Updates from April, 2021 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , nurse practitioner,   

    Medical professional charged in grandparent scam 

    Medical professional charged in grandparent scam

    By Greg Collier

    In South Florida, the demand for cosmetic procedures like Botox injections can command a substantial price tag. We’re pretty certain that the medical professionals who provide these services are paid handsomely. That’s why it was somewhat surprising to hear this story about a cosmetic medial professional who was arrested for allegedly participating in a grandparent scam ring.

    The person arrested was a 31-year-old Nurse Practitioner who practices at a premier medical spa that specializes in cosmetic procedures. She is said to have taken close to $50,000 from only two victims of the scam. In both cases the alleged scammer is believed to have called both victims and claimed that a relative of the victims had been involved in an accident. We haven’t read what pitch the Nurse Practitioner used in her scam, but usually the scammers either ask for bail money or money for medical expenses that have resulted from the fictitious accident.

    In one of the instances, the Nurse Practitioner is said to have had $20,000 wired from a victim directly into her bank account. The victim reported the scam to their bank and an investigation began. When a bank investigator confronted the Nurse Practitioner about it, the NP claimed that the money was from a friend who paid the money for a Super Bowl party. When the bank investigator told her that the transfer may have been fraudulent, the NP reportedly replied with “How is that my problem?”

    When we think of scammers like this, we tend to think of scammers from overseas who participate in a complete scamming industry. However, this story shows that scammers can be from just about anywhere and have any type of economic status. Not only that, but this story also shows to just what lengths scammers will go to, so they can keep their ill-gotten gains.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Bank promotion leads to identity theft 

    Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the major banking capitals of the US. While the primary banking center of the country is New York City, Charlotte has traded the #2 spot with San Francisco for many years. Many national banks either have their corporate headquarters in Charlotte or have a large corporate presence there. Unfortunately, this large banking presence has not stopped bank scams from happening as the local police recently found out.

    The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have said they recently encountered dozens of residents who have had bank accounts opened in their name. The residents have said that they’ve received letters in the mail thanking them for opening accounts with PNC Bank. Some of the letters even have debit cards included with them. PNC seems to be the target of this scam since they’re running a promotion where a customer can receive $300 for opening an account.

    It’s believed that the residents targeted in this scam must have had their private information leaked in a previous data breach. While reports have not stated it, in similar scams, scammers have had debit and credit cards sent to the victims home address where the scammer is watching the mail so they can intercept the card.

    If you receive a letter like this from PNC or any other bank, you need to act immediately. Call the bank at the customer service number that’s provided with the letter to tell them you did not open that account. It’s also recommended that you contact your local police department as well. Then it’s strongly recommended that you put a freeze on your credit. You can also get a credit alert that will notify you if anyone tries to open credit using your information.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , phone takeover, ,   

    Scammers stopping cell service can steal your money 

    Scammers stopping cell service can steal your money

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still hard to imagine life these days without your smartphone. It’s been one of those necessities that you don’t leave the house without. If you’re anything like us, we’re sure you’re checking for your keys, identification, and phone before you go out the front door. Now, imagine that you’re out running errands or what have you, and all of a sudden, your phone no longer has any service. No calls, no apps, no texts or anything. If this were to happen to you, it would be more of a problem than not being able to contact anyone. It could have disastrous results for your finances too.

    Recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, two alleged scammers were arrested for reportedly stealing close to $500,000 from AT&T customers. The pair would call into AT&T call centers posing as AT&T employees. They would then be able to get access to customer accounts. With the customer account information, they would call AT&T back and switch the customer’s service to another cellular provider. The scammers then had access to the various apps that the customer may have used. The scammers are then said to have taken money out of apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App.

    While this scam is far from new, we’ve never seen it used on such a grand scale before. Even though AT&T was singled out in this post, it has happened to other providers, again, just not on this scale. This scam usually doesn’t target as many individuals as this one has. Unfortunately, the onus on protecting you from this scam is on the cellular providers. On top of this, customer service representatives for some providers are often under-trained and are asked to handle multiple customers at the same time. This can lead to a lot of fraud slipping through the cracks.

    In some instances, you can set up a PIN or password with your provider that will identify yourself in case someone tries to take over your account. Other than that, the only thing we can recommend is getting in touch with your cellular provider as soon as your service goes out.

  • Geebo 8:47 am on April 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Google Photos, , ,   

    Google Photos scam wants your password 

    Google Photos scam wants your password

    By Greg Collier

    It’s difficult to live an online life without using some of Google’s services. For example, if you’re using an Android phone, you’re already entrenched in the Google ecosystem. Because of that, you’re probably using Google services that you might not be aware that you’re using. Google Photos is one of those services. If you use an Android phone you’re probably using Google Photos without even knowing it. In most Android phones, Google Photos will back up the pictures you take with your phone to the cloud. Due to the sheer number of people who use Google Photos, it has become an avenue for identity thieves.

    According to reports, scammers are sending out phony emails that say someone has shared their Google Photos Album with you. These are phishing emails that are said to look authentic. If you click on the link to the supposed photo album you’re asked to enter your Google username and password. Except the website where you just entered your Google information isn’t a Google website. Instead, it’s a website set up by scammers to steal your Google login information.

    Please take a moment to think how much your online life is contained in your Google account. In just your Gmail alone there is probably enough information to steal your identity easily. Between banking information and social media accounts, someone with access to your Google account could essentially take over your identity and ruin it for years to come.

    As is the norm with most phishing emails, you should never click on the link any of these emails contain. On your computer, hover your cursor over the link to see where the link actually directs you. Check for misspellings of actual web addresses used by real companies. Also, don’t click on any links that have been shortened by a link shortening service as they can disguise the links true destination.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Beware of people claiming they found your pet 

    Beware of people claiming they found your pet

    By Greg Collier

    During the pandemic, many families and households added pets to their lives in order to fend off the loneliness. Unfortunately, this has also led to many pets going missing. If you belong to any type of community group online, you may have noticed that this is not only an issue in your neighborhood but across the country as well. This has not gone unnoticed by scammers either as they will try to use your lost pet as a way to inject themselves into your life.

    In Missouri, a woman recently lost her dog and posted that he was missing on a community Facebook page. She received a text message from someone who said they had her dog. The person texting her then said “You know lots of people are fake. So at first I need to verify you from six digits code.” Thankfully, the woman did not respond to any code the texter might have offered. If she had, she may have lost control to any number of her online accounts. While the report we read didn’t elaborate what the code was for, it could have been a code that’s used to change passwords on online accounts. This could range from your email to your bank account.

    Some scammers will even claim that they’re holding your pet hostage. They’ll ask for money in the usual forms of scam payment such as gift cards, cryptocurrency, or money transfers. The odds are very unlikely they actually have your pet.

    Scammers love to take advantage of emotionally charged moments in someone’s life. They do this in hopes that their victim is not thinking clearly and a lost pet can definitely leave you emotionally strained. Keep in mind that if someone says they found your pet, ask them for a photo of the pet they found. While not 100% guaranteed to dissuade scammers it will go a long way in verifying of the pet is yours.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , photographers, ,   

    How a Texas photography scam affects you 

    By Greg Collier

    It seems that scam artists are targeting wedding photographers in North Texas with a familiar ploy. The scammers are posing as wedding parties who are booking the photographer for a session. The scammers then send a check that’s more than the amount the photographer is asking. The scammers tell the photographer that the check was in the wrong amount and that the photographer should just deposit the check and send back the difference.

    Long-time readers may recognize this as the fake check or overpayment scam. If any photographers have deposited these checks, they may find their bank accounts a lot lighter. Banks usually don’t receive notice that the checks are fake for a couple of days. By that time the scammers have their money and the victim is stuck with paying off the phony check to their bank plus any fees incurred. At least one photographer asked her bank to research the check before she deposited it, and the check turned out to be fraudulent.

    You’re probably saying to yourself that you’re not a photographer from Texas, so why should you have to worry about this scam? The answer to that is this scam just doesn’t target one industry or one location. If you’re an employee, a business owner, or freelancer you could be targeted in this scam. If your position or business requires you to accept payments, you could be targeted in this scam. That’s not even considering that this scam has a long history of targeting individual consumers who sell items online.

    If you ever receive a check that’s over the amount you’re expecting, either destroy the check or send it back. If a business or business owner were to deposit one of these checks you could see your checks to vendors start bouncing. That could end with your business having a negative reputation with your vendors that could take a while to rebuild.

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

    Car insurance websites used in identity theft scheme 

    By Greg Collier

    Some licensed drivers in the state of New York recently found themselves receiving bills for car insurance that they didn’t purchase. It seems that the system used to give consumers insurance quotes online had a flaw that allowed identity thieves to find personal information for anyone licensed to drive in the state of New York. Much like other identity theft schemes, the thieves used information that was leaked in a previous data breach to use on the insurance websites. During the quoting process, identity thieves were able to obtain the driver’s license numbers of anyone they had information on.

    The identity thieves were then able to buy legitimate car insurance policies in other people’s names. While many people buying the stolen cards may not be able to afford the prohibitive cost of car insurance, the majority of the buyers probably have records that prevent them from driving legally. The identity thieves could also be using the driver’s license numbers to file for fraudulent unemployment claims. Some of the policies may even still be active as some drivers may just ignore the bills since they don’t really have a policy with the insurance company the identity thieves used. Some consumers have said that they have had great difficulty in getting the matter resolved with the insurance companies.

    The insurance companies have said that the problem with their websites have been fixed. At least one insurance company is providing victims with one year free service of credit monitoring.

    If you live in New York and have received a bill like this, it is strongly recommended that you contact the insurance company right away to get the matter resolved. If you don’t live in New York, you can use this as an example if you receive a bill for something you didn’t purchase yourself. Don’t just ignore or throw out the bill. Get in touch with whoever sent the bill immediately to make sure your identity hasn’t been stolen. If you don’t take the proper precautions in protecting your identity, it could take years before it’s repaired.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Amazon refund call is a scam 

    Amazon refund call is a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Lately, it seems that Amazon has been used the most by online scammers. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve posted about a couple of different scams where scammers have posed as Amazon employees to fleece their victims. In both cases the victims were told that someone made a false purchase on their Amazon accounts. One victim was approached by email while the other received a robocall. Now, there’s a scam going around using the Amazon name that’s not using the false order angle. This scam uses the one thing that could motivate someone more than a phony order and that’s a refund.

    Many people from around the country have reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from Amazon. They are then told that due to fraud activity on their account that they’re due a refund. The first catch is that the fake Amazon rep needs remote access to your computer. The second catch is that the victim is asked to log into their Amazon account. If that wasn’t enough, the victim is then asked to log into their bank account, so the refund could be processed. Yet, the scam still isn’t over. The scammer will then try to convince the victim that they were refunded too much money and need to buy gift cards to pay back the overage. This is a scam on top of a scam on top of a scam. Scamception if you will.

    You should never allow anyone to have remote access to your computer. No legitimate company or agency would ever need remote access to your computer. Not only does this allow anyone to peer into your private files, but they could also plant any kind of malware into your system. If you log into your Amazon account while you’re remote sharing, the scammers will now have your Amazon login information. The same goes for your bank login. And of course, gift cards should only be for gifts and not for making any kind of payment. As we are fond of saying, gift cards have become the currency of con artists.

    If you were actually due a refund from Amazon for whatever reason, it would be automatically returned to whatever card you used to make that purchase. Amazon will not call you out of the blue to tell you that you have a refund.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , students, tutor   

    Online tutors are extorting students 

    Online tutors are extorting students

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve ever struggled in school or had a child who struggled in school, you may have obtained the services of a tutor. Back in the day, if you wanted to hire a tutor you had to hire an actual person to come to your home. This made it much easier to tell the kind of person you were dealing with. Now with everything being online, it’s more difficult to tell if you’re dealing with a legitimate tutor or not. It seems there are two different types of tutors who advertise online. There are tutors who will actually teach you or your children how to deal with the subjects someone is having difficulties with. Then there are ‘tutors’ who will do the work for you, and you can pass it off as your own. It’s the latter we’re going to talk about today.

    According to reports from the Better Business Bureau, it’s not enough that these tutors are making money from students who are looking to cheat. Some of these tutors are looking to make some extra money by threatening to tell the school that the student cheated. In some accounts, students have paid hundreds of dollars to get their work done only to be met with threatening emails and texts from the tutor saying they’re going to the school with their information if the student doesn’t pay the tutor more money. As cheating could result in expulsion from some schools, this has become a serious scam.

    As the saying goes, cheaters never prosper. So if you’re looking for someone to do the work for you, you should expect this kind of result. However, if you’re going to hire a legitimate tutor to assist you in your work, there are some steps you should take to insure you get a good one. Always do a search online to see if there are reviews for the tutor. This also applies to any service you may be considering hiring. Check with the school to see if they have any recommendations for tutors. Lastly, if you hire a tutor, negotiate fees up front to prevent surprises later.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    A lockbox doesn’t mean it’s not a scam 

    A lockbox doesn't mean it's not a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Many real estate services and platforms use what’s known as a lockbox on their rental properties. It is essentially an electronic box that allows access to the property. A prospective renter can then enter a code that gives them access to the keys so they can tour the property. A lockbox like this on a property can give the impression that whoever has access to the lockbox code must be a legitimate landlord. As we’re about to show you, that isn’t always true.

    A man from Louisville, Kentucky recently inquired about a home for rent that he found on Craigslist. That’s already not a good sign already as Craigslist has long been ground zero for internet scammers of many forms. Anyway, the supposed landlord told the Louisville man that the man can take a self-guided tour of the home using the Rently platform and provided a man with the code number for the lockbox.

    The man toured the home and told the Craigslist landlord he wanted to rent the home. The landlord said there would be a $2500 deposit and sent a lease to the man. The phony landlord almost got away with it too except he kept pressuring the man to pay the $2500. It was at this point that the man realized this might be a scam. The man then checked the property records of the home and discovered that the home wasn’t being rented by someone with the landlord’s name. Instead, it was being rented by a property management company.

    We’re not sure how the lockbox codes are falling into the hands of scammers unless the codes are not being changed regularly. If that’s the case, we can imagine a number of scenarios where the code number could be obtained.

    If you’re ever looking to rent a home that you’ve found online, we always recommend going to the county’s tax assessor office or website to verify who exactly owns the property. While it may take a little extra time and effort to find this information, it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

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