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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , home repair scam, ,   

    It’s door-to-door scam season 

    It's door-to-door scam season

    By Greg Collier

    With the weather being warmer, scammers are starting to move from online scams to scams that come to your door. Many of these scams target older people who are home during the day especially if they live alone. One of the more popular scams is the home repair scam. In these instances, scammers will knock on your door and tell you that they have left over supplies from a job they just completed and will do repairs to your home for cheap. Typically, these jobs are shoddily done if anything is done at all after you pay. However, in at least one community, the scam starts out this way, but has a much more nefarious purpose.

    In the Southwest corner of Michigan, several communities have reported home repair scammers in their area. These scammers are said to travel in nondescript trucks with no company markings. Some vehicles are even said to have tinted windows. The men in the trucks will go up to the homes of elderly residents offering home repair services. They’ll then try to get the resident to come out of the house by showing parts of the outside of the house that could potentially need repairs. Meanwhile, the scammer has a partner who goes in through the unlocked door to steal items from inside the home. One victim had thousands of dollars in cash taken from inside their home.

    If someone approaches your door offering you services unsolicited, there’s a good chance they may be a scammer. Legitimate salesmen, as annoying as they might be, will leave product information and their business card if you’re interested. Scammers will try to pressure you into making a decision right there and then. One of the best ways to avoid these scammers is to not answer the door if you’re not expecting anyone. A better way is to have a camera doorbell installed. This way, you’ll be able to see and communicate with the person at your door without opening your home to them.

    If you have family that is older and possibly living alone, please let them know about this scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , backyard breeders, parvo, , , , sick puppy   

    Family loses thousands after buying ill puppy 

    Family loses thousands after buying ill puppy

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, when we talk about puppy scams, we’re talking about the kind where the puppy doesn’t actually exist. In this scam, con artists put up fake websites and ads advertising popular puppy breeds at cut rate prices. Once a victim makes a payment for the puppy, the scammers will then start asking for more money for things like insurance and specialized travel crates. Finding out that you’re not getting a puppy after paying thousands of dollars is heartbreaking in itself, but there’s an even more heartbreaking scam that involves puppies.

    Unfortunately, this other scam involves actual puppies. There are backyard breeders and puppy mills that will happily take your money by selling you a terminally ill puppy. This happened recently to a family in Arizona who bought a Heeler-Lab puppy for $250. From we understand, this breed of puppy can go for upwards of $1,000. The family picked up the dog from the seller at a local McDonald’s. After they got the puppy home they discovered that the puppy had ticks and fleas. After taking the puppy to a vet, it was discovered that the puppy had the deadly parvovirus, better known as just parvo. The family took out a loan so they could pay for the $3,000 treatment. Sadly, the puppy’s condition worsened in the coming days. Further treatment would have cost $25,000. The family had to make the difficult decision to have the puppy put down.

    As with a number of online scams, anyone can put up a website or Craigslist ad and call themselves a breeder. However, if the puppy is being sold for well below market value, that could be a red flag that something’s not on the up and up. If you can’t go physically see the puppy before purchasing that may also be an indicator that something could be wrong with the puppy. If the seller asks you to meet at a location like a fast food parking lot, that could be another indication of a bad breeder.

    As always, we recommend going to your local animal shelter to adopt a pet. You’d be surprised what breeds you might find at the shelter. Also, not every shelter dog has been abused or has trust issues. A great deal of them have just been surrendered by their owners for various reasons. Many shelters have waiting lists for certain breeds in addition to being able to adopt the puppy for no or low cost. Maybe even consider adopting an adult dog instead as they need homes too.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Phony movers could hold your property hostage 

    Phony movers could hold your property hostage

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, in the Kansas City area, many people have come forward claiming that they’ve been ripped off by a moving company that they found online. The company is not only accused of allegedly damaging a lot of customer’s possessions, but they’re also accused of holding on to a lot of the items while asking the customers for more money. One man claimed that the company is holding on to half of his belongings while the other half were mostly damaged. The man claims it’s been six months since his move to Kansas City and still hasn’t gotten the rest of his possessions.

    The problem with some online moving companies is that anybody can put up a website and claim to be a moving company. A quick web search of the moving company mentioned in the Kansas City news story brought us to a Better Business Bureau page which stated that the company had not obtained required licenses for the city and state they’re supposedly headquartered in.

    Scam movers may not even have warehouses or trucks. Some of these companies may not even have employees as some just hire day laborers to load their trucks.

    There are many ways to tell if you’re dealing with a shady moving company. If they give you an estimate over the phone without coming to your home to inventory your belongings, they’re probably not on the up and up. If you call their office, and they answer with a generic sounding name like ‘moving company’ the odds are they’re a fly-by-night operation. Lastly, if their moving vans are just rental trucks they’re obviously not legitimate.

    That’s not to say that all moving companies are bad. You should just do some research before business with them. Even if the movers were referred to you by a realtor or broker you should still do your research.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: medical license, , , physical therapist,   

    Healthcare professional loses life savings in licensing scam 

    Healthcare professional loses life savings in licensing scam

    By Greg Collier

    The scam we’re talking about today doesn’t affect every day consumers all that much. It’s geared more toward medical professionals. By medical professionals we mean any healthcare worker who requires a license to do their job. This not only includes doctors but also nurses and many other healthcare workers. However, this particular scam is a great example of how far con artists are willing to go to steal money from their victims.

    The licensing scam is not new. It’s been targeting medical professionals for a while now. Typically, a scammer will contact a licensed healthcare worker while posing as someone from their state government. The scammers will tell the healthcare worker that their license has been suspended due to a drug trafficking investigation. Sometimes the scammers will even go as far as to confuse the victim with official looking paperwork. The scammers will then try to pressure the victim into making some kind of payment so the healthcare worker can preserve their license.

    This recently happened to a physical therapist in Michigan. Scammers told her that her license was in jeopardy because it had been used in a drug trafficking scheme that had also laundered $2.4 million. They told her to go to the nearest UPS Store to receive notification in writing. The letter she received appeared to be on official letterhead from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The scammers even posed as agents from the LARA and the FBI. They convinced the physical therapist that she could spend six months in jail if she did not sign a federal bond agreement with the Department of Justice. This bond agreement was then paid by money transfer. The amount she paid to the scammers was not disclosed but was said to be her family’s life savings.

    The lengths these scammers went to has to be marveled at. The thing is with scams like this is they don’t have to fool many people. They only need to fool a few who are willing to pay large sums of money.

    And again, if anyone was under investigation for drug trafficking, you would be visited by law enforcement personally and wouldn’t just receive a phone call. Also, law enforcement agencies whether local, statewide, or federal will never ask for any kind of payment over the phone while simultaneously threatening arrest. If you receive a phone call like this, hang up and call whatever agency the caller is claiming to be from.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: airline tickets, ,   

    Cheap plane tickets could end up costing you a lot 

    By Greg Collier

    With many of the pandemic restrictions starting to be loosened, many people are looking to start traveling again. When people travel for whatever reason, they try to find the best bargain for their airfare. While this could lead you to getting a great deal, it could also lead to you being ripped off for airline tickets that may not even exist.

    If you’re looking to book a flight you might find various third-party websites and services that promise you a steep discount for airline tickets. However, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that they could be nothing more than scams. One version of the scam happens when you do a web search for an airline customer service number. Scammers often take out ads on the more popular search engines to try to get you to call them instead of the actual airline. They’ll take your money and send you a confirmation email but what they never send you are your tickets.

    In another variation of this scam, you’ll pay for tickets through a scam website or phony customer service number. The scammers will then contact you telling you that there’s been a price increase or an additional service charge is required. And you still never get any tickets. Legitimate airlines would never do this.

    If you’re planning to travel by air anytime soon, your best bet to protect yourself from these scams is to stick with the airline websites or well-known travel sites. You can still find some really good deals that also include lodging and car rentals. If you come across a deal that you think is just too good to pass up, research the service or website offering the deal before you give them any money. One of the best ways to do this is to put the name of the service or website in a search engine along with some additional search terms like ‘scam’ or ‘complaints’.

    As with most online purchases, a few minutes of research could save you from a lot of financial headaches.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Scammers make fake GoFundMe for teen who died from scam 

    Scammers make fake GoFundMe for teen who died from scam

    By Greg Collier

    Tragedy recently struck a town in Upstate New York. A teenage boy fell victim to an extortion scam on social media. He had thought he met a girl who was interested in him on social media. The supposed girl convinced the boy to send compromising photos of himself. Instead, the girl was a blackmailer who threatened to make the pictures public if the boy didn’t pay the scammer $3500. When the teen refused to pay, the scammer kept sending threats. Under the pressure of the photos possibly being made public, the teen tragically took his own life.

    The teen’s parents started a GoFundMe after the teen’s passing. The money from the GoFundMe will be going to fund a scholarship to help kids with practical skills they can use later in life. However, it wasn’t bad enough that scammers essentially talked the teen into taking his own life. On top of that, there were scammers who started another GoFundMe using the teen’s name. Odds are it’s not the same scammer, but a family being victimized twice by scammers in such a matter is infuriating.

    If you have children who are avid social media users, you may want to warn them about this extortion scam. No family should ever have to lose a child to online scammers. You should also be careful what GoFundMe you donate to. While GoFundMe has good intentions, it can be a con artist’s playground. You should only donate to a GoFundMe if it comes from a reliable source like your local news or a trusted friend.

    And while we might sound like a broken record about this, it does show that are no depths that scammers won’t sink to. They only see tragedy as an opportunity to steal money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    The delivery text message scam returns 

    The delivery text message scam returns

    By Greg Collier

    Last year, we discussed the delivery text messaging scam both pre- and post-pandemic. How the scam worked in the past was you’d receive a text message informing you that something you ordered online couldn’t be delivered, and you need to update your preferred delivery method. A link would be provided for you to confirm your delivery.

    If you clicked the link, you’d have been taken to a phony Amazon page where you’d be asked for your login information. The fake Amazon page will then ask you to fill out a customer service survey in order to claim a prize. After you win the prize, you’ll be asked to pay for shipping by providing your financial information. In essence, scammers just stole your Amazon login along with your credit or debit card info. Put those two things together and victims of the scam could be looking at some expensive purchases on their Amazon account with their own payment information with the actual items being sent to some scammer. In other cases, victims were signed up for a subscription service that charged their card $100 every month.

    Now, the scam seems to have returned with a twist. Previously, the texts would appear like they’re coming from UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Amazon. More recently, the text messages appear like they’re coming from the United States Postal Service. This new version of the scam has been popping up all over the country as we have seen reports from New York, Texas, and South Dakota just to name a few.

    Please keep in mind that no delivery service nor the USPS will ever text you out of the blue. These companies cannot text you unless you sign up for their text service first. Plus if these services did text you, the texts would not include a scammy looking link.

    If you receive a text that looks like the image above or something similar, just delete it. The best way to handle scammers is to not engage with them whatsoever.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam? 

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam?

    By Greg Collier

    Back in February, we discussed how scammers stopped a federal assistance program from being rolled out. As of the time of our previous post, FEMA had not started their funeral assistance program for people who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Due to the amount of fraud that was affecting state unemployment systems during the pandemic, FEMA decided to hold back while they came up with a potential solution. Earlier this month, FEMA announced that they would begin processing applications for funeral assistance, and it looks like the scammers may have already started to try to take advantage of the system.

    A woman in Tennessee lost her husband late last year to COVID-19. He was working the frontline as a nurse when he contracted the virus. Even though it’s been a number of months, his widow is still dealing with the loss of her husband. She recently received a call asking if she had sent her husband’s death certificate to Texas. She had not and believes that someone was using her husband’s death certificate to try to apply for FEMA benefits in his name. When this potential scam was first announced we wondered if all it would take to scam FEMA would be a forged or stolen death certificate.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that you can do to protect yourself from this scam. If you ever had the unfortunate experience of arranging a funeral for a loved one and handling their estate, you know that you have to provide a copy of the deceased’s death certificate to a number of different people. The only thing that FEMA seems to be recommending at this point is that if you’ve been scammed you can call FEMA at 800-621-3362.

    Sadly, this again shows that scammers will try to take advantage of any situation no matter how devastating it may be to the victim. When scammers reach a new low like this, we’re both surprised and yet not surprised. Scammers know no bounds of human decency and will try to take advantage of anyone as long as it can make them some money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks 

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks

    By Greg Collier

    I’m sure we’ve all been there. You go the post office and pull up to the outside collection box. It turns out that the mailbox is filled to the brim with mail. You think to yourself that anyone could reach in and take a handful of mail. Then you still place your item to be mailed in the overflowing mailbox. If you’re still paying your bills by mail, you might want to reconsider that stance.

    A collection box outside a post office in Virginia Beach, Virginia has been targeted multiple times for mail theft in the past few months. After the mail was stolen from the box, checks that were supposed to be for bills were washed and cashed for much larger amounts. Check washing is when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. They then put in whatever information on the check that they need. As long as there is enough money in the account the check can be cashed. Some of the checks were rewritten for thousands of dollars more than they were intended for. If that transaction is ignored long enough, you could miss the window you have to dispute the falsified check.

    While this scam may not be as prevalent as others, you still don’t want to be the victim of this scam. It’s recommended that in order to protect yourself that you switch from checks to electronic payments. They can’t steal a check if there’s no check to be stolen. However, if you’re dead set on still mailing checks, there are a few precautions you can take. There are special pens that you can buy that are resistant to check washing. If you’re taking the bills to the post office, have them mailed from inside the post office where they’re less likely to be stolen. Lastly, never leave your outgoing mail in your home mailbox. More mail is stolen from home mailboxes than USPS mailboxes.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , monkey, parrot, , ,   

    Why you should never buy a monkey or parrot online 

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever we talk about pet scams, we’re usually talking about the puppy scams that happen online. The puppy scam usually happens in one of two ways. Either you’re being charged for fees and expenses for a puppy that doesn’t exist, or you’re being sold a terminally ill animal from a backyard breeder. For these reasons and more, Geebo.com stopped accepting ‘pets for sale’ ads years ago. However, it’s not just puppies that can be part of these scams.

    Recently, the Better Business Bureau of Michigan warned consumers about a website that claimed to be selling small monkeys and parrots for $1,000 to $1,500. The website claimed that they had a physical address in Michigan which actually turned out to be a home belonging to someone who had no idea their address was being used in this way. The scammers were collecting money by Western Union, MoneyGram, and Bitcoin. Just like the puppy scam, the scammers kept asking victims for additional payments for things like insurance and shipping costs. The primates and parrots didn’t actually exist and victims have complained about losing thousands of dollars in the scam.

    There’s another more important reason why you shouldn’t be buying these animals online and that reason is cruelty. If someone is legitimately selling a monkey or parrot online, there’s a good chance that they’re part of the illegal exotic animal trade. Parrots are often smuggled into the country in cruel ways where more parrots are dying than ones that survive the trip. Baby monkeys that are put up for sale are often taken from their mothers and kept in squalid conditions before any sale.

    Pets like dogs and cats have been bred over the millennia to be domestic companions for humans. Parrots and monkeys are both wild animals that really shouldn’t be kept in a captivity as a pet. That’s not even taking into consideration that both animals require constant care and attention. If you’re thinking about purchasing one of these animals either online or in a store, please do some research on the drawbacks of owning such an animal.

     
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