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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Police scam takes affluent area for millions 

    Police scam takes affluent area for millions

    Every once in a while, when we get feedback from one of our posts someone will inevitably say that they can’t believe that someone fell for whatever scam we’re posting about that day. The reality is that anyone can fall for a scam if they don’t have the information to recognize a scam. Things like economic status and education level mean do not automatically protect you from con artists.

    For example, take Montgomery County, Maryland, Not only is the Washington DC suburb one of the most affluent counties in the United States, its residents have the highest percentage in the country of residents over 25 years of age who hold a post-graduate degree. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped various police impersonation scams from taking $1.5 million from local residents.

    While the scammers are using different variations of police impersonation scams, they are tweaking them slightly for their upscale targets. In one case, the scammers called a psychotherapist and told them that they avoided a subpoena in a case where they were supposed to testify as an expert witness. In order to avoid arrest, the victim was told to pay a $7000 fine. They were instructed to buy a prepaid debit card because no one could come into the police department because of COVID.

    With other victims, the scammers have used the rental car trick. They’ll pose as police to tell the victims that a rental car was found in their name that contained drugs. Again, the scammers will request payment to ‘clear up’ the situation, usually through some untraceable form of payment like gift cards, prepaid debit cards, money transfer, or cryptocurrency. In Montgomery County’s case, the scammers added that if the victim pays quickly they’ll avoid media attention.

    In one case, someone made payment to the scammers by putting $100,000 into a shoebox before mailing it to California.

    In the majority of cases, police will almost never call you to resolve any kind of legal matter. You’ll either be contacted by mail or officers will come to your home. Also, no legitimate government agency will accept payment in untraceable means like the ones listed above. If you ever receive a phone call like this and think there might be an issue, hang up and call your police department’s non-emergency number and explain the call to them.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Widows lose thousands in romance scams 

    Widows lose thousands in romance scams

    The saying goes that love is blind and nothing exhibits that phrase more than romance scams. In most romance scams, the scammer will pose as someone on dating apps or social media who is romantically interested in their victim. They’ll foster an online-only relationship for months in an attempt to convince the victim that the scammer is in love with them. Romance scammers will keep the charade up before asking their victims for large sums of money. The requests for money are usually disguised as some kind of emergency payment that the scammer needs right away. If the victim makes an initial payment, the scammer will continue to ask for more money as long as the victim will pay. We have seen reports where victims have lost hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.

    Two widows in two different parts of the country have come forward with their stories. Both lost thousands of dollars in separate romance scams with one of the victims losing something more valuable than money.

    The first victim is a widow from Georgia who met someone on a dating site. He would call her several times a day and even send her flowers. He claimed to be an engineer from Florida who just so happened to be working in Canada. He claims that a machine needed for his work is broken and he needs $15,000 for repairs. The scammer even got another person to verify his story. She ended up using money from her late husband’s life insurance policy before realizing she had been scammed.

    Another widow from West Virginia was taken in a similar scam but she didn’t just lose money, she also lost her home. She also met someone on a dating site but this scammer said they were from America but living overseas. This scammer claimed they wanted to come home to America but needed money to do so. Before it was all over, the scammer had asked for $20,000 which she paid. Unfortunately because of this, she ended up losing her home and having to move in with a relative.

    As we keep stressing, this scam could happen to anyone regardless of age, education, or economic status. 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 8:00 am on October 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Some child safety kits can put your family in danger 

    Some child safety kits can put your family in danger

    Child safety kits are probably the last thing any parent wants to buy but are invaluable if your child were to disappear. You can either purchase one or make one of your own. What you would need is a current picture of your child, a record of their current weight and height, their fingerprints, and a sample of their DNA like a few strands of their hair. You would then keep these items in a safe but easy to remember place in your home in case you have to give these items to investigators.

    Leave it to scammers though to use the fear of losing your child to try to steal your identity. If you are ever solicited to get a kit by phone, email, or text, there’s a high probability that you’re being approached by a scammer. Police in Omaha, Nebraska are warning residents there about a current child safety kit scam where the scammers are asking for personal information like a Social Security number. Some scammers are even asking to meet the child in your home in an attempt to get you or your child into revealing sensitive information. According to the Omaha police, some of the scammers are claiming that they represent companies that will store the items and information for you. No legitimate child safety kit will ever ask you to do this as time is of the essence when a child goes missing.

    As we have stated in a previous post, there is a huge market for the stolen identities of children. That’s because children have no credit histories and scammers can use them as blank slates. The identity thieves will slowly build up credit under your child’s name for years before finally building up enough credit to cash out on a big score like a loan or high balance credit card. Your children could then have a ruined credit score before they even get a chance to use it.

    So if you receive an unsolicited offer for a child safety kit, politely decline the offer. If you don’t currently have a child safety kit, please thinking about making one for your children.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    New scam switches out fake money orders for checks 

    New scam switches out fake money orders for checks

    One of the more common online scams is the mystery shopper scam. Mystery shopper is a real position. They are people hired by retail outlets to go into their stores and rate the customer service of each individual store. However, the job isn’t as common as most scammers would have you believe.

    In the mystery shopper scam, scammers will pose as these retailers and pretend to hire their victims. The scammers will then send a fake check to the victim and instruct them to deposit the check. The scammers then instruct the victim to go buy some gift cards with the money and the victim can keep what’s leftover. The victim doesn’t often find out they were scammed until the fake check bounces in their bank account and the victim is held responsible by the bank for the difference.

    A report out of North Carolina is claiming that scammers are now using fake US Postal Service money orders instead of fake checks to pull off this scam. While the fake form of payment has changed, the results are still the same. If a victim deposits the phony money orders into their account they will be responsible for the damages once the bank realizes the money orders are fake.

    As we previously stated, mystery shopper is a legitimate position. However, in order to become one, you have to become certified with the Mystery Shoppers Association and you have to contact them. They will never contact anyone out of the blue.

    Also, please keep in mind that no legitimate employer will have you deposit a check or money order into your personal account that’s supposed to be used for business purposes later. This is almost a sure sign of an employment scam.

    If you receive what you suspect is a phony US Postal money order, you can take it to your local post office, and they will be able to determine if it’s real or not.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    New twist on utility scam 

    New twist on utility scam

    Utility shut off scams are nothing new. It doesn’t matter what time of year is, scammers will try to convince you that your power is about to be shut off for non-payment. If that happens during warm weather, a lot of victims will think they’re about to lose their air conditioning among other necessities like TV and internet. if the scam happens in colder weather, a number of victims will think they’re about to lose their heat. Although, that scam can also apply to gas utilities as well.

    The scam works as other impersonation scams do. The scammer will pose as a local utility company. While they often pose as the power company, it’s not unheard of scammers posing as other utilities such as gas and water. The scammer will tell you that the victim is behind on payments and will threaten to have their service turned off in A short amount of time. The scammers will usually say anywhere between 10-30 minutes. The scammers will then pressure the victim into making an immediate payment demanding that payment be made through gift cards.

    More recently, a scammer or group of scammers have started a new version of the scam that adds extra pressure to victims into making immediate payments. These scammers have been posing as the victim they’re about to call and will call the utility company saying that there is a service issue. This way, an actual utility employee shows up at the home while the victim is on the line with the scammers. This makes it look like the utility employee is there to shut off service.

    If you still receive your bills through the mail, you’ll receive a written warning in the mail before your service is discontinued. If you use electronic billing, you would receive an email first. Let’s also not forget the first rule of looking out for scams. No legitimate business or agency will ask for payments in gift cards. Gift cards should only be used for the retailers they were intended for.

    If you think that one of your utilities is in danger of being shut off, contact that company through either the phone number on your bill or their website.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Campaign robocalls could be identity thieves 

    Campaign robocalls could be identity thieves

    Robocalls are normally illegal in the United States. The exceptions to that law are that charities asking for donations and political campaigns. It’s the latter that we’re concerned about today.

    With the 2020 presidential election being so close and so heated, scammers have been using the guise of campaign robocalls to try and steal your financial and personal information.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that scammers are using robocalls that sound like legitimate campaign calls. Some of these calls Re even said to have used recordings that sound almost identical to the voices of major political candidates. The recorded message asks you to donate money to their campaign. If you stay on the line you’ll be transferred to an operator who will take your information.

    However, instead of your money going to your candidate of choice, the scammers will take your money and potentially use your personal information for identity theft.

    The BBB says that political campaigns will rarely use robocalls to solicit donations. The campaigns mostly use them to ask you to vote for their candidate. If you receive one of these robocalls claiming to be from a politician asking for donations, it’s more than likely a scam according to the BBB.

    It’s recommended that you hang up if immediately if you receive one of these calls. The call may ask you to press a number to remove your number from their list. Since these are scam calls, pressing 1 will do the exact opposite. It will let the scammers know that your number is an active one and they could try calling you with another scam in the future.

    While it’s a good idea to always sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry, please keep in mind that scammers do not abide by the Do Not Call list.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Wire fraud victim gets money back from scam 

    Wire fraud victim gets money back from scam

    Most often we discuss how to recognize a scam to keep from you losing money. Very rarely do we discuss how to get your money back after a scam. That’s because once a scammer takes your money, especially electronically, they can virtually disappear and never be heard from again. However, one man was able to get the money back that his elderly father was scammed out of.

    The victim in this story was an elderly man who was told that he had won $250,000 in a sweepstake. As is usually the case in sweepstakes scams, the scammers told the victim that he needed to pay a processing fee before he could collect his winnings. The scammers instructed the victim to wire the money to them through Western Union which he did.

    Realizing they had a vulnerable victim on their hands, the scammers are said to have convinced the victim to send over $90,000 during a 44 day period. This was all allegedly done through Western Union.

    The victim’s son tried to convince his father that this was a scam but his father wouldn’t believe it. Of course, the victim never received any winnings.

    The son, however, stumbled across a news article about a settlement the Department of Justice had with Western Union. The DOJ claimed that Western Union turned a blind eye to obvious scams and scammers. Western Union settled with the DOJ and a $153 million fund was set up for victims of fraud who paid through Western Union. The victim’s son was able to file for full compensation for his father.

    In doing some research for this story, we also found that a similar action had previously been levied against Western Union’s biggest competitor Moneygram.

    Wire transfers like Western Union and Moneygram are only second to gift cards in the ways scammers try to get their victims to pay them. If someone you don’t know personally is asking you to make a payment through one of these services it’s more than likely a scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    A Cash App scam that could happen on the street 

    A Cash App scam that could happen on the street

    Most scams that happen on payment apps like Cash App happen online. However, we just came across one that happens on the street.

    The report we found about this scam comes out of Nashville, Tennessee but could happen in any city. In Nashville, the city is known for its music scene so there are a number of street musicians looking to get their name out there. There are also a number of scammers looking to take advantage of those interested in the music scene.

    The scammers will pose as a street musician and will approach a victim. The scammer will ask for the victim’s phone so they can pull up their music video on YouTube. Instead, the scammer accesses one of the victim’s payment apps like Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal and sends the victim’s money to themselves before fleeing the scene.

    While this particular approach may be exclusive to Nashville or any other city with a vibrant music scene, this scam could happen anywhere. You could be approached by someone asking to use your phone for an emergency where instead of calling someone they could be draining one of your payment app accounts.

    There are several ways to protect yourself against a scam like this. First off, it’s generally a good idea to never hand your phone over to someone you don’t know. Secondly, most of the leading payment apps have security features that prevent other people from accessing your account on your phone. Known as two-factor authentication, you can have a PIN set up to open the payment app or you could use your phone’s fingerprint reader to access your account. When these features are enabled, it goes a long way in preventing others from accessing your accounts on your phone.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Familiar scam targets nurses 

    Familiar scam targets nurses

    There’s a prevalent Social Security scam that’s been going around the country for a while. Scammers will call Social Security recipients and tell them that their Social Security Number has been used in a crime. Usually, the scammers will say that a car was rented using the Social Security Number of the person the scammer has called. The phony rental car is almost always said to be found in Texas.

    The scammers will then claim that drugs were found in the car. Because of this, the Social Security recipient will be told they’re in danger of losing their benefits because of the crime unless they pay a fine. Of course, none of what the scammer says is real but it hasn’t stopped scammers from preying on the elderly.

    A similar scam is said to be preying upon those in the nursing profession. Nurses in Missouri have reported receiving calls from scammers who spoof the phone number of the Missouri State Board of Nursing. The scammers will tell the nurses that someone in Texas has used their nursing license number to write illicit prescriptions in Texas.

    The scammer threatens that the nurse’s license will be suspended if they don’t pay a fine. One scammer tried to collect a fine of over $17,000. Since the report advises against paying anyone over the phone in gift cards we’re going to assume that’s how the scammer asked for the imaginary fine.

    In another version of the nurse’s scam, official-looking letters are sent out making the same threats.

    What the scammers don’t seem to know is that’s not how infractions are dealt with by the state Nurse’s Board. In reality, nurses in Missouri have an appeals process that they can go through if something like this were to truly happen. The State Board does not have the authority to issue fines.

    Now you may not be a nurse in Missouri. You could be a nurse from another state. When a scam like this hits one state, it’s not usually long before it starts hitting others. So please be wary if you receive a phone call or letter that accuses your license of being used in criminal activity.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    The original fake check scam resurfaces 

    The original fake check scam resurfaces

    The fake check scam has been around as long as items have been sold on the internet. As we have shown, there are many variations on the fake check scam, but to our knowledge, this one was the first. We even used to call it the Craigslist check scam since it was so prevalent on their platform.

    This scam happens when you try to sell something online no matter what platform you may choose to use. You’ll receive a check from a prospective buyer for more than the amount you were asking for. The buyer will give some excuse why the check was written like that. They’ll then ask you to deposit the check and just return the overage.

    The problem occurs when your bank finds out it’s a fake check after you’ve already returned the overage to the phony buyer. Even though you’ve been the victim of a scam, your bank will hold you responsible for the full amount of the fake check you deposited along with any associated fees.

    This recently happened to a woman from New Jersey. She had lost her job because of COVID and was selling some of her personal belongings on the OfferUp app. She listed some furniture for sale and it wasn’t long before a prospective buyer contacted her on OfferUp. The buyer then moved all communications to text messaging.

    The buyer even had a sob story all ready to go to get the seller’s defenses to go down. The buyer claimed that her grandmother was ill in the hospital and that the buyer’s secretary accidentally sent a check for the wrong amount. The check received was for over $2600 when the seller was only asking $900.

    The seller offered to have the check destroyed so the buyer could send a new one. Instead, the buyer insisted the check be deposited and the seller could send $1000 of the overage back through payment app Zelle and the rest through Venmo which the seller did. The check turned out to be a fake cashier’s check and now the unemployed seller has to pay at least $1700 back to her bank.

    When you’re selling on any online marketplace, any time you receive a check that’s more than your asking amount it’s almost guaranteed to be a fake. Also, be aware of any kind of sob story attached to an irregular payment like this. You should also be aware of any transactions that are offered to be done over payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App as scammers can block you after taking your money.

    We always recommend only doing business locally and only with cash. Also, you should do any exchanges of items and money at a local police station as many stations now have areas set up for such occasions. While it may not be the perfect solution, it does go a long way in discouraging criminal behavior from happening.

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