty card at any store, advertising companies buy that information from the store and can match it with your social media accounts. Supposedly, there are sett9ngs on your phone where you can limit such targeting, however, we’ve either not been able to find these settings or they’re buried so deep in the app’s settings that it makes it difficult to escape targeting.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rubbin Sarpong,   

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions 

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions

    A 30-year-old man from New Jersey was recently arrested for allegedly swindling over $2 million from victims in a romance scam. Romance scams are designed to prey upon the lonely and take advantage of their vulnerable state. It’s not unheard of for victims to have given anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars to romance scammers. The scammers typically tend to pose as military personnel who are stationed overseas as was the case of Rubbin Sarpong of Millville, New Jersey. Sarpong is accused of scamming millions of dollars from a total of 30 victims.

    Sarpong reportedly posed as a member of the military stationed in Syria on multiple dating and social media sites. After he had his victims believing in the fictitious romance, Sarpong would ask for money to ship gold bars from Syria to the United States. In reality, there were no gold bars and Sarpong kept the money for himself. At least one victim wired $28,000 to Sarpong. While Sarpong was able to maintain this scam for three years it didn’t stop him from bragging on social media about how much money he made. He would often post pictures online of himself with large stacks of cash. At his court appearance after his arrest, Sarpong even tried telling the judge that he couldn’t afford an attorney. The judge denied his request for a public defender. If convicted, Sarpong is looking at 20 years in federal prison.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are likely that they’re trying to con you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    States warn of hurricane charity scams 

    States warn of hurricane charity scams

    Hurricane Dorian has already devastated the Bahamas. It’s now threatening the East Coast with damaging wind and rains. Even though it’s been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane it’s still expected to cause major damage to Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Victims of the hurricane, whether in the US or the Caribbean, will be looking to charitable donations to help rebuild what they’ve lost from the storm. While it’s always a good idea to donate to those in need you should always be careful about who you’re donating to. As we’ve been saying, natural disasters tend to bring out any number of con artists and scammers and they often tend to pose as charities.

    Both the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau are warning those willing to donate to not fall for phony charities. Robocallers will soon be hitting up unsuspecting people asking for donations for storm relief. They’re hoping that people are willing to pay the first person who comes along asking for money. Too often people are willing to do this. While the donators’ hearts are in the right place it doesn’t help those in need.

    Florida has set up the Fresh From Florida website to help you pick a legitimate charity. Meanwhile, the BBB has Give.org to guide you to the best charity suited for you and the victims of the storm.

    Some more tips to avoid charity scams include not paying a supposed charity with gift cards or wire transfers as these are the most common tools scammers use to take your money. Also, beware of crowdfunding sites that give vague statements about who the money is going to. If they something along the lines of the money is going to the ‘victims of Hurricane Dorian’ without citing a specific charity the odds are likely it is a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flood cars, ,   

    This hurricane scam could hit anywhere in the US 

    This hurricane scam could hit anywhere in the US

    While Hurricane Dorian may not make landfall in the Southeastern United States, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be damage to those areas. With hurricanes also comes the possibility of massive flooding. More people perish in hurricanes from water than they do from wind damage. And as we’ve mentioned before, whenever there is a natural disaster there will be scammers to take advantage of it. Previously we’ve discussed price gouging when it comes to hurricanes but that usually only affects people being directly impacted by the hurricane. There is another scam that can affect anyone in the United States.

    Whenever a hurricane causes widespread flooding a great number of cars and other vehicles will be totaled in the flood. Technically a flood car is not supposed to be sold intact unless it is marked so on the title. This has not stopped scammers from trying to sell these cars to unwitting victims. These vehicles are not just sold in hurricane-prone areas either as they can end up being sold anywhere in the country and years after the hurricane happened. In order to avoid buying one of these vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends avoiding cars being sold that claim to have ‘lost’ titles. You should also check for any kind of flood damage such as excessive rust, must odors, or mold.

    The NHTSA also recommends avoiding any robocalls about your vehicle if it was totaled in a flood. Instead, you should immediately call your insurance company to start the process of your insurance claim. If you suspect someone of trying to sell you a damaged flood vehicle you can report it to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll-free at 866-720-5721 or at the FTC’s website.

     
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