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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Police dispatcher foils grandparent scam 

    Police dispatcher foils grandparent scam

    In recent times, we’ve posted about how scammers are upping their game so to speak when it comes to grandparent scams. As you may know, the grandparent scam specifically targets the elderly as the name implies. The scammer will pose as one of the victim’s grandchildren and claim that they need money for bail or some other kind of emergency. They’ll ask the victims not to say anything to the rest of the family.

    Since the grandparent scam has become prevalent, we’ve seen stories of scammers sending someone to the victim’s home to collect the money, scammers keeping their victims from hanging up the phone, and scammers claiming there is a gag order in place to prevent the victim from talking to relatives. Now, at least one scammer has tried to get local police involved to convince the victim that they were a grandchild.

    In Falmouth, Maine, a police dispatcher was able to thwart one of these instances. The scammer is said to have called police claiming to be a relative of an elderly resident. The scammer asked police to check in on the woman since they had not heard from them in a while. This type of call is not unheard of by police as many people will ask police to conduct a welfare check. The thought here is that if actual police visit the victim’s home, the victim will believe the scammer is actually one of their grandchildren. Luckily, the dispatcher personally knew the victim in this instance. The dispatcher was able to ask the scammer questions that only a family member would know before the scammer’s story started to fall apart.

    While the dispatcher is to be commended, we can’t all have personal friends at the police department looking out for us. As with any grandparent scam. never let the caller keep you on the phone. Always reach out to someone who knows the grandchild’s whereabouts or call the grandchild directly. Reach out to family even if the caller says not to. Even if the call is real no one is going to be sentenced to life in prison if you hang up on the phone call from the supposed grandchild.

    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. Also, consider setting up a family password for just such emergencies so you can verify the person calling is who they say they are.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Why you should really avoid Black Friday this year 

    Why you should really avoid Black Friday this year

    In the past, we’ve always advised our readers against going to a brick and mortar store on Black Friday. This year, it should be quite obvious why you should avoid the big box stores this year. Not only has the CDC urged Americans to not travel this Thanksgiving due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, but many retailers have also reversed the previous trend of starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day. However, if you insist on braving the current landscape on Black Friday, there are still the annual pitfalls you have to look out for.

    The first thing to beware of is the so-called doorbuster deals. These items are usually very limited in stock. These items are generally designed to get you in the door and try to get you to buy something more expensive once the limited stock is exhausted. Some have even said that the doorbuster products are manufactured with cheaper components to keep profit margins high for the store.

    Shopping online is a much better alternative, but there are pitfalls online that need to be avoided as well. While shopping with the major online retailers is relatively safe, scammers will try to trick you into believing you’re using one of those retailers. Scammers will send out phishing emails using the actual logos of famous shopping sites but will leave a link in the email that will take you to a phony site that resembles the real thing. They’ll then try to gain your financial information for possible identity theft and other potential abuses. Along the same vein, scammers will pose as retailers and send you an email asking you to download something in order to get a deal. This will instead infect your device with malware which could allow bad actors to access your device remotely and steal as much information as they want from it. Always go directly to a retailer’s website rather than clicking on anything in an email.

    If at all possible when shopping online, use a credit card over a debit card when making purchases. While both debit and credit cards offer protection against scam purchases, credit cards have better protections and won’t take any money directly from your bank balance. Also, keep an eye on both your debit and credit card accounts to make sure that no unauthorized purchases have been made on them. Many of these services can be set up to send you a notification every time the account is used. While the notifications may be a bit annoying, they can go a long way in preventing fraud on your accounts.

    Even if you’re just buying gift cards for the family this year, there are still hazards to look out for. If you get a card with the PIN already being exposed it’s likely that card has been purchased already with the scammer putting the card back on the shelf hoping that someone will add additional funds to the card that the scammer could then use without your knowledge. Another variation of this scam is when a scammer will scratch the protective coating off of the card’s PIN then replace it with a sticker after writing down the number.

    To all our readers, we hope that you have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , pandemic unemployment assistance, , PUA, , ,   

    New unemployment scam promises $7600 

    New unemployment scam promises $7600

    If it seems like we’re hitting you over the head with unemployment scams, we’re sorry. We try to keep the content as diverse as possible but it seems that new unemployment scams have been popping up all over the country lately. This time, the scam is coming out of Ohio.

    The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is warning residents of an email phishing scam. The scam is said to be targeting anyone in the state that has received pandemic unemployment assistance. This is an assistance program Ohio uses to help those not normally eligible for unemployment such as the self-employed and gig workers.

    The email, which can be viewed here, states that applicants can receive an additional ‘7,600 USD’ if they click on the link that says ‘Accept My Claims’. If you were to click on the link it would no doubt take you to an official-looking but phony web page where you’ll be asked to input your personal information. If you’re on a laptop or desktop computer you can hover your cursor over any link to see where it’s really going to take you.

    There are a couple of red flags with this scam if you know what to look for. The first is that the email said payment would be 7,600 USD. USD is normally only used outside of the country to indicate how much something may be if you’re purchasing it from overseas. There are also some grammatical errors in the email that you may overlook if you’re not too careful.

    The whole situation in Ohio leaves a question that we think needs to be asked. How were the scammers able to obtain the email addresses of people who are and were on the pandemic unemployment assistance?

    We’d also like to remind you that just because it’s happening in Ohio doesn’t mean a similar scam couldn’t come to your state. If you receive an email like this, do not click on any of the links contained in it. Instead, if you think there’s an issue with your unemployment go directly to your state’s unemployment website.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on November 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    New sweepstakes twist on unemployment scam 

    New sweepstakes twist on unemployment scam

    The Keystone State of Pennsylvania was one of the first states hit hardest by the nationwide problem of unemployment scams. For those who may not have heard, scammers are filing for unemployment benefits in all 50 states. The scammers use the identities of people who had their information exposed in corporate data breaches. Due to the sheer number of unemployment claims that have been filed since the start of the pandemic, most states’ unemployment systems have been overworked. This has allowed scammers to take advantage of the crisis and slip through the cracks and steal benefits.

    Now it seems that the scammers aren’t content with using the stolen identities they got through data breaches. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, residents there have reported receiving emails and social media messages about having won a prize. The messages contain a link that takes them to a page that requests personal information so the ‘prize’ can be claimed. This is what’s known as a phishing attack. Once the scammers have the victim’s information, they allegedly use it to file for unemployment benefits in the victim’s name.

    Since this new variation of the unemployment scam is appearing in Pennsylvania it’s more than likely happening in your state as well. The unemployment scam is one of the rare instances where a scam has happened almost everywhere in the country at once.

    As with all sweepstakes scams, if you’ve never entered anything you can’t win anything. So any online message that claims you’ve won something is more than likely a scam. Once you give your personal information to a scammer it’s out there for good and can never be retrieved. Even if you clear things up with your state’s unemployment office, there’s a good chance that this could be the first in a long line of instances where you have to fight to prove your true identity.

    • Lorrie 3:13 am on November 28, 2020 Permalink

      I never got mine and I’m a victim of iidenty theft help!!!

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , airport jail scam, , ,   

    A new airport scam just in time for the holidays 

    A new airport scam just in time for the holidays

    With many people getting ready to travel for the holidays, even though they should stay home, a new scam has popped up. It’s a type of impersonation scam that takes many of its cues from the grandparent scam. Let’s call it the airport jail scam.

    In this scam, the scammer calls the victim pretending to be a friend or relative. They’ll claim that they’re being detained at the airport for whatever reason and need you to wire them money so they can be released. Sometimes the scammers will have a second person pose as someone in authority like a lawyer or police officer to make the scam sound more convincing and to place extra pressure on the victim. As with most scams, once you wire the money, the scammer disappears and you never see the money again.

    Now, most major airports do have a detention center where people who have been arrested are held. However, unless they’ve been arrested on a federal offense, an arrestee wouldn’t be able to make a phone call until they were transferred to the local police department for processing. We first heard of this scam using Fresno Yosemite International Airport in Fresno, California as the place where the alleged friend was being held in ‘airport jail. This airport is not a major airport like LAX or Newark International and does not have a detaining area.

    And just like in the grandparent scam, it is recommended that if you receive one of these phone calls that you don’t immediately make arrangements for payment. Instead, you should try to contact the person claiming to be in ‘airport jail’. You can also ask the person a question only they might know that couldn’t be gleaned from social media.

    While you think you may not fall for a scam like this, reports say that some people have already fallen for it. It’s easy to be led down that path when you think a loved one may be in danger. if your friend or relative is being detained, they will not get into any additional trouble if you verify their story.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Unemployment scams continue to plague states 

    Unemployment scams continue to plague states

    We’ve been keeping our readers informed of the various unemployment scams for months now. One might assume that the states may have put a stop to these scams by now but that assumption would be incorrect. As we’re about to show, many states are still having trouble putting a stop to the abuse of their unemployment benefits.

    West Virginia has had over 50,000 of its residents receive unemployment benefit debit cards that they did not apply for. This isn’t just abusing the West Virginia system as many of these claims were filed out of state. For example, one woman who lives in Morganton received a debit card for unemployment benefits that was issued out of Colorado. This could be particularly difficult for West Virginia residents as their unemployment rate is above that of the national average. These scams could be taking away benefits from the people who may need it most.

    The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has issued a warning to residents about a nationwide email scam that is targeting the unemployed. The email states that there is a problem with an applicant’s claim. The applicant is then directed to click a link that takes them to a malicious website where they’ll be asked for their personal information. The TDLWD is reminding applicants that any email from them will come from a tn.gov address which could also be applicable in many other states. The address will come from whatever the state’s website is. Most states use the two-letter state abbreviation followed by .gov but there are a few exceptions.

    Arizona is another example of where scammers are filing for benefits in other people’s names. The scammers get this information from previous data breaches where personal information has been exposed. They then file for unemployment benefits using this stolen information. The scammers attempt to change the address or banking information to steal the benefits but when they can’t, the benefits get delivered to the victim’s possession. One woman had filed for unemployment in Arizona where she lives on May 10th. Scammers then applied for benefits in her name in Michigan two weeks later. Arizona is said to be investigating one million cases of fraudulent unemployment activity.

    Considering that the nation is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases and more states are issuing new lockdown orders we could be seeing even more unemployment in the foreseeable future. This will give more scammers even more opportunities to scam each of the 50 states.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Even upscale sites can have scams 

    Even upscale sites can have scams

    There are a handful of marketplace websites that only deal in high-end goods. We’re talking about brands like Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Coach, and Chanel among others. Many singles items from these brands can cost you a few thousand dollars even if the item is pre-owned. You might think that such a posh marketplace may be free of scams but you’d be mistaken.

    Recently in Ohio, a woman found a purse for sale on one of these marketplaces that she wished to purchase. The listing said to text the seller. The seller texted the woman back telling her to send $375 through the Zelle payment app. As you can probably surmise, the woman never received the purse and the seller made off with the money.

    In the platform’s defense, this is not how payments are supposed to work. These high-end marketplaces work almost like eBay. You make the payment through the platform itself rather than to the seller directly. This way, there are certain protections afforded to the buyer if the item is not delivered. If a seller directs you to make payment off of the platform, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    Also, for the marketplace and the items they sell, $375 sounds like an amazing deal for the items that are sold there. If an item online is being sold for well below market value it’s possible that it’s either counterfeit or it doesn’t exist at all.

    Speaking of counterfeits, that’s another danger you have to worry about when dealing with high-end goods like these. There are probably more fakes than the real deal online. These counterfeits have been known to fund organized crime or sweatshops that use child labor.

    If the seller is used to dealing with luxury items, they should have the receipt from the original purchase. Ask to see it. While it’s not a perfect way to prevent being ripped off, it does go a long way.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Elderly man loses over half a million dollars in scam 

    Elderly man loses over half of a million dollars in scam

    Imagine working hard your whole life to be able to retire with a substantial amount of money. Then imagine losing over $500,000 of that retirement money to scammers. This recently happened to an 82-year-old man from Sioux Falls, South Dakota when he fell victim to an impersonation scam.

    The man received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller claimed that a car in the man’s name was found to have drugs in it.

    This is a common tactic used in a number of scams. Often, the victim will be told that a rental car in their name was found in Texas near the Mexican border with drugs in it. Often the scammers will say that the victim’s Social Security number and benefits will be suspended if they don’t pay to clear things up which is what the phony IRS agent told the man.

    This was followed up by similar calls from scammers posing as both the FBI and the DEA. The man ended up making payments to the scammers through money transfers and gift cards. Before it was all over, the man had ended up paying $550,000 to the scammers. While it’s not mentioned in the report, we have to wonder how much of his life savings did that entail? For most people, they would have been cleaned out much earlier in the scam.

    However, a few lessons can be learned from this man’s experience. The first is that agencies like the IRS, FBI, and DEA will not call you about such matters. The IRS would contact you by mail but a situation like this is out of their jurisdiction. While it is in the jurisdiction of the FBI and DEA, they would more than likely send an agent or two to your home to discuss such matters.

    Speaking of government agencies, none of them would ever ask for payment over the phone and if they did, they wouldn’t ask for payment in such unorthodox means like money transfers or gift cards.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s best to hang up and call your local police department at their non-emergency number. They’ll be able to tell you if the call is a scam.

    If you ever fall for one of these scams, it signifies to scammers that you could potentially fall for other scams as well. Scammers ceaselessly preyed upon this poor man until he was out of over half a million dollars.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims 

    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims

    Back in the days before the internet, it was somewhat of a special occasion to receive something in the mail that wasn’t a bill or junk mail. Apparently, it seems that some scammers are still using snail mail in order to find more victims. The thinking here might be that by using the postal mail it gives the scam more of an air of legitimacy than an online scam. However, postal scams can be just as devastating as online scams. Although, the red flags can be just as recognizable.

    A man in Virginia recently received a letter in the mail with a check attached to it. The letter offered a secret shopper position with directions to cash the check before buying Nike gift cards and keeping $450 for himself. Then he would have to take pictures of the front and back of the gift cards to email back to the ‘company’.

    As you’ve probably surmised, the check was fake. The man even said that the check looked like a fake to him. If he were to deposit this check, he would be responsible for the amount to his bank once they found out the check was fake. That’s not even taking into account that companies that employ secret shoppers don’t send out unsolicited mail to random people. Not to mention that any transaction that’s not for a gift card’s intended purpose is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    Thankfully, the man noticed some other red flags as well. One was that the supposed company that was employing secret shoppers didn’t exist. He found this out after a quick web search. Then he noticed that the name of the company on the check didn’t match that of the company who claimed to have sent it.

    The more concerning part is that the scammers tried following up with the man over text message. They had both his name and his phone number.

    If you receive one of these secret shopper letters, just throw it out. If you receive a text message related to the letter just ignore it. Any response to the scammers will let them know that there is a real person on the other end who could potentially be targeted for more scams.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Secret Sister scam returns for the holiday season 

    Secret Sister scam returns for the holiday season

    It feels a little early for the Better Business Bureau to be warning about holiday scams, but then again it is mid-November already.

    The BBB has issued a national warning about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange scam that seems to crop up on social media around this time of year. If you’re not familiar with the Secret Sister scam, it’s a scam that’s mostly targeted at women as you can tell by the name. It starts when someone posts on social media asking you to add your name and address to a list where you send in a small $10 gift. In return, you’re promised to receive up to 36 of the gifts. You’re also asked to recruit at least six more people into the gift exchange.

    This is how you can tell it’s a pyramid scheme. Anytime you’re asked to recruit more people to advance an exchange like this whether it’s gifts or money, it’s a pyramid scheme. In pyramid schemes, it’s the people at the top of the pyramid who reap the rewards of the scam while those on the bottom of the pyramid often find themselves out of luck.

    Add to that, you’re potentially putting yourself at risk for identity theft. While $10 sounds like a small amount to lose, you could lose more by giving out your personal information.

    The worst part of social media pyramid schemes like this is that a victim could find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States. Even if you’re unaware you’re being taken advantage of if you’re caught recruiting others into the exchange you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

    Some of those organizing these exchanges will say that it’s legal or even that it’s approved by the government. That is false.

    If you’re invited to one of these gift exchanges online, just politely decline. However, if it’s someone close to you, you may want to explain to them the perils of the exchange. You could be saving them a lot of trouble.

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