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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    New scam targets online sellers 

    By Greg Collier

    If you sell something online, there are a number of scams that you have to look out for. One of the most common ones is the fake check scam. In this scam, scammers will feign interest in whatever you’re selling before sending you a check for more than the price you were asking. They’ll claim a mistake was made and will ask you to deposit the check and send them the overage amount. It’s typically not until the seller sends back the overage that they find out the check was fake. At this point, the seller becomes responsible for the entire amount of the check, plus any service fees to their bank. Meanwhile, scammers make off with the amount that the seller sent them.

    According to a report out of New England, scammers are using a new ploy to try to get online sellers to deposit the scammers’ phony checks. Some scammers are said to be targeting people who are selling high-end items of larger sizes. For example, a couple from Maine were trying to sell living room furniture on Craigslist. The scammers said they would need to hire movers to pick up the furniture. The sellers were sent a cashier’s check and were told to hire the movers themselves using the overage from the check. The movers the scammers told them to use were said to also be in on the scam. That likely means that the movers don’t even exist and are just a part of the scam. Thankfully, the couple did not fall for the scam.

    Anytime you’re dealing with an online marketplace, there are a few good rules to follow to avoid being scammed. You should really only deal with people who are local. Scammers will often give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person, such as being from out of state. Only accept cash, as most other forms of payment can be manipulated in such a way that a seller may receive no payment at all. Lastly, whenever it’s feasible, make the transaction at your local police department. Again, while it’s not a guarantee you won’t get scammed, meeting at a police department will go a long way in discouraging not only scammers but other bad actors as well. Many police departments now have designated areas for making such an exchange.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Grandchildren are huge security risks 

    By Greg Collier

    The grandparent scam is one of the worst scams that continues to plague seniors in our country. For those who may be unfamiliar with the grandparent scam, it’s when a scammer calls an elderly victim posing as one of the victim’s grandchildren. Typically, the scammer will say that they’re in some kind of legal trouble and need money for bail or some other legal fee. They’ll then instruct the victim not to tell anyone else in the family because they’re embarrassed, but what they’re really doing is making sure the victim’s family is unaware of the scam. This scam has cost seniors thousands of dollars at a time and has put the victim’s safety at risk.

    Grandparent scammers often possess very detailed information about the person they’re claiming to be. According to the Better Business Bureau, this is because younger generations tend to overshare information on social media. This leads the scammers to all sorts of information about the victim’s family. The reason this is important is that it circumvents one of the ways usually used to detect this scam. Security experts typically advise seniors to ask the caller a question that only the grandchild would know. Now, that answer may actually be floating around on social media.

    However, there are still ways to help you or someone in your family from becoming a victim of this scam. The best way is for your family you to set up a secret phrase or word with each other to use in case of any actual emergency. But, if you ever receive a call like this, it’s not going to hurt anyone to hang up and try to contact your family to make sure the grandchild is actually ok. Nobody arrested ever got extra jail time because a grandparent wanted to verify their story.

    Again, we ask that if you have an older family member who may not be up on the latest technology, please share this blog post with them or show them any one of the many articles about this scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Is your cell phone provider giving you a gift? 

    By Greg Collier

    Cell phone carriers are always fighting to get more customers. Even though just about everyone has a cell phone these days, major and minor carriers are continually looking for ways to either steal customers from their competitors and retain the customers they already have. They usually do this by offering on your cell phone plan or better phones than their competition. Some carriers even often gifts in the form of pre-paid debit cards as a loyalty reward. As usual, scammers know this and are now trying to take advantage of these programs by posing as cell phone providers.

    Within the past few months, customers of AT&T have been reporting receiving text messages that claim to be from the phone industry leader. The text message says something to the effect of ATT FREE msg: December bill is paid. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you. The text message then contains a link scammers are hoping you click on.

    If you do click on it, you’re taken to a website that has the AT&T logo as a header. You’ll then be asked to click on a button to see what your supposed free gift is. The button then takes you to a survey which requests scores of personal data. Not only could that data be used for identity theft, but could also be sold to other scammers to perpetuate other scams where text messages are involved.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to check the web address the message wants you to click on. Unless it’s from att.com, it’s almost assuredly a scam. Plus, it’s always good practice not to click on any links in text messages from people you don’t know personally. If you think the text message may legitimately be from your phone carrier, call them at the customer service number on your bill or their website.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    New twist on banking text scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Since this past October, we’ve been warning our readers about the Zelle scam. This is when scammers pose as your bank’s customer service department and try to tell you that there’s been fraudulent activity on your bank account. The scammers will then instruct you to move your money through the payment app Zelle to protect your money from bad actors. What they’re really doing is directing you to move your money from your bank account to the scammer’s account.

    The Zelle scam starts when the victim receives a text message asking them if they recently made a substantial payment or purchase. The text asks you if you made this transaction and asks you to text back a response of yes or no. If you respond to the text either way, the scammers will call you, posing as your bank. Now, a new banking text scam has appeared that shares aspects of the Zelle scam but doesn’t use Zelle.

    In Pennsylvania, bank customers there have received texts informing them that a new payee has been added to their account. That is supposed to mean that someone has been added to the account who can withdraw money. The link contains a text to click on if you did not add this payee to your account. The report doesn’t state where the link takes you, but usually in these scams, they either take you to a fake banking site that tries to steal your information, or a site that will inject malware or spyware on to your device.

    If you ever receive a text that appears to come from your bank about fraudulent activity, do not respond to it, and don’t click any attached links. Instead, call the customer service number on the back of your debit card, or drop by your local branch during business hours.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , apartment fire, , Bronx, , , , , parking scam, , san antonio, ,   

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More 

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More

    By Greg Collier

    It’s time once again to bring you three scams from around the country you should be aware of.

    ***

    Major cities in Texas like Houston, Austin, and San Antonio have reported a scam involving QR codes and parking. For those who may not know, QR codes are those square codes you sometimes see. If you point your phone’s camera at a QR code, it will take you to a website where you would normally be provided with additional information. In Texas’ case, scammers around these cities are placing QR codes around city-owned parking spaces. Once you scan the code, you’re asked to pay to use the parking spot. However, the money is going to scammers instead of the city. Along with your payment, the scammers now have your payment information as well. If you have fallen to this scam, you’re asked to file a police report and contact your payment issuer.

    ***

    Cryptocurrency scams continue to find victims across the country. Recently, a North Carolina man lost $15,000 to one of these scams. He was contacted through social media to invest in a cryptocurrency company who claimed that profits were 100% guaranteed. Supposedly, the man’s initial investment grew to $95,000; however, he would need to pay another $14,000 to get his windfall. This is a new crypto-flavored twist on the advance fee scam. For example, when a scammer tries to tell you that you’ve won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes, but you need to pay a fee to claim your winnings. Please keep in mind that the crypto market is filled with scammers, and no investment, not even cryptocurrency, can guarantee you a return on your investment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have to talk about charity scams again. We’re sure most of our readers have heard about the tragic apartment fire that took place in The Bronx recently. The fire has left several families displaced and many in the hospital fighting for their lives. You may feel the need to donate to a charity that would benefit these families. Be careful because scammers will use any tragedy to try to benefit themselves. The Mayor’s Office has set up a donation fund where all proceeds go to help the victims. There is also another city website where you can find additional information on how to help the victims. Don’t make a donation through a robocal. If you’re suspicious about a certain charity, you can always check with the BBB to see how legitimate they are.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area, they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to recognize these scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    FBI warns about Google Voice scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Google Voice is a pretty cool service as it allows you to have a second phone number for free. One of the benefits of having a Google Voice number is that you can give it to stores and retailers who constantly ask for your phone number instead of giving out your primary phone number. Or, if you have multiple numbers such as work and home, you can have your Google Voice number ring both numbers. You can also put your Google Voice account on do not disturb, so any call to your Google Voice number will go straight to a voicemail message. However, as with many beneficial technology tools, scammers are using Google Voice to perpetuate more scams.

    The Google Voice scam tends to target people who are selling items online, especially through Facebook Marketplace. The supposed buyer will tell you that they want to verify that you’re not a scammer. To achieve this, a text message will be sent to your phone number with a six digit verification code. The scammer will then ask you to provide them with that code. What the scammers are really doing is setting up a Google Voice account for themselves that is attached to your number. They’ll then use that Google Voice number to perpetuate more scams, while that number can be traced back to you. It’s gotten so bad, not only has the FBI issued a warning about the scam, but the scammers are also targeting people who have posted about lost pets on social media.

    If someone you don’t know asks for a code that was sent to your phone, there’s a good chance that it’s an authorization code that scammers can use to wreak all sorts of havoc. They can be trying to get you to turn your bank account over to them, or you could be giving them access to any one of your online accounts.

    If you think you’ve fallen victim to this scam, Google has instructions on how to reclaim the number.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Major surge seen in this job scam 

    Major surge seen in this job scam

    By Greg Collier

    Between the unpredictability of the pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ movement, more people are seeking work from home opportunities. But even before the pandemic, work from home positions were not only few and far between, but many of them were straight up scams. Even going back decades, there were positions advertised for envelope stuffers where the applicants had to pay an upfront fee to start working. Then they would barely get paid, if they were even paid at all. Work from home scams have barely changed since then, except that the scammers now have a larger reach through the internet and social media.

    The Better Business Bureau has stated that the reshipping or repackaging scam represents 65% of all work from home scams. In the reshipping scam, you’re asked to inspect goods that are sent to your home before putting the goods in new packaging and sending them to a third party, usually overseas. The goods themselves are typically purchased with stolen credit card information. The whole scam is frequently part of a money laundering operation. Even victims of the scam can find themselves in legal trouble if they did anything to try to skirt US Custom laws, even if they were instructed by the scammers to do so.

    This scam is so lucrative that the scammers will even use paid employment platforms like Indeed. These same scammers will often claim they represent major retailers like Amazon and Walmart, or they’re contracted with them. Anytime that you see a position on a platform like Indeed that seems too good to be true, check the employer’s website to see if that’s a legitimate employment opportunity.

    While a work from home position is one that many consider ideal, they are also rife with scams that you should be aware of.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Kidnapping scam targets families of missing migrants 

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever we discuss the kidnapping scam, we always like to remind our readers that kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the United States. But what if you were from a country where kidnappings happened often enough to make the scam seem more believable? That is exactly what is happening to families who live in the US who have family members trying to cross our southern border.

    For those of you who may not know, the kidnapping scam is when a scammer calls you and tries to convince you that a loved one has been kidnapped. Often, they’ll also put someone on the phone who sounds like they’re in distress, who is supposed to be your loved one. The scammers will then demand payment it gift cards, cryptocurrency, money transfer or some other form of untraceable payment. Now, this scam is being perpetrated on those who have had loved ones go missing while trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

    NBC News has relayed a story from a New Jersey woman whose brother was trying to come here from Ecuador to make a better life for himself and his family. After he crossed the border into the United States, he got lost in the Texas desert before the battery on his cell phone ran out.

    Two months after her brother disappeared, she posted his picture and her contact information on a Facebook page for missing migrants. It wasn’t long before the woman was contacted by scammers claiming to have her brother. They are said to have sent her a picture of her brother holding a sign with that day’s date on it. Then they sent her a video of someone who was supposed to be her brother, but the man’s face was partially covered. The scammers demanded $5000 in ransom which she paid through money transfers. Then all communication with the supposed kidnappers stopped. Her brother is still missing.

    It turned out that the photograph used was photoshopped, and the details the scammers knew about the woman’s brother were taken from social media.

    In 2021, almost 700 migrants died trying to cross the border. That was an increase of over 300% from the previous year, and that’s only the deaths that we know about. There could be countless others.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that the families in America can do to prevent this scam outside of not posting their information to social media, but sometimes, family members are found this way. The woman from the story regrets not having her brother call 911 before she lost contact with him. In this instance, it’s better to be picked up by Border Protection than being left to fend for themselves in the desert.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Puppy scammers FaceTime victim 

    Puppy scammers FaceTime victim

    By Greg Collier

    Scams are like a virus. They’re always adapting and mutating into new variants where they look to get a new advantage over their victims. And also, like a virus, scammers do not care who they have to hurt to get what they want.

    For example, a woman from Connecticut wanted to get a puppy for her children for Christmas. She found someone claiming to be a local breeder. The victim did her due diligence as she paid a service to make sure the alleged breeder wasn’t using a fake identity, and everything seemed to check out. Several conversations took place between the victim and the breeder. The breeder even FaceTimed with the victim, showing the victim a litter of puppies. Convinced that the breeder was legitimate, the victim sent payment to the breeder.

    When it came time to pick up the puppy, the breeder is said to have started giving excuses. The breeder claimed that one of the puppies had a fever, and then that one of the breeder’s other dogs had to go see an emergency vet. Then the breeder claimed that they were in the hospital before telling the victim it wasn’t the right time to give the victim the puppy. Then all communication was cut off and the victim never got a puppy nor a refund.

    What’s particularly disturbing about this variant of the puppy scam is that the scammer used actual puppies in the scam. Usually in a puppy scam, the puppies don’t actually exist. It’s harrowing to think where the scammer may have obtained these puppies and what they intend to do with them after the scam runs its course.

    If you’re in the market for a puppy, try to deal only with local and licensed breeders. This breeder may have been what they call a ‘backyard breeder’ who are unlicensed breeders that often have no regard for the health conditions of their animals.

    But as always, we highly recommend adopting a puppy from your local animal shelter. This can often be done with minimal or no cost. Some shelters even have waiting lists you can sign up for if you’re looking for a certain breed. Also, don’t let the shelter stigma convince you that all shelter dogs are problems. Many of them are there through no fault of their own and would make a great addition to any household.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Adoption scams can break the hearts of potential parents 

    By Greg Collier

    Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent. It can also be one of the most challenging. The adoption process is not only costly, but there are also miles of red tape that perspective parents have to navigate. In the end, the experience is worth it, as you’re giving a home to a child who may not have had one otherwise. However, money and bureaucracy are not the only thing adoptive parents have to worry about. Even in adoption, there are scammers looking to take advantage of those with good intentions.

    An Ohio couple recently fell victim to one of these scams. They were looking for an expectant mother who was looking to have their child adopted. A woman from Houston, Texas replied, and an arrangement was made. The couple even hired a Texas adoption lawyer to make sure that the Texas woman was who she said she was. The couple paid $9,000 in medical expenses for the supposedly expectant mother. Eventually, the Texas woman messaged the couple saying that labor would be induced in the next few days. The Ohio couple traveled to Texas expecting to welcome a new member into their family. They received a call from the Texas woman, who said that she had to postpone being induced into labor because her mother was ill. Then more days passed, and the couple received no response from the Texas woman. It was at this point their lawyer advised them that they had been scammed.

    We can’t speak for the couple, but we imagine the lost money might have been secondary to the feeling of disappointment that they were leaving Texas without a son or daughter.

    If you’re a family looking to adopt, especially if it’s a private adoption, hire an attorney who specializes in adoption. While not a guarantee of avoiding a scam, they go a long way in helping avoid one. If you are engaging in a private adoption, don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you need to help you verify that the baby is on the way. Lastly, you may want to go through an adoption agency. Again, it’s not a guarantee of avoiding a scam, but the agencies do a great job of rejecting potential scammers.

     
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