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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Protect yourself against fake tickets 

    Protect yourself against fake tickets

    With Labor Day weekend coming up and the start of the NFL season following, it’s important to keep your guard up when buying tickets for a big event. Whether it’s a concert or tickets for opening day, there will be a number of scalpers out there that will be looking to take advantage of the demand for these events. Often the larger events sell out very quickly leaving many to search for tickets among the secondary market. Unfortunately, the secondary market is rife with traps and pitfalls that you should be aware of.

    When doing a web search for the event you’re wishing to attend, don’t assume the first listing is a legitimate one as search engines can be rigged by scammers to show them as a top listing. Try to stick to authorized resellers as there are many sellers out there armed with counterfeit tickets that will leave you turned away at the door the day of the event. However, if you insist on buying tickets from an unauthorized seller, ask them to meet you at a local police station to make the exchange. While not a perfect solution, it can go a long way in weeding out potential scammers.

    We’d also like to remind you to not post pictures of your tickets on social media once you get them. This makes it very easy for counterfeiters to copy the bar code from your tickets and produce copies they can sell. Once again, this could leave you outside the event looking in if someone with a copy of your tickets gets to the event before you.

    While prices for these events may be exorbitant these days, we recommend buying tickets from either the event box office, licensed retailers, or authorized resellers only. This way you can assure yourself that you and your family won’t be turned away from the gate on the day of the event.

     
  • Geebo 7:10 am on August 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    State launches price gouging app ahead of hurricane 

    State launches price gouging app ahead of hurricane

    Hurricane Dorian is expected to make landfall in Florida as a Category 3 hurricane within the next few days. Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency in preparation for the potentially devastating storm. Whenever a hurricane is expected residents in the affected area will always be in a mad scramble for supplies and lodging that they might need during the emergency. Unfortunately, this can lead to price gouging with some vendors and hotels as they may look to take advantage of the situation. However, the Sunshine State has taken steps to try to combat price gouging.

    The Florida Attorney General’s Office has released a smartphone app called ‘No Scam’ that is designed to help Florida residents to report price gouging. The app is available on both Apple and Android phones. The app will allow residents to add pictures and copies of receipts from their phone speeding up the reporting process. Florida takes price gouging very seriously as those caught artificially inflating prices can be fined $1,000 per infraction and can be fined up to $25,000 in a 24 hour period.

    For whatever reason, if the app were to give you any kind of trouble you can still report price gouging to Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226, or their website at myfloridalegal.com. It is recommended that you either keep your receipt or take a picture of the inflated charge before submitting a report.

     
  • Geebo 8:10 am on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , realtors,   

    Gift card scam targets new victims 

    Gift card scam targets new victims

    Gift card scams are nothing new. They’ve almost become as prevalent as the fake check scams. With the gift card scam, scammers will normally pose as various authorities with threatening situations in order to get their victims to pay them with gift cards. For example, in one scam the scammers will pose as local police and tell their victims that they have a warrant out for their arrest but they can avoid the arrest if they pay a fine with any number of gift cards. The point of this scam is for the scammers to get the serial numbers of the gift cards which are virtually untraceable once the numbers are given to the scammers. Now, scammers are targeting a new demographic with this scam.

    According to a report out of Idaho, scammers are targeting real estate agents with the hopes of getting the gift card numbers. The scammers have been texting or emailing agents posing as the agents’ bosses asking the agents to pick up gift cards that are supposedly meant for clients. The messages come in on email addresses and phone numbers that are close to the head realtor’s but are obvious fakes. One realtor has stated that he thinks that they’re being targeted since due to their profession they’re very visible on social media.

    Once again, if someone contacts you trying to get you to pay some kind of fee or fine with gift cards it’s more than likely a scam. The only places that tend to accept gift cards as payments are the services they were intended for. No legitimate government agency or bill collector will ask for gift cards as payment. If you receive one of these threatening calls or emails first contact the service the scammers are posing as directly to make sure it is a scam, then contact your local police. While the scammers may not be caught, at least the public could be warned about the scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Even realtors don’t know this scam 

    Even realtors don't know this scam

    One of the most prolific online scams is that of home rentals. A realtor will list a property for sale but scammers will copy the ad and claim the home is for rent. Then, the scammers will make up some kind of story as to why they can’t show you the property but are still willing to rent the home as long as they get a deposit and first month’s rent. It’s then the scammers will make off with the victim’s money while leaving them without a place to live. What’s even more surprising is that not all realtors are aware of this scam.

    In Racine, Wisconsin, a woman was looking for a rental property and found one with rent payments that were more than reasonable. The person who placed the ad claimed that they were hard of hearing and couldn’t respond by phone and that they were away on work so they couldn’t show the inside of the property. Thankfully, the woman decided to run by the property where she found a realtor’s sign posted outside. She called the realtor who told her the home had actually been sold and the ad that she had seen was a fake. What is most surprising about this story is that the realtor wasn’t aware of such scams considering how often it happens across America.

    As always, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Always be suspicious of rents that are lower than the usual market value. Another red flag to look out for is if the supposed landlord can’t show the property and gives you some kind of convoluted story as to why. Some good ways to try to avoid this scam is to take the pictures in the ad and perform a reverse image search on Google or by checking your county’s assessor’s website or office to verify the true owner of the property.

     
  • Geebo 8:15 am on August 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fallen officer, ,   

    Scam takes advantage of fallen police officer 

    Scam takes advantage of fallen police officer

    We’ve posted about some pretty reprehensible scams in the past. Some of the ones that come to mind are the scam that threatens your family with violence, the scam that targeted victims of a devastating forest fire, and the grandparent scam. All of the scams mentioned are designed to take advantage of people’s emotions when they’re at their most vulnerable moments. Now, a scam has popped up that tries to prey on people’s generosity while they’re trying to heal from a great loss in their community.

    In Illinois, a State Trooper was killed in the line of duty this past Friday. 33-year-old father of three and 10 year veteran of the force, Nick Hopkins was shot and killed while trying to serve a warrant in East St. Louis. Within a day of his passing, scammers were already trying to solicit funds from people in Trooper Hopkins name. While it wasn’t mentioned in the report we’ve read, we can only imagine that this was done through social media in order to maximize the number of people who could see the posts in such a short amount of time. The only official channel where donations can be made for Tropper Hopkins is through the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation.

    Police and fire departments have unfortunately long been the unwilling pawns in a number of scams. Most involve the scammers calling victims claiming to collect donations for any number of first responder foundations. Often, these scammers will try to pressure you into making a donation. Legitimate charities will be happy to get a donation at any time and will let you take your time to think about it. If you want to donate to any first responder charity, the best way to find out where to donate is to call that department specifically at their non-emergency business number.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Six million dollar romance scam ring busted! 

    Romance scam ring busted!

    When we discuss scams like wire fraud or romance scams, the perpetrators largely operate with impunity since they’re overseas. This makes it difficult for US investigators to apprehend the suspects. Even if the US has an extradition treaty with the scammers’ home country that doesn’t necessarily mean that the scammers will be extradited to the US no matter how much money they’re accused of taking. However, that doesn’t mean that federal investigators are totally powerless in bringing some of these crooks to justice.

    Yesterday, The FBI unsealed an indictment from October of 2018, against 80 alleged international scammers. Between corporate fraud and romance scams, the ring is suspected of raking in at least $6 million from their victims. On the corporate side of things, the scammers would allegedly send fake but realistic-looking emails to the financial departments of companies requesting that funds be sent to certain bank accounts. With the romance scams, they reportedly posted fake accounts on dating sites and apps while conning their unsuspecting victims out of money disguised as gifts. The FBI says that this particular scamming ring tried to steal $40 million from potential victims. As we have discussed previously, sometimes the victims of these scams themselves can end up in legal trouble because of it.

    In this instance, federal investigators have arrested 14 alleged scammers who were living in the US who are accused of sending the money they stole back to their home country of Nigeria. The West African country is notorious as a haven for scammers because it’s more lucrative to become a scammer rather than holding a legitimate job. This is also where the ‘419’ scam originated named for the Nigerian legal code that makes these scams illegal. Unfortunately, while some of the scammers in this particular ring have been apprehended, there are many more who at large overseas.

    To better protect yourself against these scams if you work in a company where you receive these types of financial requests, always double-check with the person making the request through a phone call or face to face meeting. As far as romance scams go, no matter how good looking they may appear, if they start asking for money the odds are likely that you’re being scammed. And we’re not talking about a couple bucks here and there either. Some victims of romance scams have lost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be a victim of a romance scam please have them read this post or the FTC website.

     
  • Geebo 8:10 am on August 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Should schools take students’ phones? 

    Should schools take students' phones?

    It seems that kids are getting their own phones at younger and younger ages. While smartphones can be a very useful tool for school-age children, they can also be a large distraction while in class. School faculties have struggled with the debate over whether or not their students should have access to their phones while school is in session. While one may think that students without their phones would be less distracted, there’s no conclusive evidence to show that taking away their phones improves grades. However, one school in California is taking an unusual approach to the students and phones problem.

    San Mateo High School in Northern California has required students to keep their phones in a magnetically sealed bag. The students keep the bags on them during school hours but they do not have access to their phones until school is over. At that point, the school opens the bags for students with a device that looks similar to an anti-shoplifting device you might see at a store checkout. Some students have complained that the school does not unlock their phones during lunch but that sounds more like a logistical issue than one of admonishment. San Mateo High is not the first school to use these devices.

    There appears to be at least one drawback to this program and that is one of student safety. Sadly, our schools have become targets of violence and threats. While the odds of a violent attack happening at any particular school is low, it is, unfortunately, a real possibility these days. If an attack were to happen and students would need to contact law enforcement or family would there be a way to release the bags during an emergency? While this is a worst-case scenario, it seems like this is a concern that needs to be addressed by schools using the device.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Alexa, find me a scammer. 

    Alexa, find me a scammer.

    If you think about it, we’re living in an unparalleled age of convenience. Most of us are carrying smartphones in our pockets that are more powerful than most personal computers from 5 years ago. With these devices not only do we have access to unlimited information but we also have access to services that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Not only do we have access to such things as ride-sharing and food delivery at our fingertips, in a lot of cases we don’t even need to use our fingers to activate any of these services. With many devices today you can pretty much get what you want with just the sound of your voice. Of course, where there is convenience there will be those who look to take advantage of you.

    If you use voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, you could be in danger of falling prey to a scammer. The danger comes from if you need a service that you don’t use on a regular basis such as a plumber, electrician, or mechanic. If you ask your voice assistant to look up a listing for such a business and then have it automatically call that number, it could be luring you into a scam. Scammers will use paid listings and other SEO tricks to get their scam listings to the top of search engines which the voice assistants rely on. This could lead to you paying for phony charges or having your personal information exploited.

    Unfortunately, there’s no real fix for avoiding this scam if you use one of these assistants. The only way to really keep yourself safe is to look up the phone numbers yourself and to make sure that your local business is actually a local business. According to reports, there are millions of phony businesses on Google Maps which also contributes to the number of scams. Then once you find a reputable business save that number to your contacts.

     
  • Geebo 8:14 am on August 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cashier's checks, ,   

    Here’s why the phony check scam works 

    Here's why the phony check scam works

    Probably, the most common scam we’ve discussed is the phony check scam. It seems like it’s at the heart of almost every other online scam. At the heart of the scam is, of course, the phony check. Scammers will send you a [phony check for any number of reasons but the hook is always the same. They’ll send you a check for more money than you were asking for or were expecting. They’ll instruct you to deposit the check and then send them the difference. By the time the bank discovers that the check is a fake, you’re responsible for the entire amount of the check while the scammers disappear with your money.

    It all seems rather unfair. You’re the victim of a scam after all. So why does this particualr scam lend itself so well to scammers? According to Vox, it all has to do with the way cashier’s checks are handled by banks. Legitimate cashier’s checks are just as good as cash where your bank is concerned. The person or entity who is issuing the cashier’s check pays the bank the full amount for that check to be issued. So when a bank receives a cashier’s check as a deposit they’re operating under the assumption that the check is legitimate and the funds should be immediately available.

    The bank only usually discovers that the check is fake after it’s been deposited and returns as a fraudulent check. Unfortunately, the only person the bank can hold responsible is the person who deposited the check which in this case is the scam victim. While many people realize that the checks they receive are fake, there are enough people who fall for this scam that they keep the scammers in business. Billions of dollars in fraudulent checks are attempted to be cashed each year. However, you can protect yourself by avoiding these situations. If a deal feels like it’s wrong, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    When free stuff from Amazon isn’t free 

    When free stuff from amazon isn't free

    We’ve briefly touched upon the brushing scam before. In the brushing scam, a third-party amazon vendor will send you items for free that you didn’t actually order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep anything that you didn’t order. Sounds like a good deal right? Who doesn’t want to get free stuff? As with most things that sound too good to be true, there is a more deceitful plot at hand. A plot that could cost you money and your privacy in the long run.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, if you’re receiving these packages it’s more than likely that your Amazon account has been compromised. These third-party vendors are usually from overseas and are sending you the packages to make it look like you’re a verified purchaser. This way the vendors can post positive reviews of their product on Amazon in your name. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales. Just think of the amount of information contained in your Amazon account. Not only is your home address listed within, but your payment information as well. These supposedly free items could be costing you without you even noticing it at first.

    So, what should you do if you start receiving these unsolicited deliveries? The first thing you should do is immediately change the password on your Amazon account. Since the scammers may have also compromised your email account you may want to consider changing the email address attached to your Amazon account also. These deliveries should also be reported to Amazon itself so they can take down any fake reviews in your name which is against their policy. If any of your debit or credit cards have been used in this scam you’ll want to cancel them and have new ones issued. The only consolation to the victim of this scam is that they can legally keep the items sent to them, however, they’re usually not the type of items you’d normally want to keep.

     
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