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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Celebrity romance scam had deadly consequences 

    By Greg Collier

    A pair of alleged romance scammers from New Jersey have been arrested after investigators discovered their involvement in scamming an elderly Tennessee man. The pair convinced the man that he was having an online relationship with a well-known female celebrity. Then the scammers convinced the man that they were with the FBI, and the celebrity was suing the man for harassment. That’s when the scammers started demanding money from their victim.

    The man was told he would need to pay fines to resolve the lawsuit. He sent the scammers a $5500 check. However, the check was made out to the FBI, meaning the scammers couldn’t cash the check. Apparently, the scammers were incensed by this because they told the man he would now have to pay $40,000 for failing to follow instructions. Before it was all over, the man paid close to $90,000 to the scammers, with him even taking out a loan on his car.

    It’s unknown if the man realized he was being scammed as he took his own life last month. After his passing, the man’s family found emails related to the scam and contacted police.

    We hope that our readers’ first thoughts when seeing this story aren’t “I would have never fallen for this scam.” If they were, we’d like to remind you that a man has been lost from his family due to the actions of greedy and reckless scammers. While you may not have fallen victim to this scam, there’s probably someone in your family who would. Now, imagine the heartbreak of losing them to a pointless scam like this.

    While most romance scams don’t veer off into police impersonation territory, always be wary of online relationships where your supposed partner can’t meet you in person. Also, please keep in mind that no law enforcement agency will ever ask you to make payments over the phone or through email.

    If you know someone who you suspect may be the target of a romance scam, please try to talk to them about such scams before they become victims.

    (If you or someone you know is contemplating the unthinkable, please know that there is no shame in reaching out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is accessible 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255, and you can also visit their website for support. You can also reach the lifeline by dialing 988. This new three-digit number is designed to provide easier access to mental health support services.)

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Anyone can fall prey to the SIM-swapping scam 

    Anyone can fall prey to the SIM-swapping scam

    By Greg Collier

    You may have head of the term SIM-swapping before. You may even know SIM-swapping is part of a larger identity theft scheme. What you may not know is that the term SIM-swapping is a type of misnomer. SIM-swapping makes it sound like someone needs physical access to your phone so they can steal your SIM card. A more appropriate term would be SIM-hijacking, since the scam itself is committed remotely.

    A SIM-swapping attack is a type of cyberattack where a malicious actor fraudulently convinces a mobile carrier to transfer a victim’s phone number to a SIM card under the attacker’s control. This is typically done by impersonating the victim or exploiting vulnerabilities in the carrier’s verification processes.

    The attacker contacts the victim’s mobile carrier, posing as the legitimate account holder. They may use gathered information to convince the carrier’s customer support representatives that they are the actual owner of the phone number.

    Once the attacker successfully convinces the carrier to transfer the phone number to a new SIM card, the victim’s phone loses network connectivity. The victim may not be aware of this until they try to make a call or use data services.

    With control of the victim’s phone number, the attacker can receive the victim’s text messages and phone calls, which may be used to bypass two-factor authentication (2FA) on various accounts linked to the phone number. This can lead to unauthorized access to email, social media, financial, or other online accounts.

    In the past, when we’ve discussed SIM-swapping attacks, we’ve heard from readers who said their phones are immune from these attacks since their phone doesn’t have a SIM card. Unless you’re still carrying a flip phone you bought from Sprint in the mid-2000s, chances are your mobile phone has a SIM card in it. You may not have placed the card in the phone yourself, but without a SIM card, your phone wouldn’t be able to communicate with your phone carrier and provide you service. There’s also what’s known as an eSIM. This is a SIM card that can be embedded in your phone, meaning it can’t be removed. In essence, if you have a reasonably modern mobile phone, it has a SIM card. And if it has a SIM card, it’s vulnerable to these attacks.

    A woman from California, recently fell victim to one of these attacks. After scammers successfully had her phone company transfer her service to the scammers’ SIM card, they were able to get access to at least one of her bank accounts. They drained her account of $49,000 before it was all said and done. The victim tried to work with both her bank and phone provider, but they denied any of her requests. As with many bank-related scams, it wasn’t until the victim contacted her local news station before she received a refund from her bank.

    There are several effective strategies to safeguard yourself from SIM-swapping. One approach is to opt for an authenticator app instead of relying on text messages for two-factor authentication. Authenticator apps are tied to a specific device rather than a phone number, enhancing their security. Additionally, it’s crucial to refrain from using easily discoverable information, such as high school mascots or pet names, for security questions on online accounts, as such details are often accessible on social media. Finally, you can enhance security by reaching out to your carrier and requesting the restriction of any device switches on your account. It’s important to note that to lift this restriction, you might need to visit a carrier store and provide identification.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 28, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    AI finds its way into Medicare scams 

    AI finds its way into Medicare scams

    By Greg Collier

    We are currently nearing the end of Medicare’s Open Enrollment period. This is the time of year when Medicare recipients can change their plan from the traditional Medicare coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan, or change back if they so desire. This is also the time of year when scammers specifically target Medicare eligible seniors with their scams.

    When it comes to scams, identity theft poses a significant risk to seniors, especially during Open Enrollment. Scammers often employ tactics such as impersonating government officials, adopting titles like ‘health care benefits advocate,’ to deceive victims. These fraudsters make enticing promises, assuring the victim of enrollment in equivalent or superior coverage at a reduced cost. To accomplish their scheme, the fraudulent agent requests the victim’s personal information, including their Medicare number.

    The stolen Medicare number becomes a tool for these scammers to commit Medicare fraud, involving unauthorized charges for procedures or items. This fraudulent activity has the potential to impact the victim’s benefits in the future. Additionally, scammers resort to high-pressure tactics, such as claiming that the victim’s benefits may expire if immediate information is not provided. In some cases, these deceptive calls may even display Medicare’s official phone number, adding an extra layer of trickery. It is crucial for seniors to be vigilant and cautious to protect themselves from falling victim to such identity theft scams during the Open Enrollment period.

    Though not strictly a scam, certain unscrupulous insurance brokers may exert undue pressure on seniors to switch to their company’s Medicare Advantage plan. While Medicare Advantage plans can offer advantages for some individuals, they may also have limitations that may not suit everyone’s needs. The decision to switch should be based on the individual’s personal healthcare requirements, yet some insurance agents may prioritize making a sale over the well-being of the patient.

    If contemplating a transition from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is essential to conduct thorough research on the potential benefits and drawbacks. Avoid succumbing to the tactics of salespersons, who may push for a decision that could lead to regret in the following year. Taking the time to make an informed decision ensures that the chosen healthcare plan aligns with individual needs and preferences.

    There is also another potential threat with this year’s Open Enrollment, and not surprisingly, it’s related to AI. Experts are warning that scammers could be using AI-generated voice programs to make scam phone calls sound more authentic. These calls could even be used to try to record a victim’s voice, which could then be used in other voice spoofing scams.

    It’s important to be cautious when receiving calls related to your Medicare plan. Legitimate Medicare plans typically contact their members if necessary, but if you ever feel uneasy during such calls, consider calling your insurance company’s official customer service number to verify the legitimacy of the communication.

    As a general rule, exercise caution about sharing your Medicare or Social Security number over the phone. Medicare and your insurance company already have your information on file and typically don’t need you to provide it again during unsolicited calls. This precaution helps protect you from potential scams or identity theft. Always prioritize your security and verify the authenticity of any calls before sharing sensitive information.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    The FTC puts a bounty on AI voice cloning 

    The FTC puts a bounty on AI voice cloning

    By Greg Collier

    AI-generated voice cloning, or voice spoofing, scams have become such a nuisance, the federal government is turning to the people to help solve the problem. If you’re unfamiliar with AI-voice generation technology, there are apps and programs that can take a short sample of anyone’s voice and make that voice say whatever you want it to. The benefit of it is it can give people who lost their speaking ability a voice. However, every tool that’s made for the good of mankind can also be used to its detriment.

    Scammers use cloned voices in what are known as emergency scams. Emergency scams can be broken down into two categories, for the most part, the grandparent scam, and the virtual kidnapping scam. In both sets of scams, the scammers need to convince their victim one of the victim’s loved ones is in some sort of peril. In the case of the grandparent scam, the scammer will try to convince the victim their loved one is in jail and needs bail money. While in the virtual kidnapping scam, the scammers try to convince the victim their loved one has been kidnapped for ransom.

    Scammers will take a sample of someone’s voice, typically from a video that’s been posted to social media. Then, they’ll use the voice cloning technology to make it sound like that person is in a situation that requires the victim to send money.

    Voice cloning has become such a problem, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a challenge to anyone who thinks they can develop some kind of voice cloning detector. The top prize winner can receive $25,000, the runner-up can get $4000, while three honorable mentions can get $2000.

    In their own words, the FTC has issued this challenge to help push forward ideas to mitigate risks upstream—shielding consumers, creative professionals, and small businesses against the harms of voice cloning before the harm reaches a consumer.

    The online submission portal can be found at this link, and submissions will be accepted from January 2 to 12, 2024.

    Hopefully, someone can come up with the right idea to better help consumers from losing their money to these scammers.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , grave scam,   

    Scammers are selling funeral plots they don’t own 

    By Greg Collier

    A sudden death in any family is impossible to prepare for, especially when the person died too young. Tragically, that’s what a family from the Atlanta area recently found out when their 15-year-old son fell to a gunman’s bullet. If it wasn’t painful enough that they lost a son to gun violence, now their son may have to be moved from what they thought was his final resting place.

    The boy’s family paid for a plot and a marker, and had receipts from the sale. When the family went to visit the boy’s grave, no marker had been placed. When they asked the cemetery why the grave marker wasn’t there, the family was told there was no record of the family purchasing the marker or the plot. The plot where the boy was interred belonged to someone else. All the paperwork the family had was fraudulent.

    This family weren’t the only victims. Investigators discovered that 20 other families had been scammed as well. Police believe an employee, or employees, of the cemetery may have been behind the scam.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first funeral-related scam that’s come to our attention. We’ve seen stories of scammers who go into random funerals and start collecting money they claim is for the family before taking off. Then there are the funeral home scammers that have been plaguing the country recently. They pose as funeral home employees and try to extort money from grieving families. Funeral scams are some of the lowest scams anyone can perpetrate on unsuspecting victims, but this funeral scam is the lowest of the low.

    Unfortunately, since this is the first we’ve heard of this scam, we don’t have any solid advice on how to protect yourself and your family from it. Grief is one of the hardest emotions to experience, so it’s understandable how people may not be in their right mind when making sudden funeral arrangements. The best advice we can give is to reach out to a friend or family member for support. And if you’re dealing with a cemetery, you may want to make contact first with the cemetery’s director before making any payment.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    IRS warns of romance scams 

    IRS warns of romance scams

    By Greg Collier

    When many people think of the Internal Revenue Service, they only think of having to pay their income tax to the government. However, the IRS also has a Criminal Investigation Office. These are the federal agents tasked with going after scammers and scam rings. Recently, the IRS sounded the alarm on romance scams after a Federal Trade Commission report said that over 70,000 people lost a combined total of $1.3 billion in 2022. And those are only the ones the government knows about. Many romance scam victims never come forward out of embarrassment.

    If you’re unfamiliar with romance scams, they mostly target women, but it’s not unheard of for men to be victims as well. Romance scammers also tend to target the elderly as well, but anyone of any age can be a victim.

    These scammers largely find their victims on social media, dating platforms, and sometimes online games. Romance scammers are very patient and will trick their victims into believing that they’re in a real relationship. More often than not, the scammers will pose as someone living or working overseas. The victims will experience a process known as ‘love bombing’ where the scammer will dote on their victims with little romantic touches.

    These relationships will be cultivated by the scammers for months before they finally approach their victims for money. The scammer will usually have a story about how some kind of emergency has come up, and since they’re overseas, they can’t access their own money. Or they’ll claim they need the money as part of an investment in their business. All the while, the scammers will promise their victims they’ll repay the money when they finally meet in person.

    Except, romance scammers will never meet their victims in person. Often these scammers use someone else’s identity that they found online. They’ll use pictures of other people they stole from social media, and even use that person’s name in their scam. But, they’ll continue to ask for money until the victim is either broke or finally catches on to the scam.

    Here are some recommendations from the IRS to help you steer clear of falling prey to romance scams. Refrain from sending money to individuals you’ve only interacted with online or via phone. Exercise caution when sharing information publicly on the internet. Approach new relationships with a deliberate pace and ask probing questions. Stay vigilant if someone appears too flawless or hastily urges you to transition from a dating service or social media platform to alternative means of communication. Be wary of individuals attempting to isolate you from your circle of friends and family. Avoid sharing inappropriate images or financial details that could potentially be exploited for extortion. And lastly, exercise suspicion if promises of an in-person meeting are made but never materialize.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    The puppy scam that’s even more cruel 

    The puppy scam that's even more cruel

    By Greg Collier

    The majority of time we discuss puppy scams, we elaborate on the one where the puppy doesn’t even exist. That’s the scam where a puppy will be advertised for sale online, and once the scammers get their initial payment, they’ll try to get additional payments from their victims for things like special shipping crates, insurance, and other fees they can dream up. At least in that scam, there are no actual animals being harmed. We wish we could say the same for the other puppy scam.

    The other puppy scam is perpetrated by what’s called backyard breeders. These are people who will breed a popular breed of puppy regardless of the health and welfare of any animal in their care. Their goal is to crank out as many puppies as they can to get as much money as they can. Too often, the animals used and produced are kept in substandard living conditions, and are often sold after contracting a terminal disease.

    A family in Southern California were recently ordered to pay restitution after they were found to be selling sick puppies on Craigslist. One of their victims paid the family $1100 for a goldendoodle puppy. After getting the puppy home, the puppy began to get severely ill. After taking the puppy to a vet, it was discovered the puppy had the deadly parvovirus. The new owners spent $10,000 to treat the puppy, who thankfully survived. But that wasn’t the end of the scam. About a month later, the puppy’s hair started turning white. The puppy wasn’t a goldendoodle at all and had its hair dyed to pass it off as one.

    To make sure you’re buying a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder, avoid places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. That’s where the backyard breeders mostly post their advertisements, and it’s why Geebo.com doesn’t allow listings for pets. Legitimate breeders will almost always allow you to visit their facility and check their health certifications.

    And as always, we would prefer if you adopted a pet from your local shelter instead. Many wonderful dogs are in need of homes, and adoption is a responsible and humane choice.

    Responsible breeders prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs and will be transparent about their practices. By taking the time to research and ask questions, you can make an informed decision and provide a loving home for a healthy puppy.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Lost pet scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Lost pet scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Our first story is a reminder about the shut-off scam. With the cold weather starting to descend on the country, shut-off scammers have ramped up their efforts. It’s gotten to the point where several major utility companies across the nation have warned their customers about it.

    The shut-off scam is when the scammers pose as your local utility company and threaten to shut off your service that day without an immediate payment. When the temperature drops, this can become a matter of survival for many, so they end up paying the scammers.

    Utility providers, such as electricity and gas companies, refrain from contacting customers directly and provide only a day’s notice before discontinuing services—a clear warning sign. Normally, these companies issue multiple warnings via mail before service termination. Additionally, legitimate utility companies never request payments in the form of gift cards, cryptocurrency, or through payment apps like Zelle and Venmo.


    Another scam that is targeting families with incarcerated loved ones involves fraudulent calls claiming to be from the Georgia Parole Board. Families have reported scammers requesting money for the release of their family member, asserting that funds are needed for an ankle monitor before the inmate can be released.

    One family recently lost $2300 to scammers thinking their son was being paroled. They paid the scammer through Cash App. Like police departments, parole boards will never ask for money, and especially not through Cash App.

    The Georgia Parole Board has issued a warning, emphasizing that they never make calls to families soliciting money. Residents of Georgia are urged to verify the current parole status of their family member by checking the official parole board website before taking any action.


    A woman from Tucson, Arizona, was warning her community after she lost her cat. Scammers called her posing as her local animal shelter. The scammers told her they had her cat, but she would need to pay to get her cat back. Then they told her that their computers were down, and they would send her a link where she would need to pay.

    Thankfully, she was suspicious and called her local shelter, who informed her they did not have her cat and the caller was a scammer.

    Ensure the safety of your pet by following these crucial steps. First and foremost, take your pet to the veterinarian to have them microchipped, which significantly enhances the chances of reuniting with them if they happen to wander off. When creating fliers or social media posts to find your lost pet, it’s wise to use your email address instead of your phone number to avoid potential exposure to scammers seeking to exploit your personal information. If someone claims to have found your pet, request a photograph as proof. Exercise caution if they then ask for money transfers or gift cards, as this is a clear indication of a scam attempt.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Cable discount becomes reshipping scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, in a reshipping scam, scammers recruit victims through phony job ads offering positions like package handler or product inspector. These are almost always advertised as work from home positions. The victim has products sent to them by the scammers that they’re supposed to inspect for defects before sending the products to a new address. What’s really going on is that the scammers bought these products with stolen credit card information, and the reshippers are just being used as scapegoats in a money laundering operation. Once the reshipper sends the products off, the scammers sell the stolen goods. Now, there is a scam that not only uses a victim as a reshipper, but makes the victim pay for the stolen items as well.

    A major cable and internet provider has warned consumers about this new scam. According to Spectrum, scammers are calling customers and offering service for half-price if the customer makes a one-time payment of $99. The customer is then asked for personal information like their account number and Social Security number, along with their payment information. Many cable and internet providers are also phone providers. So, the scammers use the customer’s information to order mobile devices that are sent to the customer’s address. But the scammers instruct the customer to send the devices to another address. The scammers will even send a shipping label to the customer and have them drop the devices off at the post office or a shipping company like UPS.

    Spectrum says they’ll never call a customer and ask for their account number and PIN, and this can be applied to most if not all cable and internet providers. They also add that if you receive one of these offers through email or text message, you should delete the message. If you reply to one of the scam messages, it will let the scammers know they’ve reached a working phone number or email address. Lastly, the major providers will never ask for payment through cryptocurrency, gift cards or personal payment apps.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Jury duty scammers find the perfect victim 

    By Greg Collier

    The jury duty scam is a fraudulent scheme where scammers impersonate officials from the legal system, typically claiming to represent a court or law enforcement agency. The scam often begins with a phone call or email informing the targeted individual that they have failed to appear for jury duty and now face legal consequences such as fines or even arrest warrants. To resolve the supposed issue, the scammer then requests sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers, financial details, or even payment for the fabricated penalties. These scams play on the fear of legal repercussions, catching victims off guard and coercing them into providing sensitive information or money to avoid fictitious consequences. If you go by the number of times this scam finds its way into headlines, it may be the most prolific scam going today.

    Recently, in the Atlanta Metro Area, scammers found a victim who had recently gone through an experience which made her the perfect victim for the jury duty scam. The scammers posed as her local police and told her she had missed jury duty. In this instance, they used the name of an actual police officer from that department. They told her a warrant was about to be issued for her arrest, but she could avoid that if she just paid a $3000 fine in Bitcoin. The victim deposited the money into a Bitcoin ATM that was in a local gas station. What made the victim more vulnerable to this scam than most was the fact she had just been excused from jury duty last month, so she thought the phony charge was somehow related to that. It was more than likely a coincidence that scammers found such a victim, as scammers typically cast the widest net possible in order to find as many victims as possible.

    If you receive any communication regarding jury duty, it is essential to independently verify its legitimacy. Contact your local courthouse or law enforcement agency directly using official contact information to confirm the authenticity of the message. Keep in mind that legitimate government entities do not employ aggressive tactics, issue threats, or demand immediate payments over the phone or through email. Should you suspect that you have become a target of a scam, promptly report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and the relevant authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken.

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