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

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook Marketplace, , , ,   

    Used car scam plagues Texas county 

    Used car scam plagues Texas county

    Harris County in Texas is one of the largest county’s in the country. It doesn’t hurt that it contains Houston the 4th largest city in the country. Due to its large and culturally diverse population, Harris County has become susceptible to a scam where victims are losing thousands of dollars at a time.

    Scammers are listing stolen vehicles for sale on platforms like Craigslist, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. When the buyer goes to purchase the vehicle, all the paperwork looks legitimate including the car title. When the buyer goes to the DMV to put the car in their name, they find out that the vehicle has been reported stolen. Meanwhile, the scammers are long gone with the victim’s money. Harris County investigators say that they’ve investigated at least 125 of these fake title scams in the past year. There may even be more victims, but the scammers seem to be targeting members of the Latino community. Some of these victims may be undocumented and are fearful of going to the police. The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office has stated they will not ask for anyone’s immigration status if they’re reporting a crime.

    There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from this scam. The first is checking the vehicle’s VIN through one of the many services that will give you a car history. In some states, including Texas, you can check with the state’s DMV website to find this information. You can also ask to have the seller meet you at a local police department parking lot to make the exchange. If the seller does not want to meet you there it’s advisable not to make the transaction. Some police departments can even tell you if the VIN has been changed on the vehicle. Lastly, ask the seller to come with you to the DMV while you get the title changed. Again, if they refuse, the vehicle may be stolen.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , , , ,   

    Two PayPal scams you should be aware of 

    Two PayPal scams you should be aware of

    PayPal is probably one of the most trusted online payment systems today. There aren’t many online retailers that don’t accept PayPal as a payment option. PayPal also allows those who are underrepresented by banks to not only shop online but to also have a debit card that the consumer can use like any bank debit card. However, this post isn’t meant to be free publicity for PayPal. While PayPal does offer many protections to their users, it can still be used in various scams as we’re about to take a look at now.

    Security experts are warning about a new series of text messages going around that are designed to steal your PayPal login information. The text messages claim that there has been fraudulent activity on your PayPal account and that your account is now limited. That would mean that you would be restricted in the use of your own PayPal account. The text then directs you to click on a link to verify your account. If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a phony PayPal page that resembles the genuine article. If you enter your login information on this phony page, your information has just been stolen. Since many PayPal accounts are linked to bank accounts, your bank account could be in jeopardy as well. If you feel like you’ve clicked on one of these links and given them your information you should immediately change your PayPal password.

    The other scam is more hands on so to speak. A woman in Georgia was selling a cell phone on Facebook Marketplace. She met a buyer at a local restaurant. The man agreed to buy the phone using PayPal. The buyer showed the woman a fake email that looked like he had just paid her through PayPal. However, the woman wasn’t seeing the payment in her account. The man then made it appear as if he was calling PayPal himself and told the woman that the payment would be in her account in a couple of hours. As you can expect, the payment never showed up. PayPal doesn’t work like this as payments are almost instantaneous. Once you make or receive a payment you should be notified by PayPal right away. If you’re not notified you shouldn’t take a stranger’s word for it that you’ve been paid.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook Marketplace, , , , ,   

    A reminder that some scams never go away 

    A reminder that some scams never go away

    While we haven’t seen any new developments in scams today, we thought we’d help you brush up on some of the old classics. As always, just because these scams are being reported from different parts of the country, they can likely be applied to your region if they show up near you.

    Always be careful when buying a car online, especially if the price is too good to pass up. A woman in Oklahoma found what she thought was a great deal on a car for her son on Facebook Marketplace. The seller claimed the price was so cheap because her husband died and she also happened to be deploying with the military. On top of that, the seller asked for payment in gift cards and that the car will be shipped by eBay. Always be wary of any sob stories that come with bargains. Also, be suspicious if payment is requested in gift cards or some other untraceable form of payment. And keep in mind that eBay does not ship vehicles even if the vehicle is purchased on eBay.

    Social Security scams are abundant but the one that seems to be the most popular these days is what we call the impersonation scam. A man in Pennsylvania received a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The man was told that his Social Security number had been compromised. The scammer recited the man’s name, age, address, and the last four digits of his Social Security number and then asked the man to verify that information. Thankfully, the man recognized it as a scam and hung up. The SSA usually only communicates with recipients through the mail and would already have the information that the scammer was trying to verify.

    Lastly, a woman in Tennessee was taken in a romance scam recently. She met a man on a dating site. The man said that he had to go to Singapore for work but once he got there the man supposedly contracted COVID and was in ICU. The man said he needed money to be treated. Then a ‘friend’ of the man said that he needed to fly out to Singapore to help the first man so she paid for the plane ticket. She later found out that the pictures being used by the scammers were two evangelists from Brazil. Never send money to someone you haven’t met face to face. Romance scammers will go to great lengths in convincing their victims they’re in a relationship.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on February 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook Marketplace, , , , , ,   

    Just another day of classifieds crime 

    Just another day of classifieds crime

    One might think that after over 20 years of having online classified ads being so prevalent online that most people would become more aware of the pitfalls that have become inherent when using some of the less reputable sites and apps. Here are some of the stories that have happened just over the past 24 hours.

    While not technically a classified site even though it does have Facebook Marketplace, a tired old scam has targeted Facebook messenger uses. It’s the grant scam which promises users large government grants to do with what they wish. The only catch is that you have to pay a fee, usually of at least several hundred dollars, in order to process the grant. Of course, you’re expected to wire the money to whoever is supposedly managing the grants. To be clear, the government does not use Facebook Messenger to offer grants and they never offer grants unsolicited. Also, you should always be suspicious of any transaction that requires you to wire money as once the money is wired it’s virtually untraceable once it’s gone.

    In Youngstown, Ohio, there has been a rash of robberies through the marketplace app LetGo. In these robberies, the buyers are posing as men in their 30s and 40s but when the seller shows up to the meeting place they’re approached by teens who then rob them. The article we linked to does have some good safety tips but leaves out the most important one. Don’t just meet someone during the day in a well-lit and well-traveled area as even there robberies and worse have been committed. Instead, insist on meeting at a local police station. This one simple step goes a long way in discouraging scammers and thieves from trying to take advantage of you.

    In the Kansas City area, one man was swindled out of close to $400 after buying tickets from a supposed seller off of craigslist. The scammer had official looking documentation that carried the Ticketmaster branding, the only problem with that is the arena where the concert was being held doesn’t use Ticketmaster to distribute their tickets. The tickets never appeared and the would-be buyer was out of $400 before buying more legitimate tickets from a reputable dealer. The victim, in this case, was an IT specialist who admits that he should have known better showing that it’s people of all stripes and backgrounds that can fall for a craigslist scam.

    For our next story, we stay in Ohio, Hilliard to be precise where police have discovered a counterfeiting operation that was using OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace transactions to allegedly try to launder the money. In this instance, the phony bills were not theatrical money as has been the more popular counterfeit scam lately. Instead, these bills were manufactured and ranged in denominations from the humble $1 bill to the much more respectable $100 bill. Again, the article we linked to has several tips to prevent yourself from being ripped off by counterfeiters even claiming that the marker test isn’t always reliable as some fake bills will show as genuine when the special anti-counterfeit marker is used. In this case, the bills should have been easy to detect as they had markings on them in one of the Chinese languages.

    While not every marketplace platform is perfect, there are very few that go the extra mile in trying to protect its users. For example, Geebo reviews every ad in order to try to weed out the ads that are obvious scams and setups. Maybe if our competitors were more concerned about user safety they wouldn’t keep cropping up in the daily headlines for all the wrong reasons.

     
  • Geebo 10:18 am on August 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook Marketplace,   

    Old craigslist scam turning up on Facebook Marketplace 

    Old craigslist scam turning up on Facebook Marketplace

    One of the oldest scams on craigslist, if not the oldest, is what’s known as the fake check scam. A seller will list an item for sale on the questionable classifieds site then they’ll receive a check for more than the amount they’ve asked for. The scammer will say the overpayment is for shipping costs and will ask the seller to return any money over the asking price to be sent back to them. The seller will deposit the check and usually wire the money back to the scammer. The check then turns out to be a fake which ends up leaving the seller on the hook for the amount of the check with their bank.

    More recently a similar scam has been appearing on Facebook Marketplace. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that this new twist on the old scam has claimed a few victims in Georgia. Instead of sending a phony check for more than the asking price, the scammer is now said to be asking for the seller’s bank account information so the funds can be transferred electronically. Once again, the money transfer turns out to be a phony transaction so not only does the scammer have your money but they have your bank information as well which puts you at risk for future scams like identity theft.

    Any online marketplace worth its salt will tell you that if something appears too good to be true it usually is. If you go to the main page of Facebook Marketplace it gives no such warning. If you try to find any tips or suggestions on how to deal with unscrupulous buyers or sellers on Marketplace you really have to know what you’re looking for in Facebook’s maze-like structure of resources. There’s no link to click on from the Marketplace page. Instead, you have to join a separate community about Marketplace then hope to find the link that you’re looking for. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if scams like this weren’t against Facebook’s vague and arbitrary community guidelines.

     
  • Geebo 8:52 am on June 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook Marketplace   

    Craigslist contractors can cause calamity 

    Craigslist contractors can cause calamity

    A subject we don’t discuss on this blog that we really should are the hazards of hiring a contractor off of an unmoderated site like craigslist. Craigslist is rife with both unlicensed contractors and con artists posing as contractors. When a state or municipal licensing board wants to crack down on illegal contractors, craigslist is the first place they turn to.

    Recently in Bakersfield, California, one such supposed contractor was arrested for allegedly placing ads on craigslist and Facebook posing as a contractor while bilking people out of their money. The suspect is said to have collected down payments from potential customers but would pocket the money instead of doing any kind of contracting work. This is just one of the hazards of using craigslist to try to hire a contractor.

    If you allow an unlicensed contractor into your home to do major repairs or alterations, not only could you be gambling with your home improvement fund, but you could also find yourself on the hook for medical expenses if the contractor were to injure themselves without carrying the proper insurance. Many states have licensing websites where you can look up to see if the contractor is licensed. It also helps to check references and your local Better Business Bureau to see if a contractor is trustworthy. Anybody can print out a business card that says they are a contractor, but only a licensed contractor can earn your business and trust through their reputation.

     
  • Geebo 10:12 am on November 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook Marketplace, National Trading Standards,   

    Counterfeits flooding Facebook Marketplace 

    Counterfeits flooding Facebook Marketplace

    Reports are coming out of the UK’s National Trading Standards, the UK equivalent of the Consumer Protection Agency, that high-end counterfeit goods are flooding Facebook Marketplace. This includes such brands as Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton among others. The reason that counterfeit goods like this are a problem is because they’re often funding organized crime or illegal sweatshops with child labor.

    To compound the problem, the NTS has said that Facebook lacks any channels to report counterfeit goods. It also doesn’t help that fake Facebook profiles can be created with little to no information given. Also, like too many large online marketplaces, Facebook doesn’t seem to monitor or review the Marketplace ads for illegal content. While this may be currently making news in the UK, counterfeits have been sold on Facebook in the US for years predating Facebook Marketplace.

    This story shows two problems inherent in the marketplace industry today. The first is that any online marketplace worth its salt should be checking their own ads that may be harmful to their users. The second is that this is another example of Facebook having unchecked power in our everyday lives. Many people may assume that counterfeit items for sale on Facebook Marketplace are legitimate since Facebook is supposed to be about real people. Instead, it’s as fake as the bags they’re listing for sale.

     
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