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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Tax season means time to look out for tax scams 

    Tax season means time to look out for tax scams

    By Greg Collier

    With most employers releasing W2 forms to their employees, it’s time for most of us to start thinking about our tax returns. This year’s deadline is April 18th which will be here before you know it. However, it’s not just the deadline you may have to worry about. There are con artists out there looking to take advantage of your tax return.

    The most common scam is one that takes place all year round, and it’s the IRS impersonation scam. Currently, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about receiving phone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS. Typically, these scammers will tell their victims they’re behind in their taxes and demand an immediate payment. Other scammers will say that you’re owed a refund and will ask for your bank account information. In either case, the IRS generally does not call people over the hone. If there was an issue with your return, you would be contacted through the mail.

    Also, during tax season, a number of fly-by-night tax preparers will appear. If you intend to have a professional file your taxes, research that professional or company first. You should be wary of any tax preparer that intends to close up shop after the filing deadline. In case there is an audit, you’d want your tax preparer to be able to help you. Also, be wary of tax preparers who tie their fee to your tax refund. Fees are supposed to be based on how difficult it is to complete your tax return, not your refund.

    Lastly, and the most devastating of tax scams, is when a scammer tries to file a return in your name. This is the main reason why you should file your return as soon as possible. If a scammer did file a return in your name, you’ll receive a letter from the IRS stating they’ve received duplicate returns. If you do become a victim of this scam, contact the IRS right away. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to get your tax return.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim evicted after rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    A man from Durham, North Carolina, says that he is homeless after falling victim to a rental scam. The man is said to have found a listing for a house for rent that had three bedrooms and two baths that was listed for a reasonable rent.

    The man was even able to tour the home after being given the code to the lockbox that contained a key to the home. The man exchanged several text messages with the person he thought was the landlord. He was eventually given a lease and was asked to pay the deposit in Bitcoin.

    The person he was texting with gave the man step-by-step instructions on how to deposit the money into a Bitcoin ATM. The texts even included a QR code for the man to use when making the deposit. The man ended up sending $2100 as a deposit.

    Not too long after the payment was made, the man discovered he had been scammed. After losing his money, he no longer had money to pay the rent at his current home, and was evicted. He recently told his local media he’s currently homeless after being evicted.

    According to the local news, there was a sign inside the home warning anyone touring the property to watch out for scams. However, scammers usually explain that away pretty successfully. Typically, they’ll tell their victims that they had listed the home with a rental agency, but are now renting it out themselves.

    The way scammers are able to access the property’s lockbox us by posing as a prospective tenant to the rental agency. This way they’re able to obtain the code to the lockbox, since some agencies don’t change the lockbox code as long as the property is listed.

    If you’re ever looking to rent a property and a supposed landlord asks you to pay in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, the odds are likely you’re about to be scammed. In layman’s terms, cryptocurrencies ate virtually untraceable and are near impossible to reclaim once money has been transferred.

    When looking for a home to rent, always do a web search on the home’s address. Look to see if there are multiple listings for the same address. If there are, look at the listings for a rental agency or a property management company. Those are typically the legitimate listings. And if the multiple listings have different rent prices, the lower one is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam victims sue bank for failing to protect accounts 

    By Greg Collier

    In the past year or so, some of the nation’s largest banks have been notoriously ambivalent when it comes to helping their customers who have been scammed. For example, many of the victims who were scammed through Zelle have been told their money can’t be recovered since the customer authorized the transfer. Although, some of the victims have gotten reimbursed after going to their local media.

    One bank that seems particularly obstinate in helping their customers is Chase bank. A number of incidents have been reported in the media lately where Chase customers have been scammed in a similar way to the Zelle scam. Chase customers have reported receiving phone calls that appear to come from Chase, but are spoofed calls from scammers. The scammers tell the customer there’s been some kind of fraudulent activity on their account before getting the customer to transfer the money in their account to the scammer. This is typically done through the guise of ‘protecting’ the customer’s account. Not only has Chase refused to assist some customers, but in at least one instance have accused the customer of being the scammer themselves.

    Now, two customers from the Dallas area have decided to take Chase to court. One of the customers lost $51,000 in a tech support scam. She went to her local Chase branch for assistance, and they allegedly told her that the transfer was caught in time, and she won’t lose the money. A few weeks later, the money was gone from her account.

    The other victim lost $3500 to a fake Chase representative who also claimed they were trying to protect the account. This caller was said to have the customer’s account information already. Like the first customer, she went to her local Chase branch and closed her account and opened a new one. She was told the bank would launch a fraud investigation. A week later, she was told the claim was denied since she authorized the transfer.

    So, even after notifying the bank of the scams and being told the transfers have been caught, Chase allegedly failed to protect their customers. Instead, they’re unintentionally, at least, supporting the scammers.

    While you may have been a loyal customer to your bank for decades, these days, most of us are just numbers to them. They’re not in the business of trying to protect you. If you receive a call from your bank asking about fraudulent charges, hang up, and call them back at their customer service number from the back of your debit card. If you receive a text message, don’t respond. Instead, call your bank or go to your local branch.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 26, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers have a lie for every occasion 

    By Greg Collier

    As much as scammers are a plague on society, sometimes we’re almost in wonder of the ingenuity of some scams. We often imagine what would become of scammers if they plied their ingenuity and skill toward a legitimate purpose. Unfortunately, one of their skills is lying like a master politician. Scammers always have a response to any question their victims may have, and what makes it worse, is that they’re convincing.

    For example, an Arizona couple almost fell for a customer service scam. They received a call from someone claiming to be from Walmart. They were asked if they had made a recent purchase for $3,000. The caller was said to have such detailed information that they knew the couple’s address down to the apartment number.

    When the couple told the caller they didn’t make a purchase like that, the caller said they would transfer the couple to their bank’s fraud department. Instead, the next person who got on the line was someone claiming to be a Scottsdale police officer.

    The supposed police officer told the couple their bank was being investigated for fraud. They claimed that a bank employee gave out their financial information and their account was about to be frozen. The caller said for them to protect their account, they would need to take $3000 out of their bank and buy gift cards with the money. When the couple asked why they would need to buy gift cards, the caller didn’t hesitate with a response.

    “He said because, these people who contacted you know your home address and your apartment number, and you will be robbed.”

    Thankfully, when the couple were looking at gift cards, a store employee realized they were being scammed and hung up on the scammers for them.

    Like we’ve always said, anyone can fall victim to a scam because scammers are very good at what they do and act very convincing while doing it.

    The best way to protect yourself from scams like this is to have knowledge of the scam beforehand. In a scam like this, Walmart is never going to call a customer to ask them about a large purchase. If you do happen to talk to Walmart’s customer service, they do not have the ability to transfer your call to your bank or your local police department. If there was such a matter that required your bank’s or the police’s attention, any customer service rep would tell the customer to call those entities themselves.

    As far as the police go, they’ll never tell you to buy gift cards for any reason. Gift cards are used as currency by scammers because they can be easily converted into material goods and are virtually untraceable.

    Lastly, if the caller tells you that you can’t speak to anyone about the matter, they’re trying to prevent them from being found out and stopping the scam. No one can force you not to talk.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    What role do rideshares play in the grandparent scam? 

    By Greg Collier

    When we first started seeing reports of the grandparent scam, the scammers would have their victims make payments through methods like sending cash in the mail, or gift cards. When people started catching on to the scam, the scammers themselves would pose as couriers to pick up the money themselves. In a risky move, the scammers would go to the victims’ homes to pick up the money. This has resulted in multiple arrests of scammers. This has caused scammers to adjust their methods once again to start using unwitting participants in their scam, rideshare drivers.

    As always, for first time readers, we like to educate them about what the scam entails. The grandparent scam is a pretty malevolent scam. The scammers mostly target the elderly with this scam, hence the name. They’ll call their elderly victims on the phone and pose as one of the victim’s grandchildren, a police officer, or an attorney. The victim will be told their grandchild is in some kind of legal trouble, usually a car accident, and they need money for bail. The scammers will also tell their victims they can’t tell anyone else in the family, either out of embarrassment or threat of legal action. Victims of the grandparent scam typically lose thousands of dollars to the scammers.

    But getting back to the topic at hand, grandparent scammers have increased their use of rideshare drivers as couriers. Recently, in Southern Florida, police in Port St. Lucie have encountered a number of victims of the scam who have lost a total of almost $100,000. In each case, an Uber was sent to their home to pick up the money.

    To be clear, the Uber drivers had no idea what they were delivering. Outside of rideshares, Uber also offers a same day local parcel delivery service. Unfortunately, the drivers weren’t delivering the victim’s money to a residence or business. Instead, they were delivered to someone standing on a street corner in Fort Lauderdale. So far, no arrests have been made.

    So, does Uber bear any responsibility in these scams? That’s debatable, it seems. It does seem a little sketchy that they would deliver a package to someone on the streets. A service like that could be used for all manner of illegal activity. That could put the drivers in more danger as well. Ultimately, Uber isn’t in the business of looking out for scammers, which leaves it up to prospective victims to protect themselves.

    To avoid falling victim to the grandparent scam, it’s important to be skeptical of unexpected phone calls or emails from people claiming to be a grandchild in distress. Don’t give out personal information or money without verifying the identity of the caller. If you are unsure if the person is truly a grandchild, ask them questions that only your real grandchild would know the answer to. Additionally, consider setting up a code word with your grandchildren to confirm their identity before providing any information or assistance. Lastly, if you do receive a suspicious call or email, please report it to the appropriate authorities.

    Related Video: Police in Port St. Lucie warn of ‘Grandparent Scam’

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    The fake check scam goes digital 

    By Greg Collier

    In recent years, digital banking has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Gone are the days of waiting in long lines at the bank or struggling to find time to visit a physical branch. With the rise of digital banking, managing your finances has never been easier. From opening accounts and applying for loans to paying bills and monitoring your transactions, digital banking allows you to take control of your money from the comfort of your own home.

    However, that convenience comes with some security risks. We’ve often discussed the fake check scam, where victims get sent a fraudulent check and are asked to return a portion of it. It used to be most prevalent with online selling, but now we tend to see it more with job scams. In both instances of the scam, physical checks are typically sent to the victims for them to deposit into their bank accounts before sending a portion of the money elsewhere. Once the bank determines the check is fraudulent, the victim becomes responsible for paying the bank back the amount of the check and then some.

    Now, there is a fake check scam where the scammers aren’t even sending physical checks. According to police from a Cleveland suburb, Scammers are approaching victims on social media and asking their victims if they can buy the pictures they’ve posted on social media. The victim is then emailed a picture of a check, which they are told they can deposit by scanning it with their bank’s app. However, like in most check scams, the check is more than the amount the scammer promised. The victim is told to send the difference back through Zelle or Venmo once the check has cleared the victim’s account. The scammers then make off with the money from the victim, while the victim gets charged by their bank.

    If you ever receive a check, whether physical or digital, if it’s for more than the amount you were promised, do not deposit it. It’s almost guaranteed to be a fake. No legitimate professional or business would ask you to pay them the difference through Zelle or Venmo. These apps are meant to be used between friends and families and not random strangers promising you money.

    Banks and financial institutions have implemented several measures to protect their customers from these risks, but users also have a responsibility to protect their account and personal information. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of digital banking while keeping your finances safe and secure.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on January 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Inactive Facebook account leads to puppy scam 

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from Long Island recently had people showing up at her home looking to pick up the puppies they had bought online. The only problem was, the Long Island woman wasn’t selling any puppies. The people showing up at her door were victims of a puppy scam. In this instance, puppy scammers were advertising puppies for sale that didn’t exist. The scammers would ask for hundreds of dollars in deposits from victims and had them pay through the much maligned payment app Zelle. Undoubtedly, the woman started to be concerned for her safety. In the past, we have seen reports of puppy scam victims becoming belligerent when they’ve been sent to a random address.

    However, the woman’s address wasn’t exactly random. She had a Facebook account, which she hadn’t used in years. Scammers were able to hijack her Facebook account, and used it to advertise the fictitious puppies. Since they were using the woman’s Facebook account, the scammers decided to send their victims to the woman’s address. When the woman discovered her Facebook account was being used, she tried to reclaim the account, but the scammers had changed the email address and password. She even contacted Facebook, who allegedly said they couldn’t take the account down because it didn’t violate their terms of service.

    So, we have two scams at work here, the aforementioned puppy scam and a type of identity theft. If you have an old social media account you haven’t used in years, it’s a good idea to just delete the account. This will prevent the account from being hijacked by scammers and other bad actors. However, if you want to keep the account around just in case, make sure you’re not using the same password for multiple online accounts. This is one of the leading ways social media accounts get stolen. You should also routinely change the passwords on your accounts. And definitely enable two-factor authentication on your accounts. These aren’t guarantees that your accounts will be 100% secure, but they will go a long way in discouraging con artists from hijacking your accounts.

    As far as the puppy scam goes, you should never buy a puppy or any other animal without seeing it in person first. Many puppy scammers just steal pictures of puppies off the internet to use in their advertisements. Even if you’re shown a puppy on Zoom or FaceTime, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be scammed. Shop for a puppy within driving distance and never order from out of state, and never make any payment over apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App, since they’re preferred by scammers. Instead of trying to buy a puppy online, think about adopting one from your local shelter.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Sweepstakes scam has a new twist 

    By Greg Collier

    Outside of law enforcement, Publisher’s Clearing House has to be one of the most impersonated organizations. We’re certain that most of us are familiar with the actual PCH. Older generations might remember the TV commercials where Ed McMahon would show up to a winner’s house with a large novelty check. More modern commercials show PCH’s Prize Patrol van showing up to congratulate the winner.

    Scammers often imitate PCH while trying to dupe their victims. Typically, scammers will use the Publisher’s Clearing House name to commit an advance fee scam. This is when a victim is told they are a PCH winner, but they need to make a payment to cover things like taxes and processing fees. If a victim does make a payment, the scammers will string the victim along with excuses for why the victim hasn’t received their prize money yet. They’ll then tell the victim that more payments need to be made and will continue this grift until the victim finally catches on.

    More recently, scammers have tried a new tactic using the PCH name in an attempt to fleece their victims, and they’re using another scam to try and accomplish that. Residents of Kentucky have said they’ve received letters telling them that they’ve won second place in the PCH Sweepstakes. Instead of telling the residents they need to make a payment to claim their prize, these scammers are including a check that will cover the cost of insurance and attorney fees.

    Of course, the checks are fraudulent and while the news report doesn’t go into detail, we imagine the victims will be asked to deposit the check in their own bank account and then pay an attorney or insurance agent chosen by the scammers. And as always, once the bank determines the check is fake, the victim will be responsible for the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers get away with the money.

    It’s actually rather easy to protect yourself from this scam. Even if you did enter the sweepstakes, keep in mind the phrase ‘no purchase necessary’. This includes things like the phony fees that scammers keep trying to inflict on their victims. When it comes to sweepstakes like this, it’s actually illegal for the sweepstakes to charge the winner to get their prize.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Fake check scam targets lower income families and more 

    Scam Round Up: Fake check scam targets lower income families and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the round up we’re bringing you two scams that take advantage of the disadvantaged and one that can affect any business and its customers.


    The business email compromise scam is one of the more insidious scams. While it targets businesses, it’s usually the customers who lose the most. This is when scammers hijack a business’ email client and use it to deceive customers into making payments to the scammers. Typically, we’ve seen this when scammers convince homebuyers to send their closing costs to the scammers.

    More recently, scammers hijacked the email client of a roofing company in Florida. If you’ll recall, many Florida residents are still recovering from Hurricane Ian. The scammers sent emails to customers asking them to send their payments through the Zelle payment app. One customer lost $1800 to the scammers.

    If a business that you’re dealing with that you’re expected to make a large payment to, be wary if you’re suddenly asked to pay in nontraditional means. These can be payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency just to name a few. If you receive one of these emails, call the business to verify the payment request.


    Our next scam is one of the oldest scams out there and predates the internet. Residents in Pennsylvania have reported receiving letters in the mail that are promising them an inheritance. This isn’t just a tired plot device from old TV shows, and victims have fallen for this scam.

    One of two things typically happen with the inheritance scam. The victim is either asked to make some kind of payment to secure the inheritance, or they’re asked for their banking information. Either way, it can be a devastating financial loss for the victims, especially if they’re in desperate financial need.

    If you receive one of these letters, toss it in the trash. The odds that the letter is legitimate are slim. If you still think there’s an outside chance it might be real, check your family lineage first before making any payments.


    Our last scam is quite an insidious one. Scammers are sending fake checks to families in traditionally low-income areas. Victims are being told that they’re receiving a payment from UNICEF because of their income status.

    As with any fake check scam, the victims are being instructed to deposit the check and are being asked to send a portion of the payment to a third party. Some of the checks have been as much as $9600.

    If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll know that the banks will allow the victims to access that money as a courtesy before the bank discovers the check is fraudulent. Then the victim is responsible for paying the amount of the check back to the bank. Meanwhile, the scammers make off with the amount that the victim sent to the third party.

    If you receive a check in the mail you’re not expecting, dispose of it. Especially if you’re being asked to send a part of it somewhere else. That can only end up as a substantial financial loss.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Watch out for self-checkout scam at Walmart 

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, Walmart has courted controversy with their self-checkout kiosks. There’s been more than one story about how shoppers will notice there are no regular check out lanes open, and only the self-checkout lanes are available. Some will blame these situations on staff shortages with the mantra of ‘no one wants to work’. Others will blame Walmart themselves for allegedly trying to maintain or increase profit margins at the expense of their employees. The self-checkouts even figure into the recent accusations of price gouging by Walmart. Some have indicated that the self-checkouts have led to greater retail theft, which is referred to as shrinkage in the retail industry.

    Now, we’re hearing about another issue with the self-checkout kiosks, which has a direct effect on consumers. Some Walmart shoppers who have used the kiosks have found additional amounts added to their bill for something they did not purchase. It’s not Walmart who’s adding these charges, though. As you’ve probably surmised, it’s scammers.

    Scammers are going up to the self-checkouts and start the purchase of a pre-paid debit card, then leave the kiosk before the purchase is completed. They’re hoping that the next person who uses the kiosk won’t notice the additional charge as the victim starts scanning their items. If the victim completes the purchase, the scammer will empty the pre-paid debit card immediately, essentially stealing cash from the shopper.

    When using a self-checkout kiosk, most of us aren’t even paying attention when we start scanning our groceries. Before scanning, make sure the screen is clear of any previous charges. If there are incomplete charges on the screen, use another kiosk or contact a store employee to void the previous purchase.

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