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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: authorization code, Facebook Marketplace, , , , ,   

    FBI warns about Google Voice scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Google Voice is a pretty cool service as it allows you to have a second phone number for free. One of the benefits of having a Google Voice number is that you can give it to stores and retailers who constantly ask for your phone number instead of giving out your primary phone number. Or, if you have multiple numbers such as work and home, you can have your Google Voice number ring both numbers. You can also put your Google Voice account on do not disturb, so any call to your Google Voice number will go straight to a voicemail message. However, as with many beneficial technology tools, scammers are using Google Voice to perpetuate more scams.

    The Google Voice scam tends to target people who are selling items online, especially through Facebook Marketplace. The supposed buyer will tell you that they want to verify that you’re not a scammer. To achieve this, a text message will be sent to your phone number with a six digit verification code. The scammer will then ask you to provide them with that code. What the scammers are really doing is setting up a Google Voice account for themselves that is attached to your number. They’ll then use that Google Voice number to perpetuate more scams, while that number can be traced back to you. It’s gotten so bad, not only has the FBI issued a warning about the scam, but the scammers are also targeting people who have posted about lost pets on social media.

    If someone you don’t know asks for a code that was sent to your phone, there’s a good chance that it’s an authorization code that scammers can use to wreak all sorts of havoc. They can be trying to get you to turn your bank account over to them, or you could be giving them access to any one of your online accounts.

    If you think you’ve fallen victim to this scam, Google has instructions on how to reclaim the number.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , retail theft ring, , ,   

    Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods? 

    Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods?

    By Greg Collier

    You may have seen some stores in the news lately about shoplifting rings. In these recent stories, a large number of people enter a store all at once and grab as much stuff as they can. The reasoning behind this kind of theft is that the store security can’t possibly stop everyone. While these incidents have been largely successful for the thieves, this is not how retail theft rings normally operate.

    In most cases, there is a ringleader who will employ a team of shoplifters. Often these shoplifters are people with substance abuse issues who are paid in drugs. They’ll walk into a big box store like Walmart or Home Depot and walk out with high dollar items like it was child’s play. The ringleader will then sell the stolen merchandise at below-market value and still make a handsome profit.

    In the pre-digital world, these goods would be sold out of the back of a truck, or a back alley, or even the back of a store. The problem then was that you had to be in the know to be able to buy the stolen goods. Now, these stolen goods are sold on several digital platforms, but one platform seems to attract more stolen goods than the others. While eBay and craigslist used to be popular for selling stolen goods, they’ve both fallen out of favor. According to a report from NBC News, Facebook Marketplace is now the go-to place for stolen goods to be sold.

    The reason behind Marketplace’s popularity among retail theft rings is that Facebook is slow to respond to law enforcement requests, if they respond at all. This has caused investigations into these rings to come to a grinding halt while police wait on a response from Facebook. Since many retail theft rings travel around the country, time is often of the essence for law enforcement.

    Industry experts seem to think that Facebook isn’t responding in a timely manner because Marketplace’s oversight hasn’t kept up with its growth.

    Many think that this is a victimless crime. They think that the retailers are insured against this kind of loss, so who is it hurting? For one, the shoplifters themselves as the ringleaders are keeping them in a cycle of substance abuse. The people buying the stolen goods can also be held criminally responsible. It some jurisdictions, even if you buy stolen merchandise unknowingly, you could still face criminal charges. If prosecutors believe that if the buyer should have had reasonable suspicion that the goods were stolen, the buyer could face legal repercussions.

    Just because Marketplace is owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, if it’s not being monitored, it’s no safer than craigslist.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: auction site, Facebook Marketplace, , ,   

    Couple loses $28K in RV scam 

    Couple loses $28K in RV scam

    By Greg Collier

    RVs are great if you really want to see parts of the country you’ve never been before. While flying is faster, when travelling in an RV, you get to see all of the places between you and your destination up close. While flying, you just see unidentifiable squares from a tiny window. Even though you’ll spend hours on the road, the RV makes it much more convenient than travelling by car. Everything you need is right there with you, and you don’t have to worry about looking for a clean bathroom to use, as one is always with you. These are just some of the reasons why retired couples often purchase an RV. However, RVs aren’t cheap. Some can be as expensive as a small home, and scammers know this.

    A retired couple from Wisconsin recently found this out when they thought they found their dream RV at a reasonable price. They were said to have been looking for an RV on Facebook Marketplace when they saw an ad for an auction site. When they went to the auction site, they found the RV they were looking for and the supposed bidding started at $23,000 which is well below market value for this model of RV. The couple bid $28,000 for the RV and received an email that their bid had won, so they wired the money to the auction site. While waiting to hear back from the auction site, the couple found the exact picture of the RV they thought they just bought on the website of an RV dealership in New York. The RV in the picture had been sold years ago. The couple tried to stop the wire transfer through their bank, but it was too late.

    The auction site turned out to be a fake. When local media investigated, they found that not only had the site been created in 2021, but they were also not at the address they listed. They even had scammed a woman in Maryland who thought she was working for a legitimate company, transferring cash to cryptocurrency.

    A lot of ads on social media are shady at best and a scam at worst. When making a major purchase like an RV, don’t let a good price lure you in to a trap. If you’re not familiar with the website or platform, do a web search for reviews and complaints. It’s also best to do a check with the Better Business Bureau. A reverse image search never hurts either. If you find the exact same picture being used on another website, the odds are you’re being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook Marketplace, , ,   

    Scammers stealing phone numbers from online sellers 

    Scammers stealing phone numbers from online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    When you use an unmoderated online marketplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, there’s a better than average chance that you’ll be dealing with at least one scammer. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying or selling, but today we’re going to focus on the latest scam that’s been plaguing sellers in recent months. While it’s not a new scam, online security experts say that they’ve seen a resurgence of the scam since August. It goes by a few names, like the verification code scam or the Google Voice scam, but it’s still a scam that everyone should be aware of.

    Scammers are approaching online sellers as if they’re interested in the item being sold. The scammers will ironically tell the seller that they’re concerned about scams and that they have a way to verify that the seller is a real person. The seller will then receive a text message with a verification code on it, and the scammers will ask for this code. Once the scammers have the code, they’ll use it to open a Google Voice account using the seller’s phone number. This is done so the scammers can have a legitimate US phone number that can be used in future scams. Meanwhile, the seller is completely unaware that a Google Voice account has been opened in their name. And if someone complains to Google that the number is being used in a scam, it will trace back to the seller’s phone number and not the scammers’.

    There are a couple of ways to avoid falling victim to this scam. The first way is that if you receive one of these verification texts, the text will say not to share the number with anyone. Verification code texts are also used by scammers to bypass two-factor authentication. So no matter who sent the text, never share any verification codes. The second way to help avoid this scam is to get your own Google Voice number. They can be very handy, such as giving your Google Voice number to any store or website that asks for a phone number at checkout. Instead of giving them your actual phone number, you can give them the Google Voice number instead.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , , ,   

    Single mother pressured into rental scam 

    Single mother pressured into rental scam

    By Greg Collier

    Sometimes life throws challenges in our way that we’re not ready for. One minor bump in the road can have such a ripple effect that we find ourselves hoping for a miracle, so we can escape a desperate situation. For example, a single mother of three from Virginia need to find a new home immediately for her and her family after recovering from a number of illnesses. However, instead of finding a miracle, she found a scammer waiting to rob her of the little money she had saved for a deposit on a new home.

    She had found an affordable rental on Facebook Marketplace where her kids wouldn’t have to change schools. After filling out an ‘application’ to rent the property, the landlord said that there was another person who was getting ready to rent the property. If she still wanted to rent the property, she would need to pay the landlord right away through gift cards, since she couldn’t get away from her job. Unfortunately, she did end up sending $900 in gift cards to the supposed landlord for a property that wasn’t even being rented.

    As with most rental scams, online listings are copied from ads where homes are for sale instead of being available for rent. Scammers will copy ads off of Zillow and repost them on free platforms like Facebook Marketplace. The fake ads will almost always have the same word for word description used in the Zillow ad. Then the properties are listed for below-market value rent to lure victims into the scam.

    While everyone’s situation is different, no matter how desperate you may be, a rental property should be researched first before handing over any money. A quick web search of the address will usually bring up the original listing that the fake ones are copied from. And as with any scam, gift cards are a red flag in almost every situation. No real landlord or rental agency will ever ask for gift cards as a form of payment.

    In stressful situations like this, are judgement is often clouded. If you can, always try to take a step back and ask yourself if this situation seems off or too good to be true.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook Marketplace, ProPublica, ,   

    Facebook marketplace is deadly 

    Facebook marketplace is deadly

    By Greg Collier

    Craigslist used to be the poster child for dangerous marketplace platforms. It was a reputation they earned through their unmoderated ad listings which led to countless scams, human trafficking, and a number of high-profile murders. However, within five years of launching, Facebook Marketplace has become the supposed industry leader. The reason Facebook Marketplace became so successful so fast is that Facebook already had a built-in audience of one billion users worldwide and for many of Facebook’s users, Facebook is their internet. And since Facebook doesn’t want their users to wander outside of Facebook’s walled garden, Facebook will implement features to try to keep users engaged. Marketplace is just one of those features.

    ProPublica is a non-profit organization that does investigative journalism. Recently, ProPublica did an extensive investigation into the problems with Facebook Marketplace. ProPublica claims in their report that Facebook Marketplace’s problems pale in comparison to the number of problems Craigslist had. They start off their report with a story about a man who was making a living selling cars on Facebook Marketplace. His Facebook account was hacked and scammers started selling cheap junk through his account. Since the account still has his name on it, he’s in fear for his life that a disgruntled customer will come looking for him. When the man tried to resolve the matter with Facebook, they just banned him from the platform with no answers given.

    But to Facebook, the fact that a Marketplace account is attached to a real person makes it safer for users. Except Facebook neglects to mention the part where just about anyone can open a Facebook account. And much like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is awash with stolen goods on their listings. Facebook says that they have precautions in place to prevent scams and stolen items from being listed but according to ProPublica who spoke with past and present Marketplace employees, Facebook only reacts to complaints and does little to prevent fraudulent listings from going live.

    While Facebook Marketplace hasn’t had the number or PR nightmare that Craigslist had, there have been a number of murders committed using Facebook Marketplace. Much like we posted about OfferUp, the majority of these murders come from armed robberies. We’ll spare you the gruesome details, but many of these murders were particularly disturbing.

    Our point is that just because Facebook may be your social network of choice, that doesn’t make Marketplace safe by any stretch of the imagination.

    The even more unfortunate part of this blog post is that a lot of our audience won’t see it, since Facebook would almost assuredly prevent it from being posted on its platform. But they can’t stop you from posting it on Facebook. So please consider sharing this post or the ProPublica article with people you know who use Facebook Marketplace.

     
  • Geebo 8:11 am on August 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , , ,   

    More tips on how to avoid a rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Since the dawn of online classifieds, the rental scam is probably only 2nd in frequency to the fake check scam. For two decades, rental scammers have been stealing the money from families looking to rent a new home. More often than not, the victims of these scams end up losing the last of their money, so not only can they not move, but they can’t pay the rent at their current residence. While we have much empathy for the victims of rental scams, it is one of the more preventable online scams.

    For example, a woman in Cincinnati recently fell victim to such a scam. She found a house for rent on Facebook Marketplace that was a two bedroom home for just $700 a month. The scammer sent the victim pictures of the home’s interior, but said they couldn’t show the home because they were out of state. The victim still filled out an application and sent a deposit and two months rent to the scammer over the payment app Zelle. In total, the victim lost over $2000.

    Currently, there are simple steps to prevent you from falling victim to this scam. The first thing you should do is a do a web search of the property’s complete address, zip code and all. This first listings in the search should bring up real estate websites Zillow and Realtor.com. Zillow can give you an idea of a more realistic rent, as scammers will almost always list the property well below market value. Realtor.com will let you know if the property is being rented by a real estate agency and their contact info. If that information doesn’t match what you’re being given, you may be dealing with a scammer. If you do a reverse image search from the listing you found, it might take you to one of these websites, meaning the pictures were stolen.

    There are also the red flags of the ‘landlord’ not being able to show the property and the payment through apps like Zelle and Cash App.

    Lastly, if you want to be absolutely sure that you’re dealing with the legitimate owner of the property, do a check with the county’s tax assessor’s website or office.

    It’s better to do a little research to avoid being scammed than acting rashly and losing your money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , , red light camera, , traffic tickets, , TSA PreCheck,   

    Scam Round Up: Red Lights, the TSA, and Google Voice 

    Scam Round Up: Red Lights, the TSA, and Google Voice

    By Greg Collier

    Every so often, we come across scams that may not warrant an entire blog post. So here are three scams that caught our attention this week that be briefly summed up.

    In Renton, Washington, scammers are sending emails to victims claiming that the victim ran a red light and was caught on one of the city’s red light cameras. The email contains a link where you’re supposed to pay your fine but, of course, goes to the scammer instead. What makes this scam effective is that many jurisdictions use a third party online platform to collect some traffic fines. However, you can tell that this is a scam since most, if not all, cities send their red light tickets through the postal mail and not by email. Most states don’t even have your email address connected to your license plate number.

    ***

    If you travel a lot for business or leisure, you may have thought of signing up for TSA PreCheck. This program allows low-risk individuals to pay for a service where they can have an expedited security check when flying. As with a lot of government services, scammers are trying to trick PreCheck seekers into giving up their personal info by creating phony websites that claim they can register you with PreCheck. Again, there is a simple solution to this scam, but not everyone is aware of it. Only websites that have a .gov address can register you for PreCheck. Some of these scam websites may even have a .us address. Anybody can purchase a .us domain name, and it is not under the authority of the US Government. You can apply for TSA PreCheck at the TSA website.

    ***

    Our last scam for today is one we’ve previously discussed and also affects Geebo’s industry. If you’re selling something online, whether it’s with Geebo or someone else, be wary if someone says they want to prove ‘you’re real’. An authorization code will be sent to you and the buyer will ask for that code number. Do not give it to them. They’re trying to set up a Google Voice number that would be tied to your phone number. This way, they could continue scamming people using the Google Voice number, but would be traced back to you. This recently happened to a woman from New Hampshire who was selling her items on Facebook Marketplace.

    ***

    Please keep in mind that even though these scams may not be happening in your area, that doesn’t mean that it soon won’t be.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook Marketplace, , , , ,   

    Scams increase as scramble for housing begins 

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, there is a mad dash for many people to find housing. Between people looking for summer rentals, college students returning to actual classes, and just people looking for a new place to live, housing is at a premium. As is always the case, scammers are already using the market to find victims.

    In a nutshell, scammers will copy real estate listings from legitimate realtors and post them on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The rent will be listed considerably below market value. The victim will usually be asked to make payment by money transfer or payment app. More often than not, the scammer will make an excuse as to why they can’t show you the property personally. Victims have even moved into homes before finding out that they’ve been ripped off.

    There are several steps you can take to help you avoid these scams. First, do a web search of the address of the property. If there are several listings of the same property with different contacts and wildly varying rents, then something is definitely amiss. If a listing says that the property is for sale and not for rent, the odds are pretty good that the listing with the home for sale is the actual listing. You can also carry out a reverse image search on the photos used in the listing. Sometimes the same photos will be used on multiple fraudulent listings for properties that aren’t even in the same city. However, the most secure step you can take is to check with the county’s assessor’s office or website. They’ll have all the legal information about the property.

    You can even take steps to prevent fraud if you’re the person renting the property out. If you’re selling the home, consider putting a ‘not for rent’ sign along with the for sale sign. Scammers will often come up with a story as to why the property is for rent even though there is a for sale sign. If you find your property being listed by a scammer, contact the website to have it removed. You can also set up a Google Alert with the properties address to be notified whenever someone tries to list the property fraudulently.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook Marketplace, , , ,   

    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims 

    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims

    By Greg Collier

    As we’ve said in the past, the rental scam is probably the most common online scam. It has several variations, but they all result in the same thing, the victim pays for a home rental. More often than not, these scammers are from overseas, however, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we’ve seen more and more domestic scammers getting involved with rental scams. One of those scammers was recently arrested after taking advantage of desperate families for over six months.

    The 38-year-old Florida woman was said to have placed ads for rental properties on both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. As with most rental scams, she allegedly copied ads from legitimate real estate listings and posted them online with her contact information. She is said to have collected deposits from over 20 victims who were desperate to find housing during the pandemic. Her victims ranged in age from 20 to 71. After she received the payments through a payment app she would then ignore and block her victims. Currently, she’s believed to have swindled over $20,000 from her victims.

    Rental scammers are always looking for victims who are in vulnerable situations such as needing immediate housing. This way, the scammers know they can catch their victims off-guard and get them to make mental mistakes that would benefit the scammer. These include sending money through payment apps like Zelle and Cash App. Victims who pay through these apps can be easily blocked by scammers after the victim loses their money.

    Even if you find yourself in a desperate housing situation, it always pays to research the property in question. If the property is actually for rent, the county’s tax assessor office or website will be able to tell you who actually owns the property. If the name doesn’t match the person or organization claiming to rent the property, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
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