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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Express, , , Macy's, , , , , ,   

    Scammers try to scam victim again 

    Scammers try to scam victim again

    By Greg Collier

    In the 1984 sci-fi classic ‘The Terminator’, one of the protagonists describes the Terminator by saying, “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever.” That’s an apt description of scammers as well. They will use any opportunity to scam someone, no matter what the cost may be to the victim. And if that victim has been scammed before, then that just means they can be scammed again, according to scammers. Even if the intended victim didn’t fall for the scam, that doesn’t mean scammers won’t try to scam them again.

    A Rhode Island widow says she was scrolling Facebook on her computer when she started receiving a number of pop-ups that said her computer was infected and to call Microsoft at the number listed. Avid readers of this blog will recognize this as the pop-up scam. The phone number doesn’t actually go to Microsoft and instead goes to a scammer’s call center.

    After calling the number, the widow was told that her American Express card had been compromised, and she was about to be charged $16,000 for a fraudulent purchase. She was then connected to another scammer posing as an American Express agent. That scammer told her she would need to buy $8000 in Macy’s gift cards to override the fraudulent charge. The victim went and bought the gift cards while the scammer stayed on the line with her.

    The scammer told her to scratch the backs of the cards and give him the code numbers. The victim gave him one before realizing this may be a scam. Instead of giving the remaining numbers to the scammer, she went to the police. But the story doesn’t end there.

    The victim didn’t want anyone else to fall victim to the same scam she did. She posted a warning about it on Facebook. It didn’t take long for her to receive a comment from another scammer. This scammer said that the FBI helped them get their money back and the victim would need to text a phone number left by the scammer. The supposed FBI agent kept asking the victim for personal information in exchange for assistance. Thankfully, the victim realized this was a scam and ceased all communications with the scammer. Scammers never stop scamming.

    While the first scam is one that we’ve gone into detail before, the second scam is not so well known. That scam looks for scam victims on social media, and will try to send victims to a phone number or social media account that can supposedly help a victim get their money back. This is just another scam. Once money is lost to a scam, no recovery service can get it back, no matter how much someone promises you they can.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    $200K property almost sold out from under owner 

    $200K property almost sold out from under owner

    By Greg Collier

    A man from Raleigh, North Carolina almost had a $200,000 plot of land he owns sold out from under him. The man has owned the property since the 1980s, so he’s probably not in the market to sell it. You may imagine his surprise when he received a message from a realtor, asking him if he was selling the property.

    The realtor contacted the owner because the realtor had been contacted by someone claiming to be the owner. The impostor was even said to have presented a North Carolina driver’s license in the owner’s name. The reason the realtor contacted the true owner of the property was because the impostor’s story didn’t add up. The impostor allegedly said he was selling the property because he needed quick cash to buy a home in Michigan.

    However, that apparently didn’t stop the scammer, as they were able to convince another realtor to list the property on Zillow. A listing on Zillow with a realtor’s name behind it makes the listing look as legitimate as possible. That realtor even started receiving offers for the property. Thankfully, the owner got the realtor to take down the listing.

    If a fraudulent sale had gone through, it could have been a legal nightmare for the owner. Even though the man can show proof that he is, in fact, the owner of the property, there could have been a long and drawn out legal battle to evict anyone who may have moved on to the property.

    As we have shown previously, this is very similar to the rental scam, where scammers have listed properties for rent they do not own. While Zillow is a great resource to help determine if a real estate listing is a scam, it is not infallible.

    The best way to prevent your home from showing up as for sale or for rent on Zillow is to claim the property on Zillow yourself. This applies to other real estate platforms as well.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Hurricane scams can help prevent snow damage scams 

    By Greg Collier

    A large part of the country just went through a major winter storm. Some homes may have received major damage, as snow can be deceptively heavy and destructive. When it comes to scams related to severe or extreme weather, they tend to follow a pattern. Take roofing for example. Roofs can be damaged in both hurricanes and snowstorms. A breach in a home’s roof is not something you can just let sit while waiting for the weather to improve. A homeowner may jump at the first offer of repair without realizing the potential consequences just to get their family safe and warm again.

    For example, take the two Florida roommates who had a whole in the roof of their home following Hurricane Ian earlier this year. One of the roommates received an unsolicited offer from a man who said he could fix the roof for $32,000. The man was even supposedly licensed by the state. The roommates gave the man a check for $32,000 and thought that was that. Except, the man disappeared for four days without doing any work on the roof. When the man finally reemerged, he asked the roommates for more money. The roommates called police and the man was arrested. It turned out he had allegedly stolen the license of a legitimate contractor.

    This scam may about to approach the parts of the country hit the hardest by the storm. Whether it’s your roof, plumbing, or some other part of your home that’s been damaged, be wary of any unsolicited offers to fix your home. Always get an estimate first and never pay up front. Also make sure that the contractor is licensed in your state. Many out of state scammers will be licensed in their own state but not yours while promising you that they’re licensed.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Amazon scammers have too much information about you 

    Amazon scammers have too much information about you

    By Greg Collier

    Since the holidays just ended, most of us aren’t really thinking about Amazon unless we have a return to make. However, we’re thinking about Amazon due to a disturbing scam using its name. To be clear, we’re not saying that Amazon is outright scamming its customers. Rather, there are scammers who pose as Amazon employees to try to instill fear into their victims.

    This typically starts out with a phone call, email, or text message to the victim stating that the victim just purchased an expensive item. When the victim says they didn’t buy it, this starts a chain of deception designed to confuse and intimidate the victim. Unfortunately, most Amazon scams end the same way, with the victim turning their money over to the scammers.

    For example, a North Carolina woman recently received a text message that appeared to come from Amazon. The text said that she had purchased a smart lock for over $600. The message also included a phone number to call if the order had not been placed by her.

    The victim called the number and was told by ‘Amazon’ that her identity had been stolen. What’s particularly disturbing about this scam was that the scammers told the victim that her children’s identities had been stolen as well, and even named the children by their full names. That can be unsettling for any parent. To be fair, the scammers could have just gotten the children’s names from social media, but it’s still alarming to hear your kids’ names spoken by a stranger.

    However, the phony Amazon rep said they could help protect the family’s identities. All it would take is the victim sending $2000 to the rep in gift cards and cryptocurrency. By the victim’s own words, she said she was unfamiliar with cryptocurrency and ended the call. In the end, no money was lost, thankfully.

    Amazon is kind of like the government in that they’re not going to reach out to you unless there is already an ongoing issue you contacted them about. Even if someone uses your account to make a fraudulent purchase, Amazon is not going to call or text you. You would just receive the typical email that Amazon sends when someone makes an order. And anytime a business asks you to send them gift cards or cryptocurrency, you’re more than likely dealing with a scammer, as these forms of payment are largely untraceable.

    If you receive a notification or phone call like this, check your Amazon account first to see if any fraudulent purchases have been made on your account. Then contact Amazon’s customer service through their website. Never use the phone numbers included in these messages, as they’re guaranteed to go to a scammer.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: child identity theft, , , ,   

    Start protecting your kids’ identities now! 

    By Greg Collier

    As a child, my friends and I would fill out credit card applications, thinking we found a way to get free money. This was before identity theft became such a worldwide problem and credit card applications were given out at stores and restaurants. We’d usually give up on the process when it came to the questions about employment and salary. Not that banks were in the habit of extending credit to ten-year-olds back then. Today, it’s different, however. With enough of the right information, even if the person is a child, lines of credit can be opened in their name.

    The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning to parents on how to be vigilant in protecting their children’s identities. Children have become targets of identity theft within the past several years. That’s because identity thieves enjoy the fact that children are basically a clean slate when it comes to credit. Plus, parents rarely, if ever, check their children’s credit reports.

    Scammers often get their information about a child through social media. Once scammers find a target, not only will they go over every post of parents’ social media accounts, but they’ll wait until more information is posted if needed. Meanwhile, children’s Social Security numbers are often taken in various scams where the scammers pose as people or organizations of authority who may legitimately need your child’s social. For example, the scammers may pose as a health insurance company who claim they need your child’s social to pay a claim.

    However, there are ways to protect your children from identity thieves. The BBB recommends checking your child’s credit report as soon as they turn 16, then freezing their credit. You will need to send documentation that proves you’re a parent or guardian, so keep that information on hand. However, when not in use, those documents should be kept in a secure location like a safe or safe deposit box. Also, not only should you limit what you share on social media about your children, but you should talk to your children as well about what they share.

    Lastly, if you start receiving things like credit card applications or collection notices addressed to your children, their identity may have already been compromised.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Scam victim gets money back in time for Christmas 

    By Greg Collier

    Due to the subject material we largely deal with at this blog, we don’t have many stories with happy endings. However, thanks to the season and law enforcement, we have a happy ending to bring you today just in time for the holiday weekend.

    Earlier this year, A Nebraska grandmother lost over $50,000 to the grandparent scam. For any new readers who might be joining us, the grandparent scam is where scammers target the elderly is a scam where the scammers pose as one of the victim’s grandchildren. In this case, the scammers told the grandmother that her grandson was involved in a car crash and needed the $50,000 for bail.

    The grandmother was instructed to send the supposed bail money in cash through the mail and a courier service like UPS or FedEx. As we have previously mentioned, no law enforcement agency or legitimate business will have you send cash through mail or overnight delivery.

    Apparently, one of the boxes of cash sent through the mail was sent to Massachusetts, as the grandmother recently received $25,000 back from the Boston Police Department. Thankfully, the payment was made by check. The family of the victim was also able to recover $4000 sent through the courier service. The remaining money has yet to be recovered.

    How is this a happy ending, you may ask? Most scam victims never get anything back. Too many elderly scam victims have lost everything due to scams. To recover over 50% of the money lost is a win in our book.

    This grandmother should also be thanked, as many victims of not just the grandparent scam are afraid to come forward due to embarrassment. That is their right, however, thanks to the victims that come forward, we can learn more about the scams and how to prevent them in the future.

    If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a relative, and they need money for bail or some other dire emergency, ask them a question only that person would know. Or you can also set up a code word with your family only to be used in emergencies. Lastly, call someone to verify the caller’s story. A scammer will tell you not to tell anyone else, but that’s a trick to keep anyone else in the victim’s family from finding out about the scam. Scammers will also try to keep you on the phone, so you can’t talk to anyone else in your family. Hang up and verify their story. No grandchild ever got extra jail time for their grandparents hanging up on them.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Never send cash through the mail for any reason 

    Never send cash through the mail for any reason

    By Greg Collier

    Many of us probably got a delivery from Amazon in the past week or so. These deliveries will no doubt bring joy to our loved ones for the holidays. One Florida woman was almost not so lucky, as scammers posing as Amazon tried to bamboozle her in a convoluted scam.

    First, she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Amazon. They told her a $1500 item was being shipped out under her account. She probably told the fake Amazon rep that she didn’t order anything. She was then transferred to someone posing as an agent of the Federal Trade Commission, complete with badge number. That person transferred her to another person posing as her bank, in this case, Bank of America.

    The woman was then told by the phony bank rep that her identity has been compromised, but the only way to clear it up was to hire a lawyer or pay the bank $15,000. They told her if she didn’t comply, she would be arrested. If she told anyone what was happening, the scammers said they would be arrested too.

    She was told to mail boxes of cash, but after she made a second withdrawal, the scammers told her that they needed to her to buy stuff for them. Thankfully, she realized it was a scam at this point, and she did not lend up losing any money. But look how close she came.

    While the scammers in this case tipped their hand, there are some classic tenets of scams in this one. The first one if the call from Amazon. Amazon rarely ever calls their customers. If you’ve ever received a legitimate call from Amazon, that’s winning the lottery type odds. The second is threatening someone with arrest if they don’t comply with the scammers demands. Normally, this is done when scammers pose as police, but police don’t threaten arrest for payment over the phone and neither do banks. If a business were to threaten a customer with arrest, that would be a PR disaster for that business. They also tried to keep the victim from talking to anyone else. This is usually seen in grandparent scam when phony police say there’s a gag order against you. That’s not how gag orders work. They only apply to when a case is in the process of going to trial. They can’t just be ordered against random citizens.

    Mailing a box of cash is also an old way that scammers try to collect money from their victims. There is no legitimate reason to send large amounts of cash through the mail. No law enforcement agency or legitimate business will ask you to send them cash through the mail.

    Video: Jupiter woman nearly loses thousands in scam, but recognizes red flags

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Romance scammers steal life savings of elderly victim 

    By Greg Collier

    The holiday season is the time of the year when romance scammers strike the hardest. After all, most people to be alone for the holidays. That loneliness can make anyone vulnerable to the promises of a romance scammer. Romance scammers often pose as well-off individuals, such as doctors or international businessmen. The stability of some of these positions make them more attractive to their victims. It also doesn’t help that when someone is lonely, the heart can often overrule the mind, and red flags are often ignored.

    That happened to an elderly Pennsylvania woman who lost almost $40,000 to scammers. Her scammer claimed to be a doctor who was working in Iraq for the United Nations. It was because the scammer was said to be in Iraq that it made it easy for them to avoid meeting the victim. It also made it easy for the scammer to make excuses as to why they couldn’t talk on FaceTime or why the ‘doctor’ was unable to carry any money on him.

    For months, the scammer cultivated an online relationship with their victim. At first, they would talk every day through online chats. Then the chats became phone calls where they would talk every day. The scammer was said to have talked like someone who was in love, even saying things to the victim like ‘How was your day?’. Things that many of us might take for granted when we’re in relationships.

    Then it finally became time for the scammer to pull the trigger on the scam. At first, the money requests started small. The first one was for a $100 pre-paid debit card that the victim took a photo of and sent to the scammer. Then came larger amounts for things like cell phone service, food, and a plane ticket for the ‘doctor’ to meet the victim. However, instead of the meeting taking place, the victim received a phone call from someone claiming to be the doctor’s lawyer.

    That person said that the doctor had been arrested because of the drugs in his bag, and he needed $20,000 bail. By this time, the victim had already gone through her savings, but the supposed lawyer pressured her into finding more money. She was told to sell her car, cash out life insurance policies, and beg from her family if need be. It was then the victim realized she had been scammed.

    The photos the scammer used turned out to be of an actual doctor from Spain, whose picture was being used in all manner of romance scams.

    The victim had lost everything to the scam, but was fortunate enough to have family her took her in. She believes she was taken advantage of because she had listed herself as a widow on her Facebook page.

    The romance scam probably comes with the most victim blaming, as many people say they can’t believe someone would fall for such a scam. That’s when we like to remind people that anybody can fall victim to a scam, no matter their education level or socioeconomic status. Recently, a Texas man pleaded guilty to being part of a romance scam that took $1.2 million from just one victim. You don’t accrue that kind of money without being a little smart.

    The best way to protect yourself from romance scammers is to do a reverse image search of any picture they send you of themselves. If the results come back to someone who isn’t who they say they are, then your best bet is to cut off any communication with them. It goes doubly so if they start asking you for money if you haven’t even met yet.

    If you know someone, especially an elderly person, who might be caught in a romance scam, please show them this blog post or the Romance Scam page from the FTC’s website.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , restaurants, , Uber Eats   

    New scam costs both restaurants and customers money 

    By Greg Collier

    Food delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash are some of the most convenient services out there. Before these platforms existed, you could only get food delivered from a handful of restaurants. You were mostly limited to either pizza or Chinese food in many markets. Now, you can get delivery from just about every restaurant or chain out there. And just think how invaluable these services were during the height of the pandemic. Previously, we’ve shown how the drivers for these services could be scammed. Now there’s a delivery scam that affects not only the drivers, but the restaurants and customers as well.

    A report out of Indiana states that a number of restaurants in one town have been targeted by this scam. Scammers are looking out for restaurants that aren’t on these delivery platforms. The scammers then pose as the restaurants and fill out phony profiles on the delivery apps. An app user will find the phony listing and then pay for a delivery from the restaurant. A delivery driver will be notified of a delivery being needed, which they typically get paid for. The driver will go to the restaurant looking for the order only to be told by the restaurant they don’t use their platform.

    The customer is out of money because they just paid a scammer instead of a restaurant. The driver is out of money because they won’t be paid for that delivery. And the restaurant loses out on a potential sale.

    Restaurants have been calling the platforms to have their listings removed, but in some cases, the phony profiles keep returning.

    If you’re a consumer looking to order a delivery from a restaurant, go to their website first to make sure they use one of the delivery platforms before using that delivery app. Plus, that restaurant could have their own delivery staff.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    A good change in Social Security brings out the scammers 

    A good change in Social Security brings out the scammers

    By Greg Collier

    The most impersonated government agencies are the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare. Scammers often use these three offices to intimidate their victims into doing what they want. I mean, who wants to be contacted by the IRS? They typically use the other two offices to intimidate older Americans or the disabled into thinking they’re either going to lose their benefits, or they make benefit promises that are better than what the government is offering. Whenever the law or policy changes happen within one of these offices, the scammers are right on top of it, looking to use it to take advantage of their victims.

    At the end of this year, millions of Social Security beneficiaries will be receiving an almost 9% cost of living increase in their benefits. If a beneficiary is eligible for this increase, there is nothing they have to do. They will receive it automatically. Scammers will contact their victims posing as the SSA. They’ll tell their victims they need their personal information, a payment, or both to receive the increase. This could lead to the victim’s identity being stolen, or the loss of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

    To better protect yourself or someone you know from this scam, the best thing to do is keep in mind that government agencies like this will not reach out to citizens first. Unless you already have an ongoing matter with Social Security, they will not just call someone out of the blue. Most government agencies will contact someone by postal mail if they need to be notified. Also, no one should have to give their personal information to the SSA, as they should already have it if you’re a beneficiary. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the SSA, hang up and contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or their contact page at SSA.gov.

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