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  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    How to help the people of Ukraine without being scammed 

    How to help the people of Ukraine without being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    The Unites States is probably one of the most, if not the most, charitable country in the world. As a society, we do not hesitate to open our wallets and loosen purse strings when it comes to crises of human suffering. And right now, there is no bigger crisis than what’s currently happening in the Eastern European country of Ukraine. But as always, there is no humanitarian crisis that scammers won’t take advantage of, and yes, they are trying to take advantage of the situation in Ukraine.

    Social media posts have already started popping up that lead to websites asking for funds for Ukraine. Except these websites do not state what charity they’re supposed to be collecting for or how the funds will help the people of Ukraine.

    You’ll also want to avoid any form of solicitation when it comes to making any donations. This can include phone calls, emails, text messages, or messages through social media. These solicitors often use generic names for their charities, like ‘International Relief Fund’, or something along those lines. Also, avoid any supposed charity that asks for donations in methods like gift cards or cryptocurrency. You may want to avoid crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, as scammers have been known to use them for scams after natural and man-made disasters.

    If you really want to donate to help victims of the current crisis, stick to well-known charities such as UNICEF, The International Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. These organizations are world renowned for helping those who have been displaced through war, famine, or natural disaster. You can find lists of other reliable charitable organizations here and here.

    If there’s a charity not listed that you still want to donate to, please check with sites like Charity Navigator and Give.Org to make sure they are reputable charities.

    Now more than ever, we need our donations going to the people who need them, rather than the pockets of scammers.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Utility scammers move to payment apps 

    Utility scammers move to payment apps

    By Greg Collier

    Winter in the Midwest is an opportune time for utility scammers to find new victims. Power company ComEd, which serves the greater Chicago area, has reported that shut-off scams have increased by 150% and have claimed $27,000 from customers in just one month. No one who lives in the Midwest wants to face the possibility of losing their power during a cold Winter. These factors can create a perfect storm of fear that scammers are ready to take advantage of.

    The shut-off scam is exactly what it sounds like. Scammers will call up their victims while posing as the local electricity provider. The victims will be told they’re behind on their electricity bill and their service is about to be shut off in a matter of minutes. The scammers then demand an immediate payment to prevent the victim’s service from being terminated. Previously, scammers would get their victims to pay in gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, and, in some instances, cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. But now, scammers are moving to a different method for extracting money from their victims.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, shut-off scammers are using payment apps such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle, which makes sense in a strange way. With gift cards and cryptocurrency, scammers have to direct their victims to physical locations to complete the transaction. With payment apps, scammers can get the money almost immediately with minimal effort. It also helps the scammers that they can block the victim on these apps once they receive the payment. These apps also do not have a lot of customer protection once a user has been scammed.

    As always, no utility company will threaten you with termination over the phone. If you were to get behind in your bill, you would receive a written warning in the mail before any termination of service would happen. Also, please keep in mind that payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle are only supposed to be used with people you know personally. Anyone else who asks for payment through these apps just may be trying to scam you.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The other victims of romance scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, when we discuss romance scams, or catfishing as it’s sometimes known, we talk about the victim who ended up losing money to these scammers. However, there’s sometimes another victim in these scams. In romance scams, the scammers often use the photos of actual people and in some cases even impersonate that person. This could lead not only to unnecessary grief for the person being impersonated, but it also has serious safety implications as well.

    A woman from the Scottsdale area of Arizona found herself in the middle of one of these scams. She suddenly started receiving emails at her business, before receiving phone calls at home about a man who was allegedly threatening to show up at her home or business. The man claimed that they had been dating online for months and that he flew from New York to see her. A romance scammer had tricked the man using the woman’s identity into thinking he was in a relationship. It’s believed that the man had given the scammer a substantial amount of money. According to reports, the scammers cut off communication with the man once he landed in Arizona.

    According to the Scottsdale woman, the New York man had trouble accepting that he had been scammed and directed his anger toward her. She claims the man has been leaving voice messages on her phone from multiple phone numbers. She has no idea what the man even looks like.

    Since the woman is a business owner who deals in social media, she has a large social media presence. This allowed the scammers to essentially copy her life and use her online identity in their scam.

    To better protect yourself from not only being in this side of a romance scam, but from other scams as well, it’s best to change your social media profiles to private or friends only. While it’s not a guarantee your online photos won’t be used in a scam, It does help in discouraging scammers from doing so.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , violent crime   

    Crime victim’s family taken advantage of by scammers 

    Crime victim's family taken advantage of by scammers

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re going to discuss a scam that doesn’t happen to everyone. We wish it didn’t have to happen to anyone. However, it once again shows just how low scammers will sink to try to take advantage of someone during a time of crisis.

    The death of a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one to violent crime is even more difficult, to say the least. Now imagine having that happen to you, and then a con artist tries to use your loved one in one of their scams.

    That’s what happened to a woman living in Atlanta who recently lost her adult son to violent crime. As she was grieving for her son, she received a phone call from someone claiming to be with Atlanta Victim Assistance. The caller told the woman that she would receive $6500 from the organization to help pay for her son’s funeral. The caller asked her for her son’s personal information, such as his Social Security number. The grieving mother realized she may have spoken to a scammer when she spoke with the actual Atlanta Victim Assistance office. They told her that they only request that information after a family applies for funds.

    So why would someone try to get the personal information of a man who is deceased? As horrible as it is to say, the recently deceased can be prime targets for identity theft. An identity thief can potentially use that person’s identity for months before credit agencies and the like are notified of the victim’s passing. This is not unlike how identity thieves will steal the identities of minors and use their identity for years before any fraudulent activity is discovered.

    Security experts recommend that you notify the IRS, the Social Security Administration, and the major credit reporting agencies of your loved one’s passing to avoid having their identity stolen. It’s also recommended to try to limit the amount of personal information used in an obituary, as these often contains enough information for identity thieves to start their scheming.

    It’s a shame that this is what the world has come to, but hopefully, you’re now somewhat prepared if an unfortunate event like this happens to someone you know.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Student loan forgiveness scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Student loan forgiveness scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re brining you three scams that we’ve discussed in the past, but are worth discussing again as a reminder.


    Student loan payments were temporarily suspended by the government and were expected to resume this past January 31st. However, the government extended the deadline once again to the beginning of May. This entire time, scammers have been out in full force, trying to pull the wool over the eyes of those who are looking for student debt relief. Scammers are calling those with student debt promising loan forgiveness. Some scammers are even trying to disguise themselves as government associated entities. These scammers are mainly out to steal your personal and financial information. Scammers will also try to pressure you into giving your information by saying that their offer is only available for a short time. Keep in mind that no legitimate agency that can offer debt forgiveness is going to solicit you.


    With the employment culture shifting more to working from home, more scams are trying to take advantage of any disconnects between employer and employee. Some scammers are finding out where people work and are posing as their bosses. The scammers will send text messages or emails posing as a home worker’s boss and asking them to do certain assignments. Typically, these assignments involve money such as buying gift cards, wiring money, or even changing someone’s direct deposit for their paychecks. If you receive one of these messages, it never hurts to contact your boss directly over the phone before responding to any of the messages.


    Lastly, we’ve seen reports again about consumers receiving phone calls that threaten to shut off their electricity. In this scam, the scammers will pose as your local power company and tell you that your account is past due, and they’ll terminate your service if you don’t pay immediately. The scammers will then ask for payment in things like gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, or in some cases, will even try to direct you to a Bitcoin ATM. No utility company will ever threaten you with termination of service over the phone. If your account is past due, you would be notified in the mail before service would be shut off.


    Hopefully, this little refresher course will help you avoid these and other scams in the future.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Even sending money to yourself through Zelle is a scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Before we get started with today’s blog post, we wanted to share this article from The Guardian about why we shouldn’t blame the victims of scams. Please keep in mind that anyone could fall for a scam, and it doesn’t help to mock those that do.

    In today’s post, we’re going to discuss a scam that we’ve been focusing on a lot lately. Once again, the Zelle scam has turned up in the headlines again. For those who may not know, Zelle is a payment app that is co-owned by a number of high-profile banks. Since at least Fall of last year, scammers have been using Zelle in a customer service impersonation scam to get their victims to empty their bank accounts.

    The way the scam works is the scammer will send you a text message that appears to come from your bank. The text message asks if you recently made a large purchase or transfer. You’re asked to reply YES or NO to the text message. If you reply to the text message, you’ll receive a call from the scammer posing as your bank’s fraud department. The scammer will tell you that to protect your money, it needs to be moved through Zelle. What the scammer is really doing is walking you through the directions on how to move your money from your account to the scammer’s account.

    Recently, another level to this scam has been added. A number of Wells Fargo customers have reported falling for the Zelle scam. However, in the latest instances, the scammers had their victims open Zelle accounts in the victims’ names before transferring the money. This lends an appearance of legitimacy to the scam, since the account is in the customer’s name. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the scammers from taking the money sent to the new Zelle account.

    Since Zelle is co-owned by some of the nation’s leading banks, many consumers think that there is some form of protection against scams, but that is not the case. Victims of the Zelle scam rarely ever recover their money.

    There are a few ways to protect yourself from this scam. The first is to not respond to text messages that appear to come from your bank. If there is an issue with your account, you’re always better off calling the customer service number on the back of your debit card. You can also visit your bank’s local branch during business hours. The best way to protect yourself is to keep in mind that payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App, are only supposed to be used with people you know. If someone says you need to use one of these apps to protect your money, they’re more than likely trying to rip you off.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The oldest scam still plaguing online sellers 

    The oldest scam still plaguing online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    It’s almost hard to believe that online marketplaces have been around for over 20 years. Geebo.com itself has been around since 1999. However, in the past two decades, there’s been a scam targeting online sellers that just won’t seem to go away. I’m referring to the fake check scam, which is also known as the overpayment scam.

    This is when an online seller is paid more than the amount they’re asking for, usually by a check. The supposed buyer will typically give some excuse as to why they overpaid. This can be anything from they accidentally wrote the amount on the check to paying for special shipping. In all cases, the buyer will ask for the difference back from the seller. After the seller deposits the check in their bank account and sends the difference back to the buyer, the seller’s bank discovers the buyer’s check is either fraudulent or stolen. The seller is then held responsible by their bank for the full amount of the check, plus any associated penalty fees. Meanwhile, the buyer makes off with whatever money the seller sent them.

    This recently happened to a man in the Phoenix area. He was selling an old couch on marketplace app OfferUp. He was only selling the couch for $300 but received a check for close to $1700. The man was instructed to keep $300 for the couch but send the remainder to a moving company for shipping. The man deposited the check through his banking app and sent the difference to the mover’s through online payment app Zelle. The movers turned out to just be another part of the scam. This all took place before the man’s bank discovered the check was counterfeit.

    Longtime online sellers are well aware of this scam, but new sellers are entering the market every day. The scammers are depending on the new people who aren’t sure what to look for when it comes to scams. They don’t need to fool every online seller, just a few to make the scam highly profitable.

    If you’re selling something online, and you receive a payment more than the asking amount, do not allow that payment to go into your bank account. Both checks and electronic transfers can turn out to be fraudulent. If the payment does make it into your bank account for some reason, instruct the buyer to reverse the payment. Whatever you do, make sure the money isn’t spent from your account. If you use a payment app like Cash App or Venmo, again, instruct the buyer to reverse the payment. Do not just return the payment.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Keeping secrets for scammers 

    Keeping secrets for scammers

    By Greg Collier

    A man from Indiana recently fell victim to a tech support scam. A pop-up appeared on his computer that said his computer had been compromised, and he needed to call Microsoft at the attached phone number. However, the phone number didn’t actually go to Microsoft. Instead, it went to a call center run by scammers posing as Microsoft technicians. They told the man his computer had been hacked. The disturbing part was that the scammers knew what bank the man used and the last four digits of his bank account. The scammers used this knowledge to convince the man that his bank account was in danger, and he needed to move his money to protect it. The man was instructed to go to his bank and wire transfer his money to a bank account set up by the scammers. In total, the man lost $79,000 to the scammers.

    To get around any suspicions the bank may have had regarding the large transfer of funds, the scammers instructed the man to tell the bank that he was starting a business with his daughter in Thailand. As more people become aware of scams, scammers will come up with lies for their victims to try to avoid detection. We have seen this ploy used in several different scams. Sometimes it’s the phony grandchild telling a grandparent not to tell the rest of the family they need bail money. Other times it can be a fake police officer threatening a victim with arrest and giving victims the lie to tell a store employee if they get suspicious about why the victim is buying so many gift cards. Often, banks, stores, and money transfer companies are aware of many of these scams and will ask probing questions to try to rescue victims from a scam. Anytime you need to make an emergency financial transaction and someone asks you to keep quiet about it, the odds are you’re being scammed.

    As far as tech support scams go, virtually no legitimate company will tell you to call them through a pop-up window. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook tend to discourage end users from trying to call them. Also, you should never call any phone number that appears on a pop-up window, as it’s almost guaranteed to lead you to a scammer. If you really feel the need to try to call the company mentioned, don’t just use the first phone number that comes up in a web search, as they can be scam numbers as well. Only use phone numbers you get directly from the source, such as a company’s official website. Lastly, you should never let anyone you don’t know to have remote access to your device.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Face-to-face meeting still leads to rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Since the advent of online marketplaces, the rental scam has been a thorn in the side for tenants searching for new homes. For those who may not be aware, the rental scam is essentially when a scammer rents out a property they don’t own to an unwitting victim. The scammer takes the victim’s money while leaving the victim thinking they just rented a new home. Meanwhile, the scammer makes off with the victim’s money, while the victim could potentially be left without a home. These fake rental properties are often copied from legitimate real estate listings but listed at below-market rents to lure in victims. One of the warnings we typically give our readers is to be suspicious if a potential landlord gives excuses about meeting in person. But what can you do if a scammer agrees to meet you?

    That’s exactly what happened to a woman in Kansas City. She found a rental property listed on Facebook Marketplace that seemed perfect for her. She messaged the landlord about the property before talking to the landlord on the phone. The two finally met in person before the victim paid the landlord $1000 as a deposit and first month’s rent. However, the day before the victim was supposed to move into her new home, the landlord started giving excuses to the victim about meeting up to give the victim the keys. The victim went to the new home to wait for the landlord, but they never appeared. The victim had paid the landlord through the Venmo app, which basically meant the money was gone and couldn’t be recovered.

    Of course, when you first speak to a prospective landlord, you’re not going to know if they’re a scammer right off the bat. If they ask for payment in non-traditional means like a payment app or money transfer, that could be a good indicator that they’re trying to scam you. But before you even get to that stage, any potential renter should research the property first. Something as simple as a web search of the property’s address could reveal a scam in the making. If the address turns up for sale or has a higher rent, the odds are that the listing you found is part of a scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sugar momma scam   

    BBB warns of the Sugar Daddy romance scam 

    BBB warns of the Sugar Daddy romance scam

    By Greg Collier

    While approaching Valentine’s Day, we posted a couple of stories about government and consumer protection agencies warning about the typical romance scam. That’s where scammers will pose as a prospective romantic partner and foster a phony online relationship with their victim. Eventually, the scammer will start asking the victim for money disguised as some kind of emergency request. Although Valentine’s Day has now passed, that doesn’t mean that romance scams magically disappear. And that also doesn’t necessarily mean that a romance scammer will ask you for money. In what can somewhat be described as a reverse romance scam, the scammers are giving their victims money, or so the victims thought.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning about a disturbing scam that we’ve seen emerge over the past year or so. The scam is kn own as the sugar daddy or sugar momma scam. In this scam, the scammer starts up an online relationship with their victim before offering the victim money to be their sugar baby. The scammer promises the victim a monthly allowance if the victim just promises to exchange pleasant messages with the scammer. If the victim agrees, they’ll be sent either a check or an electronic transfer to their bank account as payment. But of course, there’s a catch. The scammer will ask the victim to use some of their allowance to do an errand for them, such as giving money to a needy friend or pay a bill for them. After the money is withdrawn from the bank and used for the errand, the bank finds out that the payment was fake, and the victim will be responsible for the overdrawn amount and associated fees. Some victims have reported losing thousands of dollars.

    What’s even more disturbing about this scam is that the scammers will often target minors. In that case, it’s almost akin to being groomed by an online predator. While many adults have the life experience to recognize this scam for what it is, most minors do not. They could easily fall for the slick promises of free money from a scammer. This scam could potentially ruin their credit before they’re even old enough to use it. If you have any minors in your family who may be vulnerable to this scam, you may want to have a talk with them about strangers who promise them money. Any stranger who promises a minor money, especially if they tell kids to not tell their parents, they have no good intention in mind.

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