Updates from February, 2021 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    No, a hitman is not coming for you 

    No, a hitman is not coming for you

    Two of the more disturbing scams to be a victim of are the cartel scam and the virtual kidnapping scam. Both of these scams use threats of violence to try to get a victim to make a large payment to the scammer while under duress. However, the victim is usually in no real danger. It’s this kind of subterfuge that scammers will stoop to in order to deceive their victims.

    In the virtual kidnapping scam, the scammer will claim to have one of your loved ones held hostage. In reality, the person is unharmed. With the cartel scam, the scammers will send you violent and graphic images while threatening this will happen to you if you don’t pay them. As the name suggests, the scammers pose as a criminal cartel. Now, there are reports of a new scam that have similar vibes to these two.

    In this new scam, the victim will receive a message claiming to be from an actual hitman. The elaborate message states that they were instructed to kill you, but the hitman has had a change of heart. However, in order to call off the hit, the victim needs to pay off the hitman.

    If you receive one of these messages, the odds are pretty good that you’re in no actual danger. This scam is using the movie idea of a hitman to threaten the victims into paying. Much like how kidnappings for ransom in America usually only happen on TV, hitmen are very unlikely to message their targets. Actual hitmen tend to be employed by organized crime while their targets tend to be from rival crime factions.

    If you do receive one of these messages, you are asked to report them to your local police or the FTC’s Fraud Website.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Tax scam season is starting 

    It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were all filing our taxes for 2019. Due to the pandemic, the IRS gave us all a generous extension to file our income taxes. This year, we’re not so lucky. The deadline for filing your taxes this year is the traditional April 15th. So, with tax season also comes a number of tax scams which are made even more difficult to avoid due to 2020s unprecedented circumstances.

    The best tip we can give to avoid being scammed is to file your taxes as soon as possible. Last year, scammers were known to file for false returns using stolen identities. If you wait too long you could receive a notification from the IRS that someone has already filed a return using your Social Security number.

    Also, if you’re not going to do your own taxes, and you’re looking to use the services of a tax professional, research the person or company first. Dome fraudsters will set up shop looking like a legitimate tax preparer only to steal your identity and your refund while charging you to do it. Try to avoid any service that’s promising you a ‘too good to be true’ return.

    Tax season is also when scammers will attempt IRS impersonation scams. The scammers will call their victims posing as the IRS and demanding payment for any number of reasons. The one thing all these impersonators have in common is that they will try to pressure you into making a payment over the phone. The IRS does not call taxpayers about tax issues. If the IRS has a concern that they need you to resolve, they will always contact you through the regular mail.

    If you suspect one or more of these scams you can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    More fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed than real ones 

    More fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed than real ones

    The state of Colorado has been just one of the many states that has been dealing with record numbers of unemployment fraud. Since last year, unemployment scammers have overwhelmed all 50 states with unheard of amounts of fraudulent unemployment claims. Most, if not all, of the states found themselves unprepared for the onslaught of fraudulent claims. California infamously have paid over $1 billion in fraudulent claims.

    The fraudulent claims are coming from scammers who are using stolen identities to apply for fraudulent unemployment benefits. It doesn’t matter if the identity belongs to someone who is employed, they’re still being used in the scam. Some scammers will use the same identity to apply for fraudulent benefits in multiple states.

    While not sending out as nearly as much money as California, it’s been recently reported that the state of Colorado has had more fraudulent unemployment claims filed with Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment than legitimate claims. According to reports, Colorado has issued approximately $6.5 million to fraudsters. The state is looking at that as a win considering they’ve paid $7 billion to actual applicants.

    That’s not to say that legitimate recipients haven’t been having problems getting their benefits. While the state is investigating fraudulent claims, some innocent recipients have had their benefits held up until they can verify their identities. Colorado offers options both online and over the phone where recipients can verify their ID. However, the phone lines have been flooded as you might imagine and the online option can be daunting for some.

    It’d also not helping that Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment is also dealing with a phony Facebook page that is impersonating them. The impostor page is asking residents for their personal information.

    You may ask why we’re bringing you this story. It’s not to chastise Colorado, but to make our readers aware just how prevalent unemployment fraud has become and that it shows no signs of slowing down. It affects both the employed and unemployed in all 50 states.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    FBI warns about Valentine romance scams 

    FBI warns about Valentine romance scams

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, some are engaged in a mad rush to find a companion for the romantic holiday. Some will take to dating sites, apps, or social media in order to find a special someone to spend February 14th with, even if it’s a virtual meeting due to current social distancing guidelines. However, this is when romance scams are at their worst.

    A romance scam is when a victim meets someone online who isn’t who they say they are. The scammers will often use the photo of someone they found online, often a member of the military but not always. The scammer will lead the victim to believe that they are in some kind of romantic relationship, but the scammer will keep making excuses as to why they can’t meet in public. Usually, the scammer will say they’re either deployed overseas or they’re working out of the country. Before too long, the scammer will start asking the victim for money. In some cases the money will be or gifts, or the scammer will claim they need the money for some kind of emergency. The scammers will keep asking for money until the victim realizes they’re being scammed. The scam has been known to find victims in both men and women.

    Romance scams have become such a problem that the FBI has issued a warning for this Valentine’s Day, except this year’s scam comes with a twist. Instead of asking for money, scammers are wanting victims to use their own bank account to send money. The scammers are asking their victims for their bank account information, so they can send them money and then the victim can send the money to a third party. According to the FBI, this is essentially a money laundering scheme where the romance scam victim is an unwitting middleman. The money being laundered is said to be the money stolen in the many unemployment scams that are currently plaguing the country. Even the victims in these cases, known as money mules, could potentially face prosecution.

    Now, you may think that you’re not susceptible to romance scams, and you’re probably right. But the chances are that you might know someone who is. If you feel like someone you know might be the victim of a romance scam, please let them know before it’s too late.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Payment app scam preys on your kindness 

    Payment app scam preys on your kindness

    Most of us have some form of banking or payment app on our phones. Whether they’re through our local bank or one of the many mobile payment services available, a lot of us make payments or transactions through these platforms. But how many of us really have these apps secured on our devices? You may have your phone locked using a PIN or fingerprint check, but what if someone was able to bypass your phone lock?

    A woman in Charlotte, North Carolina recently found out the hard way what happens if you don’t secure your apps. She was working at home when a man knocked on her door and asked if he could use her phone. He claimed he had locked his possessions in his car and needed to text a relative. Being a kind person, she allowed the man to use her phone to get help. After using the phone, the man handed the phone back to the woman. That’s when she noticed the emails from Venmo. In that short amount of time, the man is said to have sent close to $1000 to himself through Venmo. The problem with many of these apps like Venmo is that once payment goes through, the victim of a scam can be blocked by the scammer making retrieval of your money almost impossible.

    If you’re the type of person who tends to be a good Samaritan you should be commended for being willing to help others that you may not even know. There is still a way for you to lend someone your phone without exposing your financial apps. Most financial apps have some form of two-factor authentication available to you. A PIN or biometric scan like a fingerprint or face unlock can be enabled. This means that even if your phone is unlocked for someone to use, your financial apps will still be secure. If they don’t offer this service, you may want to consider using an app that does. While you may think that enacting these measures may make it more inconvenient for you, in a short time you’ll hardly even notice the small amount of extra time it takes you.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Police impersonation scams using payment apps 

    Police impersonation scams are one of the more stressful scams you can find yourself in. Scammers will spoof the number of your local police department and try to convince you that there is a warrant out for your arrest. For most people, this will catch them off guard and probably instill more than a little fear into them. The scammers like using high-pressure tactics like this to get their victims to send them a phony payment. Often, the scammers will ask for the payments in untraceable ways like gift cards and wire services. Now, some of these impersonators have switched to a new way of taking money from their victims.

    In the San Antonio area of Texas, police there are reporting that police impersonation scammers are now asking for payment through PayPal. Meanwhile, in South Florida, police there are reporting something similar except the scammers are using Cash App. Just like in most police impersonation scams, the scammers are saying the victims have a warrant out for their arrest, but it can be resolved if the victim makes a payment to the person on the phone. We can guess that some scammers are moving to these payment apps because not only do they get their payment instantly, but it’s also easy to block the victims from trying to get their payments back.

    As with most scams, the scammers are trying to get you flustered emotionally, so they can pressure you into making a payment. If you get one of these calls, take a moment to think about the situation. We know this is easier said than done sometimes, but it is imperative to avoid being taken in a scam like this. If there was a warrant out for your arrest, even an erroneous one, police are not going to call you. They will send officers to your house. If there is a warrant out for somebody’s arrest, you can’t just resolve the warrant by making a payment over the phone. Any payments that need to be made in regard to the process almost always need to be made in person.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    New brushing scam sends out face masks 

    New brushing scam sends out face masks

    It was only a couple of weeks ago when we talked about the last brushing scam. That scam had people receiving a bluish-white powder in the mail.

    For those of you who may not know, a brushing scam is when you get sent packages to your home of things you didn’t order. Usually, these packages come from Amazon and contain low-cost items. This is done so third-party vendors that sell through Amazon can give themselves good online reviews in your name, and the review shows up on Amazon as a verified purchase giving the phony review more legitimacy. In turn, this leads to these products being more recommended by Amazon.

    The most recent brushing scam has consumers receiving a delivery of face masks. They’re said to be arriving in Amazon packages but being shipped from China. If you receive one of these packages, it’s recommended that you throw the masks out. You may also want to check your Amazon account to make sure your account has not been compromised. Even if it hasn’t been compromised, it is highly recommended that you change your Amazon password. If you were to leave your password unchanged, it could lead to items being purchased with your payment information. It could also lead to potential identity theft.

    If you shop at different online retailers, you should have a different password for each retailer. A password manager is recommended to assist you with that. Also, you should keep an eye on your credit as brushing scammers could potentially have your financial information.

    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 victims 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 9:00 am on February 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Used car scam plagues Texas county 

    Used car scam plagues Texas county

    Harris County in Texas is one of the largest county’s in the country. It doesn’t hurt that it contains Houston the 4th largest city in the country. Due to its large and culturally diverse population, Harris County has become susceptible to a scam where victims are losing thousands of dollars at a time.

    Scammers are listing stolen vehicles for sale on platforms like Craigslist, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. When the buyer goes to purchase the vehicle, all the paperwork looks legitimate including the car title. When the buyer goes to the DMV to put the car in their name, they find out that the vehicle has been reported stolen. Meanwhile, the scammers are long gone with the victim’s money. Harris County investigators say that they’ve investigated at least 125 of these fake title scams in the past year. There may even be more victims, but the scammers seem to be targeting members of the Latino community. Some of these victims may be undocumented and are fearful of going to the police. The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office has stated they will not ask for anyone’s immigration status if they’re reporting a crime.

    There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from this scam. The first is checking the vehicle’s VIN through one of the many services that will give you a car history. In some states, including Texas, you can check with the state’s DMV website to find this information. You can also ask to have the seller meet you at a local police department parking lot to make the exchange. If the seller does not want to meet you there it’s advisable not to make the transaction. Some police departments can even tell you if the VIN has been changed on the vehicle. Lastly, ask the seller to come with you to the DMV while you get the title changed. Again, if they refuse, the vehicle may be stolen.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Don’t share your COVID-19 vaccination card 

    If you’re one of the 32 million people who have started their COVID-19 vaccine treatment, you may want to share the good news with others. While it’s great that you want to encourage others to get the vaccine, you may want to be careful how you share the news.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning vaccine recipients about posting pictures of their vaccination cards to social media. Again, it’s great that you’re being proactive about the pandemic, however, the cars contain enough information that could lead to identity theft if posted publicly. The card contain your full name and date of birth which may not sound like much but is enough information for identity thieves to start looking into your personal information.

    There’s another much more sinister reason why you should post your vaccination card online. There are people who are actively avoiding getting the vaccine. This puts the health of the nation at serious risk if enough people refuse the vaccine. Instead of life getting back to normal, COVID-19 will become a constant in our society. Since scammers are always looking to take advantage of a situation no matter the cost to everyone else, there is a market for phony vaccination cards that can be copied from yours. This would allow the unvaccinated who are potentially carrying the disease to return to public places like job sites or schools to spread new strains of the virus to unsuspecting victims.

    You’ve already taken the first step toward helping your community get healthier. So, we hope you don’t take a step back by allowing your medical information to be made public.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach 

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach

    A woman from Tennessee not only lost thousands of dollars to a tech support scam, but she also had her privacy violated by a group of scammers.

    It started when she received an email from what she thought was her antivirus provider. The email claimed that they would be automatically charging her $299 for a year’s service. The woman called the customer service number included in the email and the person on the other line said they would refund her money. She was then instructed to download an app to her computer that would aid in her receiving her refund.

    The program she downloaded was actually a remote access program. This gave the scammers control of her computer. The woman input the amount of $300 for the refund, but the scammers added two more zeros to the amount making the phony refund look like the woman would be receiving $30,000.

    The scammers convinced the woman that they just paid her $30,000 to her bank account and that she needs to return it. She was told that the only way the money could be paid back was through wire transfer. The scammers even printed out documentation she would need for her bank on her own printer since they had control of her computer. They even had the woman leave her computer on all night while they did scans claiming they had to make sure the money went through.

    In the morning the woman’s bank account was down $50,000. When she called the scammers back still thinking they were customer service, they told her that the transfer didn’t go through, and they needed $10,000 in gift cards instead.

    Then the woman noticed that the light on her computer’s webcam was lit without her turning it on. This indicated that she was being watched by the scammers. She covered up the cam but her home security cameras were also connected to her computer, so she disconnected those cameras as well.

    Before all was said and done, the woman was out $37,000 to the scammers and her privacy had been essentially violated.

    The first way a scam like this can be avoided is to not use an antivirus software. While that may seem risky, Windows 10 has a pretty robust antivirus solution built into it, and it’s free. Secondly, if you receive an email like this, and you think there may actually be a problem with your account, don’t use the phone number in the email. Instead, go directly to the company’s website and look for a phone number there. Lastly, no legitimate company is going to ask for money through wire transfer or gift cards. Scammers do this because the money is virtually untraceable once they receive it that way.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc