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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , scam victims,   

    Scam victims deserve our sympathy, not our scorn 

    By Greg Collier

    When you constantly post stories about scams, you’ll inevitably get two types of comments. The first types are the ones where people will admonish the victim for being a victim. Those comments usually say something like, “How could they not know this was a scam?” The second types of comments are the boastful kind that say, “I would never fall for a scam like that.”

    Neither of these comments are very helpful. We all benefit from hindsight and can pick out the errors in judgement a scam victim might have made. But unless you’re in the heat of the moment of the scam, no one can say how they would truly react.

    No one can truly say they’re scam-proof. There is a scam out there with your name on it, just waiting for the perfect moment for you to drop your guard even for an instant. It doesn’t matter what level of education you have or your socioeconomic status. According to an article from Forbes written by a retirement plan specialist, the more self-confident a person is about not being scammed, the more likely they are to fall for a scam. People who are well-educated and of sound mind are often victims of scams because they feel like they don’t fit the profile of a scam victim.

    You also have to consider the mental state of the victim at the time of the scam. The Washington Post has a great article about how scams are affecting not only the mental health of victims, but everyone else who is on the lookout for scams.

    In the Post article, they tell the story of a cancer patient who can’t ignore strange phone numbers because she never knows when it will be a doctor or medical lab. She says she’s being bombarded by scammers, receiving 20 scam calls a day. They also tell the story of a couple who almost fell victim to the virtual kidnapping scam. They believed their adult daughter had been kidnapped, and the kidnapper was demanding a ransom. Furthermore, they were able to contact police, who found that their daughter was ok, but can you imagine the terror they felt in the meantime? We can advise people to remain calm all we want, but in the moment that advice may not take hold.

    Lastly, the main reason why we shouldn’t disparage scam victims is because many of them never come forward to police in the first place out of embarrassment. If victims are discouraged from coming forward, more victims fall victim to these scams. Some victims have even taken their own lives after being scammed.

    It takes just as much effort to offer these people some kind words of encouragement than it does to vilify them. Which kind of person would you rather be? What kind of person would you want others to be if you were a victim?

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Couple loses $350K In Apple scam 

    By Greg Collier

    To be honest, there’s not a lot of information about this story. The report that we’ve read spends more time discussing the amount lost to the scammers, which, to be fair, is a lot. However, we can assume how the scam worked from previous scams in a similar vein. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

    An elderly couple from the state of Michigan are said to have lost $350,000 to a tech support scam. The couple reportedly withdrew money from several different accounts to send money to the scammers through a Bitcoin ATM.

    The county sheriff’s office where this scam took place says that they are familiar with scams like this, but this is the largest amount lost they’ve ever seen.

    What we do know about the scam is that the couple received a message on their computer that appeared to come from Apple Computers with a phone number to call.

    This sounds a lot like the pop-up scams that claim to be from Microsoft. These pop-ups, which can lock up your computer, say things like your computer has a virus, or is in danger of being hacked. These pop-ups usually also instruct victims to call a phone number to resolve the issue.

    When a victim calls one of these phony customer service numbers, they’ll be told some outlandish tale about how their computer is being hacked, and the hackers are about to steal all the victim’s money. The victim will then be instructed that in order to protect their money, they need to move it somewhere safe. This is when the scammers will direct the victim to withdraw their money from their bank accounts and send it to the scammers in the forms of gift cards, cryptocurrency, or some other form of untraceable payment.

    What many victims don’t know is that companies like Apple, Microsoft, or Google don’t really know whether your computer has been compromised or not. If you receive one of these pop-up messages, turn your computer off. Hold down the power button until it turns off, if you need to. If the pop-ups continue, you may need to run a malware scan using a product like Malwarebytes. Malware and viruses are more likely to affect computers that run Microsoft Windows than Apple computers.

    If you still can’t get your computer to function properly, try taking the device to a computer repair store. It will cost you a lot less in the end than sending the money to scammers.

    But whatever you do, do not call the phone number in the pop-up message.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    New elaborate addition to the jury duty scam 

    By Greg Collier

    There’s hardly a day that goes by where we don’t see some police department warning local residents about the jury duty scam. This scam is simple in its design, as it uses a basic human fear to take money from its victims. Typically, scammers will pose as local law enforcement, even going as far as to spoof the police department’s phone number. The scammers will call a potential victim and identify themselves as a police officer. The victim will be told that they missed jury duty and now have to pay a fine to prevent being arrested. Most times, this is enough to get the victim to pay. The scammers will almost always demand payment in some form of untraceable means, like gift cards or a prepaid debit card.

    Now, it seems, jury duty scammers are stepping up their game as authorities in North Carolina are warning residents of a new elaborate twist to the typical jury duty scam. Law enforcement in the Tarheel State have received complaints about jury duty scammers who have set up business-level voicemail systems that mimic those of police departments.

    Instead of just trying to find a victim on a live call, some scammers are now leaving voicemails telling the victims they’ve missed jury duty. The scammers then leave a local return phone number for the victim to call. If the victim does return the call, they’ll be placed into a phone tree that claims to be from a police department. When scammers pick up the call, they’ll identify themselves with the names of real police officers from the department they’re posing as.

    Not only does a scheme like this add the appearance of legitimacy to the scam, it also shows the lengths scammers will go to.

    No legitimate law enforcement agency will ever call you on the phone and threaten you with arrest if you don’t make an immediate payment. Also, no court system ever accepts payment in gift cards, money transfers, cryptocurrency, or any other type of untraceable and nontraditional payment.

    If you receive one of these calls, hang up and call the police department at their non-emergency phone number. Do not use any phone number that may be left by the caller.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The Zelle scam is still around, in case you were wondering 

    The Zelle scam is still around, in case you were wondering

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve been posting about this particular Zelle scam since last October. That probably means the scam has been going on for at least a year. In case you need a reminder or haven’t heard of the Zelle scam, we’ll give you a refresher.

    Zelle is what’s known as a peer to peer payment app. Its closest competitor is Venmo and is supposed to be used in a similar way. Payments are only supposed to go to people you know personally. The most used example for apps like Zelle is splitting a check at a restaurant. Instead of everyone getting a separate check or trying to settle up with cash, you can electronically send your friend your portion of the bill. However, scammers have taken advantage of people through Zelle even if the victim doesn’t normally use the app.

    The most egregious of these scams is a bank impersonation scam. It starts when a potential victim of the scam receives a text message that appears to have come from their bank. The text message typically says something to the effect of, did you make a large purchase or did you transfer a large amount of money through Zelle? The victim is then asked to reply yes or no.

    When a victim replies no, they immediately receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from their bank’s fraud department. The phony customer service rep gives instructions to the victim to use Zelle to protect their account from being hacked. What’s really happening is the scammers are directing the victims to use Zelle to move money from the victim’s account to the scammers’ account.

    Recovery of lost money is often rare and difficult. Zelle offers little in the way of consumer protection when it comes to scams. The big banks that own Zelle say they can’t refund the victim their money since the victim ‘willingly’ moved the money, scam or not.

    Zelle has gotten a bad rap because of this scam over the past year, but it still seems like they’ve done very little in the way of trying to protect their users. With all the negative press, the scam still continues.

    Just recently, a woman from Texas lost $3000 to this scam. In her case, the scammers took $1000 a day for three days from her account through Zelle under the guise of helping her protect her account.

    The best way to prevent yourself from falling for this scam is to ignore the text message. Do not reply to it at all, or you will receive a call from the scammers. Scammers don’t actually know where you bank. They cast a wide net of text messages, hoping to get at least one person to respond. If you still have concerns about your bank account, call them directly at the customer service number on your debit card or your bank’s website.

    If you find yourself having fallen victim to this scam, file a police report. We have seen it reported that doing this will aid in recovering your money, but is not a guarantee.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Grant scams target cancer patients 

    By Greg Collier

    Very few things are more disheartening than being told you have cancer. Even if it’s a minor form of cancer, if there is such a thing, just the word cancer conjures up images of long and uncomfortable treatments to say the least. It also brings thoughts of financial hardships, as an extended illness like cancer can bring a mountain of medical debt. More people in the United States declare bankruptcy over medical bills than any other reason. Then imagine having a helping hand extended to you only to have it be taken away while taking money out of your pocket.

    A woman from Connecticut recently had surgery to have a cancerous lump removed. She was approached by someone on social media posing as a local non-profit organization. They told her that she was eligible for a $15,000 grant to help pay for her medical expenses. But in order to receive the grant, she first had to pay a $500 fee. After she paid the $500, she realized she had been scammed.

    Grant scams have been plaguing social media for a while now. Typically, victims are approached by people who appear to be their friends. However, their friend’s account has been compromised, allowing scammers to lull victims into a false sense of security. Victims are usually in some sort of financial need. Add a cancer diagnosis into the mix and a victim might be under such emotional duress that they could miss the red flags of a scam.

    Unfortunately, any agency that deals with grants does not approach potential applicants. You need to go to them. They also do not ask for money in advance. That is known as the advance fee scam and anyone who asks you to, is just after your money. You may be a target for this scam if you’ve recently shared a medical diagnosis with your friends on social media.

    The victim in this story has also set up a GoFundMe page if you can find it in your heart to help.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , t-shirt scam,   

    Scam Round Up: New Social Security scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: New Social Security scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we’re bringing you a story with a happy ending, for once, and a whole bunch of scams.


    Our happy ending story is one that starts out with a Philadelphia-area man who fell for the grandparent scam. He was led to believe his son was in jail on a DUI and needed $25,000 for bail. The scammers enlisted the service of a Lyft driver who was supposed to take the $25,000 to the scammers. The driver felt like something was up and tried to confirm the identity of the so-called attorney who was supposed to get the money. When the attorney wouldn’t provide identification to the Lyft driver, the driver took the money to police, who were able to return the money to the victim.

    Please keep in mind, if someone says they’re sending a rideshare or courier to your home to pick up money for some kind of emergency, the odds are pretty good they’re trying to scam you. If a relative or loved one claims to be in jail, attempt to contact them first before sending any money. More than likely, you’ll find out they’re ok.


    Just because Amazon’s Prime Day is over, that doesn’t mean Amazon scams will stop. A sheriff’s office just outside of Richmond, Virginia, is warning residents about an Amazon phone scam taking place there. In this scam, the victims receive a call from someone claiming to be with Amazon. The caller will say there are suspicious charges on the victim’s account. They’ll then say they’re connecting you with police. Except, everyone on the call is a scammer trying to get your financial information.

    Amazon rarely calls their customers, even if there are fraudulent charges. If you receive a phone call like this, hang up, then check your Amazon account to make sure there are no fraudulent charges on the account.


    An old used car scam is making a reappearance, or maybe it never went away. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about used cars for sale that the seller claims is being stored out of state. The scammers will claim that you need to pay a transport company with either gift cards or a money transfer. Often, the scammers will claim that eBay is shipping the vehicle. While eBay does have a used car marketplace, they do not do any shipping of vehicles. And as usual, gift cards should only be used as gifts, and money transfers should never be sent to people you don’t know personally.


    One scam that has been popping up all over the country is the police T-shirt scam. From coast to coast, residents have been receiving text messages that claim to be selling T-shirts for their local police department. The text message contains a link that is supposed to be a shop for the T-shirts, but is actually a fake website designed to take your financial information. If you receive one of these texts, block the number and delete the text.


    Lastly, there seems to be a new Social Security scam going around the country. According to reports, there’s an ad circulating on social media that claims Social Security will provide a spending card for adults over the age of 51. This is not true, as Social Security offers no such service. More than likely, if someone tries to apply for one of these fictitious cards, the scammers will either ask for financial information, or they’ll ask for a payment first before the card can be issued.

    If you see an ad that promises you amazing Social Security or Medicare benefits, be very skeptical of them. Too often, these services are either misleading or downright fraudulent.

    If you have any questions about these advertised services, it is recommended you contact the Social Security Administration first at 1 (800) 772-1213.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Homeless vet taken in rental scam 

    Homeless vet taken in rental scam

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve said it many times in the past, scammers don’t care who they take advantage of. They’ll use any situation to steal money from the most vulnerable members of our society. Scammers often fleece the elderly who live alone. They would literally steal from babies if given the chance. So, it should come as no surprise that scammers would not only steal from a man who served our country, but one who has also fallen on hard times.

    A veteran from North Carolina, is currently living in a tent in the woods of Concord, a semi-rural suburb of Charlotte. He served in Iraq and has been trying to find stable housing. Unfortunately, it’s been difficult for him to find housing due to his credit history and a criminal record.

    He thought he had found an ideal place when he found an online listing for a home to rent. The supposed landlord gave the man’s brother the access code to the home, so they could actually tour the home. The man agreed to rent the home and sent the landlord $2,000 through the personal payment app Zelle. The landlord then cut off all communication with the veteran. The property was actually being rented by a rental company.

    Scammers having the access codes to rental homes is nothing new. The scammers get the code by contacting the rental company and taking a tour of the home. The code is then used by the scammers to make the scam appear more legitimate.

    And again, it should come as no surprise that Zelle was also used in the scam. Since Zelle offers little to no protection to its users, it has become a tool of choice for scammers everywhere.

    Rental scammers are constantly looking for people who are desperate for housing. Since housing is one of the most basic of needs, people who are scrambling for shelter may often overlook the warning signs of a scam.

    Again, security codes are not a sign of a legitimate property owner. To better prevent yourself from being scammed, it always pays to research a property first. Just a quick web search of the property’s address can bring up a plethora of information that can help you determine whether a listing is a scam or not. You can also find the true owner of a property by checking with the county’s tax assessor’s office.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Does the grandparent scam follow a script? 

    Does the grandparent scam follow a script?

    By Greg Collier

    The grandparent scam is one of the most frequently discussed scams on this blog. Unfortunately, we have to keep discussing it because the scam continues to find victims. There’s not a week that goes by when we don’t see a new article about another elderly person being taken for thousands of dollars by these scammers. Yet, the scam continues to perpetuate. It’s gotten to the point where it seems like grandparent scammers are all reading from the same script.

    For example, an elderly woman in a Chicago suburb was recently taken for $16,000 in a grandparent scam. She received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson. During that call, a man claiming to be her grandson’s attorney got on the phone. The attorney told the woman that her grandson had caused a car crash which resulted in a pregnant woman losing her baby.

    The attorney said that the woman’s grandson would need $16,000 to be released from jail. The woman was then instructed that a courier would come by her home to pick up the money. She was also told that a judge placed a gag order on the proceedings, so she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone else what was going on with her grandson.

    After the woman gave the cash to the supposed courier, the attorney called her again the next day. This time, he was asking for $70,000 since her grandson was being sued. The woman spoke with a family member, who told her that she was being scammed. Police tried contacting the attorney, but at this point, the attorney’s phone number was no longer answering calls.

    If there was a textbook definition of the grandparent scam, this would be it. Scammers find an elderly victim because there’s usually a good chance they have grandchildren. Then the fake grandchild claims to be in trouble, but not to the extent where the victim would be required to call the rest of the family.

    In addition to there being a car accident, scammers add extra drama to the story to put the victim in an emotionally charged state. A pregnant woman losing her baby is a favorite among scammers to achieve that.

    Then comes the phony gag order. This is the scammer’s way of trying to make sure the victim doesn’t talk to any other family members. Previously, the phony grandchildren would ask the victim not to tell anyone else in the family out of embarrassment. But a gag order sounds more legally binding and has a better chance of getting the victim to keep quiet. In actual legal proceedings, gag orders do not work that way. Gag orders are usually issued in very high-profile cases to prevent participants from speaking to the media.

    As far as couriers go, attorneys, bail bondsmen, and police, never send couriers to collect any kind of bail or bond money. This money has to be paid to the court or a bail bondsman in person. They do not employ couriers to go to homes to pick up bail money.

    Lastly, if someone gives a scammer money once, the scammer will try to take more money from the same victim.

    As always with scams like this, if someone claims a loved one of yours is in legal trouble, you can hang up on that call and contact the person who’s supposedly in trouble. Only scammers will try to pressure you into staying on the phone.

    If you have a loved one who you believe may be susceptible to this scam, please share this story with them or any of the many news articles about the grandparent scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Airbnb scam sends strangers to your door 

    Airbnb scam sends strangers to your door

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, in any kind of rental scam, the scammers will copy a legitimate real estate listing before posting their scam copy online. If the home is actually for sale, scammers will list it as being for rent. They’ll do this in order to collect deposits and rent from unsuspecting victims. But, what can you do if the home you live in and own is being used in a rental scam? One woman from Detroit recently found out.

    The woman owns her own home in the Motor City, but recently, strangers started showing up at her door looking for a way in. The first time this happened, she asked the people on her porch what they were doing there through her home security camera. The people said they had rented the property off short-term rental platform Airbnb.

    This has happened to the woman multiple times, with disappointed vacationers showing up to her home, only to be told the property isn’t for rent. As we said, typically scammers use properties that have been listed online before. According to the homeowner, this property has never been listed. So, it seems like scammers may be picking homes either at random or by location to list on Airbnb.

    However, this scam does not seem very practical in terms of profit for the scammer. Airbnb processes the payments between renter and host. So, if a scam like this is detected, Airbnb can reverse the payment. They’ve even said that in this particular instance, the scammer did not get paid. It’s entirely possible that this could have been a scammer testing the Airbnb process for possible vulnerabilities.

    This doesn’t change the fact that people expecting to rent a vacation spot had to be turned away from someone’s home. It only takes one person who refuses to believe they’ve been scammed to turn this into a volatile situation.

    If people show up at your home thinking they’ve scored a vacation rental, contact the platform, in this case Airbnb, immediately to have the listing removed. If you’re a person looking for a short-term rental on platforms like Airbnb, research the host before committing. Phony hosts will often use images stolen off the internet in their profiles. A reverse image search goes a long way in weeding out scam hosts.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Mother of disabled WWE fan taken in ticket scam 

    Mother of disabled WWE fan taken in ticket scam

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from Clarksville, Tennessee, has a wheelchair-bound son who is said to be a superfan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). When she found out that the WWE was holding its SummerSlam card in nearby Nashville, she wanted nothing more than to get tickets for her son.

    She Googled the number to event vendor Ticketmaster, and called the number listed. She expressed that her son would need special seating. The representative gave her a ticket price of $25 each and instructed her to go to her local supermarket. The representative stayed on the phone with her while she went to the supermarket. Since the store did not have a Ticketmaster counter, she was instructed to buy $250 worth of eBay gift cards.

    The woman gave the card numbers to the representative, and the rep claimed that the card numbers were no good. They then told the woman she needs to go to a Walgreens to buy more gift cards. This is when she realized she had been scammed.

    This story does have a happy ending. Current WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes, son of pro wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, has offered to help the woman and her son get something set up with the WWE.

    However, most scam stories like this do not have a happy ending, but there are ways to protect yourself when buying tickets to not just the WWE, but any kind of live event. The first thing is that if you’re going to call any kind of ticket vendor, do not use the first phone number listed on Google or any other search engine. Scammers often buy their way to the top of search engine rankings to get their phony customer service numbers listed first. Instead, go to the vendor’s website and get their number from the ‘Contact Us’ section.

    Customer service reps are some of the most overworked people in the country. Sometimes they have to juggle multiple customers at once. They do not have time to sit with a customer on the phone for extended periods of time while they go to a store. Scammers will keep you on the phone to prevent the scam from falling apart.

    Lastly, no legitimate business or agency will ever ask you to pay in gift cards. Gift cards should only be used as gifts. Scammers love them because gift cards are easy to deplete and once they are, they’re untraceable.

    Video: Local mother warns others after falling victim to a gift card scam

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