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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cleveland, , nurses, ,   

    Nurses being targeted in romance scam 

    Nurses being targeted by romance scam

    Since we’ve been discussing the online romance scam lately, we hadn’t thought that romance scams are targeting particular occupations, until now. According to The Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio, they’ve received inquiries from two people in the same occupation that have received the same letter. The two people live in different parts of the country as one lives in Cleveland and the other in Denver. Both correspondents are hospital nurses who have received not only the exact same email but they were written someone claiming to be the exact same person. Thankfully, both nurses were skeptical of the emails and did not respond but shared their stories with the Plain Dealer.

    The letters start off claiming that the man sending the emails had a wife who passed away who was treated by the nurses. The emailer states that he hasn’t stopped thinking about the nurses since his wife has passed and would like to get in touch with them. What caught the nurses’ attention was the fact that the emailer would be vague about what facility he met the nurses in and the medical information he gave about his supposed wife indicated that she could not have been treated by the nurses. For example, one of the nurses works in neonatal care where she could not have possibly treated the man’s wife. Both letters are postmarked from Baltimore and are said to have come from a man by the name of Allen Knox.

    When it comes to scams, if it’s happening in one or two parts of the country it’s more than likely that it’s happening in other parts of the country too. The way these scammers find their targets is through social media where apparently, they are now looking for certain occupations. Be extra careful as to what you share on social media as some scammers can use this information to craft a ploy to appear as they know you personally and you’ve just forgotten who they are. It’s also recommended that if you receive one of these letters that you should change your passwords on all your online accounts and we would recommend using a password manager like LastPass to make your passwords more secure. We also recommend making sure that all your accounts are secured by two-factor authentication which you should be doing anyway. Lastly, you may want to also invest in a locking mailbox to prevent scammers from going through your mail.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kingsley Otuya, , ,   

    Romance scam had tragic consequences 

    Romance scam had tragic consequences

    Readers seem to like our stories about romance scammers who get arrested. Who can blame them? They’re usually stories about justice being brought against those who perpetrate one of the cruelest cons in today’s society. These stories can also serve as a warning to others to be wary of such scams to protect not only their wallet but also their well-being. Sadly, not all the stories about scammers being caught have happy endings. We’re not trying to be sensationalistic by bringing you this story. Our hope is to inform consumers of the disastrous effects this scam can have.

    earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas announced the sentencing of 34-year-old Kingsley Otuya of Austin, Texas, for being part of a romance scam ring. Otuya was sentenced to 11 years in prison for being a ‘catcher’ in the romance scam ring. A catcher is someone who quickly withdraws money from a bank account before the bank can catch on that the account is being used for a scam. This particular scam ring was said to have taken over $1 million from their victims. Tragically, one victim was so devastated about being taken advantage of in a romance scam that they took their own life.

    Again, we can’t stress this enough that no one is immune from these romance scams. Victims have come from all socioeconomic and education standards and have crossed all racial divides. Too many of the victims have been left almost destitute in the wake of these scammers. If you think you may be the victim in a romance scam there’s no shame in coming forward to authorities. You’re probably not the only victim and your assistance could be crucial in helping apprehend the suspects. Also, if you think there’s no way out of your situation and are contemplating the unthinkable there’s also no shame in reaching out for help there too. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255 or their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    When a smart home isn’t so smart 

    When a smart home isn't so smart

    Many people think that they are better securing their home by installing smart devices. These devices can range from anything from cameras to door locks and anything in between. These classes of smart devices are known as the internet of things or IoT for short. That means that these devices are connected to the internet so the user can control them from just about anywhere. The major drawback to IoT devices is that they can also be controlled by bad actors if the user isn’t careful.

    A couple in Milwaukee found that the hard way this week when someone was able to take control of some of their smart devices. The couple had a nest camera and thermostat installed. When one of them came home they found that the thermostat was set at 90 degrees. After that, someone started verbally harassing them through the speaker on their security camera. Even after the couple changed all their passwords the abuse continued until the devices were disconnected. The couple lays the blame at Nest, which is owned by Google, but the fault may lie elsewhere.

    It’s not hard to hack into IoT devices if the users are using the same password or weak passwords to secure their network and devices. Also, as we discussed with the recent YouTube hack, two-factor authentication (2FA) should also be enabled on these devices. While 2FA has its own flaws, it’s more secure than using an easily guessed password. These devices are designed to help protect your home, but if you’re not using 2FA it’s like having the most expensive lock that you just leave the key in.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Alarming new twist on grandparent scam emerges 

    Alarming new twist on grandparent scam emerges

    We’ve discussed the grandparent scam before. It’s when a scammer will call an elderly person claiming to be one of their grandchildren who has been arrested and needs bail money. The victim then will wire the money before realizing that their grandchild is safe and had not been arrested. Scammers often target the elderly in this scam because they count on their victims being more trusting, more willing to answer a call from an unfamiliar number, and not being as tech-savvy as younger segments of the population. Now, there’s been a new twist on the grandparent scam that makes the phony calls seem even more legitimate than before.

    People across the state of Missouri have been reporting that they’ve been receiving calls that appear like they’re coming from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The calls appear on the victim’s phone as either ‘US Government’ or ‘US District Court’. The caller then poses as a grandchild asking for money to help get them out of jail. Phone numbers purporting to be from agencies like this can be easily spoofed, however, these spoofed numbers add a degree of pressure and urgency in order to try to get the victim to send money as quickly as possible.

    Advocacy groups like the AARP recommend asking the caller something that only they would know. While this can go a long way in preventing fraud it’s not infallible as scammers can gather these details from social media. Instead, if you receive one of these calls you should above all else remain calm. If you can’t discern if this is actually one of your grandchildren calling, call someone in your family who would know the whereabouts of the relative in question and ask where this person currently is. This way if it does turn out to be an actual emergency you can respond in an appropriate manner.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    What you can learn from the massive YouTube hack 

    What you can learn from the massive YouTube hack

    Recently, a large number of YouTube channels with substantial subscriber counts had been hijacked by hackers. This way the hackers can sell the accounts to bad actors who can then potentially claim a channel with a large built-in subscriber base. It’s not easy to cultivate a successful YouTube channel. Some creators have spent years carefully growing their audience in a highly competitive market. To possibly see it all disappear in an instant could be a devastating blow to any moderately successful channel.

    The plot against some of YouTube’s creators was a coordinated phishing attack. Authentic looking emails were sent to creators asking them to log into their accounts. Like most phishing attacks, the creators were then directed to phony login pages where the hackers could steal their login credentials. The hackers could then assign the channels to new owners, locking the creators out of their channels. What’s particularly troubling about this attack is that it allegedly bypassed what’s known as two-factor authentication. 2FA, as it’s known, is the process of requiring a user to securely log in to their accounts using a two-step process that usually involves signing in with their log-in credentials then verifying their access request by replying to a text message. it’s believed that the hackers were able to intercept the 2FA messages.

    If you’re not using 2FA, you should be. While it’s not unhackable it does go a long way in stopping someone from accessing your sensitive accounts. While SMS text messages are the most common form of 2FA, they’re not the most secure, however, there are alternatives. One way of protecting yourself is by purchasing a hardware key that works on both your computer or phone that you have to have in your possession to access your accounts. There are also software approaches to 2FA like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator, both of which are free.

    Some of these YouTube creators may have lost their life’s work. With a more secure 2FA option you may not have to worry about losing anything important that you access online.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ariful Haque, Romana Leyva, ,   

    Multi-million dollar tech support scam busted 

    Multi-million dollar tech support scam busted

    The tech support scam usually takes one of two forms. The first is you’ll receive a call from someone claiming to be from a company like Apple or Microsoft telling you that your computer has been compromised. The other form is when you see a pop-up or some other warning on your computer telling you that your computer has been infected and you should call a number the pop-up provides to correct the issue. In both cases, the scammers are trying to get you to pay for services that you don’t actually need. This can cost victims anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

    This past week the Department of Justice announced that they had indicted two of these scammers. Romana Leyva, 35, and Ariful Haque, 33, were arrested for their roles in a tech support scam ring that raked in $10 million from 7,500 victims fro across the country. The pair are accused of allegedly setting up fraudulent corporate entities to receive money from the victims who thought they were receiving legitimate tech support services. In this instance, the fraud consisted of pop-ups telling computer users that their computers had been infected with a virus and if they closed the pop-up it could result in catastrophic data loss. The ring would also attempt to make victims of the initial scam pay for phony services again by claiming that the first fictitious company went out of business and for continued ‘service’ they would need to pay again.

    If you receive one of these calls you should immediately hang up as no real company is going to call you to tell you that you have a virus. Also, if you encounter one of these pop-ups it’s more than likely part of a scam and you should never call the number listed. After seeing one of these pop-ups you should also run an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes instead. These scams also tend to target the elderly so if you have an older relative who may not be that computer savvy, please share this story with them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cash, , Western Union   

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you 

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you

    In many ways, we are moving to a cashless society. Whether it’s payment apps like Venmo or cashless banking in general, many consumers no longer carry cash on them. While this is an inevitable outcome with the march of modern technology it does have the consequence of alienating those in our country who may not have access to banking. That’s why it came as a surprise that the nation’s largest online retailer has started to accept cash as a form of payment.

    Amazon has partnered with Western Union to start accepting cash payments for goods sold on Amazon. It works by the customer being issued a QR code once they indicate their intent to pay by cash. The customer can then go to any Western Union outlet, show them the QR code and then pay Amazon with cash. This is somewhat a shocking turn of events for Amazon as previously they wanted to go cash only in their mostly automated Amazon Go stores.

    While this opens up a whole new market for Amazon there is a potential downside to this new enterprise. The first is that many Western Union outlets are in the brick and mortar locations of some of Amazon’s competitors. This could lead to these competitors no longer doing business with Amazon which in turn would leave less Western Union outlets which many consumers depend on. The other problem is that we can already see the potential for this service being abused by scammers. One example is when scammers try to get you to pay for something using gift cards. Now, they could possibly use the Amazon QR codes instead of gift cards for their scams.

    While this is great for those who live on a cash-only basis, they should always be on the lookout for the potential pitfalls of such a service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , venmo   

    Payment app scam plagues the country 

    Payment app scam plagues the country

    If you’re unfamiliar with Venmo, it is a mobile payment app that allows users to send payments to each other without needing to have cash on hand. The most common example of Venmo’s purpose is splitting a restaurant bill or bar tab between friends. With Venmo you can just electronically send the amount you owe to whoever is covering the actual cost of the bill at hand. Venmo has become increasingly popular among younger consumers as we inch closer to a cashless system of commerce. However, whenever a new tech tool becomes convenient and popular, someone will look to take advantage of it especially if it involves money.

    Police departments across the country are warning consumers about a phishing scam that targets Venmo users. The scam doesn’t originate from the app itself but rather from a text message. The text states that your Venmo account is about to be charged for something that you obviously didn’t purchase. However, the text provides a link to click on in that will supposedly deny the charges. The link takes you to a phony website that looks like the Venmo site. You’re then instructed to enter your user information along with the financial information that’s tied your Venmo account. The scammers then use this information to drain your account.

    As with any online banking or payment service, you should be wary of any text message or email that says there is a problem with one of your account. While there are actual text messages and emails that these services will send, too often they can be spoofed to try and steal your information or money. Whenever you receive one of these messages you should only log in to your account through the official app or website and not click on any links that may have been provided to you. It may not be as convenient but will protect you and your finances in the long run.

     
  • Geebo 9:33 am on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baaki Abdul Majeed, Kahad A. Wuupin, , , , , Thomas D. Inkoom   

    Victim taken for +$750K in gold and jewels scam 

    Victim taken for +$750K in gold and jewels scam

    Three men from across the country have been indicted on federal charges of mail fraud for allegedly fleecing an unidentified Kentucky woman out of $757,000 in a military romance scam. Baaki Abdul Majeed, Kahad A. Wuupin, and Thomas D. Inkoom are accused of posing as a United States service member and engaging in an online relationship with the victim through social media. Much like the phony gold bar scam we’ve discussed before, the three men posed as a GI who was trying to get a fortune out of the country where they were supposedly stationed. This time it was $10 million of gold and jewels out of the West African nation of Ghana. While two of the scammers live in Washington and the third in New Jersey, they all have ties to Ghana.

    The suspects are said to have requested several checks from the victim over a four-month period with the largest being for $95,000. The scammers instructed the victim to put items like cars and real estate in the memo lines of the checks in order to throw the bank off from detecting a possible scam. Some checks were even sent from different bank accounts. While not mentioned in reports, we’re pretty sure this was also done to keep any bank from running across the scam. All three suspects are said to be facing 20-year maximum sentences.

    Again, we have to stress that romance scams like this can happen to anyone no matter how savvy or intelligent the victim might be. Millions of dollars are lost to romance scammers every year in the United States and have claimed victims from all socioeconomic classes. If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that you haven’t met face to face yet, you should be very suspicious if they start asking for money. If you give money to a scammer once, they’ll keep coming back for more and will try to prey on your emotions to get it. As always, If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website about romance scams and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , do not pay, free trial, free trial surfing   

    New app cancels free trial subscriptions 

    New app cancels free trial subscriptions

    At one or another, we’ve all signed up for some service that offered a free trial. Most of these services require you to submit a credit or debit card number in order to qualify for the free trial. Many of these services count on you forgetting when the free trial ends so they can charge you for another billing period. Some less scrupulous services will promise a free trial but will hide the recurring charges in the fine print. Free trial subscription charges may now become a thing of the past as an app is in development that tries to put a stop to those charges.

    As a teenager, Josh Browder developed an algorithm called Do Not Pay that helped people fight parking tickets. Now, he’s developed an app called Free Trial Surfing. The app reportedly gives you a temporary credit card number that you can use to sign up for free trials. The temporary number is not tied to any of your cards or bank accounts. The card number will then be canceled when the trial period is up. The temporary card number can not be used for any other charges. The app is said to be available on Apple’s iOS devices with a web platform coming soon.

    Of course, some of the free trial platforms are trying to block accounts that use Free Trial Surfing. However, the app is backed by a major bank. That means if a platform tries to block numbers used by Free Trial Surfing, they will also block numbers from other credit and debit cards as well. Since retailers can’t afford to block such revenue streams they can’t tentatively block the app. There is one caveat to the app though. In order to use it, you will have to give Free Trial Surfing an actual credit or debit card number. While the app is currently free, that could change in the future.

     
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