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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , retail theft ring, , ,   

    Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods? 

    Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods?

    By Greg Collier

    You may have seen some stores in the news lately about shoplifting rings. In these recent stories, a large number of people enter a store all at once and grab as much stuff as they can. The reasoning behind this kind of theft is that the store security can’t possibly stop everyone. While these incidents have been largely successful for the thieves, this is not how retail theft rings normally operate.

    In most cases, there is a ringleader who will employ a team of shoplifters. Often these shoplifters are people with substance abuse issues who are paid in drugs. They’ll walk into a big box store like Walmart or Home Depot and walk out with high dollar items like it was child’s play. The ringleader will then sell the stolen merchandise at below-market value and still make a handsome profit.

    In the pre-digital world, these goods would be sold out of the back of a truck, or a back alley, or even the back of a store. The problem then was that you had to be in the know to be able to buy the stolen goods. Now, these stolen goods are sold on several digital platforms, but one platform seems to attract more stolen goods than the others. While eBay and craigslist used to be popular for selling stolen goods, they’ve both fallen out of favor. According to a report from NBC News, Facebook Marketplace is now the go-to place for stolen goods to be sold.

    The reason behind Marketplace’s popularity among retail theft rings is that Facebook is slow to respond to law enforcement requests, if they respond at all. This has caused investigations into these rings to come to a grinding halt while police wait on a response from Facebook. Since many retail theft rings travel around the country, time is often of the essence for law enforcement.

    Industry experts seem to think that Facebook isn’t responding in a timely manner because Marketplace’s oversight hasn’t kept up with its growth.

    Many think that this is a victimless crime. They think that the retailers are insured against this kind of loss, so who is it hurting? For one, the shoplifters themselves as the ringleaders are keeping them in a cycle of substance abuse. The people buying the stolen goods can also be held criminally responsible. It some jurisdictions, even if you buy stolen merchandise unknowingly, you could still face criminal charges. If prosecutors believe that if the buyer should have had reasonable suspicion that the goods were stolen, the buyer could face legal repercussions.

    Just because Marketplace is owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, if it’s not being monitored, it’s no safer than craigslist.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Phone hacking rises out of data breach 

    Phone hacking rises out of data breach

    By Greg Collier

    This past August, it was reported that major cell phone carrier T-Mobile had a massive data breach. That breach is said exposed the information of up to 40 million customers. Now, it seems we’re starting to see the fallout from that breach. Tech experts are saying that cases of SIM-swapping are on the rise. By its name, you might think that SIM-swapping involves a scammer having physical possession of your phone so they can steal your phone’s SIM card. However, that’s not the case. SIM-swapping can happen without you even noticing.

    SIM-swapping works when a scammer or identity thief uses your information to deactivate your cell phone and transfer your service to the scammer’s phone. This is done when a bad actor calls your cell phone carrier and convinces the carrier to change service to the scammer’s phone. The reason scammers do this is that so many of us have our security safeguards routed through our phones. Many of us who use two-factor authentication do so through text messaging.

    For example, let’s say you have 2FA enabled on your bank account. No one can enter your bank account if they don’t receive the text message for your bank account’s authority. If a scammer SIM-swaps your phone, they now have access to those security measures. Not only could SIM-swappers access your accounts, but they could also lock you out of any of your accounts that you access through your phone. They could essentially take over your identity completely through the phone, and you may not notice for a while.

    If your phone stops receiving service all of a sudden, that could be a sign you’ve might have been SIM-swapped. There are ways to protect yourself, though. Sharing too much information on social media could lead scammers and identity thieves to the answers to your security questions. You can also contact your cell phone carrier and instruct them to not allow any device switching on your account. You’d be surprised how often scammers are contacting cell phone carriers for one scam or another.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on December 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: campsite, , , , , , , , ,   

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging 

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, we’re still in the middle of the Christmas vacation season. We hope our readers’ vacation plans went off without a hitch. Hopefully, you didn’t have to experience the massive flight cancellations that took place over the holiday weekend. We also hope your vacation lodging was also to your liking.

    The reason we brought up lodging specifically it that there have been a coupe of stories in the news about people being scammed out of their lodging choices. For example, vacationers to Marco Island, Florida, showed up to what they thought were vacation homes that they rented, only to find out they were rented to someone else. It seems that the victim in these cases paid money to scammers who listed the vacation rentals online but didn’t actually own the properties they claimed to rent. This is just a variation of the rental scam where people think they’re renting a home they found on craigslist when the home is either actually for sale or being rented by a real estate agency instead of some guy from craigslist.

    So instead of getting a rental home, you decide to go camping. There’s no way you can be scammed camping, right? It turns out you can, The state of Indiana is warning campers about third-parties who are claiming to rent out campsites at state parks and forests. The scammers collect the money, but when the campers get to the site they thought they paid for, the site has actually been rented to someone else. In the Hoosier State, campers can only reserve campsites in the state parks through the state itself. Check to see if the state you’re going camping in has the same rules.

    Hotels and short-term rental platforms like Airbnb have their own set of scams to worry about. You can read more about those here and here.

    If you chose to stay home for the holidays this year, you may have made the safest choice of all.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid testing, , , , , omicron variant,   

    New variant brings same old scams 

    By Greg Collier

    With the advent of the Omicron variant, the demand for COVID testing has increased to the point of scarcity. Unfortunately, scammers and other con artists are well aware of this crisis and are looking to take advantage of it, so they can line their pockets. It’s gotten so bad in the state of Georgia that the state Attorney General’s office has issued a warning about scams related to COVID testing. While a testing shortage might not be happening in your state currently, Georgia’s current situation can be used as a reminder to look out for these scams.

    The Peach State is warning its residents to be aware of anyone going door to door offering COVID testing. Residents have also been told to be wary of anyone wanting to charge a fee for in-person testing. If you live in Georgia, you can go to the Department of Public Health’s website that has a listing of legitimate testing centers. While not mentioned by the Georgia Attorney General, some COVID scammers are after the medical insurance information of the heir victims, especially if they have Medicare. You should only give your healthcare information to a trusted medical provider.

    These phony testing scams aren’t just dangerous to the victim, but they’re dangerous to the public as well. If a victim is told they had a negative test result by a scammer, but actually have COVID, they could go on to spread it to their family, friends, and community with disastrous results. If you’ve spotted a COVID testing scam or have been a victim of one, it’s recommended that you contact your state’s Division of Consumer Protection.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , smart tv,   

    Streaming activation scam lays in wait 

    Streaming activation scam lays in wait

    By Greg Collier

    Welcome back. We hope that our readers had a safe and happy Christmas. Did you happen to get a new streaming device or smart TV for Christmas? Maybe you let your streaming subscriptions expire, but now you want to catch up on all the shows that everyone has been talking about. If that’s the case, please be careful when going online to activate your new device or service. Scammers are quietly lying in wait, hoping to catch you off guard if you’re not paying attention.

    With many streaming devices and services, you need to go to the provider’s website to activate them. Scammers are hoping you just put the name of the platform you need into a web search. You might think that the first search listing is the authentic website you require, but scammers often buy ads on these search engines to manipulate the search results. This way, the scammers can direct you to their phony website either to inject malware into your device or to try to get your personal and financial information.

    When activating a new device or service, make sure you’re on the correct web address. Scammers will often register a web address that is slightly misspelled in hopes that you miss that detail and go to their website instead of the official one. Also be wary of any customer service numbers given out on search engines as once again scammers can manipulate the search results to give their phony number a better search ranking. Lastly, keep in mind that you do not have to pay a subscription fee for your streaming box or smart TV. Those subscription fees are paid to the streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu. You never have to pay a fee to manufacturers like Roku or Samsung. Anybody who is trying to collect a fee like that is scamming you.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , buskers, , , , , violin scam,   

    Scam Round Up: The violin scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    As we move into the holiday weekend, here are three more scams that you should be aware of.

    ***

    Most of us have seen street musicians known as buskers. They’re performing out on the street with a hat or an open guitar case, where people can leave tips if they enjoy the performance. I’m sure you’re wondering what could be scammy about that? It seems that there are several people from around the country have been using busking to trick people into giving them money. They appear to be playing a violin that’s hooked up to an amplifier, along with a sign that says they need money for food or rent. Here is one such episode from the state of New York. The phony violin players are actually pretending to play the violin, while the actual music comes from a recording. Some of these phony buskers will even list their Venmo or Cash App accounts, so you can donate to them electronically. If you see one of these fake musicians, you should just avoid them and not give them money.

    ***

    It seems the brushing scam has also picked up during the holiday season. This is where someone will receive items from a site like Amazon that they didn’t order. In most brushing cases. This is done so the seller of the item can post a positive review of the product using the victim’s name as a verified purchase. While you can keep anything you receive as part of a brushing scam, the goods are usually not worth keeping. In some instances, like this one, the Amazon account of the recipient has been compromised and is being charged for the items they receive. If you start receiving items you didn’t order, check your Amazon account for fraudulent activity and change your password.

    ***

    Lastly, residents in the state of Wisconsin have been receiving text messages claiming to be from the state’s DMV. The texts are requesting that residents follow a link to confirm personal information. However, the texts are also threatening residents with a suspension of their license if they don’t comply. No state is going to threaten their residents with suspension of their driver’s license for not following a text link. Not only that, but identity thieves can do a lot with your driver’s license number if they already have some of your other personal information. It’s almost as valuable as your Social Security number.

    ***

    Thank you for reading, and here’s hoping our readers have a safe and happy holiday.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , pig butchering scam, ,   

    Man loses $1M in romance/crypto scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Traditionally, in an online romance scam, the scammers cultivate a false romantic relationship with their victims to get the victim to send the scammer money. The scammed often pose as military personnel, oil rig workers, or international businessmen to avoid meeting the victim face to face. Now, there’s a new scam that shares many traits with the romance scam, but instead of asking the victim for money, the scammers are directing their victims to ‘invest’ in cryptocurrency.

    A 52-year-old man from Denver recently spoke to his local media about how he lost over $1 million in this scam. He is said to have met a woman online who supposedly also lived in Denver, although he never met her face-to-face. After a few weeks, the conversation turned to cryptocurrency. The woman said that she invests in cryptocurrency using a certain platform and app. She suggested to the man that he should invest as well. The man had made money before investing in cryptocurrency, so this was something he was familiar with. After the man checked out the platform, he thought it was all legitimate. He transferred a small amount of cryptocurrency into his account and was able to take out his money with no problem. Thinking this was a good investment, the man put his entire retirement savings of $1.6 million into his account.

    At the end of the investment period, it appeared the man had made $8 million in returns. However, when he tried to withdraw his money, he was told he’d need to pay back the loan of the initial $1.6 million. When he asked them to take it out of his $8 million windfall, they refused.

    The scam has been given the unfortunate name of the ‘pig butchering’ scam. The victims are the pigs who the scammers ‘raise’ until it’s time to lead the victim to financial slaughter.

    Investing is tricky enough, but when you add the volatility of cryptocurrency that can change wildly in value due to a tweet from Elon Musk, it becomes even more difficult. If you’re looking to get into investing, never invest more than you can afford to lose, even if the investment looks like a sure thing.

    As far as romance scam goes, if your online partner keeps giving excuses as to why you can’t meet them or see them face to face, there‚Äôs a great chance you’re being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Delivery scam more common during holidays 

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve ordered any last-minute Christmas gifts online, you’re probably checking your phone or laptop for delivery updates. After all, we all want to be able to give everyone the gifts they want on Christmas Day. However, the holiday season is fraught with its own sets of pressure and confusion, and scammers are looking to take advantage of that by preying on your anxiety of a potentially missed package delivery.

    The delivery text message scam is not a new one, but like many scams, its activity increases during the holidays. This scam starts out when you receive a text message that claims to be from either Amazon or any number of delivery services, including the US Postal Service. The text message says that the scheduled delivery for your package has changed. The text message also includes a link that it wants you to link for confirmation of the new delivery schedule.

    Links in text messages from people you don’t know are almost always bad news. In the past, these links have led to phony websites that look like Amazon but aren’t. You’d be asked for your Amazon login information before being asked to fill out a survey for a free gift. You’ll then be asked for your payment information to pay for the shipping of the supposed gift. What really just happened is that you’ve willingly given your information to identity thieves who now have access to your Amazon account. These links can also inject malware or ransomware into your device.

    So, how do the scammers know that you’re waiting for a delivery? They don’t. They’re texting random people by the boatload, hoping to get just a few people to fall into their trap.

    Please keep in mind that delivery services will not text you out of the blue unless you’ve signed up for their texting service. The links in the phony texts are often from a web address that has nothing to do with the company they’re pretending to be from.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: auction site, , , ,   

    Couple loses $28K in RV scam 

    Couple loses $28K in RV scam

    By Greg Collier

    RVs are great if you really want to see parts of the country you’ve never been before. While flying is faster, when travelling in an RV, you get to see all of the places between you and your destination up close. While flying, you just see unidentifiable squares from a tiny window. Even though you’ll spend hours on the road, the RV makes it much more convenient than travelling by car. Everything you need is right there with you, and you don’t have to worry about looking for a clean bathroom to use, as one is always with you. These are just some of the reasons why retired couples often purchase an RV. However, RVs aren’t cheap. Some can be as expensive as a small home, and scammers know this.

    A retired couple from Wisconsin recently found this out when they thought they found their dream RV at a reasonable price. They were said to have been looking for an RV on Facebook Marketplace when they saw an ad for an auction site. When they went to the auction site, they found the RV they were looking for and the supposed bidding started at $23,000 which is well below market value for this model of RV. The couple bid $28,000 for the RV and received an email that their bid had won, so they wired the money to the auction site. While waiting to hear back from the auction site, the couple found the exact picture of the RV they thought they just bought on the website of an RV dealership in New York. The RV in the picture had been sold years ago. The couple tried to stop the wire transfer through their bank, but it was too late.

    The auction site turned out to be a fake. When local media investigated, they found that not only had the site been created in 2021, but they were also not at the address they listed. They even had scammed a woman in Maryland who thought she was working for a legitimate company, transferring cash to cryptocurrency.

    A lot of ads on social media are shady at best and a scam at worst. When making a major purchase like an RV, don’t let a good price lure you in to a trap. If you’re not familiar with the website or platform, do a web search for reviews and complaints. It’s also best to do a check with the Better Business Bureau. A reverse image search never hurts either. If you find the exact same picture being used on another website, the odds are you’re being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Scammers turn their eyes to student debt 

    Scammers turn their eyes to student debt

    By Greg Collier

    Student debt has become a very contentious issue in this country. Due to the rising costs of college tuition and wages remaining stagnant, a generation of college graduates may work for the rest of their lives just to try to pay back their student loans. It has become such a problem that for many, a temporary student loan payment suspension was placed by the government during the pandemic. This gave relief to many who were struggling to make ends meet. However, payments are set to resume on January 31st, 2022. Scammers are probably already gearing up to try to take advantage of those who are having trouble making their payments.

    The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about scammers looking to capitalize on the student debt crisis by offering phony debt forgiveness plans. The FTC says that scammers will text, email, and call you, and message you on social media with false promises of debt forgiveness. Tips given by the FTC include, never paying an upfront fee, as it’s illegal for legitimate services to do so, don’t give anyone your Federal Student Aid ID or any other personal information, and don’t fall for any communication that appears to have an official seal as those can be faked.

    You should always be wary of any service that contacts you out of the blue and offers you the moon, and not just for student debt forgiveness. Legitimate services and agencies that offer services like credit repair, debt forgiveness, or tax assistance, will not try to solicit you. Unsolicited communication that promises you a way out of debt are almost always too good to be true.

    There are certain reasons where you can have your student loan forgiven; however, not everyone meets these requirements. You can find out more on from the Federal Government’s Student Aid website.

     
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