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  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chicago, ComEd, , , , , ,   

    Utility scammers move to payment apps 

    Utility scammers move to payment apps

    By Greg Collier

    Winter in the Midwest is an opportune time for utility scammers to find new victims. Power company ComEd, which serves the greater Chicago area, has reported that shut-off scams have increased by 150% and have claimed $27,000 from customers in just one month. No one who lives in the Midwest wants to face the possibility of losing their power during a cold Winter. These factors can create a perfect storm of fear that scammers are ready to take advantage of.

    The shut-off scam is exactly what it sounds like. Scammers will call up their victims while posing as the local electricity provider. The victims will be told they’re behind on their electricity bill and their service is about to be shut off in a matter of minutes. The scammers then demand an immediate payment to prevent the victim’s service from being terminated. Previously, scammers would get their victims to pay in gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, and, in some instances, cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. But now, scammers are moving to a different method for extracting money from their victims.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, shut-off scammers are using payment apps such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle, which makes sense in a strange way. With gift cards and cryptocurrency, scammers have to direct their victims to physical locations to complete the transaction. With payment apps, scammers can get the money almost immediately with minimal effort. It also helps the scammers that they can block the victim on these apps once they receive the payment. These apps also do not have a lot of customer protection once a user has been scammed.

    As always, no utility company will threaten you with termination over the phone. If you were to get behind in your bill, you would receive a written warning in the mail before any termination of service would happen. Also, please keep in mind that payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle are only supposed to be used with people you know personally. Anyone else who asks for payment through these apps just may be trying to scam you.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chicago, , , ,   

    Unemployment scams now targeting seniors 

    Unemployment scams now targeting seniors

    Unemployment scams continue to plague the country. Overseas scammers are said to be applying for unemployment benefits en masse using stolen identities. Unemployment systems in most states are already stretched to their limits in dealing with record unemployment claims. With scammers claiming benefits for people who are still employed, it isn’t making things any better. Now it seems that the scammers aren’t satisfied with taking advantage of the employed and unemployed alike and have chosen new targets.

    Recently, the Chicago area has been hit particularly hard by this scam. Reports say that a host of people have been receiving unemployment benefit debit cards in the mail when they haven’t applied for any benefits. In many cases, scammers are trying to have the payments sent to a different address than the person whose identity they’ve stolen but they aren’t always successful.

    Seniors and retirees are now feeling the brunt of these scams. A retired couple in the Chicago area recently received an unemployment debit card with $10,000 worth of benefits on it. To make matters worse, victims of the scam have been having great difficulty in trying to contact their state’s unemployment department to report the scam. It’s gotten so bad in Chicago that an Illinois State Senator had to step in to try to assist senior victims of the scam with getting in touch with the state.

    While the Illinois Department of Employment Security has said they’re cracking down on the fraud along with federal agencies, the scam only appears to be increasing. You may have had benefits applied for in your name without you even knowing about it. It’s recommended that you check your credit report for suspicious activity. Also, if you receive an unemployment debit card that you have not applied for, do not activate it. It should also go without saying that the money should not be spent as you will be held responsible for it. Instead, contact your state’s department of labor on the phone for instructions on how to deal with the scam.

    Please be patient when trying to contact the state as they’re more than likely understaffed and trying to assist other victims of the scam.

  • Geebo 9:21 am on October 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chicago,   

    Armslist dealer who sold gun used to kill Chicago officer couldn’t stop selling guns 

    Armslist dealer who sold gun used to kill Chicago officer couldn't stop selling guns

    Image via the New York Post

    I’ve posted about Armslist a few times before. While it’s been referred to in the past as the ‘craigslist of guns’ it’s also been cited as a major avenue in which illegal firearms have been funneled into the violent streets if Chicago. One of those guns was used to kill Police Commander Paul Bauer back in February.

    The Chicago Tribune is now reporting that the man who allegedly sold the fateful gun over Armslist was already being watched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. A gun that the seller sold ended up in the hands of a known drug dealer which is what first led the ATF to the seller. The ATF warned the seller to stop selling the guns but the man continued. He wasn’t charged with any crimes until after Commander Bauer was killed by a felon who was prohibited from owning a gun.

    The main purpose of Armslist is for private gun owners to sell the firearms between them. Private sales like this are not subject to any background checks which have led many people who are banned from owning guns to use Armslist to obtain their weapons. This has also led to more than a few killings. Much like Backpage used to do, Armslist hides behind the Communications Decency Act claiming that they’re not responsible for what their users do. However, unlike the closure of Backpage which had bipartisan support in Congress, Lawmakers are hesitant to do anything about Armslist since gun ownership has become such a highly contested issue in this country. Since guns from private sales on Armslist are ending up in the hands of killers, a required background check for private sales would go a long way in curtailing the sale of firearms to felons. The question is does any lawmaker have the guts to step up and start fighting for this?

  • Geebo 9:22 am on May 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chicago,   

    Is Armslist fueling Chicago’s gun violence? 

    Is Armslist fueling Chcago's gun violence?

    The City of Chicago is one with a rich history steeped in tradition. Unfortunately, a lot of that history is the notorious kind. With names like Al Capone, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, and John Dillinger, the Windy City has been no stranger to violence over its storied past. In more modern times Chicago has gained a reputation for being one of if not the most gun-violent cities in the country, having earned the nickname Chiraq comparing itself to the embattled Middle Eastern country of Iraq. In 2014, Chicago tried to curb the violence by banning all firearm sales within the city limits, but the ban was struck down as unconstitutional. While the city did enact strict new laws to try to prevent further bloodshed, the flow of guns continues into the city.

    One of the ways illegal guns keep making their way into Chicago is through Armslist, the so-called craigslist of guns. Last week, three men were arrested for allegedly trafficking guns into Chicago by buying them in Kentucky off of Armslist before supplying the guns to gangs in Chicago. As we have discussed before, Armslist allows private gun owners to sell and trade guns between themselves. In states like Kentucky, a background check is not required in sales between private owners making Armslist a go-to place for people with a criminal record to try to buy guns. The only thing keeping criminals from buying guns on Armslist is a button they have to click agreeing not to use Armslist for any illegal reason. In honesty that seems more like Armslist trying to protect itself from prosecution and lawsuits rather than protecting the public.

    However, while Armslist cashes checks written in the blood of Chicago’s dead, the city s not without hope. One of its most infamous crimes, the St. Valentine‚Äôs Day Massacre, was the impetus that launched the National Firearms Act of 1934 which made it illegal for anyone to own a machine gun. Maybe, just maybe, modern lawmakers will finally grow a conscience and enact real legislation to curb the gun violence not only in Chicago but in the rest of the country too, putting a stop to the illegal gun sales like the ones that take place through Armslist.

  • Geebo 11:01 am on January 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chicago, Facebook Live   

    Why are we outraged about the wrong things when it comes to the violent Facebook assault? 

    Why are we outraged about the wrong things when it comes to the violent Facebook assault

    By now most people have heard about the violent assault and torture of an 18-year-old special needs man in Chicago by 4 other people that was streamed on Facebook Live. Since the assailants were African-American and the victim was white, and the assailants used expletives against ‘white people’ and Donald Trump, Facebook erupted into its usual storm of outrage but as usual they were outraged about the wrong things.

    Facebook users shouted out cries of reverse racism and said that the perpetrators should be charged with hate crimes. Some people even blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for this tragedy. The problem with this story, as it is with many, is that many people don’t even read past the headline and if they did they only read up to the part where one of the suspects said “F—- white people” and where the victim was made to say “f— Donald Trump”.

    What many people may not know is that this was a not a random crime. The victim not only knew one of his attackers but was thought to be friends with him. Close enough friends with him that the victim’s parents trusted that their special needs son would be ok spending the night with his friend. There was no gang of black thugs roaming the streets of Chicago looking for defenseless white victims to torture.

    We should be outraged over this story. We should be outraged that a special needs man was tortured. We should be outraged that this callous act was streamed live on Facebook/ We should be outraged that people watched it and the video remained on Facebook for 30 minutes. What we shouldn’t be outraged over is the color of the skin of anyone involved. The more we focus on color the more we divide ourselves and take a step back in history.

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