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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns of Smart TV scam 

    By Greg Collier

    With our homes having more and more internet-connected devices, many of these devices can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. This includes your smart TV or any internet-connected device you may have connected to your TV, like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. And whenever someone is vulnerable to a cyberattack, scammers are sure to follow. The Better Business Bureau has issued an urgent warning about smart TV attacks, which can cause the victim to lose money.

    Hackers can hijack smart TVs through various methods, including exploiting vulnerabilities in the software, using phishing scams to gain access to the TV’s credentials, or exploiting weaknesses in the network that the TV is connected to.

    One common method is to use malware to exploit vulnerabilities in the TV’s software, such as outdated firmware or unpatched security holes. Once the malware gains access to the TV, it can be used to control the TV remotely and perform a variety of malicious actions, such as displaying fake messages, installing additional malware, or even spying on the user through the TV’s camera and microphone.

    What we’re concerned with today is smart TVs that display fake messages. If a smart TV has been exploited, scammers will prevent the user from setting up their TV properly. A pop-up message will appear on the TV claiming there is an issue with setting up the TV or possibly a streaming service. A phone number is typically displayed within the pop-up.

    If someone were to call the number listed on the screen, they would be connected with scammers posing as a customer service department. The scammers will try to convince the user that a fee is required in order to obtain TV service. More often than not, the scammers will ask for payment in the usual scammer ways, such as gift cards or cryptocurrency.

    To prevent smart TV hijacking, it is important to keep the TV’s software updated, use strong passwords for the TV and network, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown apps. Additionally, users should be wary of giving unnecessary permissions to apps installed on the TV, such as access to the camera and microphone.

    Also, be suspicious of any pop-up messages that come across your TV asking you to call a customer service department. A Google search for the number could turn up if it’s a scam calling center. If you do need to call a manufacturer or service provider, make sure to get their official phone number of the company’s website.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Crypto-Romance scam runs rampant among retirees 

    Crypto-Romance scam runs rampant among retirees

    By Greg Collier

    When we think of Florida, we often think of retirees, since Florida is one of the most popular states to retire to. And since Florida has so many retirees, scammers see the Sunshine State as an easy target. Recently, Florida has seen an uptick in romance scams that involve the victim thinking they’re investing their savings into cryptocurrency. It’s called the pig butchering scam, and it has cost its Florida victims hundreds of thousands of dollars each. It’s called that because the victims are seen as pigs who the scammers ‘raise’ until it’s time to lead the victim to financial slaughter.

    The scam typically begins when the victim establishes a relationship with a potential romantic partner through a dating platform or social media. The scammer will keep the victim interested and eventually offer to help them make money by investing in cryptocurrency. The victim is then directed to a cryptocurrency exchange that is controlled by the scammers. They are instructed to invest their money into the exchange, which the scammer will claim has generated substantial returns. However, when the victim attempts to withdraw their funds, they are informed that they need to pay additional fees in order to receive their returns. This pattern of demands for more money continues until the victim either runs out of funds or realizes that they are being scammed.

    Recently, a retiree from Port St. Lucie, Florida came forward to local media after losing $250,000 to this scam. He though ht had entered into an online relationship with a woman. The scammer cultivated the relationship before asking the man if he wanted to make money through cryptocurrency. After losing the $250,000, the scammer cut off all communication with the man, now he’s in danger of losing his home.

    The best way to protect yourself from this scam is to avoid anyone offering to help you make money through cryptocurrency, especially if you’ve never met them in person. Cryptocurrency markets are so volatile that even legitimate investments can disappear quickly. Plus, cryptocurrency is a preferred method of payment for scammers and other cybercriminals.

    Even though this scam has a fancy name, at its heart it’s still a romance scam. If you develop an online relationship and your online partner starts asking for money, they’re more than likely a scammer. If the person has provided you with photos, try using reverse image search to see if the photos have been used elsewhere on the internet. Romance scammers often use photos of other people to create fake identities.

    Romance scammers often ask their victims for money or personal information, such as bank account details, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. Be suspicious of anyone who makes these requests, especially if you have not met them in person.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Protect Yourself from the Jury Duty Scam 

    By Greg Collier

    As we tend to say, the most common scam featured in the news is the jury duty scam. We find news stories about this scam every day. Just a quick Google search found us jury duty scam warnings from police departments or sheriff’s office in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Mexico. If it hasn’t been reported in your area yet, it’s only a matter of time before it does. Even with all the warnings going around, the jury duty scam continues to find victims. So, we thought it’s probably time to remind our readers of this scam.

    The jury duty scam is a common scheme in which scammers impersonate officials from a court or law enforcement agency and contact people by phone, email, or text message. They claim that the person has failed to appear for jury duty and that there is a warrant out for their arrest. The scammers then demand payment of a fine or fee to avoid being arrested.

    In some cases, the scammers may ask for personal information such as Social Security numbers or financial information, which they can use for identity theft or to steal money from the victim’s accounts.

    It is important to note that legitimate court officials or law enforcement agencies will never ask for payment or personal information over the phone or email, and they will not threaten to arrest someone for failing to appear for jury duty. If you receive a suspicious call or message, do not give out any personal information or send any money, and report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

    If someone legitimately misses jury duty, they may face penalties or consequences, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances. In some cases, the court may issue a bench warrant for their arrest, and they may be required to appear before a judge to explain why they failed to appear for jury duty.

    However, please keep in mind, that when police do issue an arrest warrant for someone, they do not call them over the phone to warn them.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 28, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Not all tax preparers are on the level 

    Not all tax preparers are on the level

    By Greg Collier

    With the income tax deadline less than a month away, we’re sure there are still some who haven’t filed their tax return yet. One of the many benefits of filing early is avoiding a scam that was commonplace during the pandemic. Scammers would file returns in their victim’s name, and collect the return payment. When the victim went to file their return themselves, they would get a letter stating someone else had already claimed their return. This resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare for the victims. If you still haven’t filed, there’s another scam that you need to be aware of, especially if you’re having your taxes done professionally.

    A woman from Virginia is out $3000 after she allowed a company to process her tax return. She found an ad for the company through a social media ad, which we would never recommend doing. The victim went to the company’s website, and they appeared to be legitimate. She even had multiple conversations with the company over the phone and through emails. However, when it came to her tax return, the company allegedly filed her return without her permission and stole the payment. When the victim tried to contact the company, they had already disappeared.

    If you still need your taxes prepared, there are ways to protect yourself from this scam. Make sure to choose a tax preparer who is licensed and registered with the IRS. You can check the credentials of a tax preparer on the IRS website or through the Better Business Bureau.

    If a tax preparer promises you a big refund without even looking at your tax documents, it’s probably too good to be true. Avoid tax preparers who make unrealistic promises.

    Never sign a blank tax return or one that has incomplete information. Review your tax return thoroughly before signing it.

    Review your tax return for accuracy before submitting it to the IRS. If you notice any errors, contact your tax preparer immediately.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Recent news has increased this one scam 

    Recent news has increased this scam

    By Greg Collier

    We have no doubt that you know about the recent story of the four Americans who were mistakenly kidnapped in Mexico, with two of the victims dying in the attack. Since scammers always seem to have their fingers on the pulse of the news, this story has led to a resurgence in the virtual kidnapping scam.

    Virtual kidnapping is a phone scam where scammers pretend to have kidnapped a loved one and demand a ransom. They use high-pressure tactics and psychological manipulation to make the victim believe their loved one is in danger.

    One of the more common versions of the virtual kidnapping scam is when the scammers claim to be from a drug cartel. The scammers will say that the victim’s loved one came across something they weren’t supposed to see, and now they’re being held for ransom.

    Typically, the scammers will demand that the victim wires money or pays via cryptocurrency to secure the safe release of their loved one.

    Kidnapping scammers employ a number of tricks to make their claims seem more legitimate. They often spoof the phone number of the victim’s loved one to make the call look like it’s coming from the loved one’s phone. They may use background noise or even play pre-recorded sounds of someone screaming or crying to make the victim believe that their loved one is in danger. More recently, some scammers have even used AI-generated clones of the loved one’s voice.

    It’s important to note that in most cases, the victim’s loved one is not actually in danger and is not being held captive. However, the scammers can use psychological manipulation to convince the victim otherwise and extort money from them.

    If you receive a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped a loved one, it’s important to remain calm and verify the situation before taking any action. Try to get in touch with the supposed victim directly, or reach out to other family members to confirm their safety. You should also report the incident to the police immediately.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Forged deed costs man his home 

    Forged deed costs man his home

    By Greg Collier

    Almost two weeks ago, we brought you the story of a man who was conned into signing over to someone who sold the home out from under him. But what if we told you your house could be sold without you even signing anything? That’s precisely what happened to a man in New Orleans.

    Much like the man from our previous story, this man lived in the home with his mother. After she passed away, he started renovating his home. While he was putting money into home improvements, someone forged the deed to his home and sold the man’s house.

    This wasn’t just a simple case of forging one signature to get possession of the home, either. Not only did the scammer forge the homeowners name, but the names of a notary and several witnesses were also forged. Additionally, the notary’s stamp was forged as well.

    One might assume that since both the homeowner and notary attest their signatures were forged, the man would be getting the deed to his home returned. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The homeowner is in the middle of legal proceedings to have the ownership of his home returned to him, and the legal costs to do so are not cheap.

    This kind of title scam could happen anywhere. We wish we could say there was an ironclad way to protect yourself from such a scam, but it depends on where you live. Some of the Parishes in Louisiana have a program where if the Parish receives any documentation bearing the homeowner’s name appears in their offices about their property, the homeowner will receive an email alert about it. Several counties across the U.S. have this service also, but not every county does.

    If you’re concerned about being scammed like this, check to see if your county has a program like this. If they don’t, consider getting in touch with your county and recommend it to them.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Are retailers responsible for gift card scams? 

    Are retailers responsible for gift card scams?

    By Greg Collier

    We can’t hear the term ‘git card’ without almost immediately thinking of scams. They’ve become synonymous with scams, since they’re often used as a form of untraceable payment in a vast number of scams. Gift cards can also be the scam itself.

    One common gift card scam is when scammers visit stores to capture the information from the back of gift cards. They patiently wait until someone loads money onto the cards, and then use the funds for their own purposes, leaving the cardholders at a loss.

    Another version of that scam is when gift card scammers frequently visit different stores and scratch off the security strip from the card. They then take note of the card number and replace the security strip with a sticker.

    What both scams have in common is that the scammers need to go into the stores themselves. Because of this, some believe the retailers that sell the cards are partially responsible for when the funds are stolen from the cards. 21 states have filed a class action lawsuit against the Target retail chain, accusing Target of knowingly selling compromised cards. Does the lawsuit have merit? Possibly.

    Retail stores almost always have gift card kiosks out in the open, where potentially anyone could interfere with the cards’ validity. Some advocates have called for the cards to be kept behind counters or in vending machines.

    However, until that day comes, there are ways to protect yourself from buying a faulty gift card.

    To avoid falling victim to gift card fraud, there are a few precautions you can take. Firstly, always inspect the back of the card to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Check a handful of cards from the rack to make sure they are similarly marked on the back, as scammers often place tampered cards up front to get the money quicker. When purchasing a card, consider buying one from the middle of the pack instead.

    It’s also advisable to pay for gift cards with a credit card whenever possible. Credit cards offer better protection against loss than cash or debit cards.

    If you do happen to receive an empty card, you can try contacting the customer service number on the back of the card. However, be aware that it is unlikely they can recover the lost funds or offer a refund.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Home used in rental scam wasn’t even listed 

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, when we discuss a home that’s been used in a rental scam, that home is listed for sale or rent in a legitimate listing before it’s copied by scammers. That gives potential renters an opportunity to see if the home has multiple listings. That’s one of the best indicators that one of the listings is a scam. But what if the property isn’t listed anywhere first?

    That’s what happened to a couple from Tennessee who were getting ready to sell their home. The couple had already moved out, but were putting the finishing touches on their old home before selling it. One day, when they went to some work on the house, they found the locks had been changed and people were living there. The people living in the home thought they had rented the home from someone on Facebook Marketplace.

    The homeowners placed a sign on the property letting people know that the home wasn’t for rent. Even after getting the listing removed from Marketplace, it continued showing up in their listings.

    So, how did the scammer know to target this particular house? The report we read doesn’t say, but it could have been a number of things. It could have been anything from the scammer could have seen the homeowners moving out to the homeowners possibly mentioning their move on social media. Scammers are anything if not resourceful.

    For renters to avoid this scam, there are several steps you can take. Always check with the county’s tax office to find who the true owner of the home is. If the landlord is asking for payment through apps like Venmo or Cash App, they’re probably a scammer.

    As far as homeowners go, if you want to avoid people from being scammed and moving into your property, do what these homeowners did. Put a sign either on the property or in a window inside the home that says the property is not for rent. Also, consider installing some security cameras that you can view through your phone or computer at any time. This way, you can see who is approaching your property and why.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    When buying a home, double-check that email 

    When buying a home, double check that email

    By Greg Collier

    The business email compromise scam has become popular with scammers over the past few years because it is extremely profitable for them. It only takes one victim to fall for the scam for the scammers to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    There are typically two versions of the BEC scam. The first one targets corporate interests. Scammers send emails to employees or executives in a company, pretending to be a high-ranking official, such as the CEO or CFO. The email will often instruct the recipient to transfer funds or provide sensitive information such as bank account numbers, passwords, or other personal data.

    The other version of the BEC scam is the one we’re interested in today, and it’s where scammers will try to intercept the wire transfer of funds from the home buyer to the seller or the escrow company.

    For example, a man from Stamford, Connecticut, almost lost $426,000 to BEC scammers. The scammers had infiltrated the man’s email exchanges with his realtor, and told him to wire the money to a fraudulent bank account. Luckily, his bank was able to freeze the transfer before the scammers could make off with his money. Unfortunately, not every BEC scam victim can recover their money.

    A similar thing happened to a retired teacher from Colorado. She lost almost $200,000 to BEC scammers while trying to buy a home. At some point, while exchanging emails with the title company, the conversation was hijacked by scammers. The victim was pressured into wiring the closing costs to a scam account. When she went to the title company to close on the home, she was devastated when they told her they never received any payment. The $200,000 was all the money the woman had. Even with the involvement of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, it’s not certain she’ll recover her money.

    BEC Scams can happen one of two ways. Sometimes the scammer will use an email address that’s similar to the authentic email address. So, when dealing with realtors, banks, and escrow companies, double-check the spelling of the email address before replying. The other way the BEC scam happens is when a company has had their business emails compromised by hackers or malware. In this instance, if the email appears to be legitimate, always double check with a phone call to the party that’s supposedly requesting the payment.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Elderly couple helps bust scammers 

    Elderly couple helps bust scammers

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the grandparent scam made its way through a part of Western Michigan along the shore of Lake Michigan. The grandparent scam is a type of fraud where scammers target elderly victims by impersonating their grandchild over the phone. The scammer will claim to be in legal trouble and ask for money to cover bail or other legal fees. To make the scam more convincing, the scammer may transfer the call to another individual pretending to be an attorney, police officer, or bail bondsman. This tactic has been used in numerous instances to trick victims into handing over their money.

    At least three sets of victims from Muskegon County in Michigan reported being approached by grandparent scammers. The first was an elderly woman who has difficulty hearing. As a result, she believed she was actually talking to her grandson. The phony grandson said he needed $9000 for bail money after getting into a car accident.

    The woman received another call from someone claiming to be her grandson’s attorney. That caller said he would meet with the woman, so he could collect the money that would bail out her grandson.

    The next day, the woman received another call from someone claiming to be the judge presiding over her grandson’s case. They said that the person her grandson was in an accident with died and the insurance company was requesting $25,000 to settle the matter out of court. The ‘judge’ was quick to settle on $19,000 since that was all the woman had.

    She was instructed to send cash through UPS to an address in Atlanta. After she dropped off the package, she had second thoughts and called the police. They were able top intercept the package before it reached its destination, but the initial $9000 was still lost. However, this is a great example of how scammers will almost always try to get more money out of a victim once the victim has made an initial payment to them.

    The next day, an elderly couple was called and someone posing as their grandson said they needed $25,000 for bail after getting into an accident with a politician. The call was then handed over to someone posing as the defense attorney. They told the grandparents that since a politician was involved in the crash, there was a gag order on the case. This supposedly meant that the grandparents couldn’t talk to anyone about the call. When asked why their grandson sounded so different, the caller responded that the grandson had come down with strep throat. As the grandfather was going to the bank, he started having second thoughts as well. He called his grandson, who was not in jail and did not have strep throat.

    The couple called the police, who had the couple arrange for the money to be picked up. When the scammers showed up to collect the money, they were arrested. The suspects from Florida are believed to be involved with a number of grandparent scams in the area. There was a third family in the area who were allegedly approached by the scammers, but they did not take the bait.

    The second scam attempt shows that scammers typically have an answer for every question you give them. Previously, we’ve heard of scammers saying the grandchild had a broken nose or missing teeth from the accident as why they sounded different. Scammers also love using the threat of a gag order to try to prevent the scam victim from speaking with anyone who might be familiar with the scam. Again, that’s not how gag orders work. No one can legally stop you from talking. Thankfully, the grandfather did the right thing by calling his grandson to make sure he wasn’t in jail. That should always be your first step when approached with a situation like this. And no matter what the caller says, you can talk to your family about it.

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