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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , ,   

    Celebrity romance scam had deadly consequences 

    By Greg Collier

    A pair of alleged romance scammers from New Jersey have been arrested after investigators discovered their involvement in scamming an elderly Tennessee man. The pair convinced the man that he was having an online relationship with a well-known female celebrity. Then the scammers convinced the man that they were with the FBI, and the celebrity was suing the man for harassment. That’s when the scammers started demanding money from their victim.

    The man was told he would need to pay fines to resolve the lawsuit. He sent the scammers a $5500 check. However, the check was made out to the FBI, meaning the scammers couldn’t cash the check. Apparently, the scammers were incensed by this because they told the man he would now have to pay $40,000 for failing to follow instructions. Before it was all over, the man paid close to $90,000 to the scammers, with him even taking out a loan on his car.

    It’s unknown if the man realized he was being scammed as he took his own life last month. After his passing, the man’s family found emails related to the scam and contacted police.

    We hope that our readers’ first thoughts when seeing this story aren’t “I would have never fallen for this scam.” If they were, we’d like to remind you that a man has been lost from his family due to the actions of greedy and reckless scammers. While you may not have fallen victim to this scam, there’s probably someone in your family who would. Now, imagine the heartbreak of losing them to a pointless scam like this.

    While most romance scams don’t veer off into police impersonation territory, always be wary of online relationships where your supposed partner can’t meet you in person. Also, please keep in mind that no law enforcement agency will ever ask you to make payments over the phone or through email.

    If you know someone who you suspect may be the target of a romance scam, please try to talk to them about such scams before they become victims.

    (If you or someone you know is contemplating the unthinkable, please know that there is no shame in reaching out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is accessible 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255, and you can also visit their website for support. You can also reach the lifeline by dialing 988. This new three-digit number is designed to provide easier access to mental health support services.)

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 12, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , ,   

    FBI warns of scam letters sent in their name 

    FBI warns of scam letters sent in their name

    By Greg Collier

    The El Paso, Texas office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has issued an alert about scammers posing as their office. Letters are being sent to El Paso residents that are official looking and appear to be on FBI stationery.

    The letter claims it’s regarding an identity theft case that involves Bank of America. The letter goes on to state the recipient’s bank account with Bank of America has now been secured, but was suspected by US Customs and Border Patrol of being part of an identity theft scheme. The scam letter even contains warnings that it is sensitive material and should not be shared.

    The El Paso FBI Office states the scammers are trying to get victims to pay the scammers in cryptocurrency or other funds, but doesn’t explain how. If you take a look at a copy of the letter the FBI has released, it has the official contact information of the El Paso office on it, albeit signed by a fictitious special agent.

    Typically, when scammers send out letters impersonating an agency or business, false contact information will be included, so the recipient would call the scammer, and not the entity they’re impersonating. It could be that the FBI intentionally left that information off the letter, so people don’t call the scammers. Or, these letters could be followed up by a scammer’s phone campaign where they call the letter’s recipients, furthering their scam.

    Either way, it’s easy to spot that this letter is a fake, as the second time they print Bank of America, the bank’s name is not capitalized. Not to mention, many recipients probably don’t even bank with B of A.

    We’d be remiss if we didn’t say this reminds us of a popular phone scam. In that scam, the scammers will call a victim posing as either, the FBI, US Marshals, or Border Patrol. The scammers will tell their victims that a car rented in the victim’s name has been found along the southern border that contained drugs. The victim is typically threatened with arrest, but they can make the warrant go away if they just pay the fake officer or agent directly.

    Please keep in mind, no law enforcement agency will ever call you up or ask you for money, nor will they send letters. If you owe any kind of legal fine or court cost, that correspondence usually comes from the court and not the police.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 6, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, IC3, , ,   

    Phony FBI letters sent by scammers 

    By Greg Collier

    Scammers will take advantage of a victim. ‘Good’ scammers will try to take advantage of the same victim twice. You can see this in the scam recovery service scam we’ve posted about in the recent past. That’s where scammers go after scam victims and promise the victims they can recover their money for a fee, of course. Now, a new scam has emerged, and while it doesn’t specifically target scam victims., they can be more vulnerable to this scam.

    It’s being reported in South Central Pennsylvania that residents are receiving a letter which appears to come from the FBI. Well, the letters are actually embedded in emails sent to victims. The letters claim to not only be from the FBI, but also from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is better known as IC3. The IC3 website is where scam victims can go to report internet scams.

    Getting back to the letters, they claim that the recipient was the victim of a cybercrime. The letter goes on to state that the recipient’s email address was found in the database of a Nigerian scammer. The hook to this scam is the letter says the recipient is eligible for restitution in the amount of $1.4 million.

    The report we read doesn’t state what the scammers are after, but if history is any indicator, it could be one of three things. The first is the scammers will need victims to make a payment which will be disguised as taxes or processing fees. The second thing the scammers could want is the victim’s personal and financial information under the guise of where they should send the phony payment. This could give the scammers access to the victim’s bank accounts. Lastly, the scammers could include a link in the email which could inject malware into the victim’s device. If it’s the right device, the scammers could steal the victim’s identity and take over their life.

    Thankfully, there is a simple way to protect yourself from this scam. Law enforcement will not conduct official business through email. If the FBI really wanted to get a hold of you, they would do it by official mail or a personal visit. Secondly, very few scam victims are scammed for $1.4 million dollars. If the FBI recovered that much money and there were multiple victims, you may get partial payment by check in an amount that would be similar to those issued in a class action lawsuit, i.e., nowhere near $1.4 million. If you receive one of these emails and still have questions, contact your nearest FBI Office directly, and do not use any contact information included in the letter.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , FBI, , ,   

    Check scam has police impostor twist 

    By Greg Collier

    The check scam is so common place, it is often used in multiple scams. For example, there is the overpayment scam. If you’re selling something online, the buyer will send you a check that’s more than the asking amount. In employment scams, it’s used to falsely pay the employee while they pay out to scam vendors. Fake checks are even sent as prizes for contests the victims never entered. However, they all have one thing in common. The scammers want the victim to deposit the check into the victim’s bank account and have the victim send money from the account before the check is detected as fraudulent. The scammer gets paid, while the victim is held responsible for the amount of the check.

    Now, scammers are using fake checks as an intimidation tactic. Victims in South Carolina have been receiving fake checks in one of the scams listed above. After receiving the check, victims are emailed by scammers posing as the FBI. The victims are threatened with arrest by being accused of being part of a money laundering ring. While the news report doesn’t mention, we’re assuming the scammers follow up the threat by asking for the money from the check to be sent to them. Meanwhile, the supposed FBI emails are sent from a Gmail account.

    Even if a check appears to clear initially, it doesn’t guarantee its authenticity. Avoid withdrawing or spending the funds until your bank confirms that the check has fully cleared, which can take several days or even weeks.

    If someone asks you to send a portion of the money back after depositing a check, consider it a red flag. Legitimate transactions rarely involve sending money back in such a manner.

    It’s also important to remember that legitimate law enforcement agencies typically do not make arrest threats or demand immediate payments over the phone or through email. They follow proper procedures and protocols when dealing with legal matters.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , ,   

    FBI: Voice cloning used in kidnapping scams 

    FBI: Voice cloning used in kidnapping scams

    By Greg Collier

    You receive a phone call where the caller says they’ve kidnapped one of your loved ones. You ask to speak to them, and the voice on the phone sounds exactly like them. But it’s not actually your loved one. Instead, it’s a scammer who’s using a technology to mimic your loved one’s voice. It sounds like something that could only happen in a movie. However, not only is it possible, the FBI is saying that it’s happening now.

    Voice cloning technology is typically used by people who can no longer speak on their own due to medical reasons. The FBI has issued a warning that scammers are using the technology in virtual kidnapping scams. In the virtual kidnapping scam, scammers will call their victim claiming they’ve kidnapped one of the victim’s loved ones and is holding them for ransom. The supposed kidnap victim is almost always safe and unaware, but the scam victim doesn’t know that at the time. On the more low tech side, the scammers will have someone screaming in the background to make it seem like the victim’s loved one is being abused. But now, the FBI is saying that scammers are using the expensive voice cloning technology to mimic the voice of the victim’s loved one.

    Scammers can get just about anyone’s voice by calling them and engaging them for a few minutes. Once the scammers have enough of that person’s voice recorded, they can use it to imitate that person’s voice almost perfectly. This tactic can go a long way in convincing a victim that the kidnapping is real.

    To better protect your loved ones against such scams, it’s recommended that you set up a code word to ensure that they’re talking to the person they say they are. If you receive a call that you suspect may be a cloned voice, you can always ask the caller a question that only they would know. And as always, if you can, contact someone else in your family to make sure that the person who’s been supposedly kidnapped, is safe and sound.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FBI, , Spring Break, ,   

    Spring break is the season of kidnapping scams 

    By Greg Collier

    It’s getting to be that time of year when college students from around the country descend on locales with warmer climates. Of course, I’m talking about Spring Break. While the US has many beach hotspots students can enjoy, many will choose to go outside the country to try to maximize their Spring Break experience. Whether it’s the Caribbean, Central America, or overseas, Spring Breakers should be relatively safe as long as they don’t stray from the tourist areas. However, scammers are hoping that the parents of Spring Breakers are not so sure about the safety of their college-aged children.

    The FBI is advising they see an increase in the virtual kidnapping scam during Spring Break since so many students are traversing in and out of the country. As you may have heard, in the virtual kidnapping scam, scammers will have claimed to have kidnapped a loved one and will demand a ransom. Meanwhile, your loved one is actually safe and has no idea their well-being is being used in a scam. The reason we’re focusing this time on students traveling outside the country is because kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the United States. That doesn’t mean the scam doesn’t take place in the US. You can read more about those here.

    The FBI is saying that during Spring Break, these scammers will claim to be from a drug cartel or corrupt police department. The scammers will then demand a ransom in some untraceable form, such as gift cards or money transfer. There might even be someone in the background of the phone call screaming, pretending to be the supposed kidnap victim. The scammers will also try to keep you on the phone, so you don’t have a chance to try to contact your loved one. However, that’s precisely what you should do. Try to contact your loved one on another device as quickly as possible. Keep the scammers on the phone by repeating their orders, and tell them you’re writing their instructions down. Don’t volunteer any information to the callers, they can use that against you during the call. In numerous instances, the scammers will use information they’ve taken from social media to make it seem like they have your loved one held hostage.

    The best way to avoid falling victim to this scam is to set up a code word of sorts between you and your kids, who are traveling for Spring Break. This way, you should be able to immediately identify if your children are in actual danger.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 8, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, , , , ,   

    Romance scams ramp up in time for Valentine’s Day 

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the FBI issued a warning urging citizens to be wary of romance scams in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. For new readers, romance scams typically consist of scammers luring their targets into false romantic relationships as a way to steal money. The scammers usually pose as oil rig workers, military members stationed overseas, or international business people. This is done in order to have a built-in excuse as to why the scammer can’t meet their victim face to face. While anybody can fall for a romance scam, elderly women are frequently the targets for this scam. While the FBI is warning about Valentine’s Day as a possible flashpoint for romance scams, they can happen at any time.

    For example, a woman in Minnesota is said top have recently lost $57,000 in a romance scam. While it’s not clear who the scammer was posing as, the scammer kept giving the woman excuses as to why they couldn’t meet face to face. Moreover, the scammer would use these excuses to solicit more money from their victim. In one instance, the scammer said they made it halfway to Minnesota, but fell ill before they could get there. Another time, the scammer said they made it to the Twin Cities, but needed more money for gas. When nobody showed up, the woman realized she had been scammed.

    Another recent romance scam happened in Pennsylvania, where a woman lost $5000. She met a scammer on a chat app posing as an oil rig worker in the Gulf of Mexico. The scammer claimed they had lost their debit card and needed money. The victim ended up mailing $5000 in cash to an address in Ohio.

    It’s believed that many romance scams go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to come forward, which is the main reason why this scam continues to proliferate.

    If you ever meet a potential romantic partner online, the first thing you should do is a reverse image search on their picture. Scammers will often steal pictures from someone’s social media who has no idea their picture is being used in a romance scam. If your prospective partner is being cagey about meeting in person, that is usually a good indicator that they’re trying to scam you. Lastly, if they ask for money before meeting, that’s a huge red flag indicating a scam.

    If you know someone who may be a victim in a romance scam, it’s often difficult to convince them that they’re being scammed. It may help if you show them this blog post or any of the articles out there that detail how a romance scam works.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FBI, keylogger, , , ,   

    Scammers sending USB drives in the mail 

    Scammers sending USB drives in the mail

    By Greg Collier

    If you own a computer, you’ve probably used a USB drive. Sometimes they’re also referred to as flash drives or thumb drives. They’re a great tool to help you either back up important files, or transfer files from one computer to another. However, they can also be used in cyberattacks.

    The FBI recently issued a warning that USB drives are being sent through the mail. The drives are being attached to fliers that promise you a free gift card to Amazon or some other well-known retailer. The instructions say that in order to redeem the gift cards, you’ll need to put the USB drive into your computer.

    If you do put the drive into your computer, a few things could happen. The FBI is saying that many of these drives contain ransomware. Ransomware locks up your computer and encrypts your files before asking for a ransom payment to get your files back. The drives could also contain key logging software which sends everything you type back to the scammer. This could include sensitive information such as account logins, passwords, and anything else you type.

    These drives are not only being sent to individuals, but businesses as well. One good ransomware target could cripple an entire business.

    The best defense against these attacks is to never put a strange USB drive in your computer. Whether it’s one you found on the ground, or one you receive in the mail, USB drives that you didn’t buy personally should be seen as suspicious. If you put a strange USB into your computer, you’re risking not only compromising your computer, but potentially other computers in your home or business network as well.

    If you receive one of the USB drives promising you a free gift card, you’re asked to contact the FBI at their website.

  • 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: , , 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.

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