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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim loses $40K in bank scam 

    By Greg Collier

    A man from the Central Valley region of California recently lost close to $40,000 in a bank scam. As far as we can tell, Zelle wasn’t even used, which is a rarity these days. The man received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the fraud department at Bank of America. The caller is said to have told the man that there were fraudulent transactions on his account. But before the ‘fraud department’ could help him, they said they needed the man to give them a six-digit code they were sending to him, so he could verify his identity.

    The man gave the caller the code, and we’ll get to the importance of that in just a bit. The caller then told the man that since there was fraudulent activity on his account, they needed to shut down the online banking option on his account. The caller was actually a scammer who drained the man’s account of nearly $40,000 with several transactions.

    The most disturbing part of this scam is that the scammer already had the victim’s personal information. The victim didn’t have to give the caller any information, as the scammer was able to give the man’s personal information to him. The scammer even disabled the notifications the man should have received when the scammer started taking large amounts out of the man’s account.

    So how was the scammer able to access the man’s bank account? The news article doesn’t go into detail about that. However, if we were to hazard a guess, it seems like the scammer already had all the information needed to access the man’s account. The information could have been obtained through any number of data breaches that have happened in the past few years.

    The only thing the scammer really needed to access the account was the authorization code. Many banks require their customers secure their account using a two-factor authentication code. So even if someone tries to log in to a bank account with the username and password, they’ll still need the 2FA code that’s typically sent to the customer’s text messages. Once the scammer was able to obtain that code, they had complete access to the man’s bank account.

    Anytime you receive a phone call from your bank, especially about fraudulent activity, hang up and call the bank back using the number on the back of your debit card. Scammers almost always spoof the number they’re calling from. Also, never give anyone any authorization code over the phone. These codes aren’t just used for banking, either, as many online accounts can be hijacked if someone were to give this number out.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    A desperate plea for help leads to family getting scammed 

    A desperate plea for help leads to family getting scammed

    By Greg Collier

    There should be no shame in reaching out to your neighbors for help. Today, if we do decide to reach out, we often do it online. Not only out of convenience, but because it helps us reach a wider range of people who could potentially help us. Unfortunately, it’s not just our neighbors who might see our pleas, there are also scammers, as one Virginia family found out.

    In this story, the family consists of a disabled mother with an adult daughter who is pregnant. They were looking for a home to rent and due to the mother’s disabilities, they were limited in their choices. They could not rent any property that required the mother to go up or down stairs. The mother posted her plea online that they were looking for a place to rent. This plea was posted to her area’s Craigslist.

    After she made her post, someone reached out almost immediately. They said that they had a property they were looking to rent out to someone and even gave them an address, so they could drive by the home. When the daughter spoke to the supposed landlord, he said that he needed money right away to have the city turn the water and plumbing right away.

    The landlord asked for $700 to be paid through Cash App under somebody else’s name. The daughter even said that didn’t feel right, as the money should go into a bank account. However, they were so desperate to find a roof over their heads, they ignored the red flags and sent the money anyway. Sadly, they sent their money to a scammer. They are now trying even harder to find a home, along with the financial burden of losing that money.

    I know it’s easier said than done, but even if you’re in dire straits, please do your research before sending any money to rent a home. Scammers are constantly looking for people on the down and out to take advantage of because they know the victim’s emotional state may make them vulnerable. The scammers have no qualms taking from people who have very little.

    As long as you have a working smartphone, which is most phones these days, you can research the property. If you do a quick Google search on the property’s address, you can find a lot of information about the property. That can include the actual rent price and the actual rental agency. And as always, we recommend going to the website or office of the county tax assessor, as they will have the records of who actually owns and rents the property.

    Also, never send money through apps like Cash App, Venmo, Zelle and the like. This makes it incredibly easy for scammers to take your money before blocking you and disappearing with your money.

    Lastly, scammers will always try to pressure you into making a decision right away. If you feel pressured, don’t be afraid to take your time researching and deciding. You may just save yourself the heartache of losing money to a scammer.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Are there more student loan forgiveness scams on the horizon? 

    Are there more student loan forgiveness scams on the horizon?

    By Greg Collier

    Student loan forgiveness scams are nothing new. However, experts are warning that we’re about to see a drastic increase in them. This is because the White House recently announced a debt forgiveness plan that will assist many in reducing or eliminating their student loan debt. But with any form of government assistance comes two things, confusion and red tape. It’s the confusion that will bring all manner of scammers out of the shadows.

    In the past, student debt scammers have texted, emailed, and called their victims offering to help reduce the remainder of the victim’s loan. Some scammers have even taken to social media messaging to try to lure victims into a false sense of security. Legitimate debt forgiveness programs will not contact you. You will have to contact them.

    There are a number of scams that these con artists can pull on a victim. There’s the advance fee scam, where the scammers will ask for an upfront payment before assisting someone. In reality, they’re just after the payment. If you qualify for the new student loan relief program, there is no fee associated with it. If someone promises they can help you get the government’s debt relief and asks for a fee, they’re trying to steal your money.

    Then there’s identity theft. Some scammers will be out to get your personal and financial information rather than a payment. It’s especially important not to give your Federal Student Aid ID to anyone who solicits you with an offer of assistance. This information can be used to steal your identity and could end up adding more debt than just your student loans.

    One of the best ways to protect yourself from these scams is to not accept offers from random strangers on the internet. You can also better protect yourself by not only learning if you qualify for the new program, but how the process works as well. CNBC has a great article on eligibility for the program, but you can also go to the Federal Government’s Student Aid website for further information.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Funeral scammers and more 

    Scam Round Up: Funeral scammers and more

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been a while since we had a scam round up. To any new readers, this is where we bring you a number of short scam stories. These stories usually can either be told quickly or are reminders of past scams.


    Earlier this month, we posted a story warning victims of floods to look out for scammers posing as FEMA agents. We also warned that scammers might also file FEMA claims in the victim’s name, while claiming any financial assistance for themselves.

    A report out of Kentucky, where floods recently devastated a portion of the state, says that flood victims are starting to see FEMA agents show up to their home when they never filed a claim. One victim had a FEMA claim filed under her maiden name and had FEMA agents show up to her home looking to make an inspection.

    If you think a FEMA claim might have been filed in your name, contact the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362.


    Speaking of government agencies, Medicare is probably the most targeted agency when it comes to scammers. What makes it worse, is that the scammers need someone enrolled in Medicare to scam the government.

    The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about the latest Medicare scam targeting recipients. Scammers are calling Medicare recipients and offering them free COVID-19 tests. Scammers actually want the recipient’s Medicare information, so they can fraudulently bill Medicare for a service or item the insured never receive.

    Please keep in mind that free COVID tests are easily available through the USPS website and are available to anyone.


    Lastly, we think this story might just be the lowest we’ve ever seen scammers stoop, and that covers a lot of ground.

    Recently, a family from Illinois had to deal with the tragic loss of their 16-year-old son. When a tragedy like this makes the local news, it’s almost a guarantee that the GoFundMe scammers come out of the woodwork, and that’s exactly what happened. Fake GoFundMe pages started springing up claiming to be collecting for the family. But that wasn’t the worst thing that happened.

    According to the family, there were scammers who were physically at their son’s funeral collecting money from mourners, stating that they were collecting for the family. Thousands of dollars were allegedly collected by the scammers at the funeral.

    GoFundMe is actually pretty good when it comes to cracking down on scammers once notified. They’ve stated that the money given to the phony GFM pages has not been released to scammers and can be returned to anyone who donated.

    It’s a travesty that a family dealing with the loss of a child had to deal with such a disregard for human decency.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a recommendation on how to keep scammers out of funeral. It seems like such a grim thought to think that a funeral might need security.


  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    No mailbox is safe from these scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Police in several Massachusetts communities are warning residents about sending checks through the mail. Reportedly, checks that are being sent in outgoing mail are being stolen. This has led to an increase in check washing. If you’re not familiar with check washing, it’s when someone steals a written check out of the mail and dips it in a solution of chemicals to remove the ink. The now blank check is rewritten, so the thief can cash it for themselves. The check is usually rewritten for a much higher amount than it was originally written for.

    Typically, these checks are stolen out of home mailboxes when someone puts out their outgoing mail for the mail carrier to pick up. However, some check thieves will even try their luck with the blue USPS mailboxes we’re all familiar with, even the ones outside the local post office. These thieves will attach something adhesive to the end of string and fish mail out of the mailbox, hoping to find an envelope with a check in it. If they do find a check, it will then be washed before trying to be cashed or deposited. One Massachusetts police department even says that washed checks are often deposited at ATMs, since the machines can’t tell whether a check has been washed or not.

    There are a number of ways to protect yourself from check thieves. One way is to switch to electronic payments for your bills. In some cases, you don’t have to have the payment taken out automatically every month. Another way is to take your mail and drop it off inside the post office itself. This way if you still wish to pay by check you can, and the thieves have much less of a chance to steal it. Lastly, if you write several checks a month, you should do a regular review of your bank accounts. A daily check is ideal, but if you can’t do that, a weekly review might suffice. This will allow you to contact your bank faster if one of your checks is cashed by an unauthorized recipient.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle says they’re just the messenger when it comes to scams 

    By Greg Collier

    As you may know, Zelle is the personal payment app that’s consistently been used in various scams for the past year. Zelle’s parent company is also co-owned by the nation’s leading banks, who consistently look for reasons to deny assistance to scam victims. Although it’s entirely within their right to do so, it’s also bad PR. At what point will the platform itself need to step in since its customers are constantly being taken advantage of?

    For example, a man from the Kansas City area recently fell victim to the classic Zelle scam. It’s a shame we can call it the classic Zelle scam, but here’s how it works. A victim will receive a text message that appears to come from their bank. The text asks if a large purchase or transaction has been made lately and asks the recipient to respond yes or no. Once the recipient of the text responds no, the scam really begins.

    The victim will then receive a phone call that spoofs their bank’s phone number. The scammer, posing as the bank’s fraud department, will tell the victim their bank account has been compromised. Under the guise of protecting the victim’s account, they’ll be walked through a Zelle transaction that’s actually sending the money to the scammer’s bank account.

    The Kansas City man lost $2500 to the scammers. He attempted to contact his bank, in this case U.S. Bank, to try to get his money back. So far, the bank has refused. Even after going to his local media, the bank has still refused a refund. When the local media contacted Zelle about it, they were told that Zelle is essentially a messaging service when it comes to these transactions and scam victims will have to work through their banks. U.S. Bank is one of the banks that co-owns Zelle’s parent company.

    Reactions like this should get bank customers to uninstall the Zelle app, but too many banks have Zelle baked in to their own app. This, in turn, makes a large number of bank customers vulnerable to scams just so the banks can push Zelle on them, since the banks are tired of losing business to other payment apps like Venmo and Cash App. Essentially, if you want to use your bank’s regular app, you’re forced to deal withe vulnerabilities of Zelle. It’s almost like the banks are holding their customers hostage.

    To better protect your bank account, keep in mind that Zelle is only supposed to be used between friends and family. Your bank will never ask you to use Zelle if your account has been compromised. If you receive one of these phone calls, hang up and contact your bank directly at the phone number on the back of your debit card.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam takes advantage of stolen car victims 

    Scam takes advantage of stolen car victims

    By Greg Collier

    It wasn’t too long ago when we made a blog post about scammers who try to extort money from people who have a missing pet. In that scam, scammers will contact someone who has posted about their missing pet on social media. The scammers will claim they have the pet, and will either ask for a reward or try to extort some sort of fee from the victim. In reality, they do not even have possession of the missing pet. Now, it seems, there is a similar scam involving missing vehicles.

    A man from Albuquerque recently had his car stolen. Instead of just waiting for police to recover his car, the man decided to take matters into his own hands. He took to several social media platforms to ask how he can go about finding his car on his own. It was on Reddit, where the man received a private message suggesting he go to a certain Instagram account that supposedly helps people find their stolen vehicles.

    The man sent a message to the Instagram account and received a message back within hours saying that they located his car. He was also sent a grainy image of what was supposedly his car. However, to get his car back, he would need to pay $400 to the people running this Instagram account. Thankfully, the man did not pay the $400. He felt that even if this wasn’t a scam, it was at least a predatory practice, since he wasn’t told of any fee upfront. The police were able to find his car, although it did sustain damage.

    Truth be told, this was, in fact, a scam. In this scam, the scammers claim to be ethical hackers who can track down your stolen vehicle faster than police using some form of technology that doesn’t even exist. After a short while, the scammers will say they found your vehicle, but will ask for a fee before giving the owner its location. As with most scams of this type, the scammers have no idea where any stolen car is, and are only looking to get the victim’s money.

    If your vehicle is stolen, the first thing you should do is call the police. You can post pictures of your car on social media in neighborhood groups asking for residents to keep an eye out for it. Some people have had their cars recovered using this method, but do not try to recover the vehicle yourself. Let the police know where the car was reported.

    We’ve even seen instances of a similar scam on this very blog. Occasionally, we’ll receive a comment from someone who used some amazing company who helped them recover their money after being scammed. These supposed recovery companies can be scams as well.

    So, if you’re going through a situation like this and someone recommends some random social media account that can help you, be very skeptical.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Teen saving for fishing boat falls for Zelle scam 

    Teen saving for fishing boat falls for Zelle scam

    By Greg Collier

    Once again, scammers show they don’t care who their victims are. While we often hear about elderly victims who fall prey to scams, they happen to younger people as well. Some experts have even said that younger generations fall victim to scams just as much as the older ones. Whether it’s a lack of experience, or an unwillingness to come forward, younger adults are losing just as much as their older counterparts. However, when the discussion turns to teenagers, that’s a demographic that scammers are always willing to capitalize on.

    A 14-year-old boy from New Jersey and some of his friends were trying to save money so they could buy a fishing boat together. The teen decided to sell a computer he had on Facebook Marketplace. He listed the computer for $500 and found someone who said they were willing to buy it. The buyer offered to pay the teen through Zelle.

    For those who may be unfamiliar with Zelle, it’s a personal payment app that’s co-owned by a number of the larger banks in the U.S. Zelle is only supposed to be used to send payments to friends and family, but scammers have been using it to cheat their victims out of money.

    In this case, the scammer sent the teen an email that looked like it came from Zelle saying the $500 payment couldn’t be received because of a limit on the teen’s bank account. He was then instructed to send $500 to the buyer that was supposedly going to be returned to the teen. Then the teenager got two more emails that appeared to come from Zelle that requested two more fee payments of $200 and $400. The teen made the payments before realizing he was being scammed.

    The teen’s father called the bank’s fraud department, who were able to prevent the $200 and $400 payments from going through, but the $500 payment was already gone. The bank said that could not get it back. Undaunted, the teen wrote a letter to the CEO of Bank of America, one of Zelle’s co-owners, for assistance. It wasn’t until the teen talked to local media before he was able to get his money back.

    Unfortunately, the teen’s story is more the exception than the rule. In most cases, Zelle scam victims never get their money back. The Zelle service offers little in the way of protection to scam victims, In most cases, the banks say since the victim authorized the payment, even if it was by deception, they couldn’t refund the money.

    Zelle isn’t the only app that scammers use. Venmo and Cash App have also been pretty popular with scammers, but Zelle seems to rule the roost lately when it comes to payment scams. With many of the banks that use Zelle unwilling to help most scam victims, it’s become a favored tool in the scammer’s arsenal. The best way to protect yourself from the Zelle scam is to not pay anyone through Zelle that you don’t know personally. No legitimate company or government agency will ask you to pay through Zelle. If you’re selling items online, it’s in your best interest not to accept Zelle payments. There’s a greater chance you’ll be scammed than actually getting paid.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Are charity drives for sick children a scam? 

    Are charity drives for sick children a scam?

    By Greg Collier

    With how expensive medical treatment in our country can be, it’s common to see people or families asking online for financial assistance regarding their medical expenses. According to the crowdsourcing platform GoFundMe, the main reason people open a GoFundMe page is to solicit donations for medical expenses. Unfortunately, scammers will pose as someone in need of financial assistance for medical expenses online. With more and more people becoming aware of these online scams, are scammers going back to asking for money on the street? That very well could be.

    According to a report from the Kansas City area, residents there are saying that people are taking to the streets and holding up signs asking for donations for children with severe illnesses. However, these signs have a modern twist. Instead of just taking cash, the signs also have indicators that you can donate money to various personal payment apps such as Zelle and Cash App.

    The reason authorities around Kansas City may think this may be a scam is because a group of scammers in South Carolina used the exact same picture of a sick child that the sign holders in Kansas City are using.

    Everybody wants to help a sick child if we can, and the scammers know this. Scammers are masters of emotional manipulation and will use every dirty trick in the book to separate a victim from their money. They want your heart to override your head when it comes to giving money. They want that immediate emotional reaction to result in an immediate donation. While an immediate donation might make us feel better, it might not be actually helping a sick child.

    As always, people should research before making any kind of chartable donation, so they’ll know the money is being put to good use. If you feel guilty about not making a donation to a sign holder, or if you just want to help, consider donating to an organization that has a good reputation for assisting those in need.

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

    Free Microsoft Office flash drives are a scam 

    By Greg Collier

    If you use a computer at home or at work, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve used the Microsoft Office suite. It’s the software package that contains Word, Excel, and PowerPoint among others. While you don’t have to pay for Office at your job, you do have to pay for it if you want to use it at home after the limited free trial is over? Currently, Microsoft is charging $100 a year to home users, but what if a free version was shipped to your home? Would you install it on your computer? You may want to think before installing Office if you received it in the mail.

    According to cybersecurity experts, residents in the UK have been receiving USB drives in the mail that appear to be coming from Microsoft. The box that the flash drives come in even looks like an official Microsoft product. However, if you plug the flash drive to your computer, you won’t get Microsoft Office. Instead, you’ll get a virus warning pop up on your computer, along with a phone number to call Microsoft at, so you can resolve your issue. Except, the number doesn’t really go to Microsoft. It goes to a phone bank of scammers instead.

    If someone were to call the phone number, the scammer will ask you to download a program that would give them remote access to your computer. From there, a number of scams can be perpetrated, such as stealing your financial login credentials, among others.

    Just in general, you should never plug strange USB drives into your computer. Whether you find one in a parking lot or get one in the mail, plugging strange drives into your computer can cause any number of problems, from scams to ransomware and more. If you put a strange USB drive into your computer, you’re risking not only compromising your computer, but potentially other computers in your home or business network as well. USB drives that you didn’t buy personally should be seen as suspicious and should be disposed of.

    And while this is currently happening in the UK, it could be only a matter of time before we see these flash drives being sent to US citizens.

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