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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, Pittsburgh, , ,   

    Kidnapping scam uses your social media against you 

    By Greg Collier

    The Pittsburgh Field Office of the FBI has issued a warning about the virtual kidnapping scam. This scam entails scammers calling people and telling them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers may put someone on the phone crying and screaming to make it seem like they actually have taken your loved one hostage. A ransom demand is then made where the scammers will ask for payment through money transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. They ask for these types of payments because they’re mostly untraceable. It’s typically not until after the victim sends the scammers money when they find out their loved one was never in any harm.

    The FBI is now reporting an uptick in this scam in the Pittsburgh area. Recently, 450 people have reported receiving these scam calls. However, the scammers are using a new ploy to try to trick their victims. Scammers are now calling the relatives of people who travel to somewhere near the Mexican border. The perpetrators are combing through social media looking for anyone who has recently shared that they’re planning a trip either to or near Mexico. Then the scammers are calling the relatives of the traveler from Mexico and claiming that they’ve kidnapped the victim’s relative.

    The best way to protect yourself and your family from this scam is to not announce your vacation plans ahead of time on social media. Your first instinct may be to share your vacation pictures as they happen, but this could open you up to a number of scams and dangers, including this one. If you receive a call from Mexico and the caller says they’ve kidnapped a relative of yours, the FBI advises getting as much information you can, including the phone number they called from. It’s then recommended you hang up the call and contact the supposed kidnap victim to make sure they’re ok. Then call your local police or the FBI to file a report.

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

    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 8:00 am on September 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FBI, , , , ,   

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam 

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam

    By Greg Collier

    Police in Oregon are warning about a new rash of sweepstakes scams or advance fee scams, as they’re sometimes known. In this scam, the scammers pose as a sweepstakes company, usually Publishers Clearing House since they’re the most well-known. The victim will receive a call, text or email telling them that they’ve won a big jackpot, except they need the victim to pay them taxes or a processing fee. Also, the victim needs to keep this matter private, so the local media supposedly doesn’t find out. These scams often target the elderly and when a victim pays once, the scammers will keep coming back for more. Now, scammers are using a new tactic to make sure the victim keeps paying.

    According to a report out of Oregon, the sweepstakes scammers make the victims pay by check. Once the scammers receive that check, they’re calling the victim back, posing as the FBI. The phony investigators tell the victim that the check they wrote was fraudulent. The scammer then threatens the victim with arrest if they don’t make another payment. Essentially, the scammers are combining two scams into on, the advance fee scam and the police impersonation scam. As you probably surmised, the police impersonation scam involves scammers posing as police, usually telling the victim they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that the victim needs to pay over the phone to make the warrant go away.

    Please keep in mind that you can’t win prizes from a sweepstakes you never entered. Plus, it’s also illegal for any sweepstakes to make you pay for any prize. As far as the FBI goes, no law enforcement agency will call you on the phone asking for money and threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay. The report from Oregon gives a great tip when it comes to police impersonation phone calls. Ask the caller for their phone number and tell them that you’ll call them back after speaking with your attorney. If they try to pressure you into staying on the phone, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Child Tax Credit, FBI, , ,   

    New scam targets families with children 

    New scam targets families with children

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the IRS started issuing payments for the Child Tax Credit to eligible families. Unsurprisingly, this has brought out the scammers who are looking to get their hands on your money. The FBI has issued a warning letting people know that the scammers are out there and looking to steal the payments from families who desperately need it. Here are some tips on how to try to avoid these scams.

    Many of these scams are recycled scams from when the stimulus payments were being issued. If your bank account information is already on file with the IRS, you don’t have to do anything to receive your payment. The payment will be sent to you through direct deposit. Anyone who says that you have to sign up for some service to receive your payment is trying to scam you. No one can help you get your payment earlier, either.

    Scammers will also pose as the IRS on the phone and try to pressure you into giving up your financial information. They may even threaten you with arrest if you don’t comply with them. Keep in ind that the IRS rarely calls anyone out of the blue, nor do they threaten anyone with arrest. These are the high-pressure tactics of a scammer who is trying to scare you into giving them your information.

    The IRS won’t email or text you, either. So if you receive a message asking you to click on a link to receive your payment, it is a scam. More than likely, you’ll be taken to a scam website that looks official that will ask you for your personal and financial information. If you give that information up, it’s almost guaranteed that your money will end up in the hands of a scammer.

    If you feel like you have been scammed out of your Child Tax Credit, notify your bank and contact the IRS.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , , ,   

    Scammers keep elderly victim from asking for help 

    Elderly victim loses thousands in FBI scam

    An elderly Pennsylvania woman was recently taken for over $5,000 by scammers pretending to be FBI agents. The scammers called her and claimed that her bank account had been compromised by criminals. They then told her not to tell anyone else as it could jeopardize the investigation. However, in order to assist with the investigation, they needed her to withdraw money from her account.

    The scammers kept her on the phone while she withdrew money from the bank. The bank was concerned that this withdraw may have been part of a scam. When they asked the woman what the withdraw was for, the scammers were said to have instructed the woman to tell the bank it was for an emergency medical procedure.

    It was at this point the scammers instructed the woman to purchase gift cards with the money she withdrew. The store where she bought the gift cards even tried warning her that this was a scam. Unfortunately, she went through with the purchase anyway. She then gave the phony agents the numbers off the back of the cards.

    While it’s not expressly mentioned in the news report, we can imagine that there were probably some threats of arrest if the victim didn’t comply with the scammers’ requests.

    Keeping the victim on the phone while they withdraw money and buy gift cards is a disturbing new trend that we saw start to take hold this year.

    If you receive one of these phone calls with someone claiming to be from a law enforcement agency asking you to make some kind of payment, hang up. No law enforcement agency will ever ask you for any kind of money over the phone. Also, no real law enforcement agency would ever have you buy gift cards for any reason.

    Due to their almost untraceable nature, gift cards have become almost the de facto currency for scammers. If anyone asks for payment in gift cards, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FBI, , , ,   

    Elderly man loses over half a million dollars in scam 

    Elderly man loses over half of a million dollars in scam

    Imagine working hard your whole life to be able to retire with a substantial amount of money. Then imagine losing over $500,000 of that retirement money to scammers. This recently happened to an 82-year-old man from Sioux Falls, South Dakota when he fell victim to an impersonation scam.

    The man received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller claimed that a car in the man’s name was found to have drugs in it.

    This is a common tactic used in a number of scams. Often, the victim will be told that a rental car in their name was found in Texas near the Mexican border with drugs in it. Often the scammers will say that the victim’s Social Security number and benefits will be suspended if they don’t pay to clear things up which is what the phony IRS agent told the man.

    This was followed up by similar calls from scammers posing as both the FBI and the DEA. The man ended up making payments to the scammers through money transfers and gift cards. Before it was all over, the man had ended up paying $550,000 to the scammers. While it’s not mentioned in the report, we have to wonder how much of his life savings did that entail? For most people, they would have been cleaned out much earlier in the scam.

    However, a few lessons can be learned from this man’s experience. The first is that agencies like the IRS, FBI, and DEA will not call you about such matters. The IRS would contact you by mail but a situation like this is out of their jurisdiction. While it is in the jurisdiction of the FBI and DEA, they would more than likely send an agent or two to your home to discuss such matters.

    Speaking of government agencies, none of them would ever ask for payment over the phone and if they did, they wouldn’t ask for payment in such unorthodox means like money transfers or gift cards.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s best to hang up and call your local police department at their non-emergency number. They’ll be able to tell you if the call is a scam.

    If you ever fall for one of these scams, it signifies to scammers that you could potentially fall for other scams as well. Scammers ceaselessly preyed upon this poor man until he was out of over half a million dollars.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , , ,   

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest 

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest

    There have been reports of another scam going around that targets senior citizens and something that many seniors rely heavily upon. Scammers are posing as the FBI and threatening seniors with either discontinuation of their Social Security benefits, arrest, or both. This scam is largely done in order to get frightened seniors to pay to make fictitious criminal charges go away.

    Recently, reports have come from multiple states where scammers will call seniors posing as FBI agents. The scammers are able to make their phone number appear as if the call is coming from the local FBI office. The scammers will then tell their victim that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. One of the more common claims the scammers will use is that someone rented a car in the victim’s name which was connected with a major crime. Often the scammers will say that drugs were found in the car as well.

    The scammers will then use this ruse to tell their victim that their Social Security number has been suspended and that the victim would need to pay to get it reinstated. This is where the scammers will ask for payment in their favorite form of currency, gift cards. They’ll instruct the victim to buy an astronomical amount of gift cards and then give the scammers the numbers from the back of the cards.

    Now, you may say that you could never fall for a scam like that. However, many scammers have such a fine-tuned operation that they make the scenario seem more than believable. In many cases, it’s not just one person calling pretending to be a federal agent. Often they’ll keep transferring the victim from one person to another who are all claiming to be part of the FBI while they use psychological tactics to scare the victim into making the payment. These payments are often tallied in the thousands of dollars.

    However, there is always a way these scammers tip their hands and that’s asking for the money in gift cards. We can’t stress enough how often gift cards are not only involved in this scam but also in most scams that happen today.

    If anyone is claiming to be from the government, a utility company, a hospital, or anyone else trying to collect a payment and they ask for a payment on gift cards, it’s almost a certainty that they’re a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:12 am on August 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI,   

    Even the FBI is warning of romance scams 

    Even the FBI is warning of romance scams

    The FBI just recently issued an alert concerning romance scams. They warn that dating sites are the most used platform for committing these scams and can often lead to the victim unwittingly laundering money for the scammer. The FBI also states that in 2018, more than 18,000 people claimed to be a victim of romance scams that ended up costing the victims in upwards of $362 million. Both of those statistics are an increase of 70% over 2017. That’s not even taking into account the number of scams that went unreported due to the victims being too embarrassed to come forward.

    As is usually the case in romance scams, the scammers will pretend to be an American working or living overseas. The scammer will then ask the victim for money either for a purported trip to the states or for some fictitious trouble that the scammer claims to be in. Often the victim is asked to wire the money overseas which as we know by now is almost a guarantee than the money and the scammer will never be seen again. Some scammers will even take the money claiming it’s for plane tickets then ask for more money claiming that they’ve been arrested during their trip.

    The worst-case scenario according to the FBI is when victims become what they call money mules. This is when the scammers convince the victims to open several bank accounts or in some cases even establish an LLC in order to send and receive funds on behalf of the scammer. This is all part of a money laundering scam which in some instances can see the victim getting in trouble with the law.

    If you were to become a victim of one of these scams, the FBI recommends either filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or your local FBI field office.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FBI, , ,   

    FBI warns of proliferation of puppy scam 

    FBI warns of proliferation of puppy scams

    This past week the Portland, Oregon office of the FBI issued a warning about online puppy scams. There are many online scams that involve pets but the specific one the FBI is referring to is where the scammers will promise you a puppy for a certain price and will then try to get you to pay additional ‘fees’.

    According to reports, in many, cases, the puppy doesn’t even exist. Signs to be on the lookout for that your purchase of a puppy may be a scam is if the seller asks you to pay by wire transfer, gift card, or pre-paid debit card. These payment methods are surefire signs of a scam. If you do end up making an additional payment for a puppy the scammers will try to get you to make additional payments for such things as shipping fees, special shipping containers, or some form of insurance. A great number of these scams can be found on craigslist even though craigslist specifically bans the sale of animals except for re-homing animals with a small adoption fee. You couldn’t tell by looking at craigslist as puppy ads are abundant in their listings but then again, craigslist hardly does any moderation of their own site.

    The FBI also offers tips to avoid scams like this such as…

    • Meet the pet in person if at all possible.
    • Don’t pay to ship a pet if you can’t verify the seller is a reputable breeder.
    • Do your homework on the seller before sending any form of payment. Look for contact information, check credentials, and confirm reviews from previous clients.
    • If you virtually chat with the seller, watch for odd phrasing or typos.
    • If the seller asks you to pay via wire transfer or gift card, don’t. There’s a huge chance it’s a scam.

    Another resource you can use is the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association’s list of known pet scammers. While the list is not comprehensive as new scammers are constantly popping up it’s a great place to start to make sure you’re not dealing with a scammer. If you’ve been the victim of a puppy scam you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    For this and many other reasons, Geebo does not accept ads for pets. Instead, we always recommend that if you’re making a pet a new addition to your family either use a local reputable breeder or adopt a pet from your local shelter.

     
    • lisa Cuddy 10:54 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink

      I’ve been scammed to the tune of $3300. Now what? can I get the FBI involved?

    • Geebo 11:06 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink

      We would recommend contacting your local law enforcement first. However, you may also register a complaint with the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FBI, ,   

    FBI investigating possible net neutrality fraud 

    FBI investigating possible net neutrality fraud

    The last we heard about the net neutrality debate, the FCC had admitted that half a million comments submitted to the FCC website were made by phony Russian accounts. In the run-up to net neutrality’s repeal by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the public could submit either their support or opposition to net neutrality, the regulations that protected a free and open internet. Pai, a former Verizon attorney, repealed net neutrality claiming that it stifled innovation. During the past week, the FBI decided to get involved with the investigation into the fake accounts.

    The FBI has launched an investigation into whether or not “people’s identities were posted to the FCC’s website without their permission, falsely attributing to them opinions about net neutrality rules.” According to the New York Attorney General’s office, close to ten million comments submitted to the FCC’s website were submitted with stolen identities. The total amount of comments received numbered around 24 million. When factoring in what were believed to be legitimate comments close to 99% were in favor of keeping net neutrality protections in place.

    The FBI has subpoenaed several telecom lobbyists and trade groups. Previously the state of New York had requested information from the FCC regarding the status of these allegedly fake accounts but by most reports, the FCC refused to cooperate citing the state of New York had no authority to investigate these claims. Now, only time will tell if anything actually comes out of this new investigation by the FBI or will Ajit Pai’s higher-ups will try to hamper the investigation? After all, the administration has to do something to keep that telecom campaign money pouring in.

     
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