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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: card shimmers, , gas pumps, , , , , , , , , , urban legend,   

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more 

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week, we’re bringing you a plethora of scams from around the country that you may want to be aware of. You never know when they might come to your area.

    ***

    Some residents of Lauderhill, Florida, have reported receiving phony red light tickets in the mail. Typically, if a motorist runs a red light equipped with a camera, they will receive a ticket in the mail. However, these phony tickets have a few red flags attached to them. In one instance, the date listed on the ticket was February 30th. The tickets also had the insignia of the Fort Lauderdale police for an infraction that supposedly happened in Lauderhill. That’s not to say these phony tickets are harmless. Pictures of the recipient’s license plate appear on the ticket. Police believe the scammers are stalking their victims. If you receive a ticket like this, do not make any kind of payment requested. Instead, contact the police department the ticket is supposedly from to make sure the charge is not legitimate.

    ***

    Residents of the Houston, Texas area have said they’ve received an alarming text message. The text message claims that phones in the area have been hacked, and you’ll receive a call asking about your vaccination status. Supposedly, if you reply to the phone call, your banking information will be stolen from your phone. It doesn’t end there, though. The text message also claims the Department of Homeland Security is advising citizens to top off the gas in their vehicles and keep cash on hand because of the situation in Ukraine. So what’s the scam here? Well, we don’t think there is one. Instead, we believe that this is an instance of an urban legend. This incident hearkens back to the early days of the internet, when people would forward emails about untrue things like Bill Gates giving away a million dollars, or why you shouldn’t flash your high beams at a car that flashes you first. If you receive a text like this, check with legitimate sources first before proclaiming it as fact.

    ***

    Speaking of gas for your car. If you pay at the pump, you may often check the gas pump for card skimmers. These are devices that are attached to the card slot of the gas pump that steals your card information. Most people who do check do so by pulling on the card slot to make sure nothing comes free. However, according to the Better Business of Bureau of Nebraska, there is a new threat at the gas pump to worry about. These devices are called shimmers, and are virtually undetectable. They are paper thin devices that go in the card slot and can also steal your card information. To avoid this scam, you can pay inside the gas station or use a credit card, which has more protection than a debit card.

    ***

    Lastly, if you’re a customer of Verizon, you may have received a text message that looks like it came from your number. The text messages claim to be from Verizon and state that your bill is paid and to click a link to receive a gift. In some instances, customers were taken to a website that asked them for personal and financial information. In other instances, customers were taken to a Russian state media network. As always, you should never click on strange links from people you don’t know personally, and even then, you should still be suspicious. If you receive one of these texts, you should delete it immediately.

    ***

    We hope we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect you from these scams in the future.

     
  • Geebo 8:12 am on March 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook Messenger, Messenger, ,   

    New twist on old scam comes to private messaging 

    By Greg Collier

    Most of us have a friend or loved one who we constantly communicate with online. Many of us like to share jokes and memes with that person that we think they’ll find humorous. Now, what if that person sent you a private message that said ‘Look what I found’ along with a laughing emoji and a link? Many of us could be forgiven for clicking on that link since it supposedly came from a trusted friend. However, if the link is clicked, you could end up losing one of your most valuable online accounts.

    For many, the majority of their online presence is on Facebook. It’s where their friends are, it’s where they get their news, and it’s how they communicate with others. In internet terms, this is known as a walled garden. AOL was famous for being a walled garden back in the internet’s early days. In essence, the more a platform can keep their users engaged, the more profitable it becomes. One of the problems with walled gardens is users can be too trusting of other users on the platform, which inevitably leads to scammers.

    Currently, tech experts are warning about a scam that’s taking place on Facebook Messenger. Users are receiving messages from close friends that say ‘Look what I found’ along with a laughing emoji and a link. The person who appears to have sent the message have had their Facebook account compromised. If the message’s recipient clicks on the link, it takes them to a website that looks like Facebook and asks for your Facebook login. If a user enters their information, their account will become compromised as well. Our Facebook accounts hold a lot of personal information about us. Some accounts even have financial information saved within them. In numerous instances, it’s enough to have your identity stolen.

    This is not a new scam. In the past, the message would read ‘Is this you?’ and also include a link that would attempt to hijack your account.

    If you get a message like this, even from someone close to you, message them on a different platform to ask them if they meant to send that message. If a friend tells you that you sent a message like that, immediately change your password.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Antivirus scam costs victim $19,000 

    Antivirus scam costs victim $19,000

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re a computer user who’s been using the internet since the dial-up days, you may still be using antivirus software. Even older users who may have just gotten on the internet probably use antivirus software as well. If you’re in one of these demographics, you may have it ingrained into your internet habits to have robust protection against computer viruses. Most users will opt for the free package many antivirus companies offer. Others will want that extra protection and pay for an antivirus subscription. It’s the latter group that scammers are hoping to catch unaware.

    An Indiana woman recently fell victim to an antivirus scam. She says that a notification appeared on her computer that said she had been charged $500 for Norton Antivirus. The victim had not used Norton in a while, but felt the service may have been one of her bills that are on auto-payment. The notification she received also included a phone number to call in case of any questions.

    The victim called the number and was told the problem could be corrected if the customer service representative could have remote access to her computer. The victim entered an access code on her computer, and the rep then had access. The rep then claimed that they had made a mistake and the victim now owed them $12,000. To rectify the matter, the victim was instructed to withdraw $12,000 from her bank and transfer it to Bitcoin using a Bitcoin ATM at a local gas station.

    If you’re a regular reader, you already know where this is going. The notification and call center were both run by scammers. Not only did the scammers get the $12,000 in Bitcoin, but they also took an additional $7,000 directly from the victim’s bank account.

    If you receive an email, text, or any kind of message from some company that claims you owe them money, do not call the phone number included. Instead, go to the company’s official website, and use the phone number from there. Furthermore, most legitimate companies do not ask for any kind of payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. While Bitcoin is easy to track, it’s nearly impossible to recover once it’s given to scammers. And please keep in mind, you shouldn’t give remote access to your device to any stranger. Lastly, no real company will ask you to withdraw money from your account if they made a mistake. Any decent company worth their salt can correct the matter on their end without any need for bank access.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    State warns of increase in puppy scams 

    State warns of increase in puppy scams

    By Greg Collier

    When the emotional overrides the rational, we leave ourselves open to scams. And nothing much elicits a more emotional response than when someone sees a puppy. It’s even more so when someone has recently lost their long-time canine companion. This is why one state has recently issued a warning about an increase in puppy scams.

    The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has issued a warning to residents of The Great Lakes State that they’ve seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of puppy scams being reported. Typically, puppy scams occur when someone is shopping online for a puppy. Too often, the puppies found for sale online don’t even exist. Scammers will set up a website that makes it look like they’re a legitimate dog breeder. The photos of puppies used on the scammer’s website are often stolen from the websites of legitimate breeders.

    Scammers will offer the puppy at a price below what most breeders are asking for. If someone attempts to buy a puppy from a scammer, they’ll then be asked to pay more money for more services that were not part of the original asking price. These can include payments for shipping insurance or specialized shipping crates for the puppy. Like in most scams, the scammers will continue to ask the victim for money until the victim realizes they’ve been scammed.

    The AG’s Office says that, specifically, scammers have been using COVID-19 as part of their scams. The scammers will say a buyer can’t see the puppy in person because of COVID-19. The scammers have also been asking for additional money for protective crates, COVID-19 vaccines for the puppy, and pandemic insurance.

    If you find yourself in the market for a puppy, research is the best way to protect yourself from these scams. Prospective pet owners should first research the breed they’re interested in to make sure they can properly care for the puppy’s needs. Not all breeds are the same. Buyers should try to stick to their local area as much as possible. You increase your chances of becoming a scam victim if you order a puppy from too far away. Research the breeder as much as possible. You can do a web search with the breeder’s name along with the words ‘complaint’ and ‘scam’ to see if anyone’s been a victim of a fake breeder. The Michigan AG even recommends making any puppy purchase with a credit card, as credit cards have a higher level of protection than most forms of payment. Speaking of payment, never pay for a puppy using apps like Cash App, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, as these are all indicators of a potential scam.

    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. 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 8:00 am on March 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Used car scam finds new home on popular platform 

    Used car scam finds new home on popular platform

    By Greg Collier

    In the time since Facebook Marketplace launched, it has dethroned other platforms like Craigslist and OfferUp. By sheer popularity, many consider Facebook Marketplace the king of classifieds online. However, just because something is popular, that doesn’t necessarily make it good. McDonald’s has sold billions of burgers, but no one calls it fine dining.

    Facebook Marketplace has attracted a new demographic who may have been hesitant to use Craigslist due to its sketchy reputation. Since Facebook provides a single destination for many people, the convenience of Marketplace lends it a sense of legitimacy. And now that Facebook Marketplace stands at the top of the mountain, its users are experiencing the same pitfalls that befell Craigslist users before them.

    For example, a very common used car scam has found its way to Facebook Marketplace. A woman from Nashville found a used car for sale on Marketplace. However, the seller said they couldn’t bring the car to the Nashville woman. The seller allegedly said that her husband had recently died, and she was getting ready to deploy with the military. The buyer was told that the seller had arranged for ‘eBay Services’ to deliver the car. According to the seller, once the car is delivered, the buyer has five days to inspect the car before the money is released to the seller. The buyer paid the seller $1000 for the car, but later, the seller asked for an additional $1000 for delivery insurance to be paid in gift cards. It was then the buyer realized she was being scammed.

    Even if someone is buying a car through eBay Motors, eBay does not deliver the vehicle. They’re definitely not going to deliver a vehicle that wasn’t listed on their platform. Anyone who tries to tell you that a vehicle will be delivered through eBay is trying to scam you.

    This scammer also went all in with their sob story. Typically, the story is that a spouse died, and it was their car, or they’re being deployed and need to sell the car quickly. In this instance, the scammer used both stories to attempt to pull on the buyer’s heartstrings, and it worked. Always be wary of an emotional story attached to a too good to be true deal.

    Lastly, just because an online marketplace has a slick appearance, that doesn’t make it safer than a platform that doesn’t. In our opinion, Facebook Marketplace with their modern interface is just as problematic as Craigslist, whose interface still stuck in the 1990s.

    We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that both of those platforms are also mostly unmoderated, while Geebo.com moderates every ad to try to mitigate the chances of a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , poshmark,   

    Luxury platforms encounter same old scams 

    Luxury platforms encounter same old scams

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve never heard of Poshmark, it’s an online marketplace that deals in designer clothes and items. It’s similar to eBay since Poshmark’s users can both buy and sell designer goods. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Poshmark, but with any online marketplace, Poshmark is not immune to scammers.

    A victim of a Poshmark scam recently went viral on TikTok for her video detailing how she was scammed. She had found a Chanel purse on Poshmark and bid $400 for it. Typically, Chanel purses like the one she found go for ten times that amount. The victim states that should have been a red flag, but often people will sell items like this at a steep discount just to clean out their closets.

    Her bid was accepted, and she waited for her purse to arrive in the mail. She gets a notification from the post office stating her purse had been delivered, but the purse did not arrive. She notifies Poshmark who allegedly told her that their records say the purse was delivered, so she would need to contact the United States Postal Service, which she did. USPS showed her a scan of the package. The package did not have her address but an address nearby. What was received at the incorrect address was just an empty envelope. The scammers had changed the address to something nearby to show the package was delivered by the post office. They were probably hoping that the victim would think that their package was stolen from their mailbox.

    This is not too dissimilar to a PayPal scam we’ve posted about in the past. In the PayPal scam, phony vendors will promise a popular product at a steep discount. Victims will receive some cheap product that they didn’t order. When victims have tried to argue with PayPal, in some instances, they’re told the package has been delivered to they can’t refund the payment.

    On platforms like Poshmark, consumers also have to be wary of designer counterfeits as well. These counterfeits have been known to fund organized crime or sweatshops that use child labor.

    If the seller is used to dealing with luxury items, they should have the receipt from the original purchase. Ask to see it. While it’s not a perfect way to prevent being ripped off, it does go a long way.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: free piano scam, , , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: The free piano scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: The free piano scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we have the reemergence of an old scam, a new twist on an old scam, and scam we’ve not heard of until now.

    ***

    As our readers know, gift cards are being used in all manner of scams. Often, the advice about gift cards is to only use them for gifts. But even then, you can still be scammed. In Centennial, Colorado, a woman purchased a gift card in the amount of $500. However, no funds appeared on the card. A scammer had replaced the barcode on the back of the gift card with sticker. The sticker had a barcode that redirected the $500 to a card the scammer had bought. When buying gift cards, check the card for tampering before taking it to the register. You should also take the cards from the middle of the stack as they are less likely to be tampered with.

    ***

    Another scam our readers should be aware of is the arrest warrant scam. This is where scammers will pose as your local police department or sheriff’s office. Typically, the scammers call their victims and threaten the victims with arrest. In the majority of cases, the scammers will say that the victim missed jury duty, but other fake infractions have also been used. The scammers tell the victim that they can avoid arrest by paying a fine over the phone. Again, scammers usually ask for these payments in gift cards.

    One county in Northeastern Pennsylvania is receiving these threats in the mail instead of over the phone. The letters appear to be an arrest warrant from a federal court. The letter also says the arrest is on hold for 24 hours and can be avoided by purchasing gift cards.

    As always, no law enforcement agency in the United States accepts gift cards as payment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have the scam we’ve not heard of before which is saying something. It’s called the free piano scam. Have you ever seen an online ad for a free piano? They’re out there. It seems really plausible when someone says they have a piano that no one uses, and they just want to get rid of it. As with most things that are too good to be true, there’s a catch. If the seller says that the piano is on a moving truck and the buyer needs to contact the moving company, there is a scam afoot. The scam is when the moving company asks the buyer for money to have the piano shipped to them. Once the buyer sends the money, the movers disappear with the money.

    If you’re in the market for a piano and find an ad for a free one, unless you pick it up yourself, or hire your own movers, it’s best left alone.

    ***

    While these scams may not be currently appearing in your area, it could be a matter of time before they are. But now, you’ll be ready.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , package mule scam, , , ,   

    FBI warns of scam that could land victims in jail 

    FBI warns of scam that could land victims in jail

    By Greg Collier

    Both the FBI and the Better Business Bureau have issued a warning about a work from home scam that could have devastating consequences for its victims. They’re referring to the scam that’s called the repackaging or reshipping scam. It also goes by the name of the package mule scam.

    Scammers will advertise a work from home position as a package inspector. Applicants will be asked to receive deliveries at their place of residence. These inspectors will be asked to make sure the item they received isn’t damaged before sending the item to a third-party. Typically, the items are purchased using stolen credit card information. By the time anyone realizes the purchase has been made, the item has been shipped overseas by the unwitting package inspector. Calling this a scam almost downplays the seriousness of the matter. The reshipping scam is actually part of a larger money laundering operation.

    The reshipping scam can have several harmful outcomes for the package inspector. For example, the supposed company could pay the inspectors with a fraudulent check. The inspectors could also be asked to use that check to pay for business equipment needed for the job with the money from the fraudulent check. This would leave the inspector with a large debt to their bank they might not be able to pay. However, the most serious outcome is the one where the victim is arrested without knowing they were being scammed. If an inspector knowingly falsifies shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs, they could face jail time.

    The best way to protect yourself from a scam like this is with the knowledge that work from home package inspector is not a real job. Often, these scammers will pose as large companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. They’ll give the phony positions names like ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator’, or ‘local hub inspector’. The FBI says corporations like this should be able to do any kind of item inspection on their own.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam, there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items, don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    New Instagram scam hijacks your account 

    New Instagram scam hijacks your account

    By Greg Collier

    We wouldn’t say Instagram is rife with scammers, but it’s definitely fertile ground for them. Most often, Instagram scams involve accounts that claim to be selling a product you’ll never receive. There are also accounts that attempt to lure victims in with some get-rich-quick scheme, typically involving cryptocurrency. Even on Geebo.com’s Instagram account, we receive comments from spam accounts asking to promote our posts on these spam accounts. However, today, we’re going to discuss a scam that not only compromises your Instagram account, but could take it over too.

    Essentially, it’s a phishing scam. Phishing is a type of hack where an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick a person into revealing personal information. In this case, scammers are sending out emails that appear to have come directly from Instagram. The email states that the Instagram account in question has violated copyright law and will be deleted in 24 hours if the user doesn’t act. The email also contains a link for users to click if they want to dispute the claim.

    Of course, anybody who is active on Instagram is going to click the link to attempt to protect their account. Once the link is clicked, the user will be asked to input their Instagram login information for verification. Then, the user will be directed to Instagram.com, making the scam seem almost legitimate. Scammers do this to obtain accounts, so they can have more accounts to help spread other scams. It doesn’t matter whether you have 2 million followers or just two. Scammers will attempt to hijack any active account they can to lend legitimacy to their other scams.

    To protect yourself from a scam like this, you should know how Instagram actually handles copyright claims. They do not delete entire accounts for a single infraction. Instead, if an author of a work claims you violated their copyright, Instagram will remove the post from your account and send you a message saying so. Another way to protect yourself is by inspecting the email itself. While it may look as if it came from Instagram, scammers are hoping you won’t look at the email address it came from. Often, phishing emails are sent from free email services like Gmail and Yahoo. You can also check any links sent in the email by hovering your cursor over the link. This should show you where the link will actually take you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again 

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again

    By Greg Collier

    It appears that the scammers who pose as Publishers Clearing House are wreaking havoc again, And, as always, they’re targeting the elderly in their scams. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the magazine marketing company that runs the country’s most well-known sweepstakes. We’ve all seen their commercials where their Prize Patrol van pulls up to a lucky winner’s home and presents them with a novelty-sized check for a substantial amount of money.

    Instead of pulling up in a van, scammers will call their victims while posing as PCH. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve won one of the cash prizes. Then, the scammers will inform the victim that the victim needs to pay either a tax on their supposed winnings or some kind of processing fee. These scams tend to target the elderly, since they’re one of the larger demographics who participate in the sweepstakes.

    Recently, several elderly victims have fallen for this scam. In Maryland, a man was scammed out of $1500 when a phony PCH representative told the man he needed to pay $1500 in eBay gift cards to claim his prize. A 93-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was scammed out of $3000 after she gave the scammers access to her bank account. And an 81-year-old woman, also from Pennsylvania, was scammed out of $15,000 after she was promised a prize.

    This is known as the advance fee scam. It’s called that, since victims are paying a fee in hopes of getting a bigger payout. In some instances, once scammers will receive the first payment, they’ll come up with more fraudulent scenarios where they’ll ask the victims to pay even more money while still dangling the promise of a huge cash prize in front of them.

    The best way to prevent someone from falling for this scam is to keep the one phrase in mind that’s included in every sweepstakes in the US, no purchase necessary. It’s illegal for anyone who runs a sweepstakes to collect money before a prize is awarded. Even on PCH’s own website, they go into extensive detail how to recognize a scammer from the real thing.

    So please keep in mind, if someone asks you for money to claim a prize, you haven’t won. Paying for a prize is only a losing proposition.

     
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