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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , seeds   

    New seed brushing scam sweeps the country 

    New seed brushing scam sweeps the country

    A new type of brushing scam has made national headlines recently. If you’re unfamiliar with a brushing scam, it’s when overseas scammers send items to your home that you didn’t order. Scammers do this to use you as a verified purchase when it comes to inflating the product’s reviews on large retail platforms like Amazon or Walmart.

    In this new brushing scam, people are being sent packages of seeds from places like China, Singapore, and Kyrgyzstan. Reports have come in from Minnesota to Alabama and almost every place in between in the US of residents receiving these seeds in the mail. It’s unknown at this time which retail platform this scam is supposed to be inflating the reviews on.

    If you receive a package of seeds unsolicited, whatever you do, do not plant them. While some of the seeds appear to be harmless there is the potential that some could be an invasive species. If you’ve ever had to deal with an invasive species of plants like kudzu or tumbleweeds, you know how catastrophic an invasive species of plant can be. Neither of these plants were native to the United States.

    Also if you receive these seeds in the mail, you should not throw them out as this way they could also find their way into our ecosystems. Instead, it is recommended that you check with your state to see where you can send the seeds to be collected.

    Outside of the environmental impact, this scam could have, there’s also an economic one. If you’ve been targeted in a brushing scam, that means that one of your online accounts may have been compromised. If you receive anything from a brushing scam, it’s highly recommended that you not only change the passwords to your online accounts but to monitor your credit report as well. Scammers could be potentially be using your accounts to purchase stolen goods.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    New scam demands you stay on the phone 

    New scam demands you stay on the phone

    The invention of the cell phone/smartphone may go down in history as one of the greatest inventions of all time. While it seems like just an everyday thing to us now, these phones have given us communication availability at all times. However, with almost any tool or invention, there are those looking to take advantage of being able to reach you anywhere you are.

    Plenty of scams that find victims today do so over the phone. The majority of these scams will use pressure tactics to try to get you to make some kind of untraceable payment to them. Most of them will ask for payment through either wire transfer services like Moneygram or Western Union or gift cards to big box stores or giant online retailers.

    Even if a scammer finds a victim who believes them, there’s a chance that the scam could be detected one they hang up. In the past, store employees, bank tellers, and even police have stopped victims from losing money in these scams.

    Now, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press, scammers are increasingly attempting to keep victims on the phone for as long as possible to walk them through every step of the scam.

    For example, let’s say that the scammers is posing as a police officer and tells you that you have a warrant out for your arrest. They say that you need to pay a fine or you’ll be arrested. Now, they’ll tell you that if you hang up the phone you’ll be arrested. They’ll then stay on the phone with you as you go to a store or bank to get your money. If the teller or store employee starts asking questions, the scammer will tell you exactly what to say in order to avoid suspicion.

    The best way to protect yourself from these kinds of scams is to always keep in mind that no legitimate company or agency is going to ask you for payment in untraceable means like cryptocurrency, gift cards, or money transfer. No police department is going to call you and threaten you with arrest if you don’t pay a fine. Most legitimate transactions like this are done through the mail.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rhode Island,   

    Rental scam goes on for over a year 

    Rental scam goes on for over a year

    One of the oldest scams since the early days of the internet is the rental scam. Whether you’re looking to rent a house or an apartment, scammers are out there looking to take your money.

    Usually, in a rental scam, the scammer will copy an ad from a legitimate real estate agent and post it online claiming to be the landlord. The scammers will do this to get you to pay some kind of deposit or rent before disappearing with your payment. This has cost some victims thousands of dollars. Some have even moved into the property only to find out that they aren’t living there legally. More often than not, the victim will find out within a month. However, in this particular scam, the victim was living in a home for over a year.

    A man in Rhode Island found a place to rent on craigslist in his area. He lived there for a year and a half while paying rent to he thought was the owner of the property. Recently, the man received a text message from the man he had been paying rent to that said “Just want to give you a heads up I no longer manage the property, you’re on your own. I wish you luck.”

    It turns out that the home was actually in a state of foreclosure. The man who originally owned it filed for bankruptcy but was contesting the foreclosure. The case had been tied up in court for the past year and a half while the scammer collected rent. Meanwhile, the man who is now living there doesn’t know where he will go to live.

    Before renting a property you should take the time to research the property first. Do a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. You should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it if it means facing an uncertainty like this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Apple sued over gift card scam 

    Apple sued over gift card scam

    We’ve always warned our readers to never pay anyone you don’t know personally in gift cards. As we like to say, gift cards are the currency of scammers due to the fact that they’re virtually untraceable. We’ve detailed as many gift card scams as we can but the gist of them is the scammer will likely pose as someone they’re not and try to pressure you into making a payment for some phony fine or fee with gift cards.

    With gift cards from major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, scammers will buy high-end items with the gift cards. They’ll then sell the items themselves for cash.

    One of the more popular gift cards scammers like to receive are from Apple. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple claiming that Apple has the capability to stop scammers from claiming the money that’s been taken from their victims. This lawsuit also gives us a better look into why some scammers prefer the Apple gift cards.

    The scammers who ask for Apple gift cards are said to own apps on the Apple App Store. This way the scammers can purchase the app over and over again with 70% of the money stolen going to the scammers. The remaining 30% is the cut Apple gets.

    The lawsuit states that Apple has been telling customers that once they’ve been scammed, there’s nothing Apple can do for them. However, Apple is said to hold on to the money owed to app owners for 4-6 weeks meaning that Apple allegedly has that time to return the money to scam victims.

    So, in theory, Apple should have no excuse for not helping scam victims as far as the lawsuit is concerned. The question then remains, why has Apple supposedly not helped scam victims in the past?

     
    • James E Doty 7:19 am on July 31, 2020 Permalink

      Same reason the big web companies won’t go after scammers & hackers, it will reduce the number of possible customers and that will effect the advertising revenue those companies rely on. Its you & me that lose money due scammers and not the internet provider, so why should they do anything about you & me losing money? It doesn’t effect their bottom line and if we want them to feel the crunch like we do then, the government should impose on these companies a duty to take half of the lose that these scammers get from us. This would place 50% blame for allowing scammers a safe haven to work. As for the companies who sell money based cards used to transfer funds, its simple and easy to fix the problem… remove the one word that protects the scammers & companies who sell those cards “Gift”. This would allow the buyer to take those who don’t keep their promises that were made in getting the person to send those cards. They made promises and didn’t keep those promise and can be taken to Small Claims Court. That one word is a scammers greatest treasure they can do whatever they want with complete immunity.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Unemployment scams now targeting seniors 

    Unemployment scams now targeting seniors

    Unemployment scams continue to plague the country. Overseas scammers are said to be applying for unemployment benefits en masse using stolen identities. Unemployment systems in most states are already stretched to their limits in dealing with record unemployment claims. With scammers claiming benefits for people who are still employed, it isn’t making things any better. Now it seems that the scammers aren’t satisfied with taking advantage of the employed and unemployed alike and have chosen new targets.

    Recently, the Chicago area has been hit particularly hard by this scam. Reports say that a host of people have been receiving unemployment benefit debit cards in the mail when they haven’t applied for any benefits. In many cases, scammers are trying to have the payments sent to a different address than the person whose identity they’ve stolen but they aren’t always successful.

    Seniors and retirees are now feeling the brunt of these scams. A retired couple in the Chicago area recently received an unemployment debit card with $10,000 worth of benefits on it. To make matters worse, victims of the scam have been having great difficulty in trying to contact their state’s unemployment department to report the scam. It’s gotten so bad in Chicago that an Illinois State Senator had to step in to try to assist senior victims of the scam with getting in touch with the state.

    While the Illinois Department of Employment Security has said they’re cracking down on the fraud along with federal agencies, the scam only appears to be increasing. You may have had benefits applied for in your name without you even knowing about it. It’s recommended that you check your credit report for suspicious activity. Also, if you receive an unemployment debit card that you have not applied for, do not activate it. It should also go without saying that the money should not be spent as you will be held responsible for it. Instead, contact your state’s department of labor on the phone for instructions on how to deal with the scam.

    Please be patient when trying to contact the state as they’re more than likely understaffed and trying to assist other victims of the scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mortgage rescue, ,   

    Be careful when seeking out foreclosure help 

    Be careful when seeking out foreclosure help

    With so many Americans out of work, many homeowners are having trouble making their mortgage payments. To try to keep from being evicted from their own home, some will look to so-called mortgage relief companies for assistance. Many of these companies you may see advertised through things like mailers and street fliers are not companies at all. Rather they are scammers looking to take advantage of struggling homeowners at what could be their lowest point.

    In many cases, scammers will try to get you to sign the deed of your property over to a third party. Then the homeowner is given the option to stay in the home while paying rent to the deed holder. All too often in these cases, the deed holder will be charged an astronomical rent or price the house out of reach of the original homeowner. In either case, the original homeowner could still find themselves evicted from their home. In other instances of this scam, sometimes the deed will have never been transferred. So not only will the homeowner be evicted but they’ll still be responsible for the mortgage amount.

    A different scam involves scammers calling homeowners and claiming they can help lower your mortgage payment. However, they’ll only offer this assistance if you pay a substantial fee in gift cards. These fictitious fees could be in the thousands of dollars. As we often like to remind people, no legitimate company or agency will ever ask you for payment in gift cards. Scammers often ask for gift cards because once the funds are removed from the card they become virtually untraceable.

    Instead of going to one of these potentially bogus companies, it is instead recommended that you work with your lender to see if their loan can be restructured in some way to help reduce payments. Homeowners also have the option of trying to sell their home on their own in order to pay off the mortgage.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable 

    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable

    It seems like Social Security scams are an ever-present problem anymore. For many disabled and senior citizens, their Social Security benefits are their only source of income and for too many, it’s hardly enough to make ends meet. For these reasons, Social Security recipients are seen as easy targets by many scammers.

    We’re not saying that Social Security recipients are more or less likely to fall for scams, however, scammers can be very convincing when it comes to pressuring their victims into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.

    When it comes to Social Security recipients, scammers often pose as employees of the Social Security Administration itself. They’ll relay some phony scenario in which the victim’s Social Security benefits will be cut off if the victim doesn’t act quickly. Threatened with the loss of their only income, too many victims fall for this scam each year.

    Normally, the scammers are after one of two things. In some instances, they’re only looking for your personal information. We say only but the loss of personal information could lead to a world of problems down the line as anybody who had their identity stolen could tell you. Potentially, identity thieves could take out loans or open lines of credit in your name leaving you facing a mound of debt.

    The other trick scammers try to pull is to get you to pay some sort of fee to ‘restore’ your Social Security benefits. As has become the norm, the scammers will try to get you to pay them in either git cards, pre-paid debit cards, or wire services like Moneygram and Western Union.

    These scams have become such an issue lately that some state Attorneys General have issued warnings to their constituents.

    Please keep in mind that the SSA will rarely call you. The only time they may call you is if you have an ongoing issue with your Social Security benefits where you have already spoken with them in the past. This is important because scammers often spoof the SSA’s phone number when calling victims. Most importantly, the SSA will never ask for any sort of payment over the phone and definitely not in gift cards and the like.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you hang up right away. You can then call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to verify if there’s an actual issue or you could call the SSA’s fraud line at (800) 269-0271.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flight attendant, moneygram, , ,   

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars 

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars and other scams

    In Wisconsin, the Better Business Bureau is warning residents there about an ongoing scam involving the online sale of used cars. Scammers will post an ad online for an in-demand car. Sometimes it will be a classic car while other times it will be a modern car at a too good to be believed price. The scammer will claim to be local but currently out of the local area. In the Wisconsin case, the scammers are claiming to be a flight attendant who is currently out of town, going through a divorce and needs to move the car fast. In the more common version of this scam, the scammers will pose as members of the military who are stationed overseas.

    In any case, the scammer will tell you that the car is being held by a shipping or logistics company and that you need to pay the shipping company. They’ll then instruct you to make the payment through wire transfer services like Moneygram or Western Union. The scammers will often use the name of legitimate shipping companies to make the transaction seem more legitimate but once the money is wired the person pretending to be the seller disappears with your money. In all likelihood, the car being advertised never existed.

    When shopping for a vehicle online, you should automatically stop dealing with a seller if they give you a story about being out of town and unable to show the vehicle. Even if they say they can’t show the vehicle due to coronavirus concerns you should stop dealing with them. Also, you should never wire money to someone you don’t personally know. Money transfers are one of the standard tools used by scammers due to the fact they can use them to take your money and vanish into the wind.

    So hopefully, the next time you’re searching for a car to buy, you won’t waste your time dealing with a con artist.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    BBB warns this Amazon scam is on the rise 

    BBB warns this Amazon scam is on the rise

    If you’re trying to maintain social distancing, you’re probably doing a fair bit of shopping online. When you shop online, it’s difficult to avoid a massive retailer like Amazon. Since so many third-party vendors sell their wares on Amazon, this can lead to some vendors trying to get one over on Amazon and its customers.

    The Better Business Bureau recently released a warning to consumers about a scam called brushing. This occurs when you receive an item that was delivered by Amazon that you didn’t order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep that item but it could indicate that your Amazon account has been compromised.

    Vendors do this to make it look like that you’ve purchased their product. They’ll then use your information to post a positive review of the product that’s marked as a verified purchase on Amazon. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales for the vendor.

    But just stop and think a moment about what information is 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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Appalachian Power Co., , smart meter,   

    Local pronunciation foils scammers 

    We’ve discussed utility scams in the past. The utility scam is another impersonation scam where scammers will pose as your local power company. They’ll call you and threaten to shut off your power if you don’t make an immediate payment with gift cards or prepaid debit cards. As we’ve also mentioned in the past, no legitimate company or agency will ever ask you to make payment in gift cards. Recently in Virginia, scammers failed to trick at least one person in this scam due to their pronunciation of the local power company.

    Appalachian Power Co. operates in the western part of Virginia and in West Virginia near the Appalachian Mountains. One report states that scammers have been targeting Appalachian Power Co. with threats to shut off their service. The scammers will tell Appalachian Power Co. customers that they have trucks in the customer’s neighborhood and will cut off their power in less than 30 minutes. Scammers will often present high-pressure situations like this in order to keep their victims emotionally off-balance.

    What the scammers didn’t count on was the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Appalachian’. Most people who live outside the region of the Appalachian Mountains will pronounce it like ‘apple-AY-shun’ while people from the region pronounce it as ‘apple-ATCH-un’. This pronunciation error tipped off at least one man that the call was a scam.

    As always with these utility scams, power companies will never call you demanding payment while threatening to terminate your service. All notices will be sent through the mail. Not only that, but keep ion mind that many power companies now use smart meters which means that power can now be terminated remotely if need be.

    The trick is to keep things like this in mind when one of these scammers call you. Pronunciation of city and area names will be known to people working in the area. If the scammers mispronounce the local variation of the name, that’s a good indicator they’re a scammer. Generally, if something feels off about a call like this there’s no harm in hanging up on them then calling your power company directly.

     
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