Updates from August, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Six million dollar romance scam ring busted! 

    Romance scam ring busted!

    When we discuss scams like wire fraud or romance scams, the perpetrators largely operate with impunity since they’re overseas. This makes it difficult for US investigators to apprehend the suspects. Even if the US has an extradition treaty with the scammers’ home country that doesn’t necessarily mean that the scammers will be extradited to the US no matter how much money they’re accused of taking. However, that doesn’t mean that federal investigators are totally powerless in bringing some of these crooks to justice.

    Yesterday, The FBI unsealed an indictment from October of 2018, against 80 alleged international scammers. Between corporate fraud and romance scams, the ring is suspected of raking in at least $6 million from their victims. On the corporate side of things, the scammers would allegedly send fake but realistic-looking emails to the financial departments of companies requesting that funds be sent to certain bank accounts. With the romance scams, they reportedly posted fake accounts on dating sites and apps while conning their unsuspecting victims out of money disguised as gifts. The FBI says that this particular scamming ring tried to steal $40 million from potential victims. As we have discussed previously, sometimes the victims of these scams themselves can end up in legal trouble because of it.

    In this instance, federal investigators have arrested 14 alleged scammers who were living in the US who are accused of sending the money they stole back to their home country of Nigeria. The West African country is notorious as a haven for scammers because it’s more lucrative to become a scammer rather than holding a legitimate job. This is also where the ‘419’ scam originated named for the Nigerian legal code that makes these scams illegal. Unfortunately, while some of the scammers in this particular ring have been apprehended, there are many more who at large overseas.

    To better protect yourself against these scams if you work in a company where you receive these types of financial requests, always double-check with the person making the request through a phone call or face to face meeting. As far as romance scams go, no matter how good looking they may appear, if they start asking for money the odds are likely that you’re being scammed. And we’re not talking about a couple bucks here and there either. Some victims of romance scams have lost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be a victim of a romance scam please have them read this post or the FTC website.

     
  • Geebo 8:10 am on August 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Should schools take students’ phones? 

    Should schools take students' phones?

    It seems that kids are getting their own phones at younger and younger ages. While smartphones can be a very useful tool for school-age children, they can also be a large distraction while in class. School faculties have struggled with the debate over whether or not their students should have access to their phones while school is in session. While one may think that students without their phones would be less distracted, there’s no conclusive evidence to show that taking away their phones improves grades. However, one school in California is taking an unusual approach to the students and phones problem.

    San Mateo High School in Northern California has required students to keep their phones in a magnetically sealed bag. The students keep the bags on them during school hours but they do not have access to their phones until school is over. At that point, the school opens the bags for students with a device that looks similar to an anti-shoplifting device you might see at a store checkout. Some students have complained that the school does not unlock their phones during lunch but that sounds more like a logistical issue than one of admonishment. San Mateo High is not the first school to use these devices.

    There appears to be at least one drawback to this program and that is one of student safety. Sadly, our schools have become targets of violence and threats. While the odds of a violent attack happening at any particular school is low, it is, unfortunately, a real possibility these days. If an attack were to happen and students would need to contact law enforcement or family would there be a way to release the bags during an emergency? While this is a worst-case scenario, it seems like this is a concern that needs to be addressed by schools using the device.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Google Assistant, , , voice assistant   

    Alexa, find me a scammer. 

    Alexa, find me a scammer.

    If you think about it, we’re living in an unparalleled age of convenience. Most of us are carrying smartphones in our pockets that are more powerful than most personal computers from 5 years ago. With these devices not only do we have access to unlimited information but we also have access to services that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Not only do we have access to such things as ride-sharing and food delivery at our fingertips, in a lot of cases we don’t even need to use our fingers to activate any of these services. With many devices today you can pretty much get what you want with just the sound of your voice. Of course, where there is convenience there will be those who look to take advantage of you.

    If you use voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, you could be in danger of falling prey to a scammer. The danger comes from if you need a service that you don’t use on a regular basis such as a plumber, electrician, or mechanic. If you ask your voice assistant to look up a listing for such a business and then have it automatically call that number, it could be luring you into a scam. Scammers will use paid listings and other SEO tricks to get their scam listings to the top of search engines which the voice assistants rely on. This could lead to you paying for phony charges or having your personal information exploited.

    Unfortunately, there’s no real fix for avoiding this scam if you use one of these assistants. The only way to really keep yourself safe is to look up the phone numbers yourself and to make sure that your local business is actually a local business. According to reports, there are millions of phony businesses on Google Maps which also contributes to the number of scams. Then once you find a reputable business save that number to your contacts.

     
  • Geebo 8:14 am on August 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cashier's checks, ,   

    Here’s why the phony check scam works 

    Here's why the phony check scam works

    Probably, the most common scam we’ve discussed is the phony check scam. It seems like it’s at the heart of almost every other online scam. At the heart of the scam is, of course, the phony check. Scammers will send you a [phony check for any number of reasons but the hook is always the same. They’ll send you a check for more money than you were asking for or were expecting. They’ll instruct you to deposit the check and then send them the difference. By the time the bank discovers that the check is a fake, you’re responsible for the entire amount of the check while the scammers disappear with your money.

    It all seems rather unfair. You’re the victim of a scam after all. So why does this particualr scam lend itself so well to scammers? According to Vox, it all has to do with the way cashier’s checks are handled by banks. Legitimate cashier’s checks are just as good as cash where your bank is concerned. The person or entity who is issuing the cashier’s check pays the bank the full amount for that check to be issued. So when a bank receives a cashier’s check as a deposit they’re operating under the assumption that the check is legitimate and the funds should be immediately available.

    The bank only usually discovers that the check is fake after it’s been deposited and returns as a fraudulent check. Unfortunately, the only person the bank can hold responsible is the person who deposited the check which in this case is the scam victim. While many people realize that the checks they receive are fake, there are enough people who fall for this scam that they keep the scammers in business. Billions of dollars in fraudulent checks are attempted to be cashed each year. However, you can protect yourself by avoiding these situations. If a deal feels like it’s wrong, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    When free stuff from Amazon isn’t free 

    When free stuff from amazon isn't free

    We’ve briefly touched upon the brushing scam before. In the brushing scam, a third-party amazon vendor will send you items for free that you didn’t actually order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep anything that you didn’t order. Sounds like a good deal right? Who doesn’t want to get free stuff? As with most things that sound too good to be true, there is a more deceitful plot at hand. A plot that could cost you money and your privacy in the long run.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, if you’re receiving these packages it’s more than likely that your Amazon account has been compromised. These third-party vendors are usually from overseas and are sending you the packages to make it look like you’re a verified purchaser. This way the vendors can post positive reviews of their product on Amazon in your name. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales. Just think of the amount of information contained in your Amazon account. Not only is your home address listed within, but your payment information as well. These supposedly free items could be costing you without you even noticing it at first.

    So, what should you do if you start receiving these unsolicited deliveries? The first thing you should do is immediately change the password on your Amazon account. Since the scammers may have also compromised your email account you may want to consider changing the email address attached to your Amazon account also. These deliveries should also be reported to Amazon itself so they can take down any fake reviews in your name which is against their policy. If any of your debit or credit cards have been used in this scam you’ll want to cancel them and have new ones issued. The only consolation to the victim of this scam is that they can legally keep the items sent to them, however, they’re usually not the type of items you’d normally want to keep.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Want your resume to stand out? Don’t. 

    Want your resume to stand out? Don't.

    The resume has long been a tradition in the business world to try to put your best foot forward when applying for a new position. An almost equally long tradition is trying to use ‘tricks’ to get your resume to stand out to your prospective employer. One such trick used in recent times is to copy and paste keywords into your resume using white font so the scanners that some employers use will pick up these keywords without them being contained in your actual resume. This trick has long since been debunked and could actually lead to your resume being discarded. So, what’s an eager job seeker to do?

    The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about how younger job seekers have been crafting their resumes to look a lot like social media profiles. Some applicants have taken to including their picture, using unusual color choices, are including artwork such as bitmojis or other colorful icons to depict work experience or outside interests. While these stylistic choices could make your resume stand out they could make it stand out in the wrong way. Stylized resumes like this can be compared to visible tattoos in the workplace. While society, in general, maybe more accepting of such practices, the corporate world is much more different than the social world.

    In practice, you don’t want your resume to have anything on it that could prejudice a recruiter or employer against you. Not only that, but you should look to make your resume look as clean and accurate as possible to best make a potential employer interested in your resume. Corporations and companies are generally not bastions of creativity and a stylized resume could make you look like you’re more of a potential liability than an asset. In many cases, the stylized version of your resume will probably not even be seen by recruiters or human resources departments because many of these places use scanners that strip things like visual media from the resume in order to provide the most amount of information that an employer may require.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , violence scam   

    New scam threatens your family with violence! 

    New scam threatens your family with violence!

    This scam we just recently heard of is so disturbing we don’t even have a clever name for it yet. In it, some scammers called a man from Brooklyn, New York, threatening to kill the man and his family if he didn’t pay them money. The scammers claimed to be from a criminal cartel and then sent the man explicitly violent pictures with claims of this is what would happen to his family if he didn’t pay. The man was hesitant to go to the police, however, he did contact a local community leader who was able to contact authorities. Police say that they have received other reports of this scam and that the scammers are casting wide nets trying to find victims. If you receive one of these calls you should hang up and contact police.

    Social security scams are still on the rise due to the fact that a number of senior citizens aren’t aware of the many scams that specifically target them. The Washington Post is reporting on a scam where the scammers posed as the Social Security Administration (SSA) and threatened to cut off the benefits of a woman in the early stage of Alzheimer’s. She was instructed to buy over $3,000 in gift cards from various merchants to have her benefits restored. One store even tried to warn her that this sounded like a scam. The Post article has a great checklist of things you can do to help senior relatives avoid this scam including sharing these stories every time they come up in the news. They also provide a link to the Federal Trade Commission’s website that has information about all types of impostor scams.

    The last scam for today is a reminder that most scams just don’t go away. We’ve talked about the secret shopper scam many times now. In this scam, ads will be posted hiring for secret shoppers which is a legitimate position with many retail companies. However, the con artists placing these ads online are trying to swindle you by sending you phony checks to use in your new position. They’ll tell you to deposit the checks to use in your secret shopping and send a portion of the check back. Once the bank finds out that the check is a fraud the victim who deposited the check into their bank account is responsible for the entire amount. This recently happened to a college student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you’re considering a secret shopping position always consult with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s website before giving out your personal information.

     
  • Geebo 8:05 am on August 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , defcon, FAA, , lightning cables, , O.MG Cables, trade war   

    FAA bans Apple product from flights 

    FAA bans Apple product from flights

    Apple has carefully cultivated a reputation for itself of producing a number of reliable products. This week, the company that Steve Jobs made famous has taken some hits to that reputation.

    First, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned certain Apple laptops from being carried on US flights due to battery issues. The laptops in question are 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017 as they have been the target of a recall. The recall was issued due to the fact that in some MacBooks the battery has overheated and caused a fire hazard.

    This isn’t the first time that the FAA has banned a device from being carried aborad planes. Back in 2016, the Samsung Note 7 smartphone was banned from all flights for a similar reason. This was a huge blow to Samsung’s reputation and it has taken the phone manufacturer a while to regain consumer confidence. Will Apple see a similar backlash from frustrated travelers being told they can’t bring their MacBooks on board? It’s unlikely as Apple has such a dedicated userbase that they’ll probably just purchase updated MacBooks from Apple if need be.

    However, that’s not the only technical issue that Apple has had this week. At the cybersecurity conference known as DefCon, a security researcher unveiled an Apple charging cable that could potentially hijack an Apple device. The cables, called O.MG Cables, look like a normal Apple lightning cable that are used to charge Apple devices. However, these cables have malicious devices installed in them that could be used to hijack Apple devices from your iPhone to your MacBook. So, the moral here is to make sure that you use your own charging cable and don’t use just any charging cable you see lying around, especially if you’re at DefCon.

    Lastly, Apple has been hit with an import tariff starting September 1st. In the ongoing trade war China, the Trump Administration will put a 10 percent import tax on smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart speakers, and Bluetooth headphones. Since Apple relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing, this will have a significant effect on their bottom line. Even though Apple could probably absorb the tariff it’s more than likely that they’ll pass these expenses on to the consumer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: back to school, , , , , locksmith scam, , scholarship scam,   

    It’s the season for Back to School scams 

    It's the season for Back to School scams

    With September approaching and some schools having already started their school year it should come as no surprise that scammers will even use the back to school season to try to target potential victims. The largest targets among these victims will more than likely be college students. Considering that many of these students will be away from home for the first time, they may not have the real-world experience to recognize a scam. Hopefully, with this blog post they can be better educated on which scams to look out for that could potentially harm their college experience.

    The Better Business Bureau of Florida recently put out a list of the most common scams for students to look out for and we can’t help but recognize a few of them. For example, the BBB warns of phony job scams. In these scams, the perpetrator will use a phony email address that spoofs that of the university. The student will be promised a phony job where they will be sent a check that will be more than they were promised. Of course, the check is phony but by the time the student sends back the money their bank will charge them the full amount of the bogus check. Another common scam that targets college students is the phony scholarship scam. Phony companies will guarantee students grants or scholarships in exchange for a fee. Most scholarships and grants can only come from the government or the school so avoid these promises at all costs.

    While the above scams are largely illegal there are some legal scams to look out for as well. Many credit card companies will offer their cards to incoming students, however, many of them have either high annual fees or interest rates. It’s very easy to obtain one of these cards then find yourself in a world of debt that you weren’t prepared for. Then there’s the locksmith scam where a student may lock themselves out of their housing or car and they’ll call the first locksmith that comes up in a web search. Those locksmiths may not be local and may charge you an exorbitant fee. It’s better to research for a local locksmith before you lose your keys so you can have a reputable one readily available should the need arise.

    For a more comprehensive list from the BBB about these scams and others you can click this link.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next? 

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next?

    Jeffrey Epstein

    We’ve been following the story of billionaire financier and accused child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein since the news first broke of the generously lenient plea deal he received in Florida. If you’ll recall, Epstein was given his plea deal back in 2005 by Alexander Acosta who was a Miami U.S. Attorney at the time. More recently, Acosta was President Trump’s Secretary of Labor before resigning after Epstein’s New York arrest. By now you’ve probably heard the news that Epstein took his own life over the weekend. So, how does Epstein’s death affect the overall investigation into the crimes he was accused of committing?

    Many of Epstein’s victims feel like Epstein has escaped justice as they would have preferred to have had their day in court against him. However, Epstein’s death does make it easier for prosecutors and investigators to use evidence against any of Epstein’s potential co-conspirators. Any evidence seized should be admissible against any other defendant without a possibility of a motion to suppress. Ghislaine Maxwell has been accused in civil lawsuits of procuring Epstein’s victims. While she has not been charged with any criminal charges, it is possible that she could be assisting in the current investigation of Epstein.

    Of course, the elephant in the room has to be addressed as many people believe the conspiracy theory Epstein did not take his own life but that instead, his death was a politically motivated murder. Many of these people feel that his death was either ordered by the Clintons or President Trump since Epstein had connections to both parties. However, the truth is more likely less fantastical. While Epstein had been on suicide watch prior to his death he had been removed from it. Also, suicide watch may not be what you think it is. It doesn’t mean that a prison inmate is being watched at all times around the clock with cameras in their cells for years upon end. According to a former correctional treatment specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, suicide watch rarely lasts longer than a week. Not only that, but the unfortunate reality of prisons is that inmates take their own lives on a fairly consistent basis.

    Look at it this way, Epstein was a man who lived a life of decadent luxury and probably didn’t care how many underage girls he had to hurt to get what he wanted. Looking at the rest of his life being spent in prison for one of the most heinous crimes that is even looked down upon by the other inmates, Epstein probably felt that death was the better option for him.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel