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  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Man taken in inheritance romance scam for $43,000 

    Man taken in inheritance romance scam for $43,000

    A man in Northern Virginia recently reported to local police that he was fleeced out of $43,000 in a romance scam. In this particular scam, the scammers posed as a Russian woman on a dating site. While the scammers communicated with the man over text and email, they went the extra mile by communicating with the man by phone. That’s almost unheard of in romance scams as in most cases the scammers don’t want to leave any potentially identifying information. Like in almost all romance scams, there came an event that supposedly required a large sum of money.

    In this instance, the scammer said that they had received an inheritance of ‘family valuables’. However, in order to get the inheritance, they would need money for transfer fees. The victim is even said to have received a ‘certificate of ownership for an inheritance.’ As reprehensible as these scammers are, they really pulled out all the stops for this particular scam. In total, the man wired $43,000 to the scammers before he came to realization that he was being scammed. Unfortunately, this type of romance scam is not unheard of. Along with the romantic interest the victim thinks they’re getting, the scammers will sometimes throw in an element of a get rich quick scheme. We’ve seen this before where victims were offered gold or jewels if they just send their phony paramours a large sum of money to get the supposed riches out of their country. Of course, these treasures don’t actually exist.

    As we usually say at the end of romance scam stories, this can happen to just about anyone. Victims from all age groups, socioeconomic statuses, and education levels have fallen for romance scams. From CEOs to entry-level employees, the romance scam does not discriminate against any of its victims. 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 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 9:00 am on February 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , voice cloning   

    Are you safe from voice cloning? 

    Are you safe from voice cloning?

    It used to be if you saw someone’s voice being mimicked on the phone it was either in a movie or TV show. Now, thanks to advancements in technology voice cloning has become a reality. All someone would need is just a few recorded phrases from you to use artificial intelligence to construct a program that imitates your voice almost flawlessly. There have already been instances where voice cloning has been used against businesses where a cloned voice was used to direct funds to a con artist. it’s now being reported that individuals are being targeted as well.

    The way scammers can get a recording of your voice is just by calling you and trying to get you to interact for just a few minutes. With that, they can then pose as you on a voice call to do any number of things. One of the biggest concerns about voice cloning is it being used in grandparent scams. If the scammers have a voice copy, they can pretend to be anyone related to their victim and swindle them out of their savings. The potential of voice cloning being used in grandparent scams has gotten to the point where even the Attorney General of Florida is warning residents about it.

    To better protect your loved ones against such scams it’s recommended that you set up a code word to ensure that they’re talking to the person they say they are. If you receive a call that you suspect may be a cloned voice you can always ask the caller a question that only they would know. And as always, if you can call someone else in your family to make sure that the person calling is who they say they are.

    With the number of scams that are taking place over the phone these days, could we be seeing the decline of phone calls as a way of communication? Within a generation will we all be using devices that only text and make no calls or will a voice cloning detector be developed by then? Only time will tell.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on February 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Robocallers are posing as campaigns to trick you 

    Robocallers are posing as campaigns to trick you

    With the primary elections in full gear, you might receive phone calls from various candidates running for office. Whether it’s a local, state, or national election many politicians will be looking for your vote or possibly a donation to their campaign. Many of these calls may be automated and may even have the candidate themselves delivering a recorded message. As you can probably guess, not all of these calls are legitimate. Scammers are said to be posing as various political campaigns in order to take your money or your personal information.

    The scammers are using robocalls while posing as various campaigns or causes. They’ll have automated messages that may even use recordings of the actual candidates. They’ll then try soliciting you for money in the guise of supporting a candidate. Instead, the money is going to scammers and they may ask not only for your financial information but your personal information for possible identity theft. They’ll also try to use high-pressure tactics to get you to ‘donate’.

    The Better Business Bureau suggests signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry to cut down on the number of robocalls you receive. However, not only are political campaign calls exempt from the Do Not Call List, but scammers don’t abide by the list as it is. The best ways to handle these calls are to either let the call go to voicemail if you don’t recognize the number or hang up immediately if it’s a robocall. If you feel passionate about a certain candidate or cause, the best way to support them is directly through their websites. A quick web search should be able to get you to the official website of the candidate you’d like to support.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t be intimidated by scammers’ threats of violence 

    Don't be intimidated by scammers' threats of violence

    In Illinois, a woman received a message on social media that appeared to be from a relative. The woman noticed that the account used to send the message wasn’t her relative’s actual account but one made to look like her relative’s. When the woman responded to the scammer asking them to leave her family alone the scammer started threatening her. The scammer said that if they weren’t paid money that they were going to hurt the family even going as far as to threaten a shooting.

    The hacker responded saying “Tell her to pay me $300 dollars for her to get her page back. I’m going to do bad stuff to her soon.” That’s when she called the police. But the scammer threatened more. “Police can’t stop snipers,” they messaged. “You getting killed first.”

    Unfortunately, these threats of violence have become just another tool in a scammer’s bag of tricks. This isn’t the first time where we discussed someone having their family threatened with violence from scammers. Last year, a man in Brooklyn, New York had his family threatened if he didn’t give scammers money. The scammers then sent him violent and graphic pictures while claiming to be from a criminal cartel. There’s also the virtual kidnapping scam where scammers will either claim to have kidnapped a loved one or pose as the kidnap victim to try to get money for a kidnapping that didn’t happen.

    Scammers are hoping that by using threats of violence they can put their victims in such an emotional state that the victims will give in to the scammer’s demands. More often than not, the scammers are calling or messaging from overseas and have no way of carrying out these threats. If you receive a call or message from a scammer, your best option is to not engage with them. Even telling them to stop contacting you gives them information they can potentially use for future scams. If a scammer threatens you, don’t hesitate to contact police. If police can’t apprehend the scammer they can at least warn others in your community of the scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impostor scam, , , ,   

    Help protect seniors from scams 

    Help protect seniors from scams

    Today, we’re focusing on a number of scams that have targeted seniors recently.

    The first is what’s known as the tech support scam. In these cases, scammers will pose as tech companies telling seniors that they have viruses on their computers. Usually, the scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. They’ll then install malware on the computer and ask for your financial information as their payment. In a recent case in Florida, two suspects were allegedly pulling this scam and having their victims send thousands of dollars to the scammers under the guise of getting rid of a virus on the victim’s computer. They were able to scam $81,000 out of several seniors from across the country before they were caught. If anyone calls you to tell you that you have a virus, it’s always a scam.

    Not all scams against seniors are done over the phone or online. Many scammers are still posing as utility workers. Recently, in San Antonio, Texas a man posed as an AT&T employee. The man went to a senior woman’s home and offered her a deal for TV, internet, and cell service. The woman wrote out a check before finding out that the man did not work for AT&T. The man in question was even wearing an AT&T employee’s shirt. If you ever have any doubts about a utility worker approaching your home always ask to see their worker’s ID. If you’re still unsatisfied you can also call the company’s local office to verify their identity.

    Lastly, both the Federal Trade Commission and the AARP say that the most common scam perpetrated against seniors is the impostor scam. This is when scammers pose as a government agency such as the IRS or Social Security. The scammers will call you on the phone and try to pressure you into making some kind of payment over the phone, often through unusual means like gift cards or wiring the money. Both the FTC and the AARP are expecting scammers to take advantage of the 2020 census as well which we discussed here. If you did owe a government agency money or there was an issue with your Social Security benefits you would receive a letter and not a phone call.

    While you may not be vulnerable to these scams if you know someone who might be please share this post with them.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam uses your own friends to trick you 

    Scam uses your own friends to trick you

    Police in South Carolina are warning residents about a scam that is using the victim’s own friends against them. In this scam, you might see a video taken by an actual friend on social media. In the video, the friend will say that they received thousands of dollars for next to nothing. The main problem with the video is that the friend hasn’t actually received any money. They were instructed by the scammer to make the video saying they got the money before they could get the money. In actuality, there’s no money to be had and you’re friend has been the victim of a scam.

    The victims in this scam are told to send a couple of hundred dollars to a phony social media account and then they could receive thousands of dollars. Before they get any money the victims are told to make a video saying that they’ve already received the money before they can the money they were promised. This, in turn, is intended to get other victims to send the scammers money by playing on the trust of their friends. However, once the money is sent to the scammer, the scammer disappears as does the money.

    Any post on social media that promises to deliver money to you for doing very little is almost guaranteed to be a scam. As the police in South Carolina said: “No one gives away free money.” If you see one of your friends posting a video like this, you may want to break the news to them that they’ve been scammed. It’s also advised that if you’ve been a victim in a scam like this to contact your local police department.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , process server,   

    Scammers are posing as process servers 

    Scammers are posing as process servers

    If you’re someone who has never had to deal with a process server the situation can be quite unnerving when it happens for the first time. Depending on the situation, it can cause the recipient to go into a state of panic. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there are those out there who are using this panic to take advantage of the public who may not be as informed on how process serving works.

    Process servers will occasionally call the people they’re trying to serve papers to. This is done in order to try to set up an amicable meeting so the legal process can move forward. However, what they won’t do is threaten you over the phone or try to collect money from you. Process servers don’t collect debts or any other fees themselves, as the job title describes their only purpose is to deliver legal documents to the person being served. That hasn’t stopped scammers from posing as process servers and demanding money from their victims. The scammers will also threaten their victims with legal action which is another thing real process servers will not do.

    If you receive one of these phone calls and you’re not aware of any legal action against you ask as many questions as you can. Real process servers will have all the information you could need concerning a court case such as the plaintiff’s name or the docket number. If these calls come from a number that is well outside your local area this could be another indicator of the call being a scam. Since this scam involves the legal process you should contact your local police if you receive one of these calls.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Real Estate Scams are still prevalent even offline 

    Real Estate Scams are still prevalent even offline

    With the real estate market the way it is, it’s no surprise that there are people looking to take advantage of the housing crisis. While online real estate scams have been a thing prior to the economic collapse of 2008, they have definitely picked up steam since then. While we will be discussing an online scam that is currently ongoing, some other scammers have taken the old school approach of conning their victims in person.

    Nashville, Tennessee is in the middle of an IT boom with many IT workers looking to relocate there. Because of this, scammers are running the ‘classic’ real estate scam online. The scammers are said to be copying legitimate real estate listings and posting them online as if they were renting the properties. This way they’ve been able to con victims into giving them down payments under the guise of holding the property for them. Unfortunately, it’s usually too late when victims find out they7’ve been taken with many left scrambling for a place to stay. The Tennessee State Government recommends checking with the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to make sure the real estate agent is who they say they are.

    In Alabama, a con artist that is said to be known to police is accused of scamming a woman out of $24,000 while claiming to be a house flipper. House flipping is the act of buying a house that’s usually in a state of disrepair for cheap then fixing it up and selling it for a profit. The victim thought she was investing in just such a house. The scammer even asked the victim for additional funds for additional repairs. However, the scammer never actually purchased the property and no renovations were ever completed. If you’re entering into a real estate venture with someone, it’s recommended that you do your due diligence and research your partner before handing over any money.

    Lastly for today, we go to Brooklyn, New York where a man was recently arrested for allegedly scamming people who were applying for housing through a government program. The scammer would promise prospective applicants that they would be moved to the top of the waiting list if they paid him $15,000. He reportedly then told his victims that an apartment would open up for them in six months to a year. In the meantime, the scammer would repeatedly ask his victims for more money to try to find other apartments for them. The scammer had no affiliation with the government nor the housing facility. When it comes to government-backed programs, the red tape can be excruciatingly long but unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

    While the desperate need for shelter can often override our better judgment, it’s always worth it to take a step back and research the situation before handing money over to anyone.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Instagram influencer charged in get rich quick scheme 

    Instagram influencer charged in get rich quick scheme

    Social media is one of the more incredible tools of the 21st century. If used properly, it can lead creators to find an audience or help get important messages out to a community quickly. However, like most tools, social media can also be used for nefarious purposes. Social media has become the home of all sorts of cybercriminals from hackers to identity thieves. And of course, social media is a haven for all manner of con artists and scammers. Many of the scams on social media are quick hits with the scammers disappearing as quick as possible but in today’s case, it was a long con designed to swindle as many people as possible.

    People with substantial social media followings are often called influencers due to the fact they can influence their followers into action. Often they use this influence to make themselves rich. This is usually done through endorsement deals but there are also influencers who try to scam their followers with get rich quick schemes. Often, these schemes are the usual snake-oil like MLMs. In other cases, they’re highly illegal money laundering schemes designed to use their followers as money mules.

    One such case was recently broken up in New Jersey. In the Garden State, there was a social media influencer with 300,000 Instagram followers and 100,000 YouTube subscribers. She is said to have posted pictures of large amounts of cash and bank account statement on her social media telling her followers they can get rich like her. All they had to do was send her a direct message to get the secrets. The influencer was only really after the bank account information of her followers. She was allegedly part of a bigger ring that would use the bank accounts to cash stolen checks and money orders. Once they were done with that bank account, she would block that particular user. All in all, this ring was able to steal $1.5 million this way.

    While living vicariously through social media celebrities can sometimes be fun, more often than not they are not your friends. Ultimately, you’re just part of their follower number which they use to try to increase their relevance and influence. Under no circumstances should ever give someone online your financial information. As always, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. There is no real way to get rich quick online.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , catfishing, Phoenix, ,   

    Romance scam could leave victim homeless 

    Romance scam could leave victim homeless

    As we have discussed previously, romance scams are no joke. While some victims have been taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars, other victims have ended up in jail after stealing money to give to their fictional flames. For those of you who may be joining us for the first time, a romance scam is when a con artist uses social media or dating apps to lull their victims into a phony online relationship. When the victim appears to be smitten, the con artists will ask the victim for money under the guise of some kind of emergency or favor. Once the money stops, the con artists will cut off all communication with the victim.

    Something equally as disastrous recently happened in the Phoenix Metro area. Police there were called to a local Walmart when a worker noticed a woman had been there for more than a day. When police got there, there discovered the woman had been the victim of just such a scam. In her case, the scammer got her to give up her life in another state and fly to Arizona thinking that her new online love would be there to meet her. When she messaged who she thought was her boyfriend asking why he wasn’t at the airport to pick her up, the scammer once again asked her for more money in the form of gift cards. Once the scammer received the money they cut off communication leaving the woman stranded in Arizona with no place to turn to.

    Thankfully, the story has somewhat of a happy ending as one of the police officers bought the victim a plane ticket back to her home state out of his own pocket. However, the victim said she stopped paying rent where she lived thinking she was starting a new life. Unfortunately, this is just one story in a long line of romance scam victims who have been left destitute by the scam. These victims range in age, education and economic status. Just about anyone can be a victim.

    If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a romance scam, the Federal Trade Commission has a great website on how to recognize a romance scam. Don’t let your heart trick you into making dangerous decisions.

     
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