Updates from October, 2021 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam 

    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam

    By Greg Collier

    While Venmo is no stranger to scams on their platform, this may be one of the most heinous Venmo scams we’ve heard of. What makes this one worse than most is that the people being scammed didn’t even use Venmo.

    A retired couple from Florida who are said to be in ill health lost their life savings of close to $20,000 to a Venmo scammer. While it’s not required to use Venmo, some Venmo users connect a bank account to their Venmo account. Somehow, the scammer got a hold of the couple’s banking information and linked it to a Venmo account that the couple was unaware of.

    The scammer started slowly, at first only transferring small amounts under a dollar out of the couple’s account. Before too long, the scammer was transferring $1500 a week until the bank account was drained of $19,500. The couple didn’t notice until their rent check bounced. When they called their bank to try and resolve the matter, the bank reportedly told the couple to call Venmo. Venmo in turn is said to have told the couple to call the bank. The couple didn’t even know what Venmo was prior to this. Now, the couple is facing health and housing issues while the bank, Venmo, and police investigate the situation.

    What really is concerning is how was the scammer able to obtain the couple’s bank account information. One way that has been increasingly popular with scammers recently is stealing outgoing mail from people’s mailboxes. This is done in order to either obtain a check, so the scammers can rewrite the check. The mail and checks can also be used to obtain banking information as well. We’re not saying that this exactly what happened to this unfortunate couple, but it’s a good possibility.

    In this day and age, it’s always a good idea to make regular checks of your bank accounts for fraudulent activity. For most people, this can be done through mobile apps, where you can check your account at any time. However, for seniors who may still use older methods like waiting for their bank statement in the mail, there are other options. They can always call the customer service department of their bank to get a rundown of their account activity over the phone. They can also go to their bank’s local branch to obtain a print out of their account’s activity that they can review at home.

    If you have older relatives or friends who may not be tech-savvy, you may want to suggest that they keep a close eye on their bank accounts.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Veteran loses college fund to nationwide bank scam 

    By Greg Collier

    A naval veteran from Southern California recently lost $19,000 to bank scammers. This particular bank account that was targeted by scammers was for his daughter’s college tuition. The man is a customer of Chase Bank and says the scam started with a text message that appeared to come from Chase. This was followed up by a phone call from someone claiming to be a Chase representative. The phone number the call came from was even said to have matched Chase Bank’s customer service number.

    The representative identified the man by name and also reportedly knew the last four digits of the man’s Social Security and debit card number. The man was told that there was fraudulent activity on his account. Before the man knew it, he was locked out of his bank account. When he got a hold of an actual Chase representative, he was told that wire transfers had been made from the account to a recipient in Florida. The entire account had been depleted.

    If you’ve been a reader of our blog for at least the past couple of weeks, this scam may sound familiar to you. This scam has a lot of the same hallmarks of the Zelle scam that’s been affecting bank customers nationwide. The difference here is that this is the first time we’ve heard of the scammers having a victim’s identifying information. With that information, they’d be able to bypass using Zelle, and access the account directly. It’s possible that the information was gained from some form of data breach and the call was made to confirm the information was up-to-date.

    If you receive a text from yours or any bank about fraudulent activity, do not respond to that text. Instead, call the bank from the customer service number that’s on your debit card or on the bank’s website. If you respond to the text, scammers may know that they’ve reached a live number where they can target a vulnerable consumer.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers pose as Powerball winner 

    By Greg Collier

    We all have dreams of what we would do if we won a multi-million dollar lottery like Powerball. We even think of how generous we would be if we won. A lot of us even think about being charitable with the money, even if it’s paying off our parent’s mortgage or buying a friend a new car. Others even think about donating a large chunk of the winnings to charity or even total strangers. It’s that last part that scammers hope you’ll believe in being on the receiving end of the donation to a total stranger.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that scammers are posing as a somewhat famous Powerball winner from Wisconsin. The actual winner was a man who won a $768 million lottery jackpot in 2019. He was a retail employee before hitting the jackpot. After winning, he was known to go back to his previous employer just to hand out gift cards to random customers in the store.

    Scammers are using this man’s name in a phishing scheme. They claim to be the Powerball winner and are sending out text and social media messages telling people nationwide they’ve been chosen to receive a $50,000 gift The victims are then instructed to click on a link which will help them claim their gift. Victims have reported giving scammers their Social Security numbers along with their driver’s license information. Those two pieces of information are essentially the keys needed to steal your identity completely. Other victims have reported losing money when asked for processing fees and taxes.

    We understand there are people out there who are in dire financial need. The pressure and stress of these situations can cause almost anybody to misjudge a situation. However, if you receive an unsolicited message promising you money out of the blue, the odds are almost 100% that it’s a scam. The generous lottery winner that gives out free money is largely only seen in fiction. Even if a lottery winner wanted to give out money to random strangers like this, the legalities and logistics of doing so would make it not worth doing.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Gift card scam targets Cash App users 

    By Greg Collier

    To be blunt, Cash App has a scam problem. Out of all the payment and wallet apps, Cash App seems to have an inordinate number of scammers on its platform. The scam they’re most famous for is known as cash flipping. This is where scammers post on social media that they’ll give a large amount of money to someone’s Cash App account if the person pays a small amount first. For example, scammers will promise $1500 if someone pays them $150. Cash App hasn’t helped itself in discouraging this scam, since they have a giveaway every Friday on social media. However, the difference between a legitimate Cash App giveaway and a scam is that Cash App doesn’t ask for any money in advance.

    Now, another Cash App flipping scam is circulating on social media, and it bypasses Cash App altogether while targeting its users. Scammers are offering large amounts of money on Cash App, but first the user has to buy a gift card to give to the scammer. The higher amount the gift card is, the larger amount of money the Cash App user is supposed to get back. It starts at $1500 for a $100 gift card and goes all the way up to $10,600 for a $1000 git card. Anyone who falls victim to this scam isn’t going to see any money enter their Cash App account. Instead, they’ll be out the money they paid for the gift card.

    The age-old adage of ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ really applies here. If someone is offering you something that seems too good to be true, they either want something from you or it’s an outright scam. Keep in mind that Cash App’s legitimate giveaways are considered sweepstakes and no purchase is necessary. Anyone who asks for money in advance for a giveaway is a scammer. Gift cards are also a huge signifier that this is a scam. Gift cards might even be used more in scams than as actual gifts. No legitimate agency or business will ever ask for payment in gift cards. If you’ve been a victim to any one of the Cash App scams, you can contact Cash App customer service through their app.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    New trick added to Social Security scam 

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to impersonation scams. The Social Security Administration is probably the most impersonated government agency. Con artists often do this because Social Security benefits are largely used by seniors, and in many cases it may be their only source of income. So, when a Social Security recipient is threatened with their benefits being cut off, they might not react in the most logical manner to a scammer. Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics to intimidate seniors into giving them what they want, whether it’s money or information. Recently, scammers have come up with a new angle to try to get seniors to hand over their money.

    From New York to Hawaii, authorities are warning Social Security recipients about the latest rash of Social Security scam calls. As usual, scammers are posing as the SSA and calling people to tell them that their Social Security status is in jeopardy. Seniors are being told that they’re under investigation by the SSA and that their Social Security numbers could be locked. The scammers add that this could affect their bank accounts and employment. The scammers are now telling seniors they can prevent this by buying a Social Security lock card, which doesn’t actually exist. This usually leads into scammers telling their victims they can purchase the lock card by buying gift cards and providing the fake SSA with the card numbers.

    As always, when it comes to gift cards, they should only be used for gifts. No legitimate company or agency will ever ask for them as a form of payment to settle any kind of charge or debt. Also, as we said, the SSA is probably the most impersonated agency when it comes to scams. Scammers can easily spoof phone numbers and make it appear as they’re calling from the SSA’s office. Unless you’ve contacted the SSA first due to an ongoing issue, they will rarely call you. Instead, the SSA does the bulk of its communication through mail. The SSA will also never threaten you with termination of benefits or any kind of prosecution. If you receive a call like that, hang up without even talking to the person on the other line.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle scam keeps making victims out of bank customers 

    By Greg Collier

    Reports are still coming in about the scam that uses the Zelle payment app to drain victims’ bank accounts. In case you’ve missed our previous posts about the scam, scammers are posing as nationwide banks while sending text messages to victims asking them if they’ve made a large purchase. When the victim replies back, they’re then called by the scammers posing as the bank’s fraud department. The scammers tell the victim that someone is fraudulently using their account. The victim is then instructed to make a transfer through Zelle to ‘protect’ their account. Instead, the scammers are directing the money to their own accounts.

    Bank of America has taken the brunt of the criticism in this story, since it seems mostly B of A customers who have been affected. The bank has been seemingly resistant to either issue refunds or recover their customers’ money. Many times they’ve only done so after scam victims have contacted their local media. The scam has become so prevalent across the country that even the New York media is warning consumers about the scam.

    However, it’s not just Bank of America that is seeing their customers get taken for a ride. A number of Chase Bank customers have also reported falling victim to the scam. Recently, an Ohio woman lost $13,000 to the scam, and she was a Chase customer. As of the time of this writing, Chase has not commented on whether or not the woman will be getting her money back.

    The company that runs Zelle is jointly owned by is owned by Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Navy Federal Credit Union, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, Ally, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. There are other banks that also use Zelle even though they don’t hold ownership in it.

    If your bank uses Zelle and you receive one of these scam texts, do not reply to it. Instead, call your bank’s customer service number from the back of your debit or credit card. That way, you know you’re talking to a legitimate customer service representative. They’ll be able to tell you if there is any real fraudulent activity on your account.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Single mother pressured into rental scam 

    Single mother pressured into rental scam

    By Greg Collier

    Sometimes life throws challenges in our way that we’re not ready for. One minor bump in the road can have such a ripple effect that we find ourselves hoping for a miracle, so we can escape a desperate situation. For example, a single mother of three from Virginia need to find a new home immediately for her and her family after recovering from a number of illnesses. However, instead of finding a miracle, she found a scammer waiting to rob her of the little money she had saved for a deposit on a new home.

    She had found an affordable rental on Facebook Marketplace where her kids wouldn’t have to change schools. After filling out an ‘application’ to rent the property, the landlord said that there was another person who was getting ready to rent the property. If she still wanted to rent the property, she would need to pay the landlord right away through gift cards, since she couldn’t get away from her job. Unfortunately, she did end up sending $900 in gift cards to the supposed landlord for a property that wasn’t even being rented.

    As with most rental scams, online listings are copied from ads where homes are for sale instead of being available for rent. Scammers will copy ads off of Zillow and repost them on free platforms like Facebook Marketplace. The fake ads will almost always have the same word for word description used in the Zillow ad. Then the properties are listed for below-market value rent to lure victims into the scam.

    While everyone’s situation is different, no matter how desperate you may be, a rental property should be researched first before handing over any money. A quick web search of the address will usually bring up the original listing that the fake ones are copied from. And as with any scam, gift cards are a red flag in almost every situation. No real landlord or rental agency will ever ask for gift cards as a form of payment.

    In stressful situations like this, are judgement is often clouded. If you can, always try to take a step back and ask yourself if this situation seems off or too good to be true.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Short-term renters threatened with violence 

    Short-term renters threatened with violence

    By Greg Collier

    If you use a short-term rental service like Airbnb or VRBO, as a renter, there are many pitfalls you have to be aware of. Usually, if a renter had to look out for anyone, it was usually the host they had to be wary of. Previously, we’ve seen instances where the accommodations weren’t exactly what the host had promised, with some resembling something closer to prison conditions than a vacation rental. There have also been instances of hosts renting out properties that they didn’t even own. These scammers would just take the renter’s money and leave them stranded after the renter’s traveled to what they thought was going to be a fun trip. Now, short-term renters have another danger to look out for.

    In Northern California, a group of vacationers from Kansas rented out a home off of VRBO for a trip to wine country. It appears that at least one of the neighbors wanted to let the vacationers know that they weren’t welcome there. One morning, they woke up to find the tires on their van had been slashed, and threatening graffiti was left on the rental home. Part of the message said, “Leave this place or else.”

    The residents of the neighborhood have had a problem with this particular rental for some time now. According to them, the rental has repeatedly been a party house where renters have not only disturbed the neighborhood with noise, but have also repeatedly strewn garbage around the neighborhood. It also turns out that the hosts did not allegedly have the proper permit from the county to use their home as a short-term rental, but we’re renting it out anyway. The permit had been denied after many in the community opposed it.

    The vacationers were just innocent bystanders caught up in a feud between neighbors. With more and more communities pushing back against short-term rentals, this could unfortunately become more common.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Beware of hospitals bearing refunds 

    Beware of hospitals bearing refunds

    By Greg Collier

    A hospital just outside of Detroit has found itself being used as a tool in a scam. Scammers are spoofing the hospital’s phone number while calling local residents, telling them that they are owed a refund. The hospital itself is stating that they’ve received hundreds of phone calls from people who were approached by the scammers. People who have received these phone calls also said that the scammers asked them for their financial information, so they could issue the phony refund. While no one has reported falling victim to the scam so far, we imagine the scammers would use the information to drain a victim’s bank account.

    One of our staff members comes from a medical administration background, where they handled patient refunds. From what they’ve told us, this is not how hospitals or doctors’ offices handle refunds. First off, we’re told that refunds are a low-priority for many facilities. In most cases, they’re only issued if the patient notices a credit on their account and requests a refund from the facility. While there are exceptions to every rule, largely these refunds were issued by check and sent through the mail. By and large, most medical facilities put the responsibility on the patient to at least initiate the refund process.

    If you are owed a refund by a medical provider, and you receive a phone call like this, ask for the payment by check if you’re unsure if they’re your doctor’s office or not. If they say they can’t issue the refund in that way, there’s a very good chance you’re being scammed. At the very least, the facility can sometimes offer to return the refund to the method of payment they have on file. You can also hang up from the call and call the facility back at their billing number, which can almost always be found on the facility’s website.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on October 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle scam victims may be entitled to get their money back 

    Zelle scam victims may be entitled to get their money back

    By Greg Collier

    The Zelle scam has been finding a lot of victims around the country. We originally posted about it here. The scam is largely affecting Bank of America customers, although we’ve also seen it affect Chase customers. In theory, it could affect any bank’s customers whether that bank uses The payment app or not.

    The scam works with the scammers posing as a bank. In this case, Bank of America, mostly. The scammers will text countless people at random. They only need to have a handful of people to fall victim to the scam to make it profitable. The text message will appear to have come from B of A asking if you’ve made a substantially large purchase lately. Within the text, you’ll be asked to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if you made such a purchase. If someone replies to the text, the text is followed up by a phone call from someone posing as a customer service rep from the bank telling you that someone has accessed your account. The victim will be then instructed to move the money in their account to a ‘safe place’ through Zelle, with the claim that this will keep their money safe. What’s really going on is that you’re transferring your money to a scammer’s account, and they make off with your money.

    For the most part, victims can’t get their money back. Zelle offers no protections for this, and the banks usually tell scam victims that there’s nothing they can do. Sometimes victims do get their money back after speaking with their local media. However, it seems more like the banks are doing this for PR reasons rather than any kind of responsibility to the customer.

    That may be changing, as a little-known federal law known as Regulation E states that banks are supposed to refund customers if the customer is the victim of a fraudulent transaction on their account. That includes when a third party tricks a victim into sharing account information. However, it does not protect the customer if the customer uses Zelle knowingly to buy something online and never receives that purchase. But for this scam, victims should be able to get refunds, theoretically. Whether the banks will try to prevent these refunds remains to be seen.

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