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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Unemployment scams show no sign of letting up 

    Unemployment scams show no sign of letting up

    In case you haven’t heard by now, states all over the country are dealing with scammers trying to claim unemployment benefits. We’re not talking about people who falsely try to claim unemployment for themselves. We’re talking about a global scamming operation that is looking to claim unemployment money in your name.

    The scammers are taking stolen identities that were exposed in data breaches and are using them to apply for benefits in those identities’ names. Most state unemployment systems are already under heavy load due to the record amounts of unemployment that is currently happening due to the pandemic. This makes it easier for scammers to force their way into the system to try to steal your benefits.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re unemployed or not. Most reports we’ve been seeing say that the unemployment benefits are being applied in the name of employed people as well as the unemployed. Recently, a teacher from upstate New York got a letter in the mail saying that his unemployment benefits have been approved but he’s not unemployed. His letter from the state also said that the benefits would not be deposited into a bank account but would instead be put on a debit card. In some cases, there have been reports saying scammers, or those working for them, will stalk someone’s mailbox looking to steal the debit card directly from the mailbox. In other cases, scammers have changed the address to where the debit card should be sent. The teacher believes that scammers got his information from when his health insurance company had a data breach a few years ago.

    If you receive one of these letters or you’re contacted by your employer, contact your state’s unemployment office immediately. Usually, they’re under the umbrella of the Depart of Labor in your state. Unfortunately, it may take multiple attempts to get through to your state government. The teacher from New York had to make over 200 phone calls before he got his situation resolved. While it may be frustrating, it’s not something you just want to leave for another day as it could impact not only future benefits but your current tax situation as well.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB: Job seekers at risk now more than ever 

    BBB: Job seekers at risk now more than ever

    The Better Business Bureau recently released the results of a survey that does not bode well for people currently looking for work. According to the BBB, people are now more at risk of falling for various employment scams, especially for those looking to work from home. These scams have various goals. They can be looking just to steal your personal information or getting you to deposit and then spend a fraudulent check.

    The scammers try to appear like a legitimate business as much as possible. They’ll often try to make it look like they’re hiring for a legitimate retailer like Walmart or Amazon. They will also hold online interviews over Zoom or Skype and have official-looking emails.

    People who have fallen for these scams have reported losing on average $1400. One report even indicates that military families and veterans are hit particularly hard by these scams.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t ways to protect yourselves from these scams. If they ask you to deposit a check they sent you for supplies and tell you to purchase the supplies from a specific vendor, that’s more than likely a scam. You should not deposit the check because it’s probably a fake and you could be responsible for that money to your bank.

    Beware of positions like ‘warehouse redistribution coordinator’ or anything similar. These positions could have you sending stolen goods through the mail which could get you in trouble with the law.

    Also, if a job asks you to buy or distribute gift cards, that’s almost guaranteed to be a scam. Due to the virtual anonymity of gift cards, they’ve become the preferred form of money laundering for scammers.

    Even when looking for a job if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

    While there are legitimate work from home positions available, that sector of the job market is a large target for scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on July 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    How the gift card scam actually works 

    How the gift card scam actually works

    We often discuss how so many scams often involve gift cards. They’ve become so synonymous with scams that we’ve started referring to gift cards as the currency of scammers. Basically, when someone online or over the phone asks you to make payment in gift cards, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re talking to a scammer. The reason scammers try to get payment in gift cards is that the cards can be almost immediately drained of their value while being virtually untraceable.

    Scammers don’t even need the physical card itself. Instead, scammers will get their victims to provide the code number off of the back of the card. What happens from there to get the value off of the card works almost like a heist movie.

    Recently, a woman was arrested in Central California for allegedly being part of a scam ring that dealt with gift cards. She was referred to as a runner, meaning while she didn’t run the scam but she was a part of it.

    According to reports, she would receive the card numbers from Walmart gift cards. Using the card numbers she would use her phone to create a UPC code. She would then use the UPC code at Walmart to buy gift cards from online retailers like the Apple Store, Google Play, and Steam. She would then take pictures of the numbers of the newly purchased gift cards and send them to other people involved in the scam who then cash in those cards. In this instance alone, the woman was said to be in possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained gift cards.

    While we may refer to it as the gift card scam for the sake of consumers, it has a more serious name when it comes to the law, money laundering. Scamming operations like this can rake in millions of dollars in a short time frame before disappearing into thin air.

    Again, if you receive a call, text message, or email and someone is pressuring you into making some kind of payment with gift cards, they’re more than likely trying to scam you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: freedom to breathe card, Global Empowerment Fund, government scams, , , , ,   

    Government impersonation scams 

    Government impersonation scams

    Recently, we’ve heard of three new scams where the scammers are impersonating either the federal or state government. Scammers often imitate various government agencies in order to make their pitch seem more authentic. However, the impersonations are never perfect.

    The Federal Trade Commission is warning citizens about an email phishing scam that is using the agency’s name. The emails claim that you’re eligible to receive funds from the “Global Empowerment Fund” due to the current pandemic. All you need to do to get the money is to provide your bank account information and the money will appear in your account. While the FTC hasn’t said if anyone has fallen for this scam, it’s a safe bet to assume that your bank account will be drained rather than receive extra funds if you were to provide your banking details.

    With the current controversy over whether or not you should wear a mask to stop the spread of coronavirus, scammers are selling cards that claim to make someone exempt from having to wear a mask. The idea is that you present this card to a business that requires the wearing of masks and you’ll be allowed in without a mask. The card claims amnesty under the Americans with Disability Act and has a fake Department of Justice logo. While these cards may appear official they have no legal authority and no business is required to abide by them.

    Lastly, we have a scam on the state government level. In Michigan, residents there are reporting receiving text messages that claim to be from the state. The messages say that they can reunite the recipient with unclaimed property. The messages then provide a link for you to click on. As always, you should never click on links in text messages from someone you don’t know. Now, unclaimed property is something that most states hold on to. However, in most cases, you have to pursue the state to claim any such assets. Usually, you can start the process through a state website. Very rarely will the state contact you and if they do they wouldn’t do it by text message. If you receive a text like this the best thing to do is delete it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    If you've been scammed once you can be scammed again 

    If you've been scammed once you can be scammed again

    If there’s one thing that con artists like most it’s an easy mark. The odds are that if you’ve been scammed once you could be scammed again. Or at least you’ll continue to be targeted by scammers.

    This happened to a woman in Memphis. Last year, she was taken in a grant scam. She received a Facebook message that she thought was from a friend. The message said that her friend received money from a government grant and that she probably qualifies for the grant too.

    The message actually came from a Facebook account that had been compromised by scammers. When the woman went to apply for this phony grant she was told that she would have to pay $1000 to receive the grant money. As you can guess, she never received the grant money and was $1000 poorer.

    She never came forward about losing money because, like many scam victims, she was too embarrassed. However, that initial scam experience was able to help her from being taken a second time. More recently, the woman was approached by someone who claimed to be the Deputy Attorney General of the United States. While the report doesn’t go into greater detail, we can hazard a guess that it was probably another grant scam.

    Some victims may not be so lucky as scammers often trade or sell the information on their victims between each other. Or the scammer will try to fleece the victim again with a different scam if they were successful in the past.

    If you ever become the victim of a scam, you should report it to the police immediately. While the scammer may never be apprehended, it will help warn others from falling for the same scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: change of address, , , , vehicle history reports   

    Three new scams to watch out for 

    Three new scams to watch out for

    We just recently came across three new scams that we hadn’t heard of before. While we’re not the ultimate authority on scams, we have been keeping our eyes on scams for a long time now.

    The first scam we have for you today involves change of address forms. If you’re moving soon you’ll have to notify the U.S. Postal Service of your new address. You can do this at your local Post Office or online. If you’re going to complete your change of address online make sure that you’re only using the official USPS website. If you were to do a web search for ‘address change’ it may direct you to a website that has no affiliation with the USPS. Instead, if you enter your information on the non-USPS site you could potentially be giving your information to identity thieves. Also, a change of address with the USPS is free. If a site tries to charge you for this, it’s definitely a scam.

    In our next scam, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about receiving a text message that says you’ve been overcharged. The texts try to appear as if they’re coming from your bank, your credit card company, or somewhere you shop often. The scammers will then tell you that they need more information to process your ‘refund’ like your mother’s maiden name or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. These are actually answers to security questions used to access your online accounts. If you receive a text or call asking for this information do not answer them. Instead, call your bank directly to make sure that your accounts are in order.

    Lastly for today, if you’re looking to sell your vehicle online, you’ll often be asked to provide a vehicle history report for the vehicle. The most commonly used vehicle history reports are Carfax and AutoCheck. Some car sellers have reported that they’ve been getting messages from people posing as interested customers asking for vehicle history reports that they’ve never heard of before. The scammers will then direct the sellers to a certain website. These websites are mostly designed to try to get your money for a bogus car history or could be used for identity theft or infect your device with malware. As a seller, you’re not required to provide a vehicle history from a specified website. The ones that we’ve already mentioned are not only legitimate but should satisfy most legitimate buyers.

     
  • Geebo 8:02 am on June 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam 

    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam

    A married couple from New Jersey are accused of conning 33 people out of $6 million collectively in a series of romance scams. That averages out to close to $200,000 per victim. The couple are said to have made $3 million for themselves while the rest went to an overseas romance scam ring that operated out of Nigeria and Turkey. The couple allegedly ran the scam for almost 4 years before being apprehended by authorities.

    Like most romance scams, the pair were said to have approached their victims through social media or dating websites. Once their victims were fooled enough into believing that they were in an actual romantic relationship, the scammers would then request money from their victims. The requests would often be disguised as emergency medical expenses or for business purposes.

    One particular victim found themselves in trouble with the law after she embezzled money from the company she worked for. Prior to that she had given the scammers her entire life savings, maxed out her credit cards, and even took out a loan to give money to someone she thought she was in a romantic relationship with. That victim is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to embezzlement.

    This not only shows that just about anyone can be taken for a ride in a romance scam but also shows how expensive and devastating it can be for the victims.

    If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that you haven’t met face to face yet, you should be very suspicious if they start asking for money. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website about romance scams and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Job scams affect college students too 

    Job scams affect college students too

    When we think of scams, we often think of the elderly being the targets of scammers. However, college-age people are just as susceptible to scams as older generations. Some reports say it’s due to their lack of experience in dealing with such scams while others say it’s because their generation is more trusting. Either way, they have become very lucrative for various types of scammers.

    For example, a young college student who lives in Arizona was recently taken for over $3000 in a job scam. The student attends college at a Midwestern University but is currently home for the summer and was looking for a job. She received a job offer from someone that appeared to be a faculty member at her university. The email address was even said to have the .edu identifier in it.

    The job they offered her is a familiar one when it comes to scams. They would send her a check, she would deposit it in her own bank account, then buy supplies from a designated supplier. She was then instructed to keep $400 of the check as her payment.

    It was after she made all the payments that the check she was sent turned out to be a fraudulent check. She was then responsible to her bank for the entire amount of the $3,550 check. As it turned out, her university’s email had been compromised and scammers were using it to lure several students into the scam.

    The fake check scam is at the heart of several different scams from job scams to purchase scams. No legitimate employer will ever ask you to donate a check into your personal bank account outside of your pay. If one does, it’s almost certain to be a scam. A scam that could very well leave you worse off than you might have already been.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: boat scam, , Georgia,   

    Anybody can be the victim of a scam 

    Anybody can be the victim of a scam

    Whenever we post about a victim of a scam we’ll inevitably get a comment from a reader that states that they would never fall victim to a scam. Sometimes, we’ll get less respectful comments like “How can someone be so dumb to fall for that?” The truth is that anyone can fall victim to a scam. It doesn’t matter what your education level is or your financial and social status. Scammers tend not to discriminate and will target just about anyone, from the poorest of the poor to the one percent.

    Recently, a successful professional man was scammed out of $13,000 after he attempted to purchase a boat he found on craigslist. The man lives in Georgia while the boat was said to be in Miami. The Georgia man took every precaution and then some when researching the boat and the people who claimed to be selling it. He even formed his own LLC in order to transfer the money for the boat to the purported sellers. However, like most online vehicle scams, the boat never arrived and the $13,000 was long gone. Investigators say that it’s highly unlikely the man will ever get any of his money back.

    Scammers will adjust their approach depending on their target. Considering this man was fairly educated the scammers employed many different tactics than they would if their target was a less financially well off person. Please keep in mind that whenever we discuss romance scams, the victims in those tend to be above the average when it comes to terms of wealth.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or if you have a vast stock portfolio. Anybody can be the victim of a scam and it can be just as devastating financially and emotionally no matter who you are.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on June 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Warnings issued about illegal job scam 

    Warnings issued about illegal job scam

    With so many Americans still looking for employment during this time of record job losses, the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about an employment scam that could land the victim in hot water. We’re, of course, referring to the reshipping or repackaging scam.

    The online job listing may say that the position is called ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse redistribution coordinator’, or something similar. In some cases, the scammers even pose as major retailers like Amazon or Walmart. The scammers will tell you that you can work at home and all you have to do is receive packages in the mail, inspect the contents for damages before shipping them to a different address.

    The problem with this is that the goods are usually purchased with stolen credit card information and you’re helping the scammers transfer stolen goods across the country. People who have been unknowingly conned into taking part in the scam have even faced jail time. For example, if you were instructed to lie on US Customs Service forms for packages leaving the country, you could be charged with fraud.

    If you do escape the long arm of the law, you could still find yourself the victim of identity theft or worse. Since the scammers are posing as legitimate employers, they will ask you for personal information including bank account information for phony direct deposits. Or they could disguise paying you by sending you a falsified check. This is when the scammers will say the check is for more than they meant to send you and will ask you to send the difference back. Of course, after you deposit the check and send the difference back to the scammers your bank will discover the check is a fake and you’ll be responsible for the amount of the check to your bank. So in the end, you’ll actually be deeper in debt than when you started the ‘job’.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

     
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