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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    A simple solution to gift card scams 

    A simple solution to gift card scams

    As we tend to say, gift cards are the currency of scammers. They are used as payment in just about every phone or online scam. Scammers will often pose as a police department, government agency, or any kind of entity that demands payment.

    The phony payment request is usually accompanied by some kind of threat such as an arrest or termination of vital services. The scammers will say the whole matter can disappear with payment in retail gift cards. They’ll then have the victims go to a local store to by an astronomical amount in gift cards then have the victim read the card numbers back to them. The gift cards are then quickly redeemed of their value and the scammers pocket the money. This is just a prevalent example of a scam involving gift cards as the sheer amount of scams that use them are too numerous to list individually.

    One part of the country seems to have had enough of these scams and has taken an ingenious yet simplistic approach to combat them. A number of communities in Northern Arizona have banded together to ask businesses to display a warning sign by their gift card displays.

    The signs look like a traffic stop sign but list many of the ways gift cards are used in scams. The sign informs customers that if they are buying gift cards for things like fines, taxes, lottery winnings, utility bills, etc. that you’re more than likely being scammed.

    With just about every store offering the ability to purchase popular gift cards, more retailers should be adopting a similar policy to help ward off scammers. While many retailers do train their employees to recognize potential gift card scams, an extra step in the process could be a great way to help put a stop to more gift card scams.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Real disappearance of teen used in Cash App scam 

    Real disappearance of teen used in Cash App scam

    Earlier this month in Virginia a 17-year-old girl went missing from her home. Tragically, her body was found a few weeks later. However, that did not stop the greed and depravity of at least one scammer. While the victim’s family was mourning for their loss, some scammer took to Instagram to solicit donations in the victim’s name.

    The families of crime victims sometimes do solicit donations for medical or funeral expenses on sites like GoFundMe. Instead, this scammer was asking for donations through Cash App. If you’re unfamiliar with Cash App, it’s a payment app that allows you to send or receive money wirelessly. Due to some of the flaws in its system, Cash App is often used by scammers to collect money and then block the person they stole it from. Victims of Cash App scams usually have little recourse once the money is gone.

    In this instance, a single person is said to have taken to Instagram and posted solicitations for donations through Cash App in the victim’s name. The victim’s family has expressed that no fund for donations has been set up as of yet. There has bee no word that we’ve seen if anyone has actually given money to the scammer.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with offering assistance to a family in need. However, scammers have shown no remorse in trying to make money through a tragedy no matter how personal it may be to someone. As much as we might hate to say it, even when making donations to someone claiming to be collecting for a crime victim, do your research. Local news outlets almost always have the correct information on where donations can be sent.

    We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the victim’s name. She was 17-year-old Asia Cowell of Norfolk, Virginia. As of the time of this posting, police are asking for the public’s assistance for any information about Asia’s disappearance. Her body was found in Newport News.

    You can submit an anonymous tip by calling the Crime Line at 1–888-LOCK-U-UP or submit a tip online at p3tips.com if you have any information that might help.

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

    Food Stamp scam affecting the country 

    Food Stamp scam affecting the country

    The current pandemic has seen the meteoric rise of a number of original scams on a never seen before basis. The majority of these scams have targeted those who have been negatively affected economically by the pandemic. At first, it was the scammers who were trying to steal your economic impact payment. This was quickly followed up by scammers applying for unemployment benefits in every state by using stolen identities. Now, a new nationwide scam has emerged once again targeting those who are the most financially vulnerable in our society.

    States from Pennsylvania to Hawaii are reporting about a text message scam that’s promising victims SNAP benefits. You may know SNAP better under its former name of food stamps. The scammers are sending text messages stating that the recipient is eligible for SNAP benefits even though they may not have applied for them. With so many people facing economic hardships in the country, this scam has the potential to claim a record number of victims. While some who have never had to apply for SNAP may think it’s relatively easy to get these benefits, the reverse is actually quite true. So if someone who is desperate to receive additional food benefits receives this text message there is great potential that they could fall for this scam.

    More than likely, the scammers are after one of two things. They either want your personal information to steal your identity, or they want a payment disguised as a ‘processing fee’.

    The states being affected by this scam have issued warnings that the state will never approach anyone randomly with the offer of SNAP. If you have applied for SNAP, you’ll always receive your approval in the mail. If you receive one of these texts, it’s best that you just delete the text. However, if you have questions or concerns about your SNAP benefits, you should contact your local SNAP office.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors 

    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors

    Every once in awhile it’s beneficial to review some of the more common scams that are going on today. One of the most common scams are those that threaten to affect the Social Security benefits of senior citizens. Due to the fact that many seniors are on a fixed income, any threat to their Social Security could be seen as a threat to their very existence.

    How the scam typically works is the scammers will call a senior citizen and claim to be from either law enforcement or from the Social Security Administration themselves. They’ll tell their victims that someone has used their Social Security number in some type of crime. The most common crime they claim is that your number was used to rent a car in another state that was found to have illegal drugs in it.

    The scammers will then threaten that your Social Security benefits could be suspended. However, they’ll say that in order to prove your identity you can make a payment over the phone. This is when the scammers will ask for payment in some untraceable means, usually retail gift cards.

    This happened recently to a woman in Ohio. She was told that she needed to empty her checking account before it would be seized by the government. The scammers kept her on the phone the entire time she was buying Target gift cards. Scammers have started doing this to make sure that someone won’t warn them of the scam such as store clerks or bank employees. Before it was all over, she had sent $4000 to the scammers.

    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.

    Again, we ask that if you know an elderly person or couple who live alone and do not have access to the internet, please let them know about this scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Kidnapping scam claims to have your kids 

    Kidnapping scam claims to have your kids

    As if Americans didn’t already have enough to deal with, the virtual kidnapping scam seems to be on the rise again. This time, the scammers are claiming to have kidnapped your kids.

    If you haven’t heard of virtual kidnapping scams before, it’s when a scammer calls someone, usually at random, and tells the person that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers will tend to use generic language such as they kidnapped your daughter, father, etc. They’ll have someone in the background pretending to be who they’ve claimed to have kidnapped. However, it’s all just a show designed to get you into a state of panic and pay a ransom. Victims will be asked for payment in untraceable forms like cash apps, gift cards, or money transfer services.

    The trick to this scam is that no one you know was actually kidnapped. The scammers themselves are probably not even in your area as most victims report the callers as having foreign accents.

    One recent victim of the scam was a mother from Missouri who was told that her child had been kidnapped. She said that she could hear a child screaming in the background. She didn’t pay any ransom but she reacted how most of us would. She drove directly to her child’s school to make sure her child was ok, which they were, thankfully. While she may not have lost any money, she experienced the real fear that all parents have, the fear of someone abducting their child.

    For all intents and purposes, this mother did the right thing. She made sure her loved one was ok before paying any phony ransom. If you receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you contact the loved one first to make sure they’re ok. When the scammers say they’ve kidnapped your father, daughter, son, etc., don’t say the loved one’s name as that gives the scammer more information to work with. Also, please keep in mind that kidnappings for ransom are rare in the United States. However, it is recommended that you always contact the police regardless if it’s a scam or not.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Almeda Fire, , ,   

    Rental scammers take advantage of fire victims 

    Rental scammers take advantage of fire victims

    The recent Almeda Fire in Southern Oregon is said to have destroyed over 2,300 homes. It’s being called one of the most destructive American fires in the past 50 years. This has left many of the fire’s victims scrambling to find temporary or permanent housing. Of course, where there are people who have a desperate need there will be those looking to take advantage of them.

    According to local real estate brokers, rental scams have been flooding the area. They say that they’ve always been a problem but with the recent fire, the scam has been increasing immensely in the area. This is also one of the oldest online scams. Scammers will take a legitimate listing from a realtor’s website, copy it, then place an ad on Craigslist claiming they’re renting the property. The scammers will advertise the property at below market value before trying to squeeze a phony deposit or rent payment out of their victims. With so many people looking for shelter, the local Craigslist listings are said to be flooded with scammers and unfortunately, desperate people looking for a roof over their heads have fallen victim to the scam.

    We know that it’s easier said than done when facing a crisis like this, however, even in drastic situations like this, you should take the time to do your research. We always recommend checking with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. Along with that we also recommend doing a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. You should also be wary of any landlord who can’t tell you anything about the property but is anxious to collect a deposit. Also, be wary if the landlord tries to collect payment through apps like Venmo or Cash App. If a landlord says they can’t show you the property even for COVID-19 reasons it’s probably a scam.

    No one who has endured a disaster like this should have to endure the petty greed of scammers.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    COVID creating more scams for more money 

    COVID creating more scams for more money

    According to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, not only have scams increased during the pandemic but victims are losing more money than ever. Just last month, the Attorney General’s Office said that scam victims lost as much as 8000 times more than they did the year before. The rise in scams is being contributed to the fact that more people are at home and online during the pandemic. That can also lead to more victims posting about themselves on social media which gives scammers more information to use against you.

    The Attorney General’s Office says the three most common scams that have been happening during the pandemic are grandparent scams, work from home scams, and romance scams. Kentucky recently prosecuted a man who scammed a woman for over $200,000 in a romance scam. The scammer posed as a man in the military while asking his victims for money under the guise of a romantic relationship.

    We often see people acting incredulously saying things like “Who would ever fall for a scam like this.” Unfortunately, victims falling for scams happen more often than you might think with only a fraction of the victims ever coming forward. As we have said before, people from all economic and educational backgrounds have fallen for scammers in one way or another.

    When it comes to your money, always take the time to verify what someone online is telling you. Whether it’s for a job, a relative in jail, or a romantic interest, it never hurts to check everyone’s story. At the worst, it may result in some hurt feelings but at least you’ll still have your money in these tough economic times.

    If you find yourself having become a victim of one of these scammers, please think about coming forward to the authorities. While it may seem embarrassing at first, if more people come forward it will lessen the chance that someone else will become a victim in the future.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Unemployment scam could send strangers to your door 

    Unemployment scam could send strangers to your door

    The current spate of unemployment scams have been going on just as long as the pandemic has been in effect. Overseas scammers have been flooding state unemployment systems with bogus requests for unemployment benefits. In several cases, scammers have applied for benefits using the names of people who are still working. The scammers will often change the addresses used for these benefits so they can intercept them before the victim finds out. However, that may change as more people become aware of the scam.

    According to reports out of California, people are receiving unemployment checks at their home addresses for people who don’t live at that address. One report even indicates that one woman received nine checks at her home for four different people that don’t live there.

    This could mean that scammers have designated her home as a drop site for their fraudulent unemployment checks. In turn, this could result in a couple of things happening. The scammers may have someone watching her mailbox hoping they can get a hold of the checks before the resident takes them inside. The scammers could also have someone approach the home posing as a state employee looking to ‘take back’ the erroneously issued checks.

    The question with this scam always seems to be what do you do if you received a fraudulently issued check. If the check is issued in your name you should contact your state’s unemployment office. While it can be a time-consuming process to reach someone at the state, it will be well worth your while, in the long run, to make sure the state is aware of this issue. This will help you avoid potential tax issues in the future.

    If the check is not in your name, some news outlets are stating that you should mark the envelope ‘return to sender’. While this is a good idea, you may want to drop off the envelopes at your local post office rather than leaving them in your mailbox. As we’ve said, scammers have no reservations about going through your mailbox to find what they need. If you take these envelopes to the post office, you’ll be helping to keep the fraudulent checks out of the hands of scammers.

  • Geebo 8:24 am on September 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    New football season means ticket scams 

    New football season means ticket scams

    Whether you agree with the situation or not, the NFL has obviously decided to go ahead with the 2020 season. The league is enforcing social distancing guidelines during their games and have limited seating inside all the football stadiums around the country. For example, The Cleveland Browns seating capacity was limited to just 6,000 for this past Sunday’s game. The stadium the Browns play in has the capacity to hold more than ten times that many fans.

    With the limited amount of tickets being issued, fans are paying even more than a premium than usual to see their favorite team. Unfortunately, this has not put a stop to the number of scammers who are selling fake tickets online.

    Recently, a man from Cleveland found a pair of tickets to the Browns’ game on Craigslist. The tickets were being listed as being on sale for $65 each. Once the man sent money to the seller through PayPal, the seller disappeared. While this man may have only been out $130 other ticket scams have cost football fans thousands of dollars.

    In many cases, scammers will even provide legitimate looking physical tickets to their victims. That’s because at one time the tickets were legitimate. Scammers will sometimes buy tickets with stolen credit cards. Once the cards are reported stolen and the purchase is canceled, scammers will send the canceled tickets as real. The victim won’t find out the tickets are fake until they’re turned away at the gate by stadium security.

    To be fair, most dedicated sports fans have bought tickets from a scalper at some point in their life and were able to see the game. However, those scalpers are being replaced by scammers who are simply looking to take your money instead of selling you overpriced tickets. If you’re really looking to attend a game, buy only from the team or authorized dealers.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scams are their own form of disaster 

    Scams are their own form of disaster

    Along with the ‘usual’ chaos of 2020, the country is now finding itself in a midst of natural disasters. Between the fires in the West and the hurricanes in the South, the country could be potentially be facing more humanitarian crises than we already are. Of course, wherever there’s a crisis, scammers are sure to follow and today’s disasters are no exception.

    The most common scam that turns up after a natural disaster is the cleanup or repairs at a discounted price. Scammers will ask you to pay in full upfront. Legitimate contractors will have licenses that you can ask to see along with their proof of insurance. In the case of scammers, they will just take your money upfront and do very little work if they do any at all.

    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.

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