Updates from May, 2023 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: .zip, , , , top level domains, URLs   

    New domain extension already being used in scams 

    New domain extension already being used in scams

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re unfamiliar with .zip files, they can be one large file or several smaller files that are compressed into a .zip file to make the space they take up on your device smaller. These .zip packages can be decompressed, or unzipped, by using programs like Win-Zip, 7-Zip, or the built-in compression utilities provided by operating systems such as Windows and macOS.

    Many software applications and operating systems are distributed in the form of .zip files. This allows developers to package all the necessary files and folders into a single archive, simplifying the installation process for users.

    Earlier this month, Google started offering .zip internet domains. That means anyone who wants to buy a web address can purchase a .zip domain instead of .com or .net. Many tech enthusiasts chided Google for making .zip available for domains, as they could be abused by scammers. Now, according to tech reports, the scams have already begun.

    A victim could be thinking they’re downloading legitimate software, but are then directed to a .zip website that could infect their device with malware, among other things. The website will mimic a .zip file being extracted, along with a fake pop-up that says the .zip file has been scanned and no viruses were found.

    For a more detailed explanation of how this works, please read this article from Bleeping Computer.

    Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule to protect yourself from such a scam. If you do download a .zip file, make sure it’s from a trusted source. Anything else that has .zip at the end of it, you may want to avoid it.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Vacation scams are on their way 

    Vacation scams are on their way

    By Greg Collier

    With Memorial Day weekend behind us, many of use will be looking to book our summer vacations. Unfortunately, dream vacations can often turn to nightmares thanks to scammers. The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about various scams vacation-goers may encounter if they’re not careful.

    One of the more common scams that could ruin a vacation is the rental scam. It works in the same way as a long-term rental scam works. Scammers will list properties online for short-term rental they don’t actually own. More often than not, the listing is copied from a legitimate listing, although the scammers are advertising the rental at below-market prices. Research is key when looking to rent a home for your vacation. Do a web search of the property’s address, and you might find multiple listings online that show different owners, different rental agencies, and different prices. If the listing you found is the one with the lowest price, there is a very good chance that is the scam listing.

    If you decide to go down the motel/hotel route, be wary of calls to your room from the front desk. A scam that has become popular over the last few years is when scammers call your room. They’ll call late at night while posing as the front desk. The caller will say your credit card didn’t go through and will ask for your credit card information again. The scammers are hoping that you’ll give them your credit card information instead of going down to the front desk. If you didn’t use a credit card, you’ll know you’re being scammed. If you did book your room with a credit card, always go to the front desk if there is a supposed problem with it.

    Lastly, you may want to be careful when using the wifi at your lodgings. Using public wifi in general can open you up to a number of security risks, such as exposing your financial information. While travelling, think about purchasing a plan with a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs can block your information from being seen on public wifi. However, when choosing a VPN, always go with a paid plan, as free VPNs are often just a disguise for more security risks.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 26, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers try last-minute Medicare fraud 

    By Greg Collier

    If you are a Medicare recipient and have recently received COVID tests you didn’t order, you might be the victim of Medicare fraud. With the Public Health Emergency around COVID being declared over this month, scammers have been sending COVID tests to Medicare recipients, while billing Medicare at close to $100 a pop. Victims have said they received multiple COVID tests from providers that were outside of their state.

    Now, some Medicare recipients may not think that this is a big deal. They might think they got free COVID tests while Medicare paid for it. So, what’s the big deal? Outside of their Medicare information being compromised, any kind of fraudulent charge billed to Medicare can have negative effects on a policyholder’s benefits.

    If a fraudulent charge goes undetected, the patient may be responsible for paying out-of-pocket for services or supplies they did not receive or need. Medicare has coverage limits for various services and supplies. Fraudulent charges can lead to unnecessary utilization of these benefits, causing patients to exhaust their coverage limits prematurely. If fraudulent claims are submitted using the patient’s Medicare information, it can lead to confusion in medical records and billing systems. This may result in delays, denials, or even the denial of legitimate claims, causing a disruption in the patient’s ongoing care and treatment plans. Lastly, fraudulent claims sent to Medicare increase healthcare costs in general.

    If you receive tests that you didn’t order, contact Medicare immediately at the customer service number on your Medicare card. To help prevent future fraud, policyholders should always review the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements they receive in the mail. These statements show how a claim was paid and to whom.

    Any suspicious charges or discrepancies should be reported to Medicare’s fraud hotline, so they can try to rectify the situation. Additionally, staying informed about common fraud schemes and protecting personal Medicare information can help reduce the risk of fraudulent activities.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns of medical debt scam 

    BBB warns of medical debt scam

    By Greg Collier

    Medical debt is one of the leading causes of people who declare bankruptcy in the U.S. The cost of medical care in the US is notably high compared to other countries. Even with insurance coverage, individuals may face substantial out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. For those without adequate insurance coverage, the burden of medical costs can be overwhelming.

    This has led many medical facilities to employ collection agencies to go after outstanding debts. These debt collectors are often more than aggressive when pursuing these debts. They’re not above resorting to legal action, wage garnishment, or asset seizure. However, not every medical debt is legitimate, as the Better Business Bureau is warning that scammers are posing as medical debt collectors in order to extort money from their victims.

    It makes sense, in a way, that scammers would do this. Scammers often employ high-pressure tactics to trick their victims into giving up their money. Posing as a debt collector, who also uses high-pressure tactics, allows scammers to appear more authentic to their victims.

    According to the BBB, scammers are sending letters and making phone calls to their victims, claiming the victim owes money for a medical bill. The scammers threaten their victims with legal fees, ruining your credit, and even arrest. The scammers are hoping that the victim will be scared into handing over their financial information.

    There are some easy ways to protect yourself from this scam. The first is to never give these callers any money right away. First, ask them for a debt verification letter that will detail where the debt supposedly came from. Debt collectors are required to provide those, while most scammers can’t. Then call the medical office where the bill supposedly originated from, and their billing office will be able to verify any charges or debts.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Is there any scam worse than a funeral scam? 

    Is there any scam worse than a funeral scam?

    By Greg Collier

    We’re never in a more vulnerable state than after the loss of a loved one. It’s even worse when the loss was unexpected. Nobody ever wants to arrange a funeral. Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s an inevitability. Whether it’s a spouse, a parent, or even a child, no one ever wants to have to discuss the financial details of having their loved one laid to rest. For scammers, this is just another opportunity for them to use emotional manipulation to trick grieving families into giving them money.

    In Georgia, a family almost lost $14,000 after falling prey to a funeral scammer. Some scammers keep an eye on the local obituaries. When someone passes and their obituary is published, scammers will pose as employees of the funeral home. The scammers will tell their victims there’s been an error in billing and the victim needs to pay more money. They’ll often show up at the victim’s home to collect the payment in cash or check.

    In the Georgia case, the suspects were arrested after they had difficulty trying to cash the check. In previous instances of this scam, we’ve seen scammers make it appear as if they were holding the remains of the deceased hostage until the victim made a payment.

    In order to protect yourself from such a scam, it is recommended to get an itemized bill from the funeral home that shows exactly how much services cost.

    Whenever you receive a call from someone requesting an unexpected payment, it is crucial to verify their claims. Do not automatically assume the call is authentic merely based on the displayed caller ID. Take the initiative to contact the business or agency directly, as they will provide guidance regarding the legitimacy of the caller’s demands.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , look who died, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: The classics make a return 

    By Greg Collier

    Even though there has been an uptick in technologically advanced scams, there are some classic scams that never went away. Here are three we think you should be reminded of.

    If you get a phone call or email that says there’s been a fraudulent charge on your Amazon account, the chances are it’s a scam.

    A woman from Lincoln, Nebraska, recently fell victim to this scam when she thought she was talking to the fraud department of her bank. The scammers convinced her she needed to make payments in Bitcoin to correct the error. She ended up sending the scammers $52,000 in Bitcoin after withdrawing it from her 401K.

    If you receive a call or message like this, go directly to your Amazon account and check for fraudulent charges. If there aren’t any, then whoever contacted you is trying to scam you. No matter how urgent they make it seem, slow down and verify their story before sending any money. And if Bitcoin is brought up in the conversation, then it’s definitely a scam.

    Scammers love to hijack Facebook accounts. When they do, not only do they get your personal information, but they can then use your account to try to scam everyone on your friends list.

    One of the ways they do this is by sending a Facebook message that says, “Look who died.” The message contains a link that appears like it will take you to a news article. Instead, it will inject malware onto your device that can hijack your Facebook account.

    Messenger is a pretty big breeding ground for scams. Outside of the ‘look who died’ message, you should also avoid messages about government grants, cryptocurrency, or just about any message that involves money.

    You may also want to let your Facebook friend know outside of Facebook that their account has been hacked.

    Last, but certainly not least, is the Publisher’s Clearinghouse scam. We’re all familiar with PCH. If you win a substantial prize from them, they surprise you at home in their Prize Van with a large novelty check. The thing with PCH is, you have to enter their sweepstakes first before you can win anything.

    Scammers will call victims at random while posing as PCH, telling their victims they’ve won millions of dollars. The scammers will then try to get their victims to make a payment to claim their prize. The payment will be disguised as something like taxes or processing fees. This is known as the advanced fee scam, which has cost victims thousands of dollars. Once a victim makes payment, the scammers will continue to string the victim along by asking for more money.

    Keep in mind, it’s illegal for sweepstakes like PCH to ask for money before issuing a prize. That’s why legitimate sweepstakes always have the tagline of ‘no purchase necessary’.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    AI scams aren’t limited to just voice 

    AI scams aren't limited to just voice

    By Greg Collier

    AI voice spoofing scams are on the rise and have really grabbed our attention recently. Again, this is when scammers take a sample of someone’s voice from online and run the sample through an AI program to make the voice say whatever they want. We see it mostly used in phone scams, where the scammers need you to believe the victim is talking to a loved one. With the advent of AI-generated voices, scammers have gone back into their bag of tricks to make an older scam even more convincing, and that’s the deep fake video.

    A deepfake video refers to a manipulated or synthesized video created using artificial intelligence techniques. In the context of deepfake videos, the AI is used to manipulate or replace the appearance and actions of individuals in existing videos, making it appear as though someone said or did something they didn’t actually say or do. However, to make the voice sound more convincing in deep fakes, a lot more voice sampling was needed than today. Now, bad actors only need a few seconds of someone’s voice to make the cloned voice sound more convincing.

    Recently, a man in Louisiana received a video that appeared to come from his brother-in-law. The video was received over Messenger, and the man’s brother-in-law said in the video that he needed $250 and couldn’t explain why, just that he was in trouble. The message also contained a link to a payment app account where the man could send the $250. The video disappeared from the message, but the link remained.

    Unfortunately for the scammers, they had sent their message to a police sergeant, who knew this was a scam. He called his brother-in-law, who was in no immediate danger.

    If you receive a phone call or instant message from a loved one asking for money, always verify their story before sending any funds. Even if it appears that it’s your loved one contacting you, verify the story. With advances in technology, you can’t believe your eyes or ears in situations like these.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on May 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    New twist on missing pet scam 

    By Greg Collier

    There is a missing pet scam that’s been around for a while. When a missing pet’s owner posts fliers in the neighborhood or makes a post about the pet on social media, there’s a good chance they’ll be contacted by a scammer. Typically, the scammer will say they have the missing pet but will ask for money for the pet’s return. In reality, the scammer doesn’t even have the missing pet and is just looking for a payout.

    Now, there is a new twist to this scam. In Tennessee, a woman recently lost her French Bulldog. She made several posts across social media in case anyone had seen her dog. Like clockwork she was contacted by a scammer. Except this time, the scammer didn’t say they had the dog. Instead they claimed to be from a professional pet finding service which has a 97% success rate in finding lost pets. But their service wasn’t free and the woman sent $400 to the scammers. LIke many scams, the scammers kept asking for more money to supposedly find her dog.

    Not only is this scam a new twist on the missing pet scam, but it’s also a twist on another scam called the recovery scam. With the recovery scam, we’ve seen scammers promise they can find your stolen car and even promise to help scam victims get their money back. All for a fee of course, but the victims never see any results for their payment.

    Any service that promises it can find your lost or stolen property is not a real company, especially if they approach you first.

    You can ensure the safety of your pet by following these essential steps. Before your pet can run off, it is crucial to take them to the veterinarian to have them microchipped. Microchipped pets significantly increase the likelihood of being reunited with their owners if they happen to wander off. When creating fliers or social media posts to locate your lost pet, it is advisable to utilize your email address instead of your phone number. Sharing your phone number could potentially expose you to scammers who could exploit your personal information. Should someone claim to have found your pet, kindly request them to provide a photograph as proof. However, exercise caution if that person then proceeds to ask for money transfers or gift cards, as this is a clear indication of a scam attempt.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Check scam has police impostor twist 

    By Greg Collier

    The check scam is so common place, it is often used in multiple scams. For example, there is the overpayment scam. If you’re selling something online, the buyer will send you a check that’s more than the asking amount. In employment scams, it’s used to falsely pay the employee while they pay out to scam vendors. Fake checks are even sent as prizes for contests the victims never entered. However, they all have one thing in common. The scammers want the victim to deposit the check into the victim’s bank account and have the victim send money from the account before the check is detected as fraudulent. The scammer gets paid, while the victim is held responsible for the amount of the check.

    Now, scammers are using fake checks as an intimidation tactic. Victims in South Carolina have been receiving fake checks in one of the scams listed above. After receiving the check, victims are emailed by scammers posing as the FBI. The victims are threatened with arrest by being accused of being part of a money laundering ring. While the news report doesn’t mention, we’re assuming the scammers follow up the threat by asking for the money from the check to be sent to them. Meanwhile, the supposed FBI emails are sent from a Gmail account.

    Even if a check appears to clear initially, it doesn’t guarantee its authenticity. Avoid withdrawing or spending the funds until your bank confirms that the check has fully cleared, which can take several days or even weeks.

    If someone asks you to send a portion of the money back after depositing a check, consider it a red flag. Legitimate transactions rarely involve sending money back in such a manner.

    It’s also important to remember that legitimate law enforcement agencies typically do not make arrest threats or demand immediate payments over the phone or through email. They follow proper procedures and protocols when dealing with legal matters.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim sues banks for failing to prevent $500K loss 

    Victim sues banks for failing to prevent $500K loss

    By Greg Collier

    A 74-year-old woman from Hilton Head, South Carolina, is suing three major financial institutions for allegedly failing to prevent large transactions of hers being used in a months long scam. But before we get to that, please read how scammers tormented this poor woman.

    It started out when she received an email that appeared to come from PayPal. In actuality, it was a phishing email which said her account had been hacked. The email also offered customer service software that could prevent her account from being hacked. The software was actually malware that allowed scammers to take control of her computer.

    This allowed the scammers to access her bank accounts and take thousands of dollars from her. They also convinced her to withdrawal large sums of money and convert it to cryptocurrency to send them. This occurred through most of 2022.

    The victim’s son received a surprise anonymous text where he was warned by scammers that the last of his mother’s money was about to be stolen. It seems even scammers can have a change of heart. The son even received texts about how much information they had on his mother, including logins for close to a dozen of the woman’s online accounts.

    Her son then went out and bought her a new phone with a new number, and it wasn’t long before the scammers started contacting her through the new phone.

    The woman is now suing PayPal, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo for not better protecting consumers. The suit alleges all three corporations “failed to take corrective actions” while the fraud took place, which included large in-person transactions. According to the suit, the large transactions were never questioned.

    What do you think? Are the banks partially responsible for not putting a stop to these transactions? Or is the elderly woman just an unfortunate victim?

    Since this all started with the victim downloading malware from an email, it’s a good time to remind our readers not to click on any suspicious links from emails, even if they’re from a company you do business with regularly. That email may not actually be from that business. Instead, login directly into your account and address any issues from there.

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