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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    This Social Security scam uses kindness instead of threats 

    This Social Security scam uses kindness instead of threats

    Normally when we hear about a Social Security scam the victim is being threatened with having their benefits suspended. For example, one of the more common scams is when someone calls you saying that your Social Security number was used in a crime and your benefits will be suspended. Then you’ll be told that the problem can be resolved if you make some kind of payment. More recently, we’ve heard of a scam that does the exact opposite.

    A man from Louisiana received a call from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. He was told that they were in the process of updating the man’s file and that he could be eligible for an increase in benefits. The man stated that he thought it was the real SSA since the person who called was discussing the cost of living which is why he may have been eligible for an increase.

    The man did end up giving the caller personal and financial information. When he went to the bank to get his most recent Social Security payment, it wasn’t there. He called the real SSA who told him that the scammers redirected his payments to somewhere else. Luckily, the SSA is correcting the issue.

    Unless you have an ongoing issue that you’ve already discussed with the SSA, they will not call you out of the blue. They will not threaten you with arrest or a suspension of benefits. They won’t call to tell you that you could have an increase in benefits either. This goes for emails as well. The SSA does the majority of its communication by mail.

    If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the SSA hang up. Then call the SSA at 1 (800) 772-1213 to make sure there isn’t a legitimate issue.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clinical trial, , , ,   

    COVID drug trial scam emerges 

    COVID drug trial scam emerges

    With the news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being possibly on the horizon, scammers have wasted no time in using this news to their advantage. The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about a new COVID-related scam that could show up on your phone.

    According to the BBB, scammers are sending text messages claiming to offer money in exchange for being part of a COVID-19 clinical trial. To be more specific, the text messages are saying that you could make $1200 as a volunteer in a COVID study. The text message then requests that you click on an included link to see if you qualify.

    The main goal of the scam is to get you to click on the link included in the text message. A few things could happen if you do click on the link. You could end up with some type of malware infecting your device. This malware could be used to hijack your device in order to read your contacts list so the scammers can find more targets. Malware could also be used to find your personal and financial information that’s kept on your device. The link could also take you to a phony website that requests your personal and financial information to see if you ‘qualify’ for the phony trial. In any case, it could mean identity theft or worse.

    Now, there are legitimate clinical trials that you can sign up for and possibly get paid if you qualify. Some of these trials even advertise to find potential applicants. However, what they do not do is send out unsolicited text messages to random people, Usually, these trials are looking for a specific type of person. In many cases, the trials are looking for people who may suffer from a certain illness or condition that’s specific to their trial. They won’t ask for your financial information either. Like many scams, the scammers may try to get you to make a payment first to get into their phony trial.

    If you receive one of these text messages, your best course of action is to delete the text and block the number. Even if you text them to stop, the scammers will then know that they found a working number and may target you for future scams.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Texting scam threatens victims with violence 

    Texting scam threatens victims with violence

    While not a new scam, there seems to be a resurgence in a disturbing text messaging scam. In this scam, the scammers will text their victims claiming to be from an organized crime cartel. The scammers will try to intimidate their victims into sending them money by threatening the victim with violence and sending the victim graphic pictures of people who have been violently murdered. This is usually followed up with the threat of this is what they’ll do to you if you don’t pay them. In reality, the victim is rarely ever in any real danger. Now, it seems, the scammers are increasing their intimidation tactics.

    A man in North Carolina recently received one of these text messages. The messages he received said that he owed the cartel $1500 and followed up with the graphic images and threats. However, what made this instance particularly disturbing was that the scammers knew the man’s name and address. They also had the names and addresses of some of his family members. They even claimed that they had men outside of his home in case he didn’t pay them. The man ended up blocking the number and contacting police.

    These types of 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 real way of carrying out these threats.

    If you receive one of these threatening texts it is recommended that you do not respond to the scammers. Instead, you should contact law enforcement.

    Victims who have fallen for the scam have were instructed to make payment through gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or money transfers. These are hallmarks of the majority of scams as once the payment is sent it’s almost impossible to get back and is even more difficult to trace.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gag order, ,   

    New type of threat used in grandparent scam 

    New type of threat used in grandparent scam

    Scams are almost like their own form of life. They are constantly evolving to adapt to the warnings against them. For example, a scammer may try to keep their victim on the phone while the victim purchases gift cards or withdrawals money from the bank. The scammer will do this in order to tell the victim exactly what to say in case someone recognizes the scam. Scammers will use just about any tactic to pressure their victims into making a payment. Recently, the grandparent scam has seen a new tactic added to it to try to keep victims from notifying anyone.

    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. Sometimes the scammers will pose as police demanding payment from the victim stating their grandchild committed some kind of crime.

    As more people become aware of the grandparent scam, the scammers will change their tactics in order to pressure future victims into staying silent. Recently, in the state of New Hampshire, the Attorney General issued a warning about the grandparent scam. The New Hampshire AG stated that scammers are calling victims posing as police demanding payment and threatening the victim into not telling anyone by claiming the victim is now under a ‘legal gag order’.

    Legitimate gag orders are usually only issued to those involved with a court matter and are not issued by police. You can’t legally be placed under a gag order while trying to bail a loved one out of jail.

    If you receive a phone call like this or a similar one, don’t let the scammer pressure you into making any kind of payment without verifying their story. Hang up and make contact with the relative the scammers are claiming to be or with someone who will know the relative’s current location. You may also want to ask the person on the phone a question only the person they’re claiming to be would know. In either case, it’s recommended that you contact the actual police if you receive a call like this so they can inform the public.

    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 9:00 am on November 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t get wrapped up in this job scam 

    Don't get wrapped up in this job scam
    What a wrapped car may look like.

    If you’ve ever spotted a car that was covered in advertising that wasn’t on a racetrack you’ve witnessed what’s known as car wrapping. Some companies will pay people just to drive around with their branding on your vehicle. However, much like the secret shopper scams, there are probably more scam offers for this opportunity than legitimate ones. Recent reports indicate that there is a resurgence in car wrapping scams.

    The car wrapping scam is just another variation of the fake check scam. The scammers will send you a check for more than you’re supposed to be paid. They’ll then instruct you to deposit the check in your bank account and return the overage to them. Once your bank finds out the check is fraudulent after you deposit it, you’d be responsible for the full amount of the check plus whatever overage fees the bank would charge you.

    The car wrapping scam seems to target mostly young people who are looking to make some extra money. A teen in Knoxville, Tennessee was recently sent an unsolicited letter in the mail with the check already enclosed claiming an upfront payment of $700. The check was for $3700.

    A fast-food worker in Charlotte, North Carolina went online to find a way to make extra money and found an ad for a car wrapping gig. She was offered $400 but the check she received was for $3600. She went ahead and deposited the check and sent the remainder back to the scammers.

    Please keep in mind that no legitimate employer will ask you to deposit a check and have you send them money back. If a real company made a mistake like this, they would just cut you a new check.

    Also, real advertisers that hire people for car wrapping opportunities actually have a stringent screening process. They’ll also have detailed information about the opportunity on their website including their physical location.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    The true cost of the grandparent scam 

    The true cost of the grandparent scam

    We often talk about scams but usually not the scammers themselves. That’s because many scammers operate from overseas and are difficult to prosecute. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t domestic scammer because there are.

    Two men from Florida recently pleaded guilty to running a grandparent scam operation that netted them $1 million. As its name implies, the grandparent scam specifically targets the elderly. The scammer will call their victims and create a scenario where one of the victim’s grandchildren are in some kind of trouble. Typically, the scammers will pretend to be the grandchild and say that they need bail money. The scammers will then instruct their victims where they can send money, usually in some unorthodox form like gift cards.

    The two Florida men were said to have posed as police officers and lawyers to convince their victims to send them money. They would then have their victims send packages of cash to vacant properties in a number of states up and down the East Coast. Just between the two men, they were able to collect $1 million from 28 victims. That’s averages out to approximately $36,000 per victim. We’re sure that to many of those victims that money was probably their life savings. It just shows how relatively easy it is for just two scammers to amass seven figures like that.

    Both men are looking at 20-year sentences when they’re sentenced next year.

    Again, if you or someone you know receives one of these phone calls, it’s best to hang up and contact the person the scammers are claiming to be. Scammers will try to pressure you into staying on the line, however, if someone is truly in a legal jam, it’s not going to make matters worse if you make additional calls to verify their story.

    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 9:00 am on November 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    A reminder that some scams never go away 

    A reminder that some scams never go away

    While we haven’t seen any new developments in scams today, we thought we’d help you brush up on some of the old classics. As always, just because these scams are being reported from different parts of the country, they can likely be applied to your region if they show up near you.

    Always be careful when buying a car online, especially if the price is too good to pass up. A woman in Oklahoma found what she thought was a great deal on a car for her son on Facebook Marketplace. The seller claimed the price was so cheap because her husband died and she also happened to be deploying with the military. On top of that, the seller asked for payment in gift cards and that the car will be shipped by eBay. Always be wary of any sob stories that come with bargains. Also, be suspicious if payment is requested in gift cards or some other untraceable form of payment. And keep in mind that eBay does not ship vehicles even if the vehicle is purchased on eBay.

    Social Security scams are abundant but the one that seems to be the most popular these days is what we call the impersonation scam. A man in Pennsylvania received a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The man was told that his Social Security number had been compromised. The scammer recited the man’s name, age, address, and the last four digits of his Social Security number and then asked the man to verify that information. Thankfully, the man recognized it as a scam and hung up. The SSA usually only communicates with recipients through the mail and would already have the information that the scammer was trying to verify.

    Lastly, a woman in Tennessee was taken in a romance scam recently. She met a man on a dating site. The man said that he had to go to Singapore for work but once he got there the man supposedly contracted COVID and was in ICU. The man said he needed money to be treated. Then a ‘friend’ of the man said that he needed to fly out to Singapore to help the first man so she paid for the plane ticket. She later found out that the pictures being used by the scammers were two evangelists from Brazil. Never send money to someone you haven’t met face to face. Romance scammers will go to great lengths in convincing their victims they’re in a relationship.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Stimulus check scams are back 

    Stimulus check scams are back

    Most Americans received their economic impact payments much earlier this year. This hasn’t stopped scammers from trying to trick people into using the promise of additional stimulus payments into giving up either money or personal information.

    Recently, scammers have been texting their victims with messages that state they have pending stimulus payments. The text then goes on to say that if you want to accept these payments you need to click on the attached link. While we haven’t confirmed this if previous texting scams are any indicator, the link will take you to a website that will require you to enter your personal information. Or it could potentially ask you to pay a ‘processing fee’ to receive your stimulus payment. In either case, the stimulus payment doesn’t exist. Ever since the initial economic impact payment were issued, the government has not approved any additional stimulus payments.

    Please keep in mind that the majority of federal agencies that deal with the general public do not communicate by text. That’s not even taking into account that if a government office needs to discuss stimulus payments they will refer to them by their proper name of economic impact payment. Anyone contacting you calling them a stimulus payment or stimulus check is probably not with the government. That’s not even mentioning that even if additional impact payments were to be issued you wouldn’t have to pay money to receive them.

    In addition to these warnings, it’s just good practice to avoid clicking on links in text messages from people you don’t know. This is a common practice used in several different scams that are designed to either steal your personal information or inject malware into your device. Either of which could lead to a number of expensive and inconvenient problems in the future.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    There’s a new twist on the cash flipping scam 

    There's a new twist on the cash flipping scam

    We’ve discussed cash flipping scams in the past. They are mostly associated with the payment app Cash App. Cash App has giveaways on Fridays that they call #CashAppFridays. If you follow that hashtag on Twitter or Instagram you could be eligible for a cash prize from Cash App. This has led to a number of scammers who have hijacked the hashtag to commit the cash, or money, flipping scam.

    The scammers try to convince their victims that they’ll give the victims a lot of money in exchange for a little money. For example, a scammer may promise victims $500 if the victims send the scammers $50 through Cash App. Once the victim sends the money through Cash App the scammer blocks the victim and keeps their money. Cash App policies have been said to give little recourse to victims in scams like this. Payments can often only be refunded if the person who receives the payment cancels the transaction.

    Now, the Better Business Bureau is reporting that the Cash App scammers are trying a new tactic in their cash flipping scams. According to the BBB, scammers are now offering to ‘invest’ the money you give them through Cash App. The scammers will ‘guarantee’ that your investment will multiply. They are said to be asking for anywhere from $300 to $800.

    As with most money scams. if you pay a scammer once, they’ll try to get you to pay more. This scam is no different, if you try to contact the scammer about your investment, they might tell you that Cash App has a fee that you need to pay to the scammer to get your money. Or they might tell you there’s a tax fee that you need to pay to them first. The point is, once you pay money to a Cash App scammer you’ll never see it again.

    As we always say, cash flipping is not a real thing. You wouldn’t give money to a stranger on the street who promised to invest it. So why would you give it to a stranger on social media? It’s understandable that people in dire financial straits may be desperate enough to do anything to keep their heads above water. However, there is no true way to get rich quick, and if someone tries they could find themselves in deeper financial trouble than before.

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