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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims 

    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims

    By Greg Collier

    As we’ve said in the past, the rental scam is probably the most common online scam. It has several variations, but they all result in the same thing, the victim pays for a home rental. More often than not, these scammers are from overseas, however, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we’ve seen more and more domestic scammers getting involved with rental scams. One of those scammers was recently arrested after taking advantage of desperate families for over six months.

    The 38-year-old Florida woman was said to have placed ads for rental properties on both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. As with most rental scams, she allegedly copied ads from legitimate real estate listings and posted them online with her contact information. She is said to have collected deposits from over 20 victims who were desperate to find housing during the pandemic. Her victims ranged in age from 20 to 71. After she received the payments through a payment app she would then ignore and block her victims. Currently, she’s believed to have swindled over $20,000 from her victims.

    Rental scammers are always looking for victims who are in vulnerable situations such as needing immediate housing. This way, the scammers know they can catch their victims off-guard and get them to make mental mistakes that would benefit the scammer. These include sending money through payment apps like Zelle and Cash App. Victims who pay through these apps can be easily blocked by scammers after the victim loses their money.

    Even if you find yourself in a desperate housing situation, it always pays to research the property in question. If the property is actually for rent, the county’s tax assessor office or website will be able to tell you who actually owns the property. If the name doesn’t match the person or organization claiming to rent the property, it’s more than likely a scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam 

    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam

    By Greg Collier

    You hate to see the phrases ‘scam’ and ‘life savings’ used in the same sentence. Unfortunately, that is a harsh reality in today’s internet-connected world. Scammers and con artists will try to take as much money from you in the quickest way possible. One of the quickest ways to do this is to gain remote access to someone’s computer. In most cases, in order to gain remote access to someone’s computer, the computer’s owner needs to give that person permission. That’s where today’s scam comes in.

    A man from the Chicago-area lost his life savings to scammers after he allowed them to gain access to his computer. The man used a certain brand of antivirus software that he pays a subscription fee for. The scammers called him up posing as the antivirus software company. They told the man that due to the pandemic they can no longer serve him and would like to give him a $500 refund. The scammers deposited thousands of dollars into the man’s bank account and then said that this was a mistake. In order to correct the mistake, they needed remote access to the man’s computer. That’s when the scammers were able to empty his bank account and his home equity line of credit to the tune of $200,000.

    No commercial software company is going to call you up offering you a refund. Even if there was some kind of billing discrepancy, the software company would more than likely reach out by email. Even then, we wouldn’t recommend clicking on any links in the email. Also, it should almost go without saying that you should never allow someone you don’t know to have remote access to any of your devices. If you do, they can access just about any online account that you’ve used on that computer. Lastly, you don’t really need to pay for antivirus software anymore. While you may have had to back in the Windows XP days, Windows 10 has a built-in security feature known as Windows Security that is just as good as any paid software.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Rental car scam is the latest attack on consumers 

    Single father taken in craigslist car con

    By Greg Collier

    Due to the pandemic, car rental companies were forced to sell off a lot of their cars just to stay afloat. Now that people are starting to travel again, car rental agencies have drastically raised their prices because of the shortage of inventory. Not surprisingly, scammers have stepped in to take advantage of the shortage. It seems like scammers always have their fingers on the pulse of multiple industries so they can immediately jump on any situation that could benefit them. While this scam may seem new, it’s actually a common scam with a new target base.

    How it works is the scammers are taking out ads on search engines. These ads claim to be from known car rental agencies except they have a different phone number listed than the actual agencies. If someone calls one of these phony numbers the person on the other end of the call promises a great deal for a rental car. The catch is that not only do you have to pay up front, you have to do so using a pre-paid debit card or gift cards. After someone makes the payment they’re told that the payment didn’t go through, and they need to make another payment. Scammers are notorious for trying to get more payments out of their victims if they can con them into sending the first payment.

    If this scam sounds a little familiar that’s because it’s a variation on the customer service scam. This is where scammers take out online ads purporting to be customer service departments for well-known companies. Cash App users have been plagued by this scam for years since Cash App doesn’t actually take customer phone calls.

    As far as avoiding this scam when renting a car, you should always use the customer service number that’s on the agency’s website. Most agencies have a location finding feature on their website that will direct you to the nearest local location along with their phone number.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: down payment, , ,   

    Don’t wire the down payment for your house 

    Don't wire the down payment for your house

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to real estate, one of the most common scams is the rental scam. If you’re a longtime reader you’re probably very familiar with this scam. In the rental scam, the scammer poses as a landlord to a property that they don’t actually own. They’ll advertise the property as being for rent on unmoderated marketplaces like Craigslist. The scammers will then collect money from victims with the payments being disguised as security deposits or first month’s rent. Family’s have moved into these properties only to find out that the property wasn’t even for rent. But what if you’re looking to buy a house? Surely, there are no such scams that could affect home buyers. While not as common as the rental scam, there is at least one scam new home buyers need to look out for.

    A couple who were in the process of buying a new home in Kansas City recently found out about such a scam. In the deluge of emails they were getting from various parties involved in the sale of the home, they received an email that instructed them that their $40,000 down payment would need to be sent by wire transfer. The email wasn’t sent by anyone involved in the process but from a scammer who disguised the emails to look like it was coming from the bank and the title company. Later they received a legitimate email from the title company saying they need to bring a cashier’s check, but by that time the couple had already wired the money to the scammer.

    It’s unknown how the scammers knew the couple was in the process of buying a home. This could have been a phishing attack that just got extremely lucky, or the scammers could have gleaned some information about the couple from social media. In any case, if you’re in the process of buying a new home and someone asks you to wire any money, verify it first with the parties involved and do so by phone call or in person. Wire transfers have long been a preferred method of payment by scammers.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Offices of scammers are a thing 

    By Greg Collier

    eBay Motors works almost exactly like regular eBay does. You find a vehicle you want, you make the payment, and it’s up to you and the seller to arrange delivery of the vehicle. eBay Motors does not have its own delivery service. Neither do they contract out to third-party vehicle delivery services. Despite multiple warnings from eBay itself on their website, scammers have continually convinced victims that not only does eBay deliver vehicles, but you have to pay for the vehicle in eBay gift cards.

    This recently happened to a victim in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. She found a vehicle for sale on another platform. When she reached out to the seller, she received emails that looked like they had been sent by eBay Motors. The emails claimed that the purchase would be protected by an eBay Motors guarantee. All that she would need to do is pay for the vehicle using eBay gift cards. While eBay Motors does have financial protections in regard to fraudulent sales, that’s only if the vehicle is sold through their platform. As with a number of email scams, anyone can add an official-looking logo to their email to make it appear as if it had come from a legitimate source.

    What sort of surprised us about this story is what an AARP spokesperson said about the proliferation of scams like this, When we think of scam rings, we tend to think of shady people that are constantly on the move to prevent apprehension. However, the AARP spokesperson says that there are offices operating as businesses that are just scam operations. She says that leads are bought from other businesses and employees are given bonuses for successfully scamming a victim. That goes a long way in showing just how organized these scammers can be.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Arrest warrant scammers now showing up at people’s homes 

    Arrest warrant scammers now showing up at people's homes

    By Greg Collier

    One of the most common scams is the arrest warrant scam. A scammer will call a victim out of the blue claiming to be with the local police. The scammers will then tell the victim that there’s a warrant out for their arrest. Most of the time, the scammers will say it’s because the victim missed jury duty. This makes the thought of an arrest warrant more believable since missing jury duty is a pretty innocuous crime that most people could see happening to them. The victims are then instructed to make some kind of payment over the phone, usually by untraceable means like gift cards or money transfers. We want to stress that these scams were normally done over the phone because in at least one community a scammer has added a dangerous step to the scam.

    In Suffolk, Virginia, a man showed up at a woman’s doorstep asking for the woman’s son. The man said that he was with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and that her son had a warrant out for his arrest. The scammer identified himself as Lt. Johnson, however, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office does not have a Lt. Johnson working for them. Thankfully, the woman did not open the door to the scammer, but the story doesn’t end there. The scammer called the son telling him there was a warrant for his arrest unless he made a $1500 payment in gift cards. In the family’s defense, none of them had ever been arrested before and didn’t know that this was not how arrest warrants work. Once payment was made the scammer even called them back to gloat. We can only imagine what would have happened if the woman had opened her door to the scammer.

    If there is a warrant out for someone’s arrest, police will approach the suspect’s home which makes this new version of the scam incredibly dangerous for the victim. However, typically, police will send at least two officers to execute an arrest warrant. Also, please keep in mind that no law enforcement agency whether local, state, or federal will ever ask for any kind of payment in gift cards.

    We believe scams like this continue to happen because there is not enough education about situations like this. Please consider sharing this post on social media so more people can be protected from this scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    How scammers use the post office to steal from you 

    By Greg Collier

    The US Post Office does a lot to try to prevent their system from being used for fraudulent purposes. The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the USPS, and they do a lot to investigate and prevent mail fraud. Unfortunately, with the way the mail system in the US has become automated, scammers have taken advantage of the modern conveniences of the postal system. Here is just one of the ways scammers use the post office to separate you from your money.

    In Idaho, a man ordered some gardening supplies from a random website. The man used PayPal to pay for the items that only amounted to around $45. A week went by and the man did not receive the items he ordered. He tried contacting the seller but received no response. He then tried filing a complaint with PayPal. At first, his request was denied because the seller provided PayPal with a USPS tracking number showing that the item was delivered. The supposed delivery was sent close to the man’s address. Typically, in postal scams like this, the victim will be sent an empty box or be sent an item that’s well below the value of the item they ordered. The man was eventually able to get a refund from PayPal, but it took him a month to do so. Again, that’s more the exception than the rule.

    When ordering online from a small or unfamiliar business online, your best bet is to use a credit card instead of a payment app like PayPal. While there are advantages to using services like PayPal, they do not offer the same protections that a credit card does. And again, when making a purchase from an unfamiliar website, do some research first to see if the website has any fraud complaints against it before making any purchases. While this purchase may have been a negligible amount, if enough people fall for the scam the small amounts can add up quickly.

  • Geebo 8:11 am on May 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim calls unwitting participant in scam 

    Victim calls unwitting participant in scam

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve discussed the reshipping or repackaging scam many times before. These scams start out as online job listings that have been placed by scammers. The ads will offer work at home positions with titles like ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. You’ll be ‘hired’ almost immediately without ever meeting your employers face to face. You’ll be instructed to receive packages at your home. Once you receive a package, you’ll be asked to photograph the contents before shipping the goods to their new destination. While the phony job is supposed to be seen as a form of quality control, what you’re really doing is sending fraudulently purchased items to people who will then sell the stolen items.

    A woman in Utah recently applied for one of these phony jobs. She needed extra money to help pay off her student loan debt. She found the position on a legitimate job board. Furthermore, she was hired on as a ‘warehouse coordinator’ almost immediately. The woman was promised $2000 a month along with $40 for every package she shipped. All she had to do was print off shipping labels that the job would send to her and take the packages to the post office. The woman then received an angry phone call from someone accusing her of buying items with the caller’s stolen credit card. When the woman spoke with her new employer they told her that calls like this were ‘normal’. That’s when the woman realized she was part of a scam.

    This woman was lucky she got out when she did. More often than not in the reshipping scam, the unwitting reshippers are often paid with fraudulent checks. Some of these reshipping operations are so sophisticated that they have official looking web portals where the reshippers can report their hours and progress.

    There’s also another hazard to this scam besides lost wages and angry phone calls. Reshippers can sometimes be arrested for their roles even if they didn’t know it was a scam. If you knowingly falsify shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs, you could potentially face some jail time.

    Please keep in mind that reshipping jobs aren’t a thing. There are no legitimate reshipping jobs.

  • Geebo 8:07 am on May 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Anybody can fall for a scam 

    Anybody can fall for a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Every once in a while after we post a story about the latest scam, we’ll get a comment from someone claiming that they would never fall for that scam. You’re probably right. You may not fall for that scam, but be assured there is a scam out there with your name on it. As we like to remind our readers, scams find victims from every socioeconomic status and every level of education. We’ve posted stories where scam victims held a PhD or were the CEO of a successful company. Now, imagine if it was your job to educate others about scams. Would you still think you’re scam-proof?

    This exactly what happened to an employee of the Metro Atlanta’s Better Business Bureau. The subject of our story is a Community Engagement Executive. She received a spoofed call that appeared to come from her bank. The caller claimed to be from her bank’s fraud department. They asked her about a small charge on her account that could be fraudulent, and there was actually a small charge on her account that she did not make. The caller also had the last four digits of her debit card which added legitimacy to the caller. However, the caller asked the BBB employee to verify her name and email address as well as getting her to answer her security question. With this information, the scammer was able to lock the woman out of her own bank account before taking $4,000 through the Zelle app. Luckily, she was able to work with the bank to get her money back, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

    Scammers are always evolving. If they’re not coming up with a brand-new scam, they’re tweaking old scams to fit new circumstances. No one person can possibly know every scam that’s going on today. The general public only finds about new scams after victims who were taken in the scam come forward. Since many don’t come forward out of embarrassment, it’s safe to assume there are scams out there that we have yet to hear about. To be so confident to think that you could never be taken in a scam is to let your guard down due to hubris. That’s when you leave yourself wide open for a scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CBD, , health supplements, ,   

    The CBD subscription scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, has dramatically increased in popularity over the past few years. For those of you who may not be aware, CBD is derived from the cannabis plant but does not contain the ingredient THC that causes cannabis users to get high. In many circles, CBD has been described as a panacea of sorts. It’s been touted as a cure for everything from anxiety to epilepsy. However, the FDA disputes many of these claims and CBD products cannot legally claim to treat any disease. We’re not here to discuss CBD’s efficacy when it comes to being a medical treatment. Instead, we’re here to talk about how it’s popularity is being used by online scammers.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about online ads that offer free CBD samples. You may see an ad on social media for free CBD samples that is even touted by a celebrity. If you respond to the ad, you’ll be more than likely told that you have to give a credit or debit card number to receive your free sample. Shipping is the usual reason given for needing your card number. What you’re not being told, or is being hidden deep in the fine print, is that you’re actually signing up for a subscription service that could charge you hundreds of dollars a month. This is a popular scam that has plagued the health supplement market for years and is now taking advantage of CBD since it’s the new hot item. By the time you realize you’re being ripped off, it’s usually past the cancellation date that the seller also didn’t tell you about.

    In order to avoid this scam, it’s best to avoid any free trial offers online. But if you’re intent on giving a free trial a try, use a credit card if at all possible since it’s easier to dispute fraudulent charges with a credit card than a debit card. You should also ask if you’re being signed up for a subscription and about any return policies the company has. Lastly, research the company before entering into any kind of trial program. A quick web search of the company’s name along with the phrases ‘scam’ or ‘complaints’ can tell you a lot.

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