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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , , , ,   

    Instagram scam promises free iPhone 

    Instagram scam promises free iPhone

    By Greg Collier

    Not too long ago, we brought you a post about how an Instagram scam could hijack your account. As we mentioned then, there are no shortages of scams on the popular photo sharing platform. Recently, one of those scams rose above the others to garner some headlines.

    CNET is reporting an iPhone giveaway scam is currently plaguing Instagram users. If you use Instagram on a consistent basis, you may have seen one of these scam posts. Users are being tagged by what are essentially spam accounts. These posts promise you a free iPhone 13 and all you need to do is click the link in the tagger’s profile. According to CNET, if you click the link, you’ll be taken to a website where you’ll be asked for your personal information and a credit or debit card number.

    While the CNET article does not go into specifics, we believe this could be one of two scams. The first one is straight up identity theft. With your personal and financial information, scammers could easily take over your life. Not only could identity thieves use your card for fraudulent purchase, but they could also use your information to take out loans or open other lines of credit.

    The other scam could be the advance fee scam. This is where a user is told they’ve won something, but have to pay a fee to collect their prize. This is a common scam when it comes to online giveaways. The scammers will disguise the payments as shipping fees, insurance for the item, or some form of tax. While this practice is illegal in the United States for legitimate sweepstakes, scammers aren’t concerned with the law.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to not expect anything for free on social media. Never click the links that these scam Instagram accounts provide. Furthermore, never give your personal information to random Instagram accounts, no matter how good the prize their offering is. Lastly, you can set your Instagram account to only be tagged by people you know or people you follow. You can also set it to where users can manually approve each tag they receive. The CNET article has the instructions for that.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , ,   

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again 

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again

    By Greg Collier

    It appears that the scammers who pose as Publishers Clearing House are wreaking havoc again, And, as always, they’re targeting the elderly in their scams. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the magazine marketing company that runs the country’s most well-known sweepstakes. We’ve all seen their commercials where their Prize Patrol van pulls up to a lucky winner’s home and presents them with a novelty-sized check for a substantial amount of money.

    Instead of pulling up in a van, scammers will call their victims while posing as PCH. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve won one of the cash prizes. Then, the scammers will inform the victim that the victim needs to pay either a tax on their supposed winnings or some kind of processing fee. These scams tend to target the elderly, since they’re one of the larger demographics who participate in the sweepstakes.

    Recently, several elderly victims have fallen for this scam. In Maryland, a man was scammed out of $1500 when a phony PCH representative told the man he needed to pay $1500 in eBay gift cards to claim his prize. A 93-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was scammed out of $3000 after she gave the scammers access to her bank account. And an 81-year-old woman, also from Pennsylvania, was scammed out of $15,000 after she was promised a prize.

    This is known as the advance fee scam. It’s called that, since victims are paying a fee in hopes of getting a bigger payout. In some instances, once scammers will receive the first payment, they’ll come up with more fraudulent scenarios where they’ll ask the victims to pay even more money while still dangling the promise of a huge cash prize in front of them.

    The best way to prevent someone from falling for this scam is to keep the one phrase in mind that’s included in every sweepstakes in the US, no purchase necessary. It’s illegal for anyone who runs a sweepstakes to collect money before a prize is awarded. Even on PCH’s own website, they go into extensive detail how to recognize a scammer from the real thing.

    So please keep in mind, if someone asks you for money to claim a prize, you haven’t won. Paying for a prize is only a losing proposition.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , , , , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Other Valentine scams and more 

    Scam Round Up: Other Valentine scams and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, to help start the weekend, we’re bringing you four scams from around the country you should be aware of.

    ***

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ve already discussed the romance scams you should be on the lookout for. However, there are additional scams you should be aware of. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about impostor websites where you might be buying Valentine’s Day gifts such as jewelry and flowers from. Even if you’re shopping for gifts at the last minute, make sure the retailer you’re shopping at is a legitimate one. Check for reviews of the retailer to see if anyone has been scammed already through them. Avoid deals that seem too good to be true. Make sure the website isn’t posing as another retailer by checking the web address, known as a URL, for slight misspellings. Lastly, pass on vendors who only accept payment through cash transfer apps and cryptocurrency. Use a credit card whenever possible, since that provides the most consumer protection.

    ***

    A news report out of Pennsylvania is warning residents there about an inheritance scam. The report states that the scam starts out when the victim receives a letter in the mail from a supposed Canadian bank. The letter states that a distant relative of the victim has died, and the victim is in line to receive a multi-million dollar inheritance. While situations like this make for great TV drama, the reality is much more disappointing. In reality, the victim will either be asked to pay thousands of dollars for either phony taxes or legal fees. Or the victim will be asked for their banking information under the guise of having the inheritance sent to their bank account. If you receive one of these letters, you’re asked to just ignore it.

    ***

    If you live in an area that recently endured the winter storms, you may want to keep an eye out for this scam. In Missouri, residents are reporting receiving text messages that appear to come from the United States Postal Service (USPS). The text messages state that since service was delayed, you can request a re-delivery by clicking on a link. The link takes you to a website that looks like the USPS website and asks you for $3.30 re-delivery fee, which you can pay for with debit or credit card. This is designed to steal your financial information. The USPS will never ask for a re-delivery fee.

    ***

    Lastly, we have a scam that targets the migrant population in our country. In Indiana, police there say that people who are working to become citizens have received calls from scammers posing as local police. The victims are told if they don’t pay a fee, they could lose their status and be deported. Since the victims may not be familiar with US law, they may be easily persuaded to fall for this scam. No law enforcement department or agency will ever threaten arrest over the phone or ask for money over the phone. It’s recommended that if you receive one of these calls to contact the Department of Homeland Security. If you know someone who might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , ,   

    Grant money scam returns to social media 

    Grant money scam returns to social media

    By Greg Collier

    When we say the government grant scam has returned to social media, it really never left. However, we’ve seen a number of reports about the scam this week. The way the scam typically works is you’ll receive a message on social media from a friend, telling you they received substantial grant money from the government, and you can too. In reality, your friend’s social media account has been hacked and is being used by scammers. In what’s known as the advance fee scam, the scammers will try to get you to pay fictitious taxes or a processing fee to get the phony grant. This can end up costing a victim of this scam thousands of dollars.

    For example, a woman in Nebraska recently fell victim to this scam. She had received a message from a relative on Facebook. The message said she could receive $100,000 in grant money. She thought the grant was some form of pandemic financial assistance. She ended up paying $5,000 to the scammers in prepaid debit cards. Not only was she dealt a financial loss, but scammers may have stolen her identity as well. The scammers had asked her for a copy of her driver’s license as part of the phony application process. With that kind of information, identity thieves can open any number of financial accounts in the victim’s name.

    The way you can tell this is a scam is that the government doesn’t ask for money when approving an actual grant. And if the government did ask for money, they wouldn’t ask for it in prepaid debit cards or gift cards. If you receive one of these messages on social media, do not respond to it. Instead, use another method of communication to let your friend or relative know that their account may have been compromised. Since this scam often targets elderly victims, you may want to inform any older relatives you might have if they are active on social media.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, apartment fire, , Bronx, , , , , parking scam, , san antonio, ,   

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More 

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More

    By Greg Collier

    It’s time once again to bring you three scams from around the country you should be aware of.

    ***

    Major cities in Texas like Houston, Austin, and San Antonio have reported a scam involving QR codes and parking. For those who may not know, QR codes are those square codes you sometimes see. If you point your phone’s camera at a QR code, it will take you to a website where you would normally be provided with additional information. In Texas’ case, scammers around these cities are placing QR codes around city-owned parking spaces. Once you scan the code, you’re asked to pay to use the parking spot. However, the money is going to scammers instead of the city. Along with your payment, the scammers now have your payment information as well. If you have fallen to this scam, you’re asked to file a police report and contact your payment issuer.

    ***

    Cryptocurrency scams continue to find victims across the country. Recently, a North Carolina man lost $15,000 to one of these scams. He was contacted through social media to invest in a cryptocurrency company who claimed that profits were 100% guaranteed. Supposedly, the man’s initial investment grew to $95,000; however, he would need to pay another $14,000 to get his windfall. This is a new crypto-flavored twist on the advance fee scam. For example, when a scammer tries to tell you that you’ve won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes, but you need to pay a fee to claim your winnings. Please keep in mind that the crypto market is filled with scammers, and no investment, not even cryptocurrency, can guarantee you a return on your investment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have to talk about charity scams again. We’re sure most of our readers have heard about the tragic apartment fire that took place in The Bronx recently. The fire has left several families displaced and many in the hospital fighting for their lives. You may feel the need to donate to a charity that would benefit these families. Be careful because scammers will use any tragedy to try to benefit themselves. The Mayor’s Office has set up a donation fund where all proceeds go to help the victims. There is also another city website where you can find additional information on how to help the victims. Don’t make a donation through a robocal. If you’re suspicious about a certain charity, you can always check with the BBB to see how legitimate they are.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area, they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to recognize these scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , DVD in the mail, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Don’t put that disc in your computer 

    Scam Round Up: Don't put that disc in your computer

    By Greg Collier

    Once again, it’s time top bring our readers another trio of scams that deserve their attention.

    ***

    Our first scam is kind of a bizarre one. Residents of a town in Maine have reported receiving something strange in the mail. They’ve been receiving handwritten envelopes, addressed only to ‘A friend’. The envelope contains a DVD that has “Please watch, copy, and share with friends” written on it, with no indication of what may actually be on the DVD. More than likely, the DVD contains malware or ransomware. What’s strange about this story is most modern computers don’t even have optical drives installed in them anymore. This scam may have been targeting elderly residents who may have older computers that still have their optical drives. A more modern take on this scam is when scammers will leave USB drives lying around out in public, just hoping that someone will actually plug the drive into their computer.

    ***

    Our next scam is one that you’re probably more familiar with. Residents of New York have reported that they’ve received letters in the mail telling them that they’ve won an $880,000 sweepstakes. The letter even includes a check for $8000. However, you have to pay a $7000 fee to ‘release’ your winnings. This is illegal and known as the advance fee scam. Some victims may think they’ll just deposit the check and use the money to claim their supposed winnings. As you’ve probably surmised, the checks are fake, which would leave the victim paying back the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers make off with $7000. Not that we like to compliment scammers, but this is a pretty clever way of combining two known scams into one to further lure their victims into their trap.

    ***

    Lastly, this is just a warning to people who use mobile banking apps that Zelle scams are still finding victims and draining their bank accounts of thousands of dollars. A woman in Portland recently fell for the scam and lost $23,000. If you receive a text message that is supposedly from your bank asking if you’ve made a large purchase or transaction, do not reply. If you do, you’ll get a call from a scammer posing as your bank and will use the Zelle app to drain your account under the guise of protecting your money. Zelle should only be used when giving or paying money to someone you know personally. If you get a text like the one mentioned, call your bank directly instead, or stop by your local branch.

    ***

    Again, these scams may not be in your area right now, but they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to combat them.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , , pinhole camera, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: New sweepstakes scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    Today we’re our readers three more scams that are happening around the country that could be coming to your area.

    ***

    In Raleigh, North Carolina, people are reporting being called by scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House telling them that they’re winners in the famous sweepstakes. PCH’s name has been used in scams for a number of years. What’s different this time is the scammers are leaving voicemail messages that say, “This is a legitimate call notifying you that you have won.” That’s the equivalent of leaving a message that says, “We’re totally not scammers, we promise.” If you were to call the number provided, you would more than likely be lured into an advance fee scam, where the scammers would get you to pay a phony tax or processing fee on your winnings. That’s illegal in the US, and why all legitimate sweepstakes say that no purchase is necessary.

    ***

    It was brought to the attention of police in Fairfield, California, that an ATM had a small camera known as a pinhole camera attached to it. The camera was attached to what was supposed to be a rearview security mirror. The camera is used in an operation known as skimming. Skimmers are usually attached to the card reader to get the information from your debit card’s magnetic strip. However, the camera helps the scammers get your card number and PIN. Devices like this are normally attached to freestanding ATMs like the ones in convenience stores and gas stations. However, bank ATMs are not immune to these devices.

    ***

    Recently, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a warning to its residents about text messages related to unemployment benefits. Some residents of the Keystone State have received text messages saying that their unemployment benefit debit card has been frozen. The text contains a link to supposedly verify the recipient’s identity and card status. Clicking such a link could lead to identity theft or having malware infect your device. The state has said that they never send out text messages with embedded links.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area right now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t. But now you have the knowledge to protect you if they do.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , ,   

    Scammers pose as Powerball winner 

    By Greg Collier

    We all have dreams of what we would do if we won a multi-million dollar lottery like Powerball. We even think of how generous we would be if we won. A lot of us even think about being charitable with the money, even if it’s paying off our parent’s mortgage or buying a friend a new car. Others even think about donating a large chunk of the winnings to charity or even total strangers. It’s that last part that scammers hope you’ll believe in being on the receiving end of the donation to a total stranger.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that scammers are posing as a somewhat famous Powerball winner from Wisconsin. The actual winner was a man who won a $768 million lottery jackpot in 2019. He was a retail employee before hitting the jackpot. After winning, he was known to go back to his previous employer just to hand out gift cards to random customers in the store.

    Scammers are using this man’s name in a phishing scheme. They claim to be the Powerball winner and are sending out text and social media messages telling people nationwide they’ve been chosen to receive a $50,000 gift The victims are then instructed to click on a link which will help them claim their gift. Victims have reported giving scammers their Social Security numbers along with their driver’s license information. Those two pieces of information are essentially the keys needed to steal your identity completely. Other victims have reported losing money when asked for processing fees and taxes.

    We understand there are people out there who are in dire financial need. The pressure and stress of these situations can cause almost anybody to misjudge a situation. However, if you receive an unsolicited message promising you money out of the blue, the odds are almost 100% that it’s a scam. The generous lottery winner that gives out free money is largely only seen in fiction. Even if a lottery winner wanted to give out money to random strangers like this, the legalities and logistics of doing so would make it not worth doing.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , , ,   

    Gift card scam targets Cash App users 

    By Greg Collier

    To be blunt, Cash App has a scam problem. Out of all the payment and wallet apps, Cash App seems to have an inordinate number of scammers on its platform. The scam they’re most famous for is known as cash flipping. This is where scammers post on social media that they’ll give a large amount of money to someone’s Cash App account if the person pays a small amount first. For example, scammers will promise $1500 if someone pays them $150. Cash App hasn’t helped itself in discouraging this scam, since they have a giveaway every Friday on social media. However, the difference between a legitimate Cash App giveaway and a scam is that Cash App doesn’t ask for any money in advance.

    Now, another Cash App flipping scam is circulating on social media, and it bypasses Cash App altogether while targeting its users. Scammers are offering large amounts of money on Cash App, but first the user has to buy a gift card to give to the scammer. The higher amount the gift card is, the larger amount of money the Cash App user is supposed to get back. It starts at $1500 for a $100 gift card and goes all the way up to $10,600 for a $1000 git card. Anyone who falls victim to this scam isn’t going to see any money enter their Cash App account. Instead, they’ll be out the money they paid for the gift card.

    The age-old adage of ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ really applies here. If someone is offering you something that seems too good to be true, they either want something from you or it’s an outright scam. Keep in mind that Cash App’s legitimate giveaways are considered sweepstakes and no purchase is necessary. Anyone who asks for money in advance for a giveaway is a scammer. Gift cards are also a huge signifier that this is a scam. Gift cards might even be used more in scams than as actual gifts. No legitimate agency or business will ever ask for payment in gift cards. If you’ve been a victim to any one of the Cash App scams, you can contact Cash App customer service through their app.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on September 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advance fee scam, , , , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Counterfeit Cash, Timeshares, and more 

    Getting scammed after being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    Here we are bringing you another handful of scams that you should be aware of.

    ***

    We start off with a scam out of the state of Delaware. A restaurant in the state’s capital, Dover, received a call from someone posing as the U.S. Marshals Service. The caller told an employee that they received complaints that the restaurant had been giving out counterfeit money as change. The caller also said that they would be at the restaurant in 30 minutes to ‘inspect the cash’. The employee was even threatened by the caller, stating they were currently watching the restaurant. The employee called the actual police instead. We’re not sure what the endgame of this scam was, but keep in mind that law enforcement will never call you to tell you what they’re investigating.

    ***

    In the state of New York, the Attorney General’s office is having to deal with scam letters that were sent out posing as the AG’s office. The letters indicate that the recipient is entitled to money due to a debt settled over the sale of timeshares. The NY Division of Consumer Protection has come out to let the public know that these letters are fraudulent, even though they contain the state seal. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say that the scammers were probably trying to get New York residents to pay a ‘service fee’ to get their supposed pay out. This is known as the advance fee scam. If you get a letter like this and have doubts to its authenticity, call the agency at a phone number on their website and not one that’s on the letter.

    ***

    Police in Grand Island, Nebraska, are warning residents about a number of complaints they’ve received about scammers posing as employees of Apple. The scammers are telling residents that there has been suspicious activity on their Apple accounts and that they need to remotely access your computer to resolve the problem. As you can guess, once scammers have access to your computer, they can take all the information from it, including your banking info if you use your computer for that. Monolithic companies like Apple will never call you to tell you there’s a problem. The same goes for Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. If you can’t even call some of these companies, they’re not going to call you. Anyone who asks you for remote access to your computer is almost always going to be a scammer.

    ***

    While these scams might not be happening to you now, they could in the future. Hopefully, you’re now prepared to recognize them.

     
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