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

    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 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , 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 8:00 am on August 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: back to school, check scam, , , , 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 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, Dog The Bounty Hunter, Duane Chapman,   

    You can’t scam The Dog 

    You can't scam The Dog

    We’ve talked about the phony check scam many times in the past. The gist of the scam is that the scammer will send you a forged or phony check for whatever reason and will try to get you to deposit the check into your bank account. The scammers will then try to get you to wire them the difference while telling you to keep a portion of the check. Inevitably, the check turns out to be phony and you get stuck with any money that is owed the bank. Meanwhile, the scammers make off with the bulk of their ill-gotten gains. It seems that no one is immune to this type of scam as scammers tried pulling this ploy on one of the last people you would want to.

    Duane Chapman is more famously known as Dog The Bounty Hunter. Not only did Chapman have a successful reality series but he rose to prominence when he apprehended wanted fugitive Andrew Luster in 2003. More recently, scammers sent a check to Chapman in the amount of $430,000 for an alleged speaking engagement in Dubai. Immediately, Chapman’s agent felt that there was something suspect about the check. The first thing was that the check had an address that went to an empty building in Sacramento, California while supposedly being from a company in Oregon. The other part that seemed odd was that Chapman and his agent were instructed to ‘donate’ half of the check back to the organization running the event. As you can guess, there was no event and the check was a bogus one.

    Sadly, this isn’t the first scam that Duane Chapman has had to endure recently. After the recent passing of his wife Beth, Chapman took to social media to warn people not to accept any friend requests that claim to be him. In some cases, fans of his had accepted the requests and later found themselves out of thousands of dollars.

    The fake accounts were asking for contributions while trying to capitalize on Chapman’s loss.

    Getting back to the phony check scam, Chapman’s team did everything right in uncovering this deception. First off, if someone sands you a check then asks you to send part of that sum back to them or a third party it’s likely a scam. If you’re still not sure, check the address from where the check was supposedly issued. Also, look for mismatched names from the people who have allegedly issued the check. Often the name on the check will not be from the person you would be talking to.

     
  • Geebo 8:02 am on July 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bond scam, , check scam, , , , ,   

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam by victim 

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

    A woman in Northern Kentucky is accused of stealing in upwards of $4 million as part of a romance scam and has been arrested for the alleged theft. The thing is that even though she’s accused of stealing this large sum of money, she’s also the victim in this story. She was the one who was reportedly strung along by the scammers. Investigators say that she never kept any of her employer’s money and sent it all to someone she believed to be in a relationship with. This was after she had sent the scammers all of her own money. Now in most instances, you can’t find yourself in a position where you can embezzle large amounts of money like this without having some form of professional background meaning that even educated people can find themselves falling victim to a romance scam.

    In other scam news, residents of Southern California are being warned about a phony bond scam that has been plaguing the area. Some Sheriffs Offices have been receiving complaints about phony government agents calling residents and telling them that their Social Security numbers have been involved in various frauds. To avoid arrest the residents are being told to pay a bond. As can be expected in these type of scams, the residents are told that they can pay the ‘bond’ using gift cards such as Apple, Google Play, or WalMart gift cards. No government agency, whether it is local or federal, will ever ask you to pay any kind of fee using gift cards. If you are to receive one of these phone calls, it is recommended that you hang up immediately and contact your local police.

    Lastly for today, we have a reminder about the phony check scam. If you’re unfamiliar with this scam it’s one of the more prolific scams on the internet. Whether you’re trying to sell something online or applying for a job online, some unscrupulous scammer will send you a check and ask you to deposit the check in your bank account before sending them back the difference. The check is always a fake and once your bank discovers that, you’ll be on the hook for the money while the scammers make off with the funds. One of these phony checks recently targeted an online seller in North Dakota who was quick to notice the discrepancies in the scammer’s story. The texts they were receiving were from a California number while the check was mailed from New York and calls were coming from someone named Larry while the checks came from someone named Donna. If you ever feel like something is off when dealing with online sales and purchases it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , ,   

    Double craigslist scam and more 

    Double craigslist scam and more

    Previously, we’ve told you about gift card scams and phony check scams. Now, at least one scammer tried to swindle someone using both scams at the same time. A woman in Madison, Wisconsin was trying to sell an item on craigslist and she received a check for more than $1000 than what she was asking for. The scammers told her to deposit the check and return most of the balance in gift cards. Luckily, the woman did not fall for the scam. If she had, not only would she have been on the hook for the amount of the phony check but once the gift card numbers would have been given to the scammer, the funds would be virtually untraceable.

    ***

    Speaking of gift cards, a New York man was arrested after allegedly using stolen gift cards to withdraw money at an ATM. The man allegedly used the account information from the gift cards to withdraw around $9,000. While the report doesn’t clarify what kind of gift cards were used we would imagine that they were something along the lines of a pre-paid VISA gift card. This is another potential reason you may want to avoid using gift cards as presents. We have some great tips here on how to avoid being ripped off when buying gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, you may be tempted to buy a device online that promises you unlimited access to free movies and TV shows. Devices comparing themselves to the Amazon Fire Stick are showing up claiming to be ‘jailbroken’ which allow you to circumvent copyright protection in order to stream movies and TV shows which you would normally have to pay for a service like HBO to view. As you can probably guess, these devices are not only illegal but they’re usually loaded with malware according to CNET. This malware could potentially hijack devices connected to your home network such as microphones and cameras and could also send your personal information to any number of identity thieves. In the long run, you’re better off paying for a legitimate streaming service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: car wrapping, check scam, , , ,   

    Wrapped car jobs, more from the IRS, and DNA scams 

    https://wwmt.com/news/local/better-business-bureau-warns-of-car-wrap-scam-found-in-local-newspaper

    What a wrapped car may look like.

    We have three scams happening across the country for you again. As we’ve stated before, if the scams are happening in one community, they could be happening in yours.

    If you think you’re not going to get scammed by using your local newspaper’s classified section you’d be wrong. While not as prevalent on some of our competitor’s sites, scams do happen on print classifieds as well. For example, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the BBB is reporting that a number of people have submitted complaints about an ad promising $300-$400 per week by driving your car around with advertisements on it. It’s called car wrapping and is usually as much as a legitimate job as a secret shopper. And the goal of the car wrapping scam is the same as the secret shopper. People who applied for the job were told to cash a check they were sent, keep some of it as your payment, and send the remainder to someone else. The check turns out to be phony but if you cashed the check your bank will make you foot the full amount of the check. Remember, there’s no such thing as easy money.

    With the annual income tax deadline looming, the IRS has released their Dirty Dozen of IRS scams. Some of these scams we’ve covered before such as don’t take calls from someone claiming to be the IRS as they ever rarely call someone over tax issues. One of the scams that we’ve not mentioned before is to be wary of shady tax return preparers. While most tax professionals would never try to rip off a client, there are some shifty ones who would use your tax return as a way to steal your identity. They may also promise you an unusually high return. The IRS also warns you not to avoid paying taxes by claiming that income tax is somehow illegal or unconstitutional. No one has ever proven that and you’ll end up owing the government a lot more money than you did before.

    Previously we’ve posted about a scam where a scammer poses as your county and threatens to send you to jail for skipping jury duty. The scammers will try to make you pay a fine over the phone which most county governments never do. Now, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada is warning about a twist on that scam. In this new scam, the perpetrators claim to be local police and that your DNA has been found at a crime scene. They’ll then try to get you to make a payment through Bitcoin, wire transfer, or gift cards. Again, if you’re DNA was found at a crime scene, police would come to your location and not make a phone call. That’s not to mention that county governments would not ask for payment outside of check, cash or credit/debit card.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , shimming, white van scam   

    Shimming, white vans, and employment scams 

    Shimming, white vans, and employment scams

    Today, we’re bringing you three scams from around the country that may also affect you in your area.

    The first is what’s called shimming. If you’re the type that wiggles the card slots at gas pumps and ATMs to check for card skimmers, you have a new concern about your credit card. Much like skimming, in shimming the scammers place a device in the card reader that reads the new security chips on credit and debit cards instead of the magnetic strip. If you’re thinking the new chips were supposed to make cards more secure you are correct, however, the scammers were quick to crack the chip. One of the ways you can tell if a card reader you’re using has been shimmed is if the card feels too tight when put into the card reader. If so, cancel the transaction immediately.

    The second scam we have today is a scam that predates the internet but is still going on today. It’s called the white van scam and usually involves knock off or stolen electronics. Back in the pre-internet era, this scam would involve someone trying to sell you stereo components at a steep discount but now the scam usually offers discounted ‘high end’ TVs or other modern electronics. The scammers will claim that they work for a legitimate retailer or company and say that they have too much inventory and need to sell these units at a discounted price. As with most scams, they will try to pressure you hard into purchasing one of the items from their vehicle. These scammers tend to target their victims in strip mall parking lots and other locations near ATMs.

    Lastly, the secret shopper employment scam has made the news again. While many retailers do employ secret shoppers to review the work retail staff, these jobs aren’t as readily available as the internet may have you think. Recently, a woman from Greensboro, North Carolina, almost fell for this scam. The so-called secret shopper service sent her a check for thousands of dollars and asked her to use the money to buy gift cards at retailers. She was then supposed to send the gift cards back to the secret shopping service and keep some of the money for herself as payment. Of course, there are two red flags that the woman noticed and that was the fact of the scammers asking her to deposit a check and send them gift cards. Both are well-known scams as if she had deposited the phony check and spent the money she would have been responsible for the money owed to her bank. Not only that but the scammers would have received the gift cards and used the fraudulently purchased gift cards as they saw fit.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , Tennessee   

    Are you in danger of this twist on the check scam? 

    Are you in danger of this twist on the check scam?

    I’ve been writing about various scams for quite some time now. One of the more prevalent scams is what’s referred to as the fake check scam. How this scam usually works is when you post something for sale online, you may receive a check for more than your asking price. The person who sent you the check will say something along the lines of the excess amount was a mistake and that you should deposit the check then wire them back the difference. You should never deposit one of these checks as they often turn out to be counterfeit and you could end up being responsible for paying the full amount of the phony check to your bank. Now, there is a variation of that scam which targets people who write personal checks in their daily lives.

    While this may not technically be a new scam, it is the first I’m hearing about it and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard of a new scam. Anyway, in Tennessee, an IT professional discovered that several thousand dollars were missing from her checking account. When she contacted her bank it turned out that some unscrupulous type was printing out cashiers checks using her banking account information. While the bank was able to return her money to her, the scammer used the bogus checks to buy a motorcycle off of craigslist. That means that whoever was selling the motorcycle basically had their motorcycle stolen.

    So how did a con artist get a hold of this woman’s checking account information? Well, if you write personal checks on a regular basis any number of people would be able to ascertain your account information since your account and routing numbers are printed on each check. Then a phony cashiers check with your information could be produced on just about any printer. While writing checks is slowly becoming a dying practice, there are still some holdouts. I’m sure we all either know someone who still writes checks or have run into someone who still uses checks as their primary form of payment. In our digital age, while not perfect, debit cards are a much more secure and convenient form of payment. If you know an avid check writer, please consider sharing this story with them in hopes of keeping their personal finances safer.

     
  • Geebo 8:47 am on September 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , ,   

    Fake check scam hitting new highs 

    Fake check scam hitting new highs

    If you’ve been following our blog for a while you’re probably familiar with the fake check scam. It’s a scam that has been around since the early days of craigslist but has since expanded into other avenues. If you’re unfamiliar with the scam, a scammer will send you a check for various reasons and will ask you to deposit the check into your banking account then will have you wire them back a large portion of the money they sent you. The problem is, by the time the bank finds out the check is a fake, you’ve already sent the money back and you’re stuck with repaying the check amount back to the bank.

    Since this scam has been around for such a long time and has been written about a myriad of times, one could assume that the scam was on the decline. Not so says the Better Business Bureau as a new report they recently released claims that as many as 500,000 people in the US fell victim to this scam last year at an average rate of $1200 per person. If their estimation is correct, that means scammers cost their victims around $600 million altogether.

    As I previously stated, this scam has evolved into taking many different forms although there are many common ones. The most common is when you’re trying to sell something online and you receive a check for more than the amount your asking. Another common tactic the scammers take is tied to an employment scam, like secret shoppers. They’ll send you a check for phony expenses and have you wire the money to a phony vendor. Sweepstakes scams are another favorite tactic of fake check scammers where they will send you a check but you need to wire someone the taxes or fees needed to handle the cost.

    Any time someone you don’t know personally asks you to deposit a check into your bank account is more than likely trying to scam you. Another good tip-off to being scammed is when you’re asked to wire any kind of money to a third-party. Scammers have been taking advantage of money wiring services for years as in many cases they can receive the money anywhere and walk away with your cash completely anonymously.

     
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