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  • Geebo 8:01 am on May 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns online sellers of verification scam 

    BBB warns online sellers of verification scam

    By Greg Collier

    The Better Business Bureau is sounding the alarm to online sellers that they may not want to list their phone numbers in their ads. That’s because scammers will call these numbers posing as a buyer, only to try to use the seller’s phone number in another scam.

    For those who may not know, Google Voice is a service offered by Google that allows you to have a second phone number. That second phone number can be used for a variety of purposes. Some users who have multiple phone numbers for work and home can have all their calls forwarded to their Google Voice number. Many others use it as a way to keep spammers away. For example, when a store you frequent always asks for your phone number, you can give them your Google Voice number instead. You can even use it to avoid taking any calls. If you set it to ‘Do Not Disturb’ anyone who calls that number will be sent straight to voicemail.

    While Google Voice is a convenience for consumers, it’s also been a boon for scammers. Each Google Voice number needs to be attached to an actual phone number. You can’t sign up for the service without one. Scammers can’t use their actual phone number to sign up for Google Voice because then their calls will be traced back to them. So, what they do instead is try to sign up for Google Voice using a victim’s phone number.

    If you’re selling something online and have posted your phone number in the listing, the scammer might act like they’re sending you a code to verify that you’re not a scammer. What’s really going on is they’re signing up for Google Voice using your phone number. It’s Google who is actually sending you the verification code. If a victim gives the verification to the scammer, the scammer can then use the Google Voice number that’s tied to the victim’s phone to make more scam phone calls. If another victim complains, the phone number is traced back to the initial victim instead of the scammer.

    This scam is not just used for Google Voice. It can be used to hijack a number of online accounts, including financial accounts. If someone you don’t know says they’re sending you a code for verification, do not give them that code number. Also, you shouldn’t list your phone number in any ad listings you post. Most platforms, including Geebo.com, have a method of communicating with the seller or buyer without compromising your phone number.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Zelle in online marketplaces and more 

    Scam Round Up: Zelle in online marketplaces and more

    By Greg Collier

    As most of us get ready for a three-day weekend, let’s take a look at three scams that we all probably should review.


    In Pennsylvania Dutch Country around Lancaster, authorities are warning residents that the car wrap scam has resurfaced in their area. This is when scammers promise their victims they can make money by wrapping their car in advertisements. In this particular instance, the scammers are posing as Hershey Chocolate, which is headquartered in the area. However, this scam is a variation of the fake check scam. The scammers will send you a fraudulent check they want you to deposit in your bank account before using that money to pay an ad agency who provides the wrap. Except, there is no ad agency. They’re just another part of the scam. So by the time your bank realizes the check you deposited is fake, the scammers will be long gone, and you’ll be on the hook to your bank for the amount of the check and any subsequent fees. No legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit money into your bank account and then have you use it for business expenses.


    In the Cincinnati area, the jury duty scam is being reported on again. Although, this could literally be from anywhere in the United States since it’s such a common scam. Once again, this is the scam where scammers pose as law enforcement or the court system and try to convince their victims over the phone that they missed jury duty. To make themselves seem legitimate, the scammers know the victim’s address and the last four digits of their Social Security number. This information was more than likely obtained in a data breach. The scammers then tell their victim that in order to avoid arrest, they can pay a fine over the phone. In the Cincinnati story, the scammers are asking for their payment specifically in prepaid debit cards known as the Green Dot card. We’re surprised that the jury duty scammers are still using Green Dot cards when most other scammers have moved on to Zelle.


    And speaking of Zelle, the money transfer app is being used in yet another scam. This time, the scammers are targeting sellers on online marketplaces. A man in Denver was trying to sell a mattress online when he got an immediate response from a supposed buyer. The buyer said that someone else would be picking up the mattress. The buyer also requested to be able to pay through Zelle, and the seller was sent an email from ‘ZelleOfficialPay@gmail.com’. The seller realized that Zelle wouldn’t be using a Gmail address. So, it sounds like that the scammers were posing as Zelle to send some kind of fraudulent payment to the seller. Remember, Zelle should only be used between friends and family. Any online transaction that requests Zelle for any reason is a good indication it could be a scam.


    Thank you for reading, and we hope you have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Some phone scams are in person 

    By Greg Collier

    We talk about phone scams almost all of the time. So many scams are perpetrated either with or through smartphones. Whether it’s fake calls from someone pretending to be your bank, or an impostor landlord only communicating through text, the device that brings us the most convenience in our lives can also be the most risky. These scams are typically perpetrated from a great distance away. However, there is at least one phone scam that not only can be done under your nose, but can also take a lot of your money.

    A report out of Colorado Springs calls it a new scam, but unfortunately, it’s been around for at least a little while. In this scam, a stranger will say that they need to call a friend or relative and will ask to use your phone. Wanting to be a good Samaritan, a victim may unlock their phone and hand it to the person needing to make a call. What happens next is the person supposedly in distress makes it look like they’re trying to make a phone call. What they’re really doing is going into your payment accounts like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle to send your money to themselves.

    There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from this scam. The first is to no hand the phone number. Instead, ask the person for the number they need to call and hold up the speaker for the person to use. You can also lock down your money transfer accounts with a PIN or require your fingerprint to access them.

    Most of us will always want to help people in need. Unfortunately, it’s become difficult to tell the difference between scammers and the needy. Hopefully, we’ve helped keep your guard up enough where you can help those in need and not get scammed.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    New tack on fake check job scam 

    New tack on fake check job scam

    By Greg Collier

    The fake check scam has been around since people started buying goods online. This is where scammers will send you a phony check for whatever reason and tell you to deposit the check in your own bank account. Typically, they’ll either ask for some of the money back or to use that money to pay someone else who is also in on the scam. Once the bank discovers the check is fraudulent, the victim has to pay their bank the amount of the check and any associated fees. Meanwhile, the scammers make off with money that they essentially made appear out of thin air.

    The two most notorious fake check scams are the overpayment scam and the job scam. In the overpayment scam, victims will have an item listed for sale online. The scammer will pay with a check that is much more than the amount asked. The scammer will say the check was made out in that amount accidentally and has the victim send back the difference. In the job scam, victims think they’ve been recently hired by a legitimate company only to be paid in fake checks. In many job scam cases, the scammers will tell the victims to use that money to buy supplies from a vendor that is in on the scam.

    Now, the state of Michigan is warning residents about a new version of the fake check job scam. The scam starts after a victim posts their resume online. The scammers hire the victim as a charitable donations coordinator. The victim is told that they will receive donation checks and that they should deposit the checks in the victim’s bank account before sending the money to charities that need it. In return for their service, the victim can keep 5% to 7% of all donation checks. The money the victims send out is sent out by Western Union, probably to other participants in the scam.

    There is one big red flag that should tip anyone off that this is a scam. No legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit a check into your own account that’s supposed to be used for business purposes. For legal and logistical reasons, that is just not done. Anytime a supposed online employer asks you to do this, the check is fake, and they’re looking to take your money.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    You don’t have to be scammed to lose money through Zelle 

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve been discussing the problems with Zelle for the better part of over six months now. When we started, we were bringing attention to a very specific scam that took place through the money transfer app. This was when the scammers pose as a victim’s bank and gets the victim to transfer money to the scammers through Zelle under the guise of protecting their bank account from hackers.

    Then, as the months passed, we started seeing more reports of Zelle being used in more and more scams. Where the scammers used to ask for money in gift cards, they were now telling their victims to use Zelle.

    To compound matters, the victims’ banks have largely been refusing to refund the victims’ money when lost in a Zelle scam. Then add to the fact that Zelle offers little to no protection to its users in general.

    More recently, we’ve come across a report from Florida where a man claims to have lost $9000 from his bank account through Zelle, and the man did not fall for a scam. The man claims that he was looking at his bank account and saw his money being transferred out of his account to someone he doesn’t even know.

    He called his bank, which was Chase Bank, and asked that they stop the Zelle transfers. He also requested to move money into a new account that was not attached to Zelle. According to reports, that new account was also hit for the sum of $4000 through Zelle. Chase Bank allegedly denied any refunds, stating that the transactions appeared to come from the man’s device.

    It’s unclear how the thieves were able to gain access to the man’s accounts. It almost sounds like a SIM Swapping attack, since the transactions looked like they were made by the victim. Or it could have been an old-fashioned phishing attack.

    However, the most disturbing part of this story is that if thieves can access a bank account through Zelle without the user noticing, a large portion of banking customers could be vulnerable. Zelle is attached to many of the most popular banking apps without many users even knowing.

    To make matters worse, there isn’t anything account holders can do proactively to prevent these losses through Zelle. If you lose money through Zelle either in a scam, or like the instance mentioned above, the only thing you can really do is file a police report and hope the bank deems you worthy enough to be given a refund.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Rental scams in resort towns 

    Rental scams in resort towns

    By Greg Collier

    Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is an all-year resort town. In the winter, they offer the usual activities of skiing and snowboarding. During the summer months they have fishing, rafting, tubing, and kayaking thanks to the Yampa River. However, even resort towns have year-round residents, and finding a long-term place to live can become quite the challenge. It also presents quite the opportunity for rental scams to find victims.

    Recently, a man who was commuting to Steamboat Springs, wanted to live closer to his work. He found a two bedroom home that had a reasonable rent on Craigslist. He responded to the ad and was communicating with the supposed landlord through text. The landlord asked for first and last month’s rent, which amounted to $5500. The man was asked to make the payment through either Zelle or money order. The payment was made through money order. Right before the man was supposed to move into the property, all communication between him and the landlord stopped. The man went by the home to find it was already being occupied.

    The actual owner of the home was actually offering the home for short-term rentals on VRBO. VRBO is a competitor to Airbnb. According to the owner, he knew that someone was copying his VRBO listing on Craigslist. He would constantly have the listing flagged, only to have it reemerge on Craigslist a few days later. After the victim lost his money, both he and the homeowner went to the police. The police discovered that the money order was routed to an overseas account, which means it’s unlikely the victim will recover his losses.

    If someone is in the market for a new place to live and looking to rent, they should always do a web search on the property’s address. This should present them with a number of real estate websites, which should show them more information about the property. While not a guarantee of revealing a scammer, this does go a long way in helping find out the property’s true rent and availability.

    Also, if a landlord asks for payment through payment apps like Zelle and Venmo, it could be a scam. These money transfer apps should only be used between friends and family.

    Lastly, if a landlord only communicates through text without meeting in person, this could also be a red flag indicating a scam.

    While the desire for shelter is one of the most basic human needs, always try to exercise caution when looking to rent a new home.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Store robbed over the phone and more 

    By Greg Collier

    To end the workweek, we’re bringing you a few scams that either have a new twist to them, or have appeared in a new area.


    A new utility scam has shown up in the Huntsville, Alabama area. Typically, scammers will attempt the shut-off scam, where they threaten victims with shutting off their power if they don’t pay immediately. Now, scammers are trying a different tack. They’re sending phishing emails to victims that say the victim has paid their power bill twice and the victim now has a credit. For the victim to get the credit back, they just need to click the link in the email. The link then takes the victim to a malicious website that asks for their personal and financial information. Remember, most utility companies only communicate by postal mail. If you think there may be a discrepancy in your bill, call the customer service number on your bill instead of any number on the email.


    We frequently discuss the online puppy scam. This is where victims think they’re buying a puppy from a breeder’s website, but the website is fake and the puppy never existed. Another victim in those scams are the legitimate breeders, as the pictures from their website are often stolen to be used on the fake website. This recently happened to a breeder of Australian Labradoodles in Texas. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot breeders can do about this. However, there are tips you can use to avoid being taken in a puppy scam provided by the breeder. For many purebred dogs from a legitimate breeder, you should expect a wait period. She says that it could be six to 12 months. Avoid breeders who ask for payment in non-traditional ways, such as payment apps like Venmo and Zelle. But as always, we recommend using a licensed breeder within driving distance or adopting from your local shelter.


    Lastly, we have a scam that happened in Kingsport, Tennessee that retail employees may be interested in. A convenience store employee received a phone call on a Saturday morning. The caller claimed to be from corporate headquarters and asked the employee to take the cash in the register to a Bitcoin ATM. The caller even sent an Uber to pick up the employee to take them to the Bitcoin ATM. The store ended up losing $4500. Often, employees like this have no management on site to ask whether this is a scam or not. If you’re in a supervisory or management position at a retail vendor, you may want to have a talk with your employees about scams like this, or make yourself more available in case of a call like this. Let your employees know that a corporation would never direct them to send money through Bitcoin.


  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t pay advance fees for loans 

    Don't pay advance fees for loans

    By Greg Collier

    There are certain business you shouldn’t use if they solicit your business through email. One of those businesses is that of the online lender. These supposed lenders claim they’ll lend you thousands of dollars that they’ll get to you in no time flat. They may also claim that no credit check is needed, or that they’re not like the big banks when it comes to lending.

    If someone were to take one of these lenders up on their offer, a number of things could happen, and none of them are good. You could have your personal and financial information stolen, or you could be victim to a predatory lender with exorbitant interest rates. Think along the lines of those payday loan stores. However, the most common scam when it comes to online loans is the advance fee scam.

    Typically, when we talk about the advance fee scam, we’re talking about phony sweepstakes that scammers say their victims have one. Then the scammers ask for payment to cover taxes or processing fees. Scammers will keep asking for payments as long as they can keep the victim on the hook. Meanwhile, there are no sweepstakes that the victim won.

    This recently happened with a loan to a man in Arkansas who was looking to make some improvements to his home. He applied for some loans online before getting an email from a supposed lender. The lender promised that could get the money to his bank account in 15 minutes. All the man needed to do was pay them $200 in gift cards. After the man paid the initial $200, he was asked to pay another $200. He did, and still did not receive his loan. It was at this point the man realized he had been scammed.

    Legitimate lenders will never ask for payment in advance. They make their money through interest once the loan is paid back and not through outlandish fees. That’s not even considering no legitimate bank or financial institution will accept gift cards as payment.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Is Zelle siding with scammers? 

    Is Zelle siding with scammers?

    By Greg Collier

    As we’re sure you’re well aware of, Zelle is a money transfer app that’s co-owned by several large banks in America. Its primary purpose is to transfer money between friends and family directly from your bank account. The most popular example given about these apps is splitting the check at a restaurant. Rather than several different people pulling cash out of their pocket, they can instead just send their portion of the bill to one person who picks up the tab. However, since it involves sending money online, scammers are using every opportunity to use Zelle, so they can steal from their victims. The banks that own Zelle aren’t helping matters either, since they tend to tell scam victims that their money is lost forever, even if the bank is the one who noticed the scam.

    A woman in New Jersey recently fell for a rental scam. She was sending money to a phony landlord for a rental property the landlord didn’t own. At first, she was asked to send a $160 through Zelle for an application fee to someone with a Wells Fargo bank account. She was then asked to send $1000 through Zelle, to the same person as a deposit. The scammer then asked her to send $1000 as another deposit and an additional $1000 as first month’s rent. This time, the money was sent to two different Zelle users, the first one mentioned and a new one with a Chase bank account. Again, all done through Zelle.

    When sending the last $1000 through Zelle, the woman’s phone locked up, and she wasn’t sure if the payment went through. The fake landlord told her to call her bank to resolve the issue. When she called her bank, Bank of America, they notified her that this was a scam. The bank representative put in a request to have the payments stopped. The woman then did the proper thing and notified both the police and the FBI. Six weeks later, Bank of America denied the request, allegedly claiming that Chase and Wells Fargo did not want to give the money back.

    All three of the banks mentioned in this post are co-owners of Zelle. Since they all share a payment transfer system, you might think that there’s a way to get money back from scammers. Instead, the banks claim that since sending money through Zelle is like sending cash, users should be careful who they send money to. No refund was offered to the victim by any of the three banks.

    While it is true that apps like Zelle should only be used between family and friends, why are the banks so reluctant to help scam victims? The bad press they’ve been receiving over Zelle can’t be helping, so why not put in protections that help the users instead of the scammers? The more these scams get reported on, the less Zelle will end up being used. So, which one would be more costly to the banks, helping scam victims, or shuttering Zelle?

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Parents also targeted in arrest scam 

    Parents also targeted in arrest scam

    By Greg Collier

    There’s a scam we’ve covered many times before known as the grandparent scam. This is when scammers will pose as an elderly victim’s grandchild, while also claiming to be in legal trouble. The goal is to try to swindle money from the victim disguised as bail money or legal fees. Sometimes, the scammers will pose as law enforcement, bail bondsmen, or attorneys instead of a grandchild, but the scam remains mostly the same.

    Grandparent scam can be a misnomer, though. While the scam largely targets the elderly, some scammers will target any relative. Previously, we’ve seen scammers target aunts and uncles, but now, they’re going directly after parents.

    A woman in Alabama recently received a call from someone claiming to be her adult son. The son claimed to have been in a wreck. Then someone claiming to be a lawyer got on the call and said the son was being charged with felony DUI. The lawyer said that bond was being set at $120,000 and 12% of that would need to be paid to get her son out of jail. The lawyer then gave the woman a phone number to a bail bondsman who would collect the almost $15,000.

    The bail bondsman said she would have to give the money to the lawyer she spoke to, and he would forward the money electronically to the bail bondsman.

    It was then the woman realized that neither the son, the lawyer nor the bail bondsman told her where the wreck occurred. Sensing something was wrong, she used her work phone to call her son, who was ok and had not been in a wreck. The caller had hung up at this point.

    I imagine that some people are asking how she couldn’t recognize the voice of her own son. Scammers will often claim to have had their nose or mouth injured in the accident as to why they don’t sound normal.

    If you were to receive a call like this, it’s recommended you politely hang up to verify the story. Scammers will try to keep you on the line at all costs. Then contact the person who’s supposedly been arrested to make sure they’re ok. No one has ever been sentenced to extra time because their emergency contact wanted to verify their story. Once you determine your loved one is ok, it’s recommended that you contact your local police to let them know this scam is going around in your area.

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