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  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 3, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Young people fall for this scam more than any other 

    By Greg Collier

    Millions of people have checking accounts with their bank. However, they are mostly a checking account in name only. Thanks to the rise of debit cards and online payments, many checking account holders have never written a check in their lives. Even places of employment insist on having employees’ paychecks sent through direct deposit. While many may see this as the natural progression of technological advancement, scammers see it as an opportunity to put one over on younger victims.

    Younger people with no experience in handling paper checks are falling victim to online job scams. Many of these fake jobs are work from home positions. Once a younger person has been ‘hired’, they’re sent a paper check, so they can buy supplies for their new job. The victims are told to deposit the check into their own bank account, and use a specific vendor to purchase their supplies.

    The checks are always stolen or fraudulent. Banks don’t find out the checks are bad until days after being deposited. By then, the victim has already paid the vendor, who is just another part of the scam. When the bank finally catches up with their records, it’s the victim who’s on the hook for the money lost by the bank. With so many young people struggling to make ends meet, this could be a devastating financial loss.

    If you know a young person who is just starting out in the workforce, or one who is between jobs, we ask that you pass on this information to them. No legitimate job will ever send you a check before any work is done. Neither will they ask you to deposit a check into your own bank account to pay for company supplies. Lastly, just because a deposited check appears in your account, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fake.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Money recovered in Social Security scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    We’re starting off with a pretty grim scam today. We’ve posted about it before, but it seems to be becoming more common, so we thought we’d remind our readers about it. We’re talking about the funeral home scam. Scammers have been going through obituaries and targeting the families of the recently deceased. As a family is in the process of grieving, scammers will call them, posing as whatever funeral home the family is using. The scammers will claim the family needs to make an additional payment before their loved one could be interred.

    Scammers are constantly looking for victims who may be emotionally vulnerable, and what’s more emotional than the passing of a loved one. If you receive a phone call like this, please keep in mind that in most instances, financial arrangements are always handled at the funeral home itself. Hang up on the call, and call the funeral home directly to verify if there are any issues.

    In our second scam story, the summer months can bring about their own scams. One of those is the car wrapping scam. This is when scammers will offer to pay you for wrapping your car with advertisements. In the majority of cases, this is just an avenue for scammers to send their victims a fake check. The victim will be sent a check and told to deposit in their bank account. Then they’re told to use that money to pay the car wrap vendor through apps like Venmo or Cash App before the victim’s bank discovers the check is fraudulent. This leaves the victim on the hook to their bank for the full amount of the check and any associated fees.

    Lastly, a woman from Louisiana was one of the lucky ones recently as authorities were able to recover over $100,000 from a Social Security scam. The woman received a call from who she thought was the Social Security Administration. The news report didn’t say what the scammers were asking payment for, but typically in this scam, the scammers threaten the victim by claiming the victim’s benefits will be cut off if they don’t make the payment.

    The victim wired $146,000 to the scammers’ bank account, but police were able to work with the bank to recover $122,000 of the woman’s money. However, this is the exception and not the rule. In many scams that involve banks, the banks see the transactions as legitimate since they were made by the customer, even if it was done under duress.

    If you receive a call from the SSA, the odds are that caller is a scammer. Hang up the phone, then call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 and let them know what the caller said. If there really is an issue, the SSA will contact you by mail first.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Check scam has police impostor twist 

    By Greg Collier

    The check scam is so common place, it is often used in multiple scams. For example, there is the overpayment scam. If you’re selling something online, the buyer will send you a check that’s more than the asking amount. In employment scams, it’s used to falsely pay the employee while they pay out to scam vendors. Fake checks are even sent as prizes for contests the victims never entered. However, they all have one thing in common. The scammers want the victim to deposit the check into the victim’s bank account and have the victim send money from the account before the check is detected as fraudulent. The scammer gets paid, while the victim is held responsible for the amount of the check.

    Now, scammers are using fake checks as an intimidation tactic. Victims in South Carolina have been receiving fake checks in one of the scams listed above. After receiving the check, victims are emailed by scammers posing as the FBI. The victims are threatened with arrest by being accused of being part of a money laundering ring. While the news report doesn’t mention, we’re assuming the scammers follow up the threat by asking for the money from the check to be sent to them. Meanwhile, the supposed FBI emails are sent from a Gmail account.

    Even if a check appears to clear initially, it doesn’t guarantee its authenticity. Avoid withdrawing or spending the funds until your bank confirms that the check has fully cleared, which can take several days or even weeks.

    If someone asks you to send a portion of the money back after depositing a check, consider it a red flag. Legitimate transactions rarely involve sending money back in such a manner.

    It’s also important to remember that legitimate law enforcement agencies typically do not make arrest threats or demand immediate payments over the phone or through email. They follow proper procedures and protocols when dealing with legal matters.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 14, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers send fake check to police department 

    Scammers send fake check to police department

    By Greg Collier

    When we came across this story, not only did we find it amusing, but it also shows a key part of most scams.

    A police captain in Appleton, Wisconsin, received a strange piece of mail at his office. It was a priority envelope that contained a letter and a check. The letter offered its recipient a position as a mystery shopper. The mystery shopper or secret shopper scam is one that’s been around a long time. It even predates the internet but has adapted well to the online world.

    For those who may not know, many of the bigger chain stores employ mystery shoppers. These are store employees who go around to each store posing as a customer. Their job is to rate the store’s performance through things like appearance, customer service, and selection. However, the job isn’t as commonplace as the scammers would have you believe.

    In the mystery shopper scam, scammers send their victims a fake or stolen check. The victim is told to deposit the check in their bank account and use the funds to purchase store gift cards. Big box stores like Walmart and Target often have their names used in this scam. Once the victim buys the gift cards, they’re supposed to give the gift card numbers to the scammer, who tells the victim to keep some of the money from the check as payment.

    By the time the victim’s bank realizes the check is fake, the scammer has already made off with the gift cards, leaving the victim responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    So, did scammers intentionally try to recruit a police captain? Probably not. Scammers like to cast as wide a net as possible. The scammers most likely bought a bunch of mailing lists, and sent fake checks to as many people as possible. Most modern scams can be profitable to scammers if they only get a handful of victims to take the bait out of the thousands they try to fool.

    As far as this particular scam goes, real companies are not just going to send out checks to random people telling them they now have a job with them. And any job that asks you to deposit a check into your personal bank account to use for business purposes is a scammer.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 3, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    The Digital Trap: How Technology leaves the Young Vulnerable to Scams 

    By Greg Collier

    When we discuss older Americans being susceptible to scams, it’s usually because of their unfamiliarity with some modern technology. However, being too familiar with tech can also make someone vulnerable to scams.

    For example, young people, who use payment apps like Cash App and Venmo regularly, could be convinced to use those apps to their own detriment.

    Recently, a college student from Louisiana fell victim to a phony check scam. She thought she was applying for a job as a nanny. The scammers sent the student checks for thousands of dollars, and told her to deposit them in her own bank account. She was then instructed to send out payments for things like appliances and cleaning supplies. These payments were sent out through the Zelle and Venmo apps.

    Afterward, the bank discovered that the checks were fraudulent, but the student had already sent out all the money. In these cases, the banks hold the account holder responsible for the lost money, even if it was lost through deceitful means.

    Statistically, younger people are just as vulnerable to scams as the elderly, if not more so. This is possibly because of their unfamiliarity with traditional banking transactions. This is not intended as a criticism of young people, but rather a reminder that not everything needs to be done digitally.

    As far as this scam goes, never deposit any checks intended for business into your personal account. Real employers will never ask you to do that. Anyone who asks you to deposit a check then asks you to make payments for them is just trying to scam you.

    Lastly, apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App should only be used with friends and family. These apps make it too easy for scammers to cash out and disappear after taking your money. The companies behind the apps are typically helpless to do much after the transaction goes through, or so they say. So, if you do get scammed through these apps, a refund probably isn’t likely. Please keep in mind that while these apps may be popular in your social circles, most legitimate businesses do not accept payments through them.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 24, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    The fake check scam goes digital 

    By Greg Collier

    In recent years, digital banking has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Gone are the days of waiting in long lines at the bank or struggling to find time to visit a physical branch. With the rise of digital banking, managing your finances has never been easier. From opening accounts and applying for loans to paying bills and monitoring your transactions, digital banking allows you to take control of your money from the comfort of your own home.

    However, that convenience comes with some security risks. We’ve often discussed the fake check scam, where victims get sent a fraudulent check and are asked to return a portion of it. It used to be most prevalent with online selling, but now we tend to see it more with job scams. In both instances of the scam, physical checks are typically sent to the victims for them to deposit into their bank accounts before sending a portion of the money elsewhere. Once the bank determines the check is fraudulent, the victim becomes responsible for paying the bank back the amount of the check and then some.

    Now, there is a fake check scam where the scammers aren’t even sending physical checks. According to police from a Cleveland suburb, Scammers are approaching victims on social media and asking their victims if they can buy the pictures they’ve posted on social media. The victim is then emailed a picture of a check, which they are told they can deposit by scanning it with their bank’s app. However, like in most check scams, the check is more than the amount the scammer promised. The victim is told to send the difference back through Zelle or Venmo once the check has cleared the victim’s account. The scammers then make off with the money from the victim, while the victim gets charged by their bank.

    If you ever receive a check, whether physical or digital, if it’s for more than the amount you were promised, do not deposit it. It’s almost guaranteed to be a fake. No legitimate professional or business would ask you to pay them the difference through Zelle or Venmo. These apps are meant to be used between friends and families and not random strangers promising you money.

    Banks and financial institutions have implemented several measures to protect their customers from these risks, but users also have a responsibility to protect their account and personal information. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of digital banking while keeping your finances safe and secure.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Sweepstakes scam has a new twist 

    By Greg Collier

    Outside of law enforcement, Publisher’s Clearing House has to be one of the most impersonated organizations. We’re certain that most of us are familiar with the actual PCH. Older generations might remember the TV commercials where Ed McMahon would show up to a winner’s house with a large novelty check. More modern commercials show PCH’s Prize Patrol van showing up to congratulate the winner.

    Scammers often imitate PCH while trying to dupe their victims. Typically, scammers will use the Publisher’s Clearing House name to commit an advance fee scam. This is when a victim is told they are a PCH winner, but they need to make a payment to cover things like taxes and processing fees. If a victim does make a payment, the scammers will string the victim along with excuses for why the victim hasn’t received their prize money yet. They’ll then tell the victim that more payments need to be made and will continue this grift until the victim finally catches on.

    More recently, scammers have tried a new tactic using the PCH name in an attempt to fleece their victims, and they’re using another scam to try and accomplish that. Residents of Kentucky have said they’ve received letters telling them that they’ve won second place in the PCH Sweepstakes. Instead of telling the residents they need to make a payment to claim their prize, these scammers are including a check that will cover the cost of insurance and attorney fees.

    Of course, the checks are fraudulent and while the news report doesn’t go into detail, we imagine the victims will be asked to deposit the check in their own bank account and then pay an attorney or insurance agent chosen by the scammers. And as always, once the bank determines the check is fake, the victim will be responsible for the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers get away with the money.

    It’s actually rather easy to protect yourself from this scam. Even if you did enter the sweepstakes, keep in mind the phrase ‘no purchase necessary’. This includes things like the phony fees that scammers keep trying to inflict on their victims. When it comes to sweepstakes like this, it’s actually illegal for the sweepstakes to charge the winner to get their prize.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Fake check scam targets lower income families and more 

    Scam Round Up: Fake check scam targets lower income families and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the round up we’re bringing you two scams that take advantage of the disadvantaged and one that can affect any business and its customers.


    The business email compromise scam is one of the more insidious scams. While it targets businesses, it’s usually the customers who lose the most. This is when scammers hijack a business’ email client and use it to deceive customers into making payments to the scammers. Typically, we’ve seen this when scammers convince homebuyers to send their closing costs to the scammers.

    More recently, scammers hijacked the email client of a roofing company in Florida. If you’ll recall, many Florida residents are still recovering from Hurricane Ian. The scammers sent emails to customers asking them to send their payments through the Zelle payment app. One customer lost $1800 to the scammers.

    If a business that you’re dealing with that you’re expected to make a large payment to, be wary if you’re suddenly asked to pay in nontraditional means. These can be payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency just to name a few. If you receive one of these emails, call the business to verify the payment request.


    Our next scam is one of the oldest scams out there and predates the internet. Residents in Pennsylvania have reported receiving letters in the mail that are promising them an inheritance. This isn’t just a tired plot device from old TV shows, and victims have fallen for this scam.

    One of two things typically happen with the inheritance scam. The victim is either asked to make some kind of payment to secure the inheritance, or they’re asked for their banking information. Either way, it can be a devastating financial loss for the victims, especially if they’re in desperate financial need.

    If you receive one of these letters, toss it in the trash. The odds that the letter is legitimate are slim. If you still think there’s an outside chance it might be real, check your family lineage first before making any payments.


    Our last scam is quite an insidious one. Scammers are sending fake checks to families in traditionally low-income areas. Victims are being told that they’re receiving a payment from UNICEF because of their income status.

    As with any fake check scam, the victims are being instructed to deposit the check and are being asked to send a portion of the payment to a third party. Some of the checks have been as much as $9600.

    If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll know that the banks will allow the victims to access that money as a courtesy before the bank discovers the check is fraudulent. Then the victim is responsible for paying the amount of the check back to the bank. Meanwhile, the scammers make off with the amount that the victim sent to the third party.

    If you receive a check in the mail you’re not expecting, dispose of it. Especially if you’re being asked to send a part of it somewhere else. That can only end up as a substantial financial loss.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 12, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scams prey on desperate jobseekers 

    By Greg Collier

    Pundits and naysayers will try to tell you that nobody wants to work anymore. What many claim the real problem to be is that many employers won’t pay a living wage. So, some jobseekers could be forgiven for ignoring red flags when being offered a job with good wages from someone who turns out to be a scammer.

    A woman in Arizona recently lost $5000 to a scammer who promised her a $72,000 a year job. The scammers claimed to be from a legitimate company that is headquartered in Australia, but has positions in the US. This would be a work from home position, and she was hired after an audio-only online interview. Then a scam familiar to our readers began to take hold.

    The Arizona woman was sent a check for $5000 by her supposed employer. She was instructed to deposit the check into her banking account, keep $300 for herself, and use the remaining $4700 to buy office equipment for her position. So, she deposited the check and after the check showed up in her account, she bought $4700 worth of money orders and sent them to the so-called office equipment vendor.

    But, as this story always goes, the check sent to the victim turned out to be a fraudulent check. Banks will make the funds available after a deposit out of courtesy within a few days. However, it takes longer than that for the banks to determine a check is fake. This leaves scam victims in the lurch, with them usually having to pay the amount of the check back to the bank.

    No real employer will ever ask you to deposit a check into your banking account, then ask you to use the money to pay someone else. Most big businesses have fleets of accountants and accounts payable people to make payments like that.

    If you’re hired very quickly after an online interview or hired on the spot, there’s a good chance the offer isn’t legitimate. If they’re representing themselves as being from an actual company, go to their website to see if the position they’re offering actually exists.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Work from home scammers have thought of everything 

    By Greg Collier

    We never like to give scammers any credit, but sometimes they’re pretty clever and their scams ingenious. A profitable scam requires a massive investment of time and has to be planned out meticulously. Plans have to be made for almost any situation, in case something with the scam goes off-script somewhere along the way. That’s part of what makes scams so frustrating. Scammers could probably be successful in legitimate fields if they put their minds to it. Instead, we get stories like this where victims lose thousands of dollars.

    A woman from the Kansas City area recently graduated from college. Since she didn’t own a vehicle, she wanted to find a job where she could work from home. She accepted a job offer that she thought was a legitimate company. What was actually going in is that the scammers were posing as this company. She even did her due diligence by researching the company.

    The problems started, as most work from home scams do, when she received a check from her phony employer. They asked her to deposit the check into her bank account, then use Zelle to send money to an office supply company for her work equipment. Surprisingly, Zelle blocked the transaction.

    The scammers didn’t even hesitate. They then instructed her to go to a local Bitcoin ATM to send $4500 to the office supply company, which she did.

    As you might expect, the check turned out to be a fake, and now the woman is responsible for the $5000 check she deposited into her account.

    No matter how legitimate the company may seem, no real employer is going to ask you to deposit a check into your bank account and then have you use it for business expenses. Real companies just don’t work that way. They also won’t have you pay vendors using apps like Zelle, nor Bitcoin ATMs. Real employers have vendors that they’ll pay themselves to furnish any equipment that may be needed for a legitimate work from home job.

    Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to rip you off.

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