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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , apartment fire, , Bronx, charity scam, , , , 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 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , charity scam, , , , ,   

    How to donate safely to tornado victims 

    How to donate safely to tornado victims

    By Greg Collier

    We’re sure you’ve heard the news that over the weekend, at least 50 tornadoes touched down in eight states in the South and the Midwest. The state of Kentucky was said to have received the brunt of the storms and the most damage. While we have to yet see any reports of it yet, it’s almost guaranteed that charity scams will follow in the wake of the tornadoes’ devastation. Scammers have long used tragedies, both natural and man made, to try and take money that could be better used providing relief to the victims.

    The State of Kentucky is trying to get ahead of these scams by letting donators know that the state has set up an official relief fund website where anyone can donate money to assist the victims in Kentucky. Fundraising platform GoFundMe has also set up a portal to help guide contributors to legitimate fundraising channels to help the victims in not only Kentucky, but the other state’s as well. And you can always donate money or blood to the Red Cross.

    People looking to donate to a relief fund should be wary of phone or email solicitors that come from generic sounding entities like ‘Disaster Relief Fund’. If a charity appears to be trying to pressure you into making a donation either over the phone or online, there’s a good chance that they’re scammers.

    If you’d prefer not to donate to any of the charities listed above, you can always check the legitimacy of a charity by going to websites like Charity Navigator and Give.org that can let you know which charities are legitimate and which ones aren’t. You can also check with the IRS to see if a charity is registered with them, which goes a long way in showing the charity’s legitimacy.

    The following video is from the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornado disaster, but the tips remain just as relevant.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: charity scam, Gabby Petito, , ,   

    Phony GoFundMe pages set up for missing woman 

    By Greg Collier

    One of our mantras here is that there is no tragedy that scammers won’t take care of. They don’t care who they hurt in order to make a quick buck. In this case, it’s the family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito who went missing in Grand Teton National Park. Sadly, at the time of this writing, investigators believe they found her body. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest.

    Scammers have used the tragedy to set up phony GoFundMe pages to solicit unsuspecting good Samaritans who just want to help. According to one news report, four different fake GoFundMe pages were set up using Gabby Petito’s name. According to Gabby’s family, the only verified donation sites are this GoFundMe and a donation page at the John MacNamara foundation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve posted about crime victims being used in GoFundMe scams. It’s horrible enough that these families are going through one of the worst tragedies that a family can endure, they don’t need these predatory scammers making things worse.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to a charity or fundraiser to help out victims of a tragedy like this. What we are saying is to take a step back before you click that donate button. While it’s commendable that your heart wants you to help those in need as soon as possible, it’s an unfortunate fact that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity. What you should do is make sure that GoFundMe page is legitimate by checking local news sources. Local news is great in getting the word out about legitimate crowdfunding accounts.

    At this time, we here at Geebo would like to extend our condolences to Gabby Petito’s family and friends.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , charity scam, , earthquake, haiti, ,   

    Warning issued over disaster relief scams 

    Warning issued over disaster relief scams

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve been following the news recently, you might have heard about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The earthquake left close to 2,000 victims dead, with thousands more displaced. And this was after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Grace. You might be moved to make a charitable donation to help the disaster relief, but as usual, scammers are looking to take advantage of the plight of the Haitians for their own personal gain. So, you can’t just donate to any charity that comes along claiming to help the Haiti disaster.

    The Florida Attorney General’s office has issued a warning about charity scams related to the earthquake. While the scams haven’t appeared yet, the Florida Attorney General expects them to descend on Florida due to their large Haitian population. However, it will probably also start spreading outside of the Sunshine State.

    You should avoid donating to any charity that has a vague name like ‘Disaster Relief Fund’. Charities that solicit you out of the blue by using robocalls or mass emails could be suspect as well.

    If you want to make a meaningful donation, there are ways to check to make sure the charity you’re donating to is legitimate. For example, there are websites like Charity Navigator and Give.org that can let you which charities are for real and which ones aren’t. You can also check to see if a charity is registered with the IRS.

    As with most scams, if you’re contacted out of the blue, do not give any personal or financial information to whoever is contacting you. Also, be careful of any crowdfunding campaign that is being run by anonymous or unknown individuals.

    The people of Haiti deserve our help, and your contribution shouldn’t go into the pockets of a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: charity scam, , hurricanes, , ,   

    How hurricane season scams could affect you 

    How hurricane season scams could affect you

    By Greg Collier

    With the hurricane season just underway, there are expected to be up to 20 named storms in the Atlantic this year. While not all of the named storms will make landfall, there is still potential for storm related damage to affect those in hurricane-prone areas. If the devastation from the storms aren’t bad enough, damaging storms can also bring all sorts of scammers out of the woodwork. Some of these scams can affect you even if you don’t live in the storm-ravaged area.

    If you do live in the storm area, you have to be aware of scam contractors. These are scammers claiming to be contractors who offer help to repair your home. According to the Better Business Bureau, these phony contractors travel from storm to storm, looking for victims. They’ll claim to be licensed, but they may not be licensed in your state. You should only deal with contractors that are licensed in your state. Another good way to avoid this scam is to get estimates from a few contractors. Also, you should never pay in advance as that could be an indication of a scam.

    Another act of fraud that almost inevitably happens with natural disasters is price gouging. This is when businesses will start charging outrageous prices for items or services that are in demand during a crisis. One of the biggest areas of price gouging comes from hotels when people are trying to find emergency lodging. Not only could this price gouging happen in your area, but it could also happen in areas not affected by the storm as shady proprietors could be expecting an influx of people escaping the storm.

    There are also charity scams to look out for. After every major storm, scammers will start posing as charities looking to pressure you into making a donation to them. These phony charities will often have generic sounding names like ‘Storm Relief Fund’ for example. If you want to financially help those affected by the storm it’s always a safe bet to donate to the Red Cross. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to see if the charity you want to donate to is legitimate or not.

    Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, the area you live in probably has its own share of natural disasters. Whether it’s blizzards, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, or what have you, these scams will move into your area if a natural disaster occurs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , charity scam, , , San Jose,   

    Scammers take advantage of another tragedy 

    Scammers take advantage of another tragedy

    By Greg Collier

    Last week there was yet another mass shooting in America. In San Jose, California, a 57-year-old man shot and killed eight people at a rail yard. The gunman was a rail yard employee who is said to have had a grudge against his workplace. Before police could apprehend the gunman, he took his own life. While the loss to the victims’ families can’t be measured in a dollar amount, many of them found themselves in immediate financial need. As has become common in these scenarios, many of the families set up GoFundMe pages as fundraisers for the families’ expenses. As has also become common, it didn’t take long for the scammers to move in.

    According to local news reports, the victims’ names had not even been made public yet before scammers started setting up phony GoFundMe pages. One scammer set up a GoFundMe using the name of someone who was not one of the victims while purporting to be for one of the victims. Another phony GoFundMe claiming to be for funeral services for one of the victims had already collected pledges before being shut down as a fraud.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to a charity or fundraiser to help out victims of a tragedy like this. What we are saying is to take a step back before you click that donate button. While it’s commendable that your heart wants you to help those in need as soon as possible, it’s an unfortunate fact that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity. We’re not even saying don’t use GoFundMe as they’ve worked with the victims families to verify their GoFundMe pages. A list of those pages can be found here. What we are saying is that you should do a little research before giving money to a fundraiser that could be taking money away from those who desperately need it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , charity scam, , medical expenses, , ,   

    Family dealing with cancer plagued by scammers 

    Family dealing with cancer plagued by scammers

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve been writing about scams and scammers for a while now. You’d think we wouldn’t be surprised by any type of scam anymore or how pervasive they’ve become. Yet, we’re about to tell you about one of the most disheartening scams we’ve ever heard of.

    There is a family in Warwick, Rhode Island who are dealing with one of the most challenging things a family can go through. Their two-year-old son is battling a rare form of cancer. The community has come together to support the family. Not only through a GoFundMe but the local police are also collecting donations for the child’s medical expenses.

    Unfortunately, these days wherever there is hardship there’s someone looking to take advantage of the situation. In this case, there have been a few someones who have been trying to profit from this family’s struggle. As we previously mentioned, the only two official places where donations are being collected are GoFundMe and the local police department. However, multiple scammers have used the toddler’s name to try to collect money for themselves. Scammers are said to be using both Instagram and Cash App to falsely claim they’re collecting money for the two-year-old.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, scammers even approached the two-year-old’s father. He says that he received a text message from someone posing as the child’s doctor asking for money for the child’s healthcare. No family should have to deal with the anguish of worrying about both a child with cancer and the expenses that entails let alone having to deal with scammers who are potentially taking money that could have gone to the boy’s medical bills.

    It’s sad that we have to be skeptical about charity, but that’s the world we live in today. I’m certain that has caused many people to stop donating to worthy causes because of the number of scammers who pose as charities. You can still give to charity, you just need to do a little research first.

    If you can afford it and find it in your heart you can donate to the boy’s treatment fund at this GoFundMe.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: charity scam, , , ,   

    The scams after the storm 

    The scams after the storm

    By Greg Collier

    Even though temperatures are returning to normal in Texas, there is still a lot of clean-up that needs to be done in the Lone Star State. Power lines still need to be restored and many Texas residents experienced substantial home damage after frozen pipes burst in their homes. After any disaster, scavengers will descend upon the area looking to take advantage of those in need. The Texas winter storm is no different, and it’s not just Texas residents that have to look out for scammers.

    If you live in the affected areas of Texas, you might want to keep an eye out for shady or phony contractors who appear out of the blue offering to repair your home. If you receive unsolicited calls offering repair service or someone just shows up to your home, there’s a very good chance that they are a scammer. We’re obviously not saying that all contractors are scammers, however, there are many scammers who pose as contractors.

    If you were to accept one of these offers, you could be looking at unfinished work at best and loss of potential federal assistance funds at worst. The Texas Department of insurance recommends getting multiple bids from contractors before settling on one to repair your home. You might be tempted to go with the first offer since you want your home operating properly as soon as possible, but that could possibly lead to even more problems. In turn, that could potentially further delay your home from returning to normal.

    You should also avoid anyone who says they’ll waive your insurance deductible or asks for a large down payment or full payment up front. In many cases, these actions are illegal in Texas.

    For people living outside of Texas, you have to be wary of charity scams. If you receive a phone call, text, email, or social media message soliciting for donations, ignore them and delete them. Most scammers will use vague names of charities like ‘Storm Relief’. They’ll also try to pressure you into making a donation at that very moment. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t donate to a legitimate charity to help those in need in Texas. CNN has a list of legitimate charities assisting in Texas disaster relief. You can also go to Charity Navigator to make sure the charity you’re donating to will actually get help to where it’s needed most.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , charity scam, ,   

    Charity scams hit hardest this time of year 

    Charity scams hit hardest this time of year

    This time of year, many charities see increases in donations due to the giving spirit of the holidays. However, there are some organizations posing as charities that might not help who they claim to.

    Most charity scams start with unsolicited phone calls. They’ll claim to be collecting money for an official-sounding charity or a charity that uses a similar name to an official charity. They may also use a generic phrase like they’re collecting for bond relief without giving a specific charity name. They’ll then try to pressure you into making a payment right then and there before you can hang up. Often they’ll try to get you to make a donation using an untraceable method like cash, gift cards, or wiring the money.

    If you’re thinking about donating to a charity that collects online, you may want to think about doing a proper web search about the charity first. Put the name of the charity into the search engine along with phrases like ‘complaints’, ‘review’, or even ‘scam. Also, make sure that you’re not signing up for a series of monthly donations.

    You should also be careful of phishing emails that pretend to be from charities. Much like the unsolicited phone calls, the emails will look like they’ve been sent from actual well-known charities. In one instance, a man clicked on an email link to donate to a charity, and his device became infected with ransomware. Not only did he end up losing all his files, but his identity was stolen as well.

    If you’re looking to donate in order to support the cause, you can use the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to aid you in your research of charities.

    There really is no level that online scammers won’t stoop to. If you just take a few moments to do some research, you can protect yourself from falling victim to these con artists.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breast cancer awareness month, charity scam, pinkwashing   

    Beware of 'pink' scams this October 

    Even though our country is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean that other illnesses have taken a back seat. As we’re sure you’re aware of, October is officially recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, in one year, 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and roughly 42,170 women will die from breast cancer.

    It’s around this time of year that most of the major breast cancer charities and foundations make the majority of their donations. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped scammers from trying to take money out of the donation coffers.

    Now, we’re not talking about which charities are best when it comes to the actual goal of finding a cure. We’re talking more about the con artists who will try to fleece you into giving a phony donation.

    Any scammer or con artist can slap a pink ribbon on a coffee mug or t-shirt and claim the proceeds are going to breast cancer research, but are they? The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about scams like this that are called ‘pinkwashing’.

    While it might be easy to just buy the first thing that claims to be for breast cancer awareness, it might be better to research a charity that could do the most good. For example, we found a breast cancer charity on Charity Navigator that has a perfect four-star rating.

    However, you may want to consider donating your time or money to a charity that is more local to you. You can do a web search for ‘local breast cancer charities near me’ to find local charities but still do your research and look for reviews to make sure their goals align with yours.

    Wouldn’t you rather see your money go to someone who could use it instead of someplace just looking to make a buck?

     
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