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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    The original fake check scam resurfaces 

    The original fake check scam resurfaces

    The fake check scam has been around as long as items have been sold on the internet. As we have shown, there are many variations on the fake check scam, but to our knowledge, this one was the first. We even used to call it the Craigslist check scam since it was so prevalent on their platform.

    This scam happens when you try to sell something online no matter what platform you may choose to use. You’ll receive a check from a prospective buyer for more than the amount you were asking for. The buyer will give some excuse why the check was written like that. They’ll then ask you to deposit the check and just return the overage.

    The problem occurs when your bank finds out it’s a fake check after you’ve already returned the overage to the phony buyer. Even though you’ve been the victim of a scam, your bank will hold you responsible for the full amount of the fake check you deposited along with any associated fees.

    This recently happened to a woman from New Jersey. She had lost her job because of COVID and was selling some of her personal belongings on the OfferUp app. She listed some furniture for sale and it wasn’t long before a prospective buyer contacted her on OfferUp. The buyer then moved all communications to text messaging.

    The buyer even had a sob story all ready to go to get the seller’s defenses to go down. The buyer claimed that her grandmother was ill in the hospital and that the buyer’s secretary accidentally sent a check for the wrong amount. The check received was for over $2600 when the seller was only asking $900.

    The seller offered to have the check destroyed so the buyer could send a new one. Instead, the buyer insisted the check be deposited and the seller could send $1000 of the overage back through payment app Zelle and the rest through Venmo which the seller did. The check turned out to be a fake cashier’s check and now the unemployed seller has to pay at least $1700 back to her bank.

    When you’re selling on any online marketplace, any time you receive a check that’s more than your asking amount it’s almost guaranteed to be a fake. Also, be aware of any kind of sob story attached to an irregular payment like this. You should also be aware of any transactions that are offered to be done over payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App as scammers can block you after taking your money.

    We always recommend only doing business locally and only with cash. Also, you should do any exchanges of items and money at a local police station as many stations now have areas set up for such occasions. While it may not be the perfect solution, it does go a long way in discouraging criminal behavior from happening.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , ,   

    Job scams affect college students too 

    Job scams affect college students too

    When we think of scams, we often think of the elderly being the targets of scammers. However, college-age people are just as susceptible to scams as older generations. Some reports say it’s due to their lack of experience in dealing with such scams while others say it’s because their generation is more trusting. Either way, they have become very lucrative for various types of scammers.

    For example, a young college student who lives in Arizona was recently taken for over $3000 in a job scam. The student attends college at a Midwestern University but is currently home for the summer and was looking for a job. She received a job offer from someone that appeared to be a faculty member at her university. The email address was even said to have the .edu identifier in it.

    The job they offered her is a familiar one when it comes to scams. They would send her a check, she would deposit it in her own bank account, then buy supplies from a designated supplier. She was then instructed to keep $400 of the check as her payment.

    It was after she made all the payments that the check she was sent turned out to be a fraudulent check. She was then responsible to her bank for the entire amount of the $3,550 check. As it turned out, her university’s email had been compromised and scammers were using it to lure several students into the scam.

    The fake check scam is at the heart of several different scams from job scams to purchase scams. No legitimate employer will ever ask you to donate a check into your personal bank account outside of your pay. If one does, it’s almost certain to be a scam. A scam that could very well leave you worse off than you might have already been.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    A new series of scams to look out for 

    A new series of scams to look out for

    Here are some new scams that we’ve found out about that are going on around the country. Please keep in mind that just because they are not currently happening in your area doesn’t mean that they can’t.

    Another victim has been scammed through the freelancer platform Upwork. In Pennsylvania, a woman had accepted an editing position that she had found on Upwork. She was sent a check for $2000 by her ’employer’ in order to buy equipment for her position. She was then instructed to send what wasn’t spent back to her employer through Venmo and gift cards. The $2000 check later turned out to be fraudulent. Upwork has said that you should not communicate with a client outside of the Upwork platform. If you receive a check in the mail and are asked to send a balance back through untraceable means like Venmo or gift cards, it’s almost a guarantee that the job is a scam.

    In Northern California, at least one resident has reported a new scam that had happened to them. They say they received a text message where a cybercriminal claimed that they had total control of the victim’s cell phone including the microphone and camera. The scammer then tried to extort $1500 in cryptocurrency out of the person they texted. The odds are very slim that your phone will be hijacked in this way. That’s also not taking into account that when you pay a purported blackmailer like this, they will continue to try and squeeze as much money out of you as possible. If you receive a text like this you are asked to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Lastly, in Tulsa, Oklahoma man fell for a customer service scam that left him out of $1500. The man was having issues with his Cash App account. He called what he thought was Cash App’s customer service department but was actually a scammer. Before it was all over, the man’s Cash App account had been drained by the scammers. In this day and age of everything being online, not every company has a customer service number you can call. Often scammers take advantage of this by advertising phony customer service numbers. If you need to contact a company for customer service, go directly to that company’s website and look for a link that either says ‘contact us’ or ‘support’. Don’t just do a web search for ‘company x’s customer service number’ as there’s a good chance that number could be fake.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, freelancing, , ,   

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam 

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam

    Upwork is one of many platforms that allow companies to connect with freelancers to fulfill temporary but crucial assignments. Many professionals have turned to services like Upwork to make money during the current unemployment crisis. This has not gone unnoticed by scammers and they are said to be using platforms like Upwork to commit one of their oldest scams.

    According to a report from NBC News, scammers are posing as real companies on these services to commit the phony check scam. Phony or fraudulent checks are used in a variety of scams from everything to selling an item online to intricate employment scams. The goal of the fake check scam is always the same. The scammer wants you to deposit the check into your bank account, then send them most or all of the money before your bank realizes the check is a fake. By that time, the scammer is long gone with your money and the bank is holding you responsible for the amount of the fake check.

    A California man went to Upwork and applied for an opportunity that he assumed was legitimate. He was interviewed over Skype and even received an offer letter on what appeared to be legitimate company letterhead from a legitimate global corporation. The man also received a check for $3000 that he was told was for his home office supplies. He deposited the check and bought equipment from suppliers that his new ’employer’ recommended. These supposed suppliers were more than likely in league with the phony job scammer. Before it was all over, the man found himself without a job and out $3000 on top of it.

    Upwork themselves have said that users should not use any communication with prospective employers outside of Upwork itself. That is a great tip as scammers and other cyber-criminals often try to communicate with their victims outside of usual channels.

    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 deposited into bank accounts each year. You can protect yourself by avoiding these situations. If a deal feels like it’s wrong, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Increase in scam that could land victims in jail 

    Increase in scam that could land victims in jail

    Just like every other scam, the reshipping or repackaging scam has seen an increase since the start of the current pandemic. In the reshipping scam, scammers post online ads for a work at home job. The phony job entails receiving packages in the mail that the scammer will say you need to inspect for damages before shipping them to a third party. The items usually have been purchased with a stolen credit card. This way it becomes harder to track the stolen item. Police in Boise, Idaho recently recovered $7,000 worth of stolen goods from the home of someone who had been scammed into reshipping them.

    The biggest hazard with the reshipping scam is the fact that even if you’ve been conned into reshipping, you can still be held criminally liable depending on what you were asked to do by the scammers. For example, if you were instructed to lie on US Customs Service forms for packages leaving the country, you could be charged with fraud.

    Another drawback of this scam outside of receiving stolen merchandise is that you could be paid with fraudulent checks or money orders. Once again, if you deposit these into your bank account and then spend the money for whatever reason, you’ll be responsible to the bank for the check’s amount once they discover it’s fraudulent.

    And since the reshipping scam usually stems from phony job ads, your identity could be compromised as well if you provided personal information to the scammers. Could you imagine if all three of these things happened to you at once? That could cost you untold amounts of money just for being an unwitting participant in the scam.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Work at home scams continue to rise 

    Work at home scams continue to rise

    According to the Better Business Bureau, work at home scams were on a sharp rise even before the COVID-19 crisis started. Now, with so many people having been laid off or furloughed these scams have become even more prevalent over the past couple of months. These scams start off with tempting online ads promising decent money for relatively easy work without having to leave your home and risk infection. However, you could be risking something that’s almost as devastating.

    For example, a woman in Minnesota recently responded to an online ad for a data entry position. The ad promised to pay $15 an hour and promised at least a 40-hour workweek while maintaining a flexible schedule. After she responded to the ad she was instructed to download WhatsApp so an interview could be conducted. WhatsApp is a messaging app that’s popular overseas and often used in place of text messaging. Essentially, she was being interviewed for this job over text message. This is usually done so scammers can avoid sounding like they’re calling from another country.

    The scammers had said that they were going to pay for her to buy a new laptop for the job. They claimed they were going to send her a check to buy the equipment from an approved vendor. However, they told her that she only had 24 hours after receiving the check to purchase the equipment. If she had received the check it would have been a counterfeit check that she would have been responsible for if she had deposited it into her bank account. The 24-hour turnaround is a way for the scammers to get the money moved quickly before her bank could realize it was fraudulent.

    It wasn’t too long before the scammers started asking her for personal information like a copy of her driver’s license and who her cell phone carrier was. They then sent her a form that asked for her banking information along with security passwords. Thankfully, she realized this was a scam before her identity could be compromised.

    While there are legitimate work at home positions to be found, they are not as common as online ads may have you believe. If the offer sounds too good or it feels a little off, listen to your gut and avoid giving out any information to the scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on May 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Secret shopper scam gets a COVID revamp 

    Secret shopper scam gets a COVID revamp

    With the way the economy has reacted to the current pandemic many people now find themselves unemployed. Some of these people will turn to non-traditional jobs to try to make ends meet. This could cause people to apply for jobs that really aren’t jobs at all but well-organized scams. One job scam that seems to continually claim victims id the secret shopper scam.

    Now, there are legitimate secret shopper positions offered by many retailers. There just aren’t as many as you might think after seeing all the ads online for secret shopper job offers. In the secret shopper scam, you’re almost guaranteed to be ‘hired’. You’ll then be sent a phony check to cover your expenses and payment. You’ll be asked to deposit the check at your bank, use some of the money for the ‘job’ before being asked to send the excess amount back to the scammer. As with any scam involving phony checks, once your bank discovers the check is a fake, you’ll be responsible for the entire amount of the check to your bank while the scammers are long gone with your money.

    Now, with scammers ramping up their activities during the pandemic, the secret shopper scam has gotten a coronavirus twist. At least one report has stated that jobs are being offered online to become a social distancing compliance auditor. The phony job offer not only asks you to go to a retailer to rate customer service as a secret shopper but also rate their adherence to social distancing guidelines. However, just like the secret shopper scam, the check you’ll receive for payment is a fake.

    As we said, there are real positions for secret shoppers across America. If you’d like to inquire about one of these positions you can do so through the website of the Mystery Shopper Providers of America.

     
  • Geebo 8:25 am on April 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Kidnapping scams, among others, continue 

    Kidnapping scams, among others, continue

    For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing scams that have been related to the coronavirus pandemic whether it’s directly or indirectly. While fears surrounding the pandemic have been a boon to many con artists, some are still running the same old scams without using coronavirus as a tool in their arsenal.

    In Denver, the police have been receiving complaints about kidnapping scams taking place. This is when a scammer will call a victim and tell them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers will then demand a ransom either through wire transfer, gift cards or other hard to trace payment options. The trick to this scam is that nobody has been actually kidnapped and the scammers are hoping the fear generated in the situation will cause the victim to pay the phony ransom. Often, these scammers are able to find the names of their pretend victims through social media making the threatening call more convincing. If you ever receive one of these phone calls, always get someone you trust to call the suspected victim while you keep the virtual kidnappers on the phone. In any case, you should always contact the police if you find yourself in the midst of this scam.

    Two Chicago men were arrested in Boise, Idaho accused of a social media scam that cost victims thousands of dollars. The two men would allegedly take to social media and post the message “Who ready to get paid today? Text CASH NOW to [phone number redacted.] It’s legit… tell them I referred you.” Victims were said to be persuaded to hand over their debit card information including their PIN. Instead of getting paid, the two men would deposit phony checks into the victims’ accounts then withdraw the money before the bank would realize the checks were fake.

    In Kentucky, scammers are posing as the state Lottery Commission and telling victims that they have won large prizes. The scammers will then either ask for ‘taxes’ on the prize or they’ll ask for bank information to send the phony prize. In either case, the victims end up losing money before it’s all over/. Keep in mind that when you purchase a lottery ticket you never give your contact information to the point of purchase so the Lottery Commission has no way of contacting you.

    While these scams may bot be happening in your area now, it could only be a matter of time before they are.

     
  • Geebo 8:19 am on April 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , ,   

    Work at home scams rise during crisis 

    Work at home scams rise during crisis

    Work at home scams are nothing new. However, due to the current coronavirus crisis, many people have been furloughed or laid off and are looking for additional sources of income. With most states enforcing a stay at home order many will look for jobs that they could do at home. Unfortunately, the scammers know that there is a demand for these types of jobs and are actively looking to take advantage of that situation.

    One of the most common work at home scams is the repackaging or reshipping scam. In this scam, you’ll receive a package at your home. You’ll then be asked to repackage the item and send it to a third party. These items are often stolen goods having been bought with a stolen credit card. This way it becomes harder to track the stolen item.

    The biggest problem with the repackaging scam is that often the victims can be held criminally responsible for being an active but unknowing participant in the scam. The least of you’re worries would be that you would never get paid or you’ll get paid with a phony check that will bounce after you deposit the check. Then you’ll be responsible for the money lost by your bank.

    Speaking of phony checks, another work at home scam will have the scammers send you a phony check so you can buy work materials. All you need to do is deposit the check then send the amount you didn’t spend for materials back to the phony employer. By the time your bank realizes the check is phony, the scammers have already made off with the money leaving you holding the bag and indebted to your bank as mentioned above.

    These scammers will try to act like legitimate employers and in doing so will ask you for your personal and financial information. This puts you at a potential risk for identity and monetary theft.

    If an online employer hires you on the spot and the job sounds too good to be true it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:30 am on April 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , , , , , stay at home order   

    More ways to identify a coronavirus relief payment scam 

    More ways to identify a coronavirus relief payment scam

    Before we get to the heart of the matter today, The Washington Post has provided its readers with a list of what the stay at home orders mean for each state. Please keep in mind that these are orders are not only in place for your protection but the protection of those who may be at risk.

    Now, we have talked about the coronavirus relief payments before. It seems that everybody is concerned about when and where they are receiving theirs. Again, we’d like to remind you that if you received your 2018 or 2019 tax refund through direct deposit, that is where you will receive your relief payment. As we have also mentioned before, these payments have become the biggest target for scammers lately even though they have yet to be issued. For the majority of people, you will not have to do anything to receive your payment. So anyone emailing, texting, or calling you about your stimulus payment is trying to scam you. Another way to tell that you’re being scammed is how the person approaching you refers to the payment. If they refer to it as anything but an economic impact payment they are more than likely trying to scam you.

    For example, a Florida man received what looked like an official check in the mail that claimed to be from an ‘economic automotive stimulus program’. he only had to go to a ‘stimulus relief site’ to receive his funds. The so-called stimulus relief site was a used car lot that was using the guise of relief payments to get customers.

    The FBI has even put out a warning to consumers to try to stop them from becoming money mules during the pandemic. This is when scammers will have their victims place funds in the victim’s bank account then have the victim remove it and send it to a third party. Sometimes the funds are real and are using the victims to launder the money, other times the money may not even exist while the victim deposits a fake check in their bank account before sending the funds to someone else. These schemes could take the form of work at home scams and charity scams.

    Lastly, the Better Business Bureau is warning about a new twist on an old scam taking place on Facebook Messenger. The BBB is saying that Facebook accounts are being hijacked by scammers who use them to tell victims about grants they may qualify for during the pandemic. The victim believes they’re talking to a close friend when in fact they’re talking to a scammer. The hook with these scams is that they want you to pay a fee in order to receive the grant. However, once payment is made there is no grant money coming.

    Money is tight during the current crisis. Once again, we ask that you don’t let the fear surrounding the pandemic sway you into making choices that may cost you in the long run. Please stay safe and healthy.

     
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