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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Parents also targeted in arrest scam 

    Parents also targeted in arrest scam

    By Greg Collier

    There’s a scam we’ve covered many times before known as the grandparent scam. This is when scammers will pose as an elderly victim’s grandchild, while also claiming to be in legal trouble. The goal is to try to swindle money from the victim disguised as bail money or legal fees. Sometimes, the scammers will pose as law enforcement, bail bondsmen, or attorneys instead of a grandchild, but the scam remains mostly the same.

    Grandparent scam can be a misnomer, though. While the scam largely targets the elderly, some scammers will target any relative. Previously, we’ve seen scammers target aunts and uncles, but now, they’re going directly after parents.

    A woman in Alabama recently received a call from someone claiming to be her adult son. The son claimed to have been in a wreck. Then someone claiming to be a lawyer got on the call and said the son was being charged with felony DUI. The lawyer said that bond was being set at $120,000 and 12% of that would need to be paid to get her son out of jail. The lawyer then gave the woman a phone number to a bail bondsman who would collect the almost $15,000.

    The bail bondsman said she would have to give the money to the lawyer she spoke to, and he would forward the money electronically to the bail bondsman.

    It was then the woman realized that neither the son, the lawyer nor the bail bondsman told her where the wreck occurred. Sensing something was wrong, she used her work phone to call her son, who was ok and had not been in a wreck. The caller had hung up at this point.

    I imagine that some people are asking how she couldn’t recognize the voice of her own son. Scammers will often claim to have had their nose or mouth injured in the accident as to why they don’t sound normal.

    If you were to receive a call like this, it’s recommended you politely hang up to verify the story. Scammers will try to keep you on the line at all costs. Then contact the person who’s supposedly been arrested to make sure they’re ok. No one has ever been sentenced to extra time because their emergency contact wanted to verify their story. Once you determine your loved one is ok, it’s recommended that you contact your local police to let them know this scam is going around in your area.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    NY warns of scams after tragedy in Buffalo 

     NY warns of scams after tragedy in Buffalo

    By Greg Collier

    By now, we’re sure you’ve heard of the tragedy that struck the state of New York over this past weekend. An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a Buffalo supermarket. Before he could be apprehended, 13 people were shot and 10 of them were dead. 13 families are now probably scrambling to pay for either medical or funeral expenses due to the selfish actions of a maniac. Neither of these expenses has reasonable costs, even when it’s something that can be prepared for. When it’s a sudden and wanton attack of violence, the expenses become even more difficult to raise.

    Historically, when a tragedy like this occurs, victims’ families will often turn to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to try to mitigate some of the cost. Scammers are also well aware of this fact, and will often try to use the tragedy to start phony charities of their own to capitalize on such a catastrophe.

    The Attorney General’s Office in the state of New York, has issued a warning to residents they should be informed about these scams before they take hold. To better educate New York residents, the state has a website at CharitiesNYS.com that can tell New York residents if a charity is legitimate or not.

    Many fake charities will try to solicit you through emails, text, or phone call. They’ll have vague names like ‘the victims fund’, or something along those lines. Anytime you’re solicited by a charity that you haven’t heard of, it’s always best if you research them first before donating any money. You can also research the charity at Give.org which is also maintained by the BBB, or Charity Navigator. GoFundMe even has a page where you can donate to verified accounts of people who have been affected by the tragedy.

    In this time of crisis, we really need our donations going to the people who need them, rather than the pockets of scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns of baby formula scams 

    BBB warns of baby formula scams

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever there is a shortage of something, inevitably, some people will use that shortage to their own financial advantage. This can be seen in such practices as price gouging and scalping. However, in those practices, you can still get a product. Then there’s the scam where you get nothing at all.

    As you may know, there has been a shortage of baby formula happening across the country. Due to supply chain issues and a massive recall of baby formula due to salmonella, store shelves have been barren of baby formula. Even government programs which are designed to assist low-income families have been struggling to supply formula to needy families. Of course, scammers never see a crisis they can’t pass up.

    The Better Business Bureau has issued a nationwide warning about baby formula scams. According to the BBB, scammers are setting up fake websites and social media profiles. The scammers claim that not only do they have baby formula in stock, but they’re offering it at bargain prices. However, payments are only accepted through the usual suspects of Cash App, Venmo, and probably Zelle. Once the payment is made, the scammers block their victims on these apps, leaving the victims out of money and a hungry child to feed. Some of these websites even have pictures of what the scammers claim is their supply, but more often than not, these photos are stolen off the internet.

    If you come across a website selling baby formula, research before you buy. First, do what’s called a WHOIS search on the website’s domain name. This will more than likely let you know when the site was created. You can also do a web search of the site’s name along with the terms ‘review’ or ‘scam’. That should provide you with information to let you know whether the site is legitimate or not. Unfortunately, during the current crisis, these vendors will almost assuredly be scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Homeless victim loses savings in scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    In this week’s round up, we have an update on a recent scam, a reminder of a grim scam, and a heartbreaking story on how heartless scammers are.

    ***

    You may remember a story from our last Scam Round Up where teachers in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area were being targeted in a jury duty scam. More recently, this scam moved westward and is now targeting teachers from the Cleveland, Ohio area, with at least one teacher falling victim to the scam.

    This is where scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. However, a payment over the phone will supposedly resolve the matter.

    Much like in the Pittsburgh scam, scammers are calling schools in the Cleveland area asking for specific teachers and threatening them with arrest. One teacher is said to have lost $2000 to these scammers.

    Again, when it comes to jury duty, all communication is done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    In Upstate New York, police there are warning residents about a scam affecting the families of the recently deceased. Scammers are calling these families posing as an actuarial company claiming there’s been a data breach of the deceased’s information. The families are then asked for personal identifying information of the deceased.

    In this instance, scammers are likely trying to commit identity theft. They want to do things like open credit cards or take out loans in the deceased’s name before the credit companies update their record.

    If you were ever to receive a phone call like this, the best thing to do is to ask for them to send a request in writing. While not a guarantee, this does go a long way on discouraging these kinds of scammers.

    ***

    If that story wasn’t disturbing enough, a homeless woman from Florida was recently taken for over $1000 in a rental scam. After saving up enough money for her and her newborn baby to rent a home, she responded to an online real estate ad. She was texted by the supposed landlord, who asked her to pay a $75 application fee over Zelle. She was told she couldn’t see the property for a few days since it was currently occupied. Then she was asked by the supposed landlord to send $1049 for the first month’s rent. Fearing she might not get the home, she sent the money.

    Anytime a prospective landlord can’t show the property for whatever reason, there’s a good chance they’re not really the landlord.

    ***

    We hope that our readers never have to deal with scammers like this. But if you do, we hope we’ve prepared you enough to detect them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle now used in puppy scams 

    Zelle now used in puppy scams

    By Greg Collier

    Online puppy scams are probably one of the more heartbreaking scams out there. Victims end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a puppy that doesn’t even exist.

    Typically, scammers will set up a website that makes it appear as if they’re breeders of purebred puppies. These websites are filled with pictures of puppies that are stolen from various places on the internet. The puppies on these websites are usually advertised at well below market value prices. After the victim sends money to the scammers, thinking they’ve bought a puppy, the scammers will start asking for more money disguised as expenses. Sometimes the scammer will say they need the money for a special shipping crate for the puppy. Other times it will be for taxes or insurance. But in all cases, the victim never receives a puppy, and they’ve lost a substantial amount of money.

    This recently happened to a couple from San Jose, California. They found a website that specialized in Pomeranians. They thought they were buying the puppy for $600 from a breeder in Texas. After they made their first payment, they were then asked for an additional payment of $1400, so the puppy wouldn’t have to spend two weeks in quarantine. The couple paid that fee as well. The scammers came back for a third time asking for $1300. That’s when they realized they were being scammed.

    One of the alleged scammers has been arrested. What we found most interesting about this scam is that the scammer is accused of opening multiple Zelle accounts through multiple banks. This was said to be the way the scammer collected the money from their victims. As has been previously mentioned, since Zelle offers little protection to its users, it’s become the payment method of choice for scammers. Once scammers get their money from their victims on Zelle, they can block the victim, and close the account. This leaves victims with little to no recourse.

    As we like to remind our readers, Zelle is only supposed to be used between friends and family as an easy method of payment. It shouldn’t be used for major purchases like a puppy.

    And as far as puppy scams go, never buy a puppy sight unseen. Also, try to shop local from a licensed breeder. And as always, we recommend considering adopting a puppy from your local shelter instead. This can often be done with minimal or no cost. Some shelters even have waiting lists you can sign up for if you’re looking for a certain breed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Homebuyer loses $155K in email scam 

    Homebuyer loses $155K in email scam

    By Greg Collier

    A woman in the state of Georgia was getting ready to close on a new home when she received an email from her lawyer. She was given instructions to wire transfer the $155,000 for the closing costs. However, the money did not go to the attorney. Instead, it went to the bank account of a local scammer who was recently arrested on felony theft charges.

    So, how was the scammer able to fool the victim? This scam is known as the business email compromise scam, or BEC for short. In this scam, the scammers hijack compromised email accounts of real estate attorneys, title companies, or banks. This way, the scammers can monitor the emails for people who are getting ready to close on their homes. Then, the scammers either use the hijacked email address or a spoofed address to give fraudulent instructions to the homebuyer to wire the money to the scammers. Meanwhile, the victims think they just closed on a new home.

    According to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, this scam is becoming more common. This scam is so profitable, the scammers only need one victim to fall for the scam to make a ton of money.

    While you may not be in the market for a home right now, you may be in the future. So, it’s best to have this knowledge now instead of finding out before it’s too late. When the time comes to buy a home, the best way to protect yourself is to verify everything by phone. If you get an email from someone involved in the process asking you to make a substantial payment, call them to verify the request. It might be even better to visit the sender in person to verify any requests. No one wants to go through the stressful process of buying a new home only to have their dreams of a new home dashed by losing money to a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 9, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Victims burned twice in Bitcoin scam 

    Victims burned twice in Bitcoin scam

    By Greg Collier

    Since it gained mainstream popularity, Bitcoin has had an air of fraud around it. While people have gotten wealthy through the mining, trading, and investing of Bitcoin, it’s also attracted a large number of scammers. While every Bitcoin transaction is recorded on a public ledger, it’s virtually impossible to reclaim if stolen. Also, due to the fact that Bitcoin is decentralized and has no governing authority, victims of Bitcoin scams have little to no recourse.

    One of these scams is targeting users of Instagram and takes advantage of hacked accounts. Once an Instagram account is compromised, the scammers will use this account to message other users on the account’s friends list, telling them how they’ve made money through Bitcoin. One Instagram use from Omaha, Nebraska, was asked to invest $500 through Cash App to purchase Bitcoin. However, before she could get her Bitcoin, she was asked to record a testimonial saying how successful this Bitcoin scheme was. Not only did she lose the $500, but now a video of her touting the success of this Bitcoin scheme is being shared on social media.

    Unless you have a complete understanding of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency and general, it’s advised to avoid any Bitcoin transactions. This includes friends on social media telling you how much money they made. If you receive a message like that, message your friend back through other means to ask them if they meant to send that message.

    Also, please keep in mind that the majority of agencies and companies will never ask for payment for some kind of bill in Bitcoin. You should also be aware of services who claim to be able to get your stolen Bitcoin back for a fee. That is also a scam.

    Lastly, as with any investment, never invest any money you can’t afford to lose.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Pop-up scam continues to plague computer users 

    Pop-up scam continues to plague computer users

    By Greg Collier

    It was just a little over a week ago that we were discussing the pop-up scam that affects computer users. This is where someone is using their computer when all of a sudden their screen is overtaken by a pop-up message that states the computer they’re using has gotten a virus. Typically, these pop-ups claim to be from a large tech company, most commonly they claim to be from Microsoft. These pop-ups also contain what appears to be a customer service number that the user is supposed to call to get their computer working again.

    These phone numbers do not go to Microsoft. Instead, they go to a group of scammers who are looking to extort money from the computer user. More often than not, the user is instructed to give remote access to the phony technician. This allows the scammers to go through the personal files stored on the computer. The scammers will then come up with some reason that the computer user has to pay them money, usually through non-recoverable means like cryptocurrency.

    The reason we’re bringing up the pop-up scam so soon is that it seems to be on a meteoric rise. Just today, we found several instances of it happening across the country where victims have lost thousands of dollars. For example, a man from Lincoln, Nebraska, paid $4000 in gift cards to scammers. In the Kansas City Metro Area, two people ended up losing $30,000 total to scammers who made their victims pay through Bitcoin kiosks. In the Green Bay-area of Wisconsin, residents there lost a total of $78,000 to scammers who gained access to their victims’ bank accounts and converted the money to Bitcoin. And in the Cleveland, Ohio, suburbs, a man lost $18,000 to scammers who also had him pay at a Bitcoin ATM. Those are all the stories about this scam that we found in one day. Who knows how many others have happened without being reported?

    If anyone you don’t personally know asks for remote access to your computer, they’re almost definitely a scammer. Also, keep in mind that companies like Microsoft hardly ever reach out to consumers in that way.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    State warns of storm scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the Wichita-area of Kansas experienced severe weather, which resulted in at least one tornado that tore through the town of Andover. The EF-3 tornado was only on the ground for 21 minutes, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed in the 13 miles the tornado traveled. As with any natural disaster, scammers will start popping out of the woodwork looking to take advantage of storm victims. In an attempt to get ahead of the scammers, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office issued a warning to residents of the Sunflower State.

    Even though the warnings issued are relevant to Kansas residents right now, every state has its fair share of natural disasters. Whether it’s flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, or what have you, scammers will descend on that area like a plague. So what’s pertinent to Kansas today could be pertinent to your area tomorrow.

    The most common scam after disasters like this are from shady contractors. These phony contractors travel from storm to storm, looking for victims. They’ll claim to be licensed, but they may not be licensed in your state. You should only deal with contractors that are licensed in your state. Another good way to avoid this scam is to get estimates from a few contractors. Also, you should never pay in advance as that could be an indication of a scam.

    Another disaster-related scam is when scammers offer to assist you in qualifying for FEMA relief assistance. FEMA does not charge any kind of application fee. So if someone claiming to be from FEMA asks you for money, they’re more than likely a fraud.

    This can go for scammers posing as your insurance company as well. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your insurance company, don’t give them any personal information. Instead, you should hang up and either call your local agent or the customer service phone number listed on your policy.

    For those of you living outside of disaster areas, you still have to be wary of scams as well. While you may have a charitable streak, be careful of donating to any random charity claiming to be for disaster relief. Real charities will never ask you to donate through gift cards, money orders, or wire transfers. Scammers will also try to pressure you into making a donation as quickly as possible.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re presenting our readers with three scams that, while not new, deserve to be reviewed.

    ***

    Reports from Pennsylvania are saying that the Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper scam is making the rounds again. Many retail chains do employ secret shoppers who go around to the various stores and rate their experience. However, scammers would have you believe these positions are plentiful, which they are not.

    In Pennsylvania, reports there state that victims of the scam are being given fake checks to deposit in their bank accounts. They’re then asked to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards using the money from the fake checks. The victims are then asked to give the gift card numbers to their fake employer. By the time the victim’s bank notices the check is fake, the scammers have made off with the amount of the gift cards, while the victim is responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    Remember, no legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit money into your bank account that is supposed to be used for business purposes.

    ***

    Our next scam comes to us from the Jacksonville, Florida-area. Reports there state that a police impersonation scam is ongoing there. In this particular police impersonation scam, the scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The scammers tell their victims that a box of drugs intended for the victim was intercepted. In order to avoid arrest, the victims are asked to make some kind of payment.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s recommended not to give the caller any personal information before hanging up.

    Again, no law enforcement department or agency is going to call you and threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment to them.

    ***

    Lastly, we have another police impersonation scam, and it’s the most common one. What’s different about this scam is who the scammers are targeting.

    Reports out of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area are reporting an increase in the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. Of course, a payment over the phone will make the warrant magically disappear.

    Like we said, this is hardly a new scam, but the scammers are specifically targeting school teachers in the Pittsburgh-area. The scammers have even been calling schools and are asking to be patched in to teachers while they’re teaching class.

    The report doesn’t say why scammers are targeting teachers, but if we had to hazard a guess, they’re targeting a profession where teachers usually have their hands full with what’s going on in the classroom and could be distracted easily by the scammers.

    When it comes to matters concerning jury duty, all communication is usually done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    These three scams can happen at anytime, anywhere in the country. Hopefully, we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect yourself.

     
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