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  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 28, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Rideshare drivers used in multi-state scams 

    Rideshare drivers used in multi-state scams

    By Greg Collier

    It wasn’t too long ago when we wondered if scammers were putting rideshare drivers in danger. That’s because scammers are using rideshare drivers as unwitting couriers or chauffeurs. In most instances, the scammers will use rideshares like Uber and Lyft to collect packages of cash from their victims. In other instances, scammers have sent rideshares to their victims’ homes, so the victim can be taken to the bank to get more money for the scammers. This has led to confusion on the part of police, where they don’t know whether the rideshare driver is involved in the scam or not. While no driver that we know of has been injured by police, it can only take one wrong move for the situation to escalate in violence.

    More recently, we’ve learned that not only are the scammers using rideshare drivers as couriers, but the drivers are being asked to drive across state lines to deliver stolen cash. In Western, Pennsylvania, an elderly woman lost $25,000 in a grandparent scam. Believing her grandson was in legal trouble, she gave a package with the money inside to a rideshare driver that the scammers had called for her.

    As can be usual with scammers, once they took money from the victim once, they tried to get more. When the new driver showed up to collect the package, he told the grandmother that his destination was somewhere in New Jersey. If you’re not familiar with the geography of the Northeast, that’s roughly a 12-hour round trip, depending on where in New Jersey the driver was headed. Let’s say that the driver was going from Pittsburgh to Atlantic City. Not only is that a 12-hour or more round trip depending on traffic, but it’s also a $1000 trip. The scammers can afford it since they’re getting thousands of dollars from their victims.

    In case you were wondering, like we were, rideshare drivers get around 25% of the fare. So, a trip from Pittsburgh to Atlantic City would be a thousand dollars, but the driver would have to drive for 12 hours. That comes out to $250 for the driver, which is around $21/hr. This does not take gas and tolls that the driver would need to pay out of their own pocket. We’d love to hear from rideshare drivers if this would be a fare they would be interested in taking. Is it worth the money?

    Thankfully, the second driver was stopped by police after the grandmother realized she had been scammed. State Troopers escorted the driver to New Jersey, where they arrested two men alleged to be behind the scam.

    While both Lyft and Uber both have parcel delivery services, we would suggest that both companies need to educate their drivers on how to be on the lookout for scams and illegal activity. Maybe have their drivers go through a checklist with the sender about various scams, such as the grandparent scam. Such a small step could go a long way in helping prevent scam victims from losing their money.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Banks refuse to reimburse scam victims 

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been over a year and a half since we started seeing a spate of bank impersonation scams. The bank impersonation scam is a type of fraud where scammers impersonate your bank’s fraud department. Typically, the scammers will call or text their victims, asking them if they’ve recently made large purchases or transfers. Then the scammers tell their victims that the only way to protect bank accounts is to move the money to another account. The bank account the money is moved to always belongs to a scammer.

    For example, a young woman from North Carolina was in the process of saving up for her wedding in the Fall. She received a phone call from someone who claimed to be from her bank, Wells Fargo. The caller told the woman, someone from Colombia was trying to take thousands of dollars out of the woman’s account. Like many scam victims, the woman was told to download an app called AnyDesk, which allows a computer or phone to be accessed remotely. Before she knew it, the scammer had cleaned out the woman’s bank account of close to $10,000.

    Since these scams started garnering headlines, the banks have been reluctant to reimburse scam victims. The banks tend to claim, since the customer authorized the transfer, even if tricked into doing so, their hands are tied. Some customers got their money back from the banks after taking their stories to their local news stations. Now, it seems, the banks aren’t refunding those customers either. The bride to be from North Carolina was told by Wells Fargo that she wouldn’t be getting her money back, even after contacting Wells Fargo and the police immediately after being scammed. She went to a local news station who contacted Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo’s response was that they were working to raise awareness about these scams. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t get the customer’s money back.

    And what about the bank accounts the scammers are transferring the victim’s money to? These aren’t overseas bank accounts. Often these bank accounts are just your normal checking account you can get with any one of the major banks. Why are these accounts being allowed to be opened and closed so quickly?

    In the future, banks need to be more transparent not only with their rules regarding scam victims, but also what they’re doing to try to prevent customers from being scammed. Just claiming that they’re raising awareness doesn’t cut it.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t use CashApp for rental deposits 

    Don't use CashApp for rental deposits

    By Greg Collier

    Yesterday, we discussed one of the oldest scams that plagues online marketplaces. That was the used car scam. Today, we’ll be discussing the one scam which has been appearing on online marketplaces even longer, the rental scam. Since the dawn of online classifieds, scammers have been renting properties that don’t even own to unsuspecting victims.

    For a little context, in the early days, scammers would list a home for rent on sites like craigslist. The listed rent price would be well below market value to entice anyone in the market for a new home. When the prospective renter would ask to inspect the home, a popular answer the scammers would give is that they’re missionaries who are currently working overseas. The scammer would then promise the renters they would send them the keys to the home once they received the security deposit payment that was typically sent by money transfer. Once the payment was sent, the supposed landlords would disappear with the victim’s money.

    Technology has advanced since those days, but the scam has stayed relatively the same. A Missouri woman was looking for a new home when she found a three bedroom, two-bath house with a little garage on Facebook Marketplace. The rent was listed as $800 a month. We checked the local real estate listings for the area. While there are homes and apartments with 3 bedrooms, you can get for close to that amount. However, they only had one bathroom. 3 bedroom homes with two bathrooms are going for twice that much.

    Anyway, the woman messaged the seller and the seller said that the home could be had if the woman paid first and last month’s rent. Under the direction of the seller, the woman sent the $1600 through Cash App. While the woman was waiting for the keys to be delivered, she drove past what she thought was her new home. Instead, what she saw was a for sale sign in front of the home. She called the realtor listed on the sign, and she was told the home wasn’t for rent.

    The woman attempted to get her money back from Cash App, but her request was denied as the scammer refused to give the money back.

    As we always say, payment apps like Cash App were designed to be used only between friends and family. If someone sends money through Cash App to someone they don’t personally, there’s a good chance they could be scammed.

    Now, we have heard of landlords who accept rent payments through Cash App. That’s fine if you’ve already moved in, established a relationship with your landlord, and are comfortable paying your rent that way. However, it should never be used to send any kind of rental deposit or application fee.

    Before agreeing to any kind of rental arrangement, make sure you’re dealing with the actual landlord. Do a Google search of the address and make sure there are no other listings for that property under different rental agency names or listings with a higher rent price. If the listing you’re looking at has a lower rent price and is being rented by ‘a guy’. There’s a good chance that you’re looking at the scam listing.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Old used car scam still thriving 

    By Greg Collier

    When something has been around a long time, it sometimes gets taken for granted. Many people will assume that others just know about it. However, there are always going to be those who are just learning about whatever it is we might assume is common knowledge. That’s what we’re dealing with in today’s scam.

    A Tennessee man recently lost hundreds of dollars to a used car scam, not at any dealership, but on Facebook Marketplace. The man found a 2001 Toyota Tacoma for $800, which was right in his price range. When the man contacted the seller, he was met with a very old scam.

    The seller claimed to be in the military and was getting ready to ship out. They were supposedly selling the truck because they didn’t want to pay for insurance and storage while deployed. In addition to that, the seller claimed their spouse recently passed away and that was another reason they wanted to sell the truck.

    Being deployed with the military is a tactic that scammers have been using since the earliest days of online marketplaces. Not only does the story garner sympathy from the buyer, but it also lends legitimacy as to why the vehicle is being sold well below market value.

    Another story scammers like to use is the one about the deceased relative. Typically, the scammer will say the vehicle belonged to this relative, and they’re selling it due to grief. This scammer used both stories to fleece their victim.

    To add yet another layer to the scam, the buyer was told that the truck was going to be delivered by eBay and that he needed to pay for the car in gift cards. While eBay does have a platform where you can buy and sell cars, they do not deliver any vehicles. Again, this is a common tactic used by scammers to make the phony purchase seem more legitimate.

    If you’re looking to buy a car online from a private seller, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is, if the seller is claiming they’re selling the car because they’re leaving the area, be very wary. This is especially so if the seller claims the vehicle’s owner is in the military. Also, be careful when any claims are made that the vehicle’s owner is recently deceased. Lastly, never pay any private seller with gift cards. That is a surefire sign that you’re being scammed.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers trick victims into sending money to fake ‘federal locker’ 

    Scammers trick victims into sending money to fake 'federal locker'

    By Greg Collier

    There is a government/police impersonation scam that’s been around for a while. Now, scammers have added a new element to the scam to make the scam appear more legitimate.

    In this scam, scammers call their victims posing as a member of law enforcement. Typically, the scammers will say they’re from a federal law enforcement agency like the FBI, the DEA, US Marshals, or Border Patrol. Other than that, the scam usually follows the same script.

    Scammers call their victims and tell them a car rented in their name was found near the Southern Border near Mexico. The car supposedly had drugs and/or guns in it, and now investigators are looking at the victim as a suspect. The victim is threatened with arrest, but the victim can avoid arrest if they just pay a fine then and there. This is when the scammers ask for payment in some kind of untraceable means like gift cards or cryptocurrency.

    In the more current version of the scam, the scammers try to attract more victims with honey rather than vinegar. The scammers will tell the victim that their identity has been stolen, but the ‘agent’ can help the victim protect their money. Victims are instructed to send their remaining money to a ‘federal locker’ where the government will protect the victim’s money.

    Except, federal lockers used to protect a citizen’s money isn’t a real thing. The only federal lockers that exist are the one’s government employees use to store their coats. What the scammers claim is a federal locker is just the scammers’ bank accounts.

    If there were as many abandoned rental cars filled with drugs on the Southern Border as scammers claim, they would probably be stacked ten-high from California to Texas.

    That’s not even mentioning that if law enforcement thought someone was involved in drug trafficking, they wouldn’t be calling the person to warn them. In these matters, law enforcement would be coming to your door.

    If you get one of these calls, hang up. There’s no law that says you can’t hang up on law enforcement. Then call your local police department and tell them what the caller told you. They’ll be able to advise you on it being a scam. However, please keep in mind that no legitimate law enforcement agency will call you and threaten you with arrest or demand money.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Girl Scout Cookies,   

    Fake Girl Scouts don’t deliver on cookies 

    Fake Girl Scouts don't deliver on cookies

    By Greg Collier

    In further proof that scammers will stoop to any level, reports are circulating about a scam that involves the ever popular Girl Scout cookies. While we’re all familiar with the stands and tables that are typically set up outside retail locations, these aren’t the cookie sellers you have to worry about. Some Girl Scout chapters will allow you to pre-order cookies, and this is where the scam comes in.

    The Better Business Bureau is reporting that scammers are going door-to-door taking phony cookie orders. Scammers take the money from customers and then keep the money for themselves. While Girl Scout cookies are relatively inexpensive in the long run, they’re popular enough where scammers can rack up a substantial profit.

    If this scam wasn’t sad enough, both adults and children are taking part in the scam. We wish we could say this is the first time we’ve heard of children being used in a scam, but sadly, it isn’t.

    However, the Girl Scouts have taken some measures to try to mitigate the risk of potential scams. First off, any Girl Scout who is going door-to-door should be wearing their uniform. If you’re paying for cookies by credit or debit card, there’s an app used by the Girl Scouts called the ABC cookie app where you can pay directly. Or, if you’d rather not pre-order cookies, the Girl Scouts have a website where you can see where a booth has been set up in your zip code. There’s even a number you can send a text message to for ordering cookies.

    If you encounter someone who you think may be a cookie scammer, politely decline their offer and tell them that you’ve already ordered cookies through the app or website.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    When romance and crypto scams meet 

    When romance and crypto scams meet

    By Greg Collier

    Money can complicate any relationship. However, it’s not complicated if a person you never met in person asks you for money. That person is more than likely a romance scammer. Typically, romance scammers will cultivate an online relationship with their victim for months before asking the victim for money. Scammers will claim they have plenty of their own money, but it’s tied up for some reason or another. There is also a variation to this scam where the scammer doesn’t ask for money. Instead, they offer to help their victim.

    This scam has the unfortunate name of the ‘pig butchering’ scam. The scam is named this way because the victims are seen as the pigs that the scammers ‘raise’ before leading them to the financial slaughterhouse.

    It starts when the victim meets a potential romantic partner on a dating platform or social media. The scammer will string the victim along until the scammer tells their victim they can help the victim make money by investing in cryptocurrency. The victim is then directed to a cryptocurrency exchange run by the scammers. The victim will pay the exchange for their investment before being told their investment has had a substantial return. When the victim tries to get their money out, they’re told by the exchange they need to pay more money to get their returns. This will continue until the victim runs out of money or realizes they’re being scammed.

    This happened recently to a woman from San Antonio, Texas, who met one of these scammers on the dating platform Bumble. The scammer claimed to have grown up in Switzerland before coming to the US. The scammer quickly moved the conversation off of Bumble and on to WhatsApp. There, the scammer said he could show her how to invest in cryptocurrency with the New York Stock Exchange. She paid $6500 to what she thought was the NYSE. She was told that her money was garnering returns. The scammer must have thought that $6500 wasn’t enough because the victim said the scammer started becoming aggressive and threatening. The victim then found out that the exchange had no affiliation with the NYSE.

    While $6500 may be a fortune to many people, the victim is actually lucky. There have been instances where at least one victim has lost almost $2 million to the pig butchering scam.

    The pig butchering scam isn’t limited to dating apps. If someone messages you with promises of record windfall by investing in cryptocurrency, they’re more than likely a scammer. No financial investment is ever guaranteed to make the investor a profit.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Are scammers putting rideshare drivers in danger? 

    By Greg Collier

    More and more scammers are using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to be unwitting participants in their scams. This is largely seen with the grandparent scam, where the scammers use the rideshare services as couriers when collecting the money from their victims. To be clear, the rideshare drivers are almost always never aware that they’re being used in such a scam. However, a recent scam where a rideshare was involved made us realize what kind of danger scammers are putting the drivers in.

    The grandparent scam is a common scam that targets older individuals by preying on their emotions. Scammers will call and pretend to be a grandchild or another family member who is in trouble and needs money urgently. They may claim to be in jail, stuck in a foreign country, or in some other kind of distress. The scammer will ask the grandparent to send money via wire transfer, gift cards, or other untraceable methods, and will often urge the grandparent not to tell anyone else in the family.

    A grandmother from the Boston area almost fell victim to the scam but was still placed in a dangerous situation. While at the bank withdrawing $9000 to send to the scammers, a bank teller became suspicious, and was able to prevent the grandmother from losing any money. However, the grandmother was driven to the bank by a white van and the van didn’t stick around as the grandmother was in the bank.

    Initially, police believed the driver of the van had some kind of involvement in the scam. The driver was described as an older man. It was later determined by police that the man worked for a rideshare service, but was hired by the scammers. While no report we read said how police approached the man, if the driver was stopped on the street and made one inadvertent false move, this story could have had a much more tragic ending. Then the scammers would have been responsible for a much more heinous crime while potentially avoiding prosecution.

    We don’t know if rideshare drivers are educated to be on the lookout for potential scam victims, but they should be. Whether picking up a passenger or delivering a suspicious parcel, maybe drivers should start asking questions. We would think that a grandmother getting a ride to their bank might be a red flag.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Romance scammers are FaceTime frauds 

    By Greg Collier

    A lot has been made about romance scammers in the news this week because of Valentine’s Day. While it’s always a good thing when the media shares information about this scam, it’s a scam that people should watch out for all year round. While the scam largely targets the elderly, anyone can fall victim to the scam regardless of age or gender. To complicate matters, romance scammers can use technological tricks to get around some of the red flags.

    For example, a widow from California recently lost $120,000 to a romance scam. The victim had met the scammer on Date, a dating platform primarily used by Jewish singles. The scammer claimed to be an international businessman from Germany living in Texas. That should have been a red flag, as romance scammers almost always pose as someone who is often out of the country. Other popular positions that romance scammers claim to have are being stationed overseas in the military or oil rig workers. This gives the scammers plausible deniability when it comes to meeting in person.

    That leads us to our next red flag, as the scammer in this instance also kept making excuses as to why the pair couldn’t meet in person. Then the requests for money started, which should be the biggest red flag indicating a romance scam. However, this particular scammer used a gimmick that probably made all the red flags go away.

    According to the victim, she would talk to who she thought was her romantic partner over the video chat app FaceTime. Typically, on FaceTime scam calls, the scammer will only show a picture and will claim that there’s something wrong with their camera or device. However, it’s not unheard of there being convincing filters that can imitate other people while FaceTiming. An untrained eye may not be able to spot such a ruse, but you can see how that might convince someone that their online relationship is real.

    When it comes to romance scams, no red flag should ever be ignored. If you’re using a dating site and someone asks to move off the platform to communicate, that could be a red flag. Always do a reverse image search, as scammers will often use pictures that are stolen from online platforms. And most importantly, never send money, no matter how big or small the amount.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Syria, , Turkey,   

    When Disaster Strikes: Beware of Earthquake Charity Scams 

    When Disaster Strikes: Beware of Earthquake Charity Scams

    By Greg Collier

    As you may be aware of, devastating earthquakes struck the countries of Turkey and Syria. As with any natural disaster that garners headlines, scammers are already trying to take advantage of the world’s generosity. While the traditional charity scams are being used, new scams have appeared in the wake of the catastrophes.

    Charity scammers often resort to cold-calling or sending unsolicited messages to target unsuspecting individuals. They may adopt deceptive names that sound legitimate or even masquerade as reputable organizations such as the Red Cross. It is essential to exercise caution and refrain from responding to any unsolicited communication, as this has emerged as the primary means of operation for such fraudulent entities.

    It is advisable to steer clear of making donations to charities with ambiguous names, such as “Disaster Relief Fund”. Such names do not clearly indicate the purpose of the organization, and it may not be apparent how your donation will be utilized.

    The situation has further worsened with the emergence of social media scammers on TikTok, where users can tip content creators. Fraudulent individuals are taking advantage of this platform by posting generic videos of disaster aftermaths, and falsely claiming that the tips will go towards relief efforts.

    Similarly, Twitter has not remained immune to these fraudulent activities. Scammers are posting AI-generated images of rescue workers holding children who appear to have been affected by the disaster, and soliciting donations to a Bitcoin wallet. It is worth noting that the pictures may appear real as they are generated using AI art programs, as in the example image above.

    To ensure that your charitable contribution makes a genuine impact, there are several steps you can take to verify the legitimacy of the charity you intend to donate to. Websites like Charity Navigator and Give.org provide a platform to verify the authenticity of various charitable organizations. Additionally, you can check if the charity is registered with the IRS, as this serves as a reliable indicator of its authenticity.

    In case of unsolicited contact, it is best to refrain from divulging any personal or financial information to unknown individuals. Exercise caution when considering crowdfunding campaigns initiated by anonymous individuals, as these may also be fraudulent schemes. By remaining vigilant and verifying the legitimacy of the charity, you can ensure that your donation goes towards the cause you intend to support.

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