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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The hurricane hostage scam 

    The hurricane hostage scam

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever there is a hurricane or other natural disaster in the country, we typically warn our readers about the usual scams. For example, we warn our readers that if they ever experience damage to your home from a natural disaster, be wary of contractors who drive up to your home offering to make repairs. Often these contractors are unlicensed and are looking to make a quick buck with shoddy work. We also tell our readers to be wary of unsolicited calls from FEMA or insurance companies. They could be scammers looking to get your financial or personal information. Our readers from outside the disaster area also get warned to be aware of fake charities claiming to be collecting for the victims, as they could be scams as well. For the first time, we now have to warn our readers about scammers who claim to have found a family member in the storms.

    A retiree from Florida did not evacuate her home in the days leading up to Hurricane Ian making landfall. She had survived many previous hurricanes in her home, and the hurricane was predicted to miss her area. The predictions were incorrect. The retiree was on the phone with her daughter during the hurricane while showing her daughter video of the flooding taking place in the home.

    The call then went silent. The daughter, who also lives in Florida, called everyone she could think of to try to assist her mother. She called 911, the Coast Guard, and people she knew in the area her mom lived in. As a last resort, she took to social media, hoping someone could help her find her mother. She received a text from someone who claimed to have found her mother. However, the text sender said that the daughter needed to send close to $600 first to cover the cost of a hotel. The daughter knew something was suspect about the text and asked the person for her mother’s middle name. The person didn’t know it and stopped communication.

    Thankfully, some of the people in the area were able to find the retiree, who was relatively unharmed.

    If this scam sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s the same scam that targets the owner’s of lost pets. It’s disturbing to think that there are people out there who are just waiting for someone to ask about a missing loved one in a hurricane, so they can try to scam them.

    The daughter handled the scammer about as perfectly as anyone could. She asked a question that only her mother would know. When confronted with that kind of questioning, scammers usually disappear.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: A trio of tricky check scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Checks have always been prone to a number of scams. Even before most people switched to electronic banking, there was always a way to manipulate checks to someone’s advantage. Now, that most consumers use debit cards and get paid through direct deposit, it’s not surprising there are people who are unaware of how checks can be used in a scam. Here are three check scams from recent news reports you should be aware of.


    Of course, there’s the fake check scam. This is where scammers will send you a check for any number of reasons. They want you to deposit the check into your own bank account and send some of the money back before your bank finds out the check is fake. While the fake check scam is mostly seen with job scams and online selling scams, it can affect businesses as well.

    For example, a home supply store in Ohio recently received a cashier’s check that was supposed to cover supplies for a home renovation. The check was written for $5000 more than the store was asking. The person who sent the check also included instructions that the difference should be sent to the home’s previous owner for some reason. Thankfully, the store owner felt like he was being scammed and contacted the police.

    If someone you don’t know personally sends you a check and wants you to send part of the money back to them or to a third party, that is almost assuredly a scam.


    Another check scam that has become more common lately is the check washing scam. This is when checks are stolen from outgoing mail that are usually designed to pay bills. The checks are then soaked in a chemical solution that removes the handwritten portion of the check. This allows the scammers to rewrite the check to themselves and cash the check without the account holder’s knowledge.

    If you pay your bills by check, the best way to protect yourself is to take any outgoing mail that contains checks and drop them off inside the post office. Mail has even been known to be stolen from the mailboxes that are outside the post office. There are also pens you can order that are resistant to check washing.


    Lastly, the NYPD is warning residents of Staten Island about a different type of fake check scam. One precinct there has received numerous complaints about scammers approaching people on the street asking for help cashing a check. The victim is asked if they could deposit the check at their ATM while withdrawing money for the scammer. Again, the bank won’t find out for a few days that the check is fraudulent, and the victim is responsible for paying that money back to the bank.

    It is recommended if you come into contact with someone asking you to help them cash a check to call 911.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Online sellers have to deal with this phone scam, again. 

    Online sellers have to deal with this phone scam, again.

    By Greg Collier

    Scams that involve online selling are a top priority for us, since Geebo.com is an online marketplace. Previously, we’ve taken the role of an anti-Craigslist, since we actually take steps to try to protect our userbase. One of those steps is educating our users in the ways scammers might try to take advantage of them. One of those scams has resurfaced in multiple news outlets lately, so we thought it’s a good time to remind our readers of this scam.

    If you’re not familiar with Google Voice, it’s a service provided free from Google that allows you to have a secondary phone number. For example, you can use Google Voice to have separate business and personal numbers while still only using one phone. Users are only allowed one Google Voice number per hone number. This prevents bad actors from having multiple phone numbers they can operate from. However, this does not stop them from trying, and the bad actors like to target online sellers in this scam.

    The scam starts when someone tries to sell an item online, regardless of the platform. While talking or texting with the seller, the buyer will claim that they need to verify that the seller isn’t a scammer themselves. The buyer will then claim that they’re sending a seller an authorization code to verify the seller’s integrity. The buyer will then ask the seller to repeat the code back to them.

    What’s actually happening is the buyer is setting up a Google Voice number under the seller’s phone number. The authorization code is sent by Google to make sure that a bad actor isn’t trying to use someone else’s number to sign up for Google Voice. If the seller gives out that authorization code, the scammer can hijack that Google Voice number and use it in additional scams. That way, if law enforcement attempts to trace the Google Voice number used in a scam, it will trace back to the seller.

    Thankfully, there is a surefire way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this scam, and that’s to sign up for your own Google Voice number. While we are in no way trying to promote Google Voice, signing up for a Google Voice number can prevent you from having a Google Voice number signed up under your phone number without your permission. If someone has already signed up for a Google Voice number that’s linked to your phone number, you can follow the instructions from Google on how to reclaim it.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Loneliness leads to crypto scam 

    Loneliness leads to crypto scam

    By Greg Collier

    Loneliness is one of the greatest vulnerabilities someone can have. It can cause us to make rash decisions or ignore warning signs if we think it will help us be any less alone. Some of the more detrimental decisions people can make are made during bouts of extreme loneliness. Unfortunately, scammers are aware of this too. Lonely people, especially senior citizens who may have lost a partner, are a favorite target of scammers. This is especially true of romance scammers.

    Traditionally, romance scammers find a target online and foster a phony relationship with them. Once the scammer gains the target’s trust, the scammer will start asking for money for some emergency. Romance scammers often pose as military members serving overseas, oil rig workers who are constantly working offshore, or international business people. They use these occupations as excuses as to why they can never meet in public.

    However, there is a new type of romance scam that works a lot quicker than the typical one, as one man from Indiana recently found out. The man is a senior citizen who is on a fixed income. He met a woman going by the name of Elizabeth on a dating site. It wasn’t long before Elizabeth mentioned she worked for an investment company and could make the man some money. The man was told that if he gave her $500 in Bitcoin, he’d make a profit in 5 days. He sent ‘Elizabeth’ the $500 in Bitcoin.

    When it came time for the man to claim his profits, he contacted the supposed investment company. He was told that his initial investment had multiplied more than ten times its amount. When the man tried to cash out, he was told he would need to send an additional $2000 through Cash App to claim his windfall. The man refused and was then asked for his bank account information. It was at this point the man realized he had been scammed. This man probably got off easy, relatively speaking. While we’re sure $500 was a lot of money to this man, other victims to this scam have paid the additional fees the scammers have asked for and never see a penny of it in return.

    No investment is ever guaranteed to return a profit, and especially not cryptocurrency, as that market can wildly fluctuate. If someone you don’t know or barely know promises to invest in cryptocurrency for you, there’s a good chance that they’re trying to scam you. Also, no legitimate investment company will ask you to make any payment through apps like Cash App.

    If you’re lonely and looking for companionship online, please be very careful as there are any number of pitfalls out there that could leave you with a broken heart and an empty wallet.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Would you fall for this convincing scam? 

    Would you fall for this convincing scam?

    By Greg Collier

    A lot of like to think we’re scam-proof, that it’s impossible for scammers to pull one over on us. For example, I received a robocall the other day that said they were calling from Amazon and there had been a $1499.00 charge on my account. I hung up because I knew it was a scam. But just to be certain, I checked my Amazon account and credit card I use for Amazon purchases. Both had no record of any such transaction. Now, that’s a low-pressure scam if you know what to look for. But what if the pressure was intense and immediate. Would you be able to remain calm?

    We’ve discussed the virtual kidnapping scam, or ransom scam, before. This is when scammers call a victim to tell them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one and demand money. In reality, the scammers don’t actually have your loved one hostage. However, even if you might be familiar with the scam, scammers can make it so convincing that in the heat of the moment, you may question yourself.

    A man in Ohio recently received one of these calls. The number that came up on his phone belonged to his mother from Florida. After he picked up the phone, the man heard a male voice with a female voice screaming in the background. The caller stated he carjacked the man’s mother and would harm her if the man didn’t pay the caller. The way that we’ve phrased it, makes it sound so clinical. However, the language the caller used made it seem real. Here are some quotes from the conversation that the man recorded.

    Caller: “Man, guess what? I’m going to start beating your mom, I’m going to start beating her right now.”

    Caller: “If I see the police, I’m going to k*** myself too, but I’m going to take her (expletive) out.

    Caller: “Bro, I’m going to tell you one more time. She ain’t going to be all right if you don’t hurry the (expletive) up.”

    There were other explicit threats of violence as well that we’re leaving out for the sake of civility.

    The caller was demanding payment through Cash App and PayPal. Luckily, the man had trouble remembering his PayPal password. While he was trying to reset the password, he had his wife call his brother on her phone, since his brother lives near his mother. When he got word that his mother was in no danger, he hung up on the scammer. The man even admitted that he panicked and had no idea what to do, even though he made the correct action.

    Scammers will either find us at our weakest or try to put us in that state of mind. Can any of us say we wouldn’t be panicked if we were in this man’s shoes? This is just one of the many reasons we shouldn’t belittle scam victims. There are so many scams out in the wild that any one of us could fall victim to them if the right circumstances emerge. Instead, we should be thanking scam victims who come forward for making us aware of these scams.

    Again, what the man did in this instance was the right thing to do. If you ever receive a phone call like this, try to use a second form of communication to contact the person the caller has claimed to have kidnapped. Kidnapping for ransom is rare in the United States, but you still want to make sure your loved one is safe. Also, don’t be afraid to call the police, as they can be of great assistance in these matters.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Man loses $7500 in new Zelle scam 

    Man loses $7500 in new Zelle scam

    By Greg Collier

    Next month, it will be a year since we started posting about Zelle scams. In that time, it doesn’t seem like much has been done on Zelle’s side to protect its users from scams. However, the scammers seem to have adapted the Zelle scam to continue stealing from their victims.

    For those who may be new readers, Zelle is a personal payment app that’s co-owned by some of the country’s biggest banks. It’s a competitor to apps like Venmo and Cash App. Zelle us only supposed to be used between family and friends and is not intended to be used for business purposes.

    In the previous version of the scam, scammers would send victims a text message posing as their bank’s fraud department. The text asks the victim if they recently made a large purchase and text back either yes or no. Once the victim texts back, that lets the scammers know that there is someone at that phone number.

    That text message is then followed up with a phone call to the victim. Still posing as the bank’s fraud department, the scammers tell the victim that their bank account has been compromised. The victim is then told that in order to protect the money in their account, the money needs to be ‘moved’. Instructions are given to the victim on how to move the money, but what’s really happening is the scammers are walking the victim through a procedure where their money is given to the scammers through Zelle.

    In the new Zelle scam, instead of walking the victim through instructions on transferring the money through Zelle, the scammers are now hijacking the victim’s Zelle account. The scammers do this by asking the victim for a security code that the scammers say they need for security purposes. What the scammers are actually doing is triggering a password rest on the victim’s Zelle account. The security code is needed to complete the password change. Giving the security code to scammers is essentially handing over your Zelle account to them.

    This recently happened to a man in Arizona who received an email about a fraudulent charge. When he called the number on the email to dispute the charge, he was told to pay himself the charge amount through Zelle to reverse the fraudulent charge. However, the ‘bank’ needed the security code to complete the transaction. This is being referred to as the ‘pay yourself scam’. After the scammers hijacked the man’s account, they took $7500 from him.

    Zelle has released a video on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this scam, as you can see below. But are they really doing enough to educate bank customers on how Zelle can be used to scam them. Part of the problem is that many of the banks that use Zelle make Zelle part of their own app. Many customers aren’t even aware that they have Zelle or how to use it. In some cases, Zelle can be used to access a bank account, whether that customer wants it to happen or not. Zelle needs to better educate and protect their customers before their name becomes synonymous with scams, if it hasn’t already.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    iPhone scam is symptom of bigger problem 

    iPhone scam is symptom of bigger problem

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, an iPhone user was locked out of her new iPhone. On her husband’s phone, she did a Google search for ‘Apple Customer Service’ and called the number she found. The person on the other end of the call said they’d be happy to help her out. Except, the woman hadn’t really called Apple. Instead, she had called a phony customer support number run by scammers. These scammers had accessed her iPhone and were able to use her Zelle app to steal $1500. However, this scam is not exclusive to either Apple or Google.

    This scam is a version of the tech support scam. Instead of trying to trick victims into believing there’s a virus on their device, this scam waits for someone with a tech problem to call the scammers. In these cases, the scammers take out ads on popular search engines. Not just Google, but Bing and Duck Duck Go as well. The scammers will submit a flurry of ads to these companies in hopes just a handful get through the vetting process. If the ads get approved, they can be listed at the top of the search engine rankings. While the search engine companies claim to be on top of the problem, scammers continue to have their ads for phony customer services approved.

    There are ways to protect yourself from this scam. The first is when you’re doing a web search, make sure the listing you’re about to click on doesn’t have a tiny ad indicator near it. These are usually little text boxes that say ‘Ad’, but sometimes have a color that’s similar to the page’s background. Another way to protect yourself is by going to the manufacturer’s website directly. For example, instead of doing a web search for Apple Customer Service, just go directly to apple.com in your device’s web browser. From there you should be able to find the customer support number if the company has one.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammer stalks victim through pizza delivery 

    Scammer stalks victim through pizza delivery

    By Greg Collier

    Two of the many things we try to hammer home about scammers is they will stoop to any length to scam someone, and once they find a victim, they’ll try to scam them again. We’ve seen scammers show up at funerals pretending to collect money for the deceased. We’ve also seen scammers pose as the families of crime victims, so they can open a GoFundMe account to attempt to garner donations. In other scams, we’ve seen scammers that repeatedly set out to fleece the same victim after they were successfully scammed. Today’s story has a little bit of both of those aspects of scams within it.

    An elderly man had been scammed for thousands of dollars. While there aren’t details on what scam it was, there’s enough evidence to suggest it was the grandparent scam. The local sheriff’s office tried to help the man from being scammed again. They suggested he turn off his cell phone, and the man also changed his landline phone number.

    The scammer had so much information about the man that the scammer knew the pizza parlor the man liked to order from. The scammer then had a pizza delivered to the man’s home. The scammer also had a note included with the pizza asking the man to call his ‘grandson’ with the scammer’s phone number attached.

    In this South Carolina county alone, over $1.3 million has been lost to scams in the past year. That amount is probably even more if you consider the losses that weren’t reported. According to the sheriff’s office, arrests are few and far between, and it becomes more a plan of defense rather than one of apprehension. They also say that the best way to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a scam is time. Essentially, don’t give out any money or information without taking some time to assess the situation first.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: New scam targets veterans and more 

    Scam Round Up: New scam targets veterans and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Round Up, we’re bringing you three scams that might not be affecting you now, but you should be aware of.


    Our first scam has to be more than distressing to its victims. Scammers are targeting the families of inmates who are incarcerated in a county jail in Alabama. The scammers are posing as jail employees, telling the families that their family member has died in custody, when it isn’t true.

    From what we’ve researched, this is not a common scam, but has happened before. However, we couldn’t find any information on what the scam is hoping to achieve, since the scammers have not asked for any kind of payment. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say this might be some kind of identity theft ploy.

    According to the local sheriff’s department, if an inmate were to die in custody, the family would be informed by the coroner’s office. If you have a family member who is incarcerated, you may want to find out what the procedure is for that jurisdiction.

    Sadly, this is not the only scam the family’s of inmates have to worry about. They are often targeted by scammers who promise their family member better privileges or an early release. These scams often ask for money. Someone receiving these offers should always check with the institution first to see if these programs are actually available, and should never give anyone their personal information over the phone.


    It always seems like social media has a never-ending stream of scams to deal with. It also seems that the short-form video platform TikTok is no exception. Lately, they’ve been dealing with a string of videos where scammers claim they can help you make a profit investing in cryptocurrency.

    The videos usually have someone flaunting stacks of cash or other signs of wealth while promising to make the viewer money. However, this is just a variation of the money flipping scam that has plagued Instagram. The scammers will promise they can get viewers thousands of dollars if they just send the scammer a few hundred.

    The scammers end up keeping the money sent to them and often ask victims for more money using promises of returning even more profit to the victim.

    Cryptocurrency on its own is already flush with scammers. Unless you know the cryptocurrency market intimately and can afford to lose an investment, you shouldn’t let other people invest in it for you, especially people you don’t know personally.


    Recently, an act was passed into law that allows U.S. veterans and their family to sue the government if they were exposed to toxic burn pits at military bases. The Better Business Bureau is reporting that scammers are using this new law to their advantage by promising veterans and their families they can sue the government for them. Once they get the veteran’s money and information, the scammers disappear.

    Another scam targeting veterans is one where the scammers are posing as Veterans Affairs. Again, the scammers are after the veteran’s personal information for identity theft purposes.

    The VA recommends that if you received unsolicited communication from someone claiming to be from the VA, you should contact the VA through their website. You can also find if you’re eligible under the new law here.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    New twist to Amazon phone scam 

    New twist to Amazon phone scam

    By Greg Collier

    Due to the popularity and reach of Amazon, it’s no surprise that the online retailer has been used in many scams. Whether it’s because of third-party sellers committing brushing scams, or scammers asking for payment in Amazon gift cards, the Amazon brand is no stranger to being used as a weapon in the scammer’s arsenal.

    However, the most common Amazon scam is the Amazon impersonation scam. This is where scammers will pose as an Amazon employee, typically over the phone. Sometimes the scam will start with an email that looks like an official email from Amazon, complete with the Amazon logo. Other times, the victims will be called directly. In both instances, the victim will be told there has been a large purchase on their account.

    Once the victim states that they didn’t make the purchase, the fake Amazon rep will direct the victim through some convoluted way of reversing the phony charge. Instead, what typically happens is the victim ends up losing money after giving their payment information to the scammers.

    More recently, law enforcement in the Kansas City Metro area have been receiving complaints about a new twist in this scam. According to reports, the scammers are now using a robocall that tells potential victims that if they hang up on the call, they’ll be charged $200 by Amazon and another $900 by their credit or debit card company.

    Scammers will almost always use some type of threat to get their victims into a panicked state. An $1100 penalty payment would just about get anyone to panic. And when someone panics, they’re not thinking clearly. This can allow scammers to get a victim’s financial information almost effortlessly.

    The best way to prevent a scam is to be prepared for one. If you receive a call or email from Amazon saying there’s a fraudulent charge on your account, check your Amazon account first and your payment method second to make sure there have been no fraudulent charges. But you should also keep in mind that Amazon seldom calls one of their customers. Even if they did, there’s no scenario where they can charge you $900 for hanging up on them.

    If you’re feeling pressured by anyone who calls you out of the blue talking about money, there are good odds that they are a scammer.

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