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  • Geebo 9:02 am on December 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: campsite, florida, , , , , , , ,   

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging 

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, we’re still in the middle of the Christmas vacation season. We hope our readers’ vacation plans went off without a hitch. Hopefully, you didn’t have to experience the massive flight cancellations that took place over the holiday weekend. We also hope your vacation lodging was also to your liking.

    The reason we brought up lodging specifically it that there have been a coupe of stories in the news about people being scammed out of their lodging choices. For example, vacationers to Marco Island, Florida, showed up to what they thought were vacation homes that they rented, only to find out they were rented to someone else. It seems that the victim in these cases paid money to scammers who listed the vacation rentals online but didn’t actually own the properties they claimed to rent. This is just a variation of the rental scam where people think they’re renting a home they found on craigslist when the home is either actually for sale or being rented by a real estate agency instead of some guy from craigslist.

    So instead of getting a rental home, you decide to go camping. There’s no way you can be scammed camping, right? It turns out you can, The state of Indiana is warning campers about third-parties who are claiming to rent out campsites at state parks and forests. The scammers collect the money, but when the campers get to the site they thought they paid for, the site has actually been rented to someone else. In the Hoosier State, campers can only reserve campsites in the state parks through the state itself. Check to see if the state you’re going camping in has the same rules.

    Hotels and short-term rental platforms like Airbnb have their own set of scams to worry about. You can read more about those here and here.

    If you chose to stay home for the holidays this year, you may have made the safest choice of all.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , florida, , ,   

    Florida father falls victim to kidnapping scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Even after all this time, we still get comments from readers who claim that they would never fall for any of the scams we’ve discussed. While that may be true, we still maintain that anyone can fall victim to a scam if the circumstances are right. For every victim that falls for a scam, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of attempts by scammers that fail. While the odds may be in your favor that you won’t fall for a scam, they’re never at zero, as one man from Florida recently found out.

    The man from the Tampa Bay area was busy working as a DJ at a local wedding when he received two phone calls. One was from his 17-year-old daughter and the other was from Mexico. He couldn’t answer the calls at the time since he was working. However, he received a second call from Mexico and answered it since he had family that were vacationing there.

    The caller claimed that he got into a fender bender with the man’s daughter and took her hostage, since the caller claimed to be carrying a substantial amount of drugs. The caller even put what sounded like a young woman crying on the phone. Then the caller demanded the man leave the wedding and wire him $1500 to get his daughter back. The man went to a local supermarket, where he wired money to the scammer. At that point, the call ended. The man called his wife, and she was able to verify that their daughter was safe and had not been kidnapped. The man even stated to local media that this was a perfect storm of circumstances that allowed him to fall victim to the scam.

    This scam is known as the virtual kidnapping scam and according to local police, this scam finds victims around 5-10 times a week in the Tampa area. The FBI has even said that the virtual kidnapping scam is the scam with the third-highest number of victims nationwide.

    As we often tell our readers, actual kidnappings for ransom in the United States are actually quite rare. If you are ever unfortunate enough to receive a one of these calls, try to keep calm. We know that’s easier said than done. Even if the caller is keeping you on the call, find a way to contact the person that the callers are claiming to have kidnapped, or someone who can verify their whereabouts. You should also contact your local police department.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , florida, , retirees, ,   

    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam 

    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam

    By Greg Collier

    While Venmo is no stranger to scams on their platform, this may be one of the most heinous Venmo scams we’ve heard of. What makes this one worse than most is that the people being scammed didn’t even use Venmo.

    A retired couple from Florida who are said to be in ill health lost their life savings of close to $20,000 to a Venmo scammer. While it’s not required to use Venmo, some Venmo users connect a bank account to their Venmo account. Somehow, the scammer got a hold of the couple’s banking information and linked it to a Venmo account that the couple was unaware of.

    The scammer started slowly, at first only transferring small amounts under a dollar out of the couple’s account. Before too long, the scammer was transferring $1500 a week until the bank account was drained of $19,500. The couple didn’t notice until their rent check bounced. When they called their bank to try and resolve the matter, the bank reportedly told the couple to call Venmo. Venmo in turn is said to have told the couple to call the bank. The couple didn’t even know what Venmo was prior to this. Now, the couple is facing health and housing issues while the bank, Venmo, and police investigate the situation.

    What really is concerning is how was the scammer able to obtain the couple’s bank account information. One way that has been increasingly popular with scammers recently is stealing outgoing mail from people’s mailboxes. This is done in order to either obtain a check, so the scammers can rewrite the check. The mail and checks can also be used to obtain banking information as well. We’re not saying that this exactly what happened to this unfortunate couple, but it’s a good possibility.

    In this day and age, it’s always a good idea to make regular checks of your bank accounts for fraudulent activity. For most people, this can be done through mobile apps, where you can check your account at any time. However, for seniors who may still use older methods like waiting for their bank statement in the mail, there are other options. They can always call the customer service department of their bank to get a rundown of their account activity over the phone. They can also go to their bank’s local branch to obtain a print out of their account’s activity that they can review at home.

    If you have older relatives or friends who may not be tech-savvy, you may want to suggest that they keep a close eye on their bank accounts.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , florida, , , , vaccine passport   

    No, you can’t get your vaccination status on your license 

    By Greg Collier

    Most of us know about the icons on our drivers licenses that indicate whether or not the license holder is an organ donor. In many states, it’s a small heart in one of the corners of the license. In others, it just says ‘organ donor’ listed somewhere on the card. Regardless if you’re a donor or not, we’ve all come to accept these indicators on our drivers licenses. Maybe because of that acceptance, scammers think that we’ll fall for another indicator on our licenses that indicate a more modern status.

    The state of Florida is warning its residents about a text messaging scam where the impostors are posing as the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The text message claims that you can have your vaccination status added to your driver’s license. With the discussion of so-called vaccine passports, this might seem like a reasonable service. Many entertainment and sports venues are requiring proof of vaccination before attending, so wouldn’t it be convenient to just have it marked on your license? In reality, the state of Florida is offering no such service.

    As with most texting scams, the message contains a link that the scammers want you to click on, If you do, you’re taken to a website that looks like it belongs to the Florida DMV. You’ll then be asked for such personal information as your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, and you’ll even be asked to upload a photo of your license. This scam is an identity thief’s dream.

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind to protect yourself from scams like this. The first is to never click on a link in a text from someone you don’t know. Often they’ll take you to risky websites or inject your device with malware. The other thing to keep in mind is that government agencies never use text messaging to announce new services.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: banks, florida, , ,   

    Should banks be held responsible when the elderly are scammed? 

    Should banks be held responsible when the elderly are scammed?

    By Greg Collier

    An interesting legal issue has arisen in Florida, and it deals with one of the more common scams, where the elderly are usually the targets. Of course, we’re talking about the grandparent scam where scammers call the elderly to tell them that one of their grandchildren is in trouble, and they need money. This scam has claimed far too many elderly victims. However, there have been instances where banks have intervened on their customer’s behalf. Some banks have trained their employees to ask their customers questions about large or frequent withdrawals if they believe the customer might be the victim of a scam. The issue at hand here is just how responsible banks should be when it comes to protecting their customers like this?

    An elderly woman in Tampa lost $700,000 to scammers who had convinced her that her granddaughter had been in a car accident and was in legal trouble. One of the scammers posed as her granddaughter and told the woman not to tell anyone else in the family. Another scammer got on the line posing as a local attorney. As most of these scams start out, the first request was for bail money. Then more requests came in stating that money needed to be paid to the people who were supposedly injured in the accident.

    This resulted in 13 withdrawals from her bank. In some instances, the victim was instructed to leave packages of cash for couriers to pick up. The bank did ask why the woman was withdrawing so much money, but she told the bank she was renovating her home and paying a contractor who preferred to be paid in cash. This is what the scammers told her to tell the bank if they started asking questions. It’s been reported that someone did call the state’s abuse hotline, but the woman was allowed to keep withdrawing large sums of cash after the call was made.

    The victim has since sued the bank for negligence. So what do you think? Did the bank do its due diligence, or should they even be required to do so? Or is this just an unfortunate collision of coincidences that allowed the scammers to prosper?

     
    • Wally 9:54 pm on October 20, 2021 Permalink

      I’m on the fence with this. I worked for a small bank for 8 years and really enjoyed my customers. However, one challenge that you always are scammers trying to customer’s money. Some people come into the back saying they need to withdraw X amount or do cashier’s checks to send people they don’t know.

      As a previous banker I would always ask multiple times why they are sending the money and to whom and try to deter them as much as possible and even get managers involved. Some customers [not all] will realize that it’s a scam while others will question you as the banker why you won’t give them their money so they can do what they want. I truly feel really sorry for anyone who is scammed out of their hard earned money. I have sometime refused to handle many transactions if a client refuses to take our advise.

      Banking is becoming more and more riskier everyday and I have seen it cripple some banks wit the losses they have suffer being in some installs they may have to reimburse their clients up to FDIC limits. But again, I think it’s TERRIBLE for the elderly or anyone to be scammed.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , florida,   

    Bail bond scam adds insult to injury 

    Bail bond scam adds insult to injury

    By Greg Collier

    Getting a phone call telling you that a loved one has been arrested can be one of the most harrowing experiences you can possibly have. For people in lower-income families, this is especially true, as it puts another financial burden on an already overburdened family. Even the most minor of offenses can set a family back months when it comes to paying the bills. Now imagine getting that call and losing the money you scraped up for bail to scammers.

    If you’re a regular reader, you may think we’re talking about the grandparent scam once again. That’s where scammers pose as a loved one pretending to be in jail and ask for bail money. However, this time, we’re talking about a different scam where the loved one has been actually arrested. In Florida, a man had been arrested for DUI. Since most arrests are publicly available information, scammers called the man’s mother, posing as a bail bonds agency. The scammers told the woman that her son told them to call her and that she needed to pay $900 to bail out her son. The payment was requested in prepaid debit cards. When the woman went to get her son out of jail, she discovered that the bail bonds agency didn’t even exist. She had to go to another bail bondsman to get her son out of jail.

    No matter what you may think of this man’s alleged crime, a family doesn’t need to be victimized like this during what is potentially one of their lowest points. While your family may never have to experience something like this, it’s still better to know what to actually do in such a situation. Keep in mind that bail cannot be paid over the phone, and no bail bondsman will ever call you to make a payment. Your loved one will not receive extra time in jail or further punishment if you take your time to verify their story. Lastly, always work with a licensed bail bondsman. Anyone can call, claiming there a bondsman, but do your research before committing any money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: back taxes, florida, property tax, ,   

    This tax scam tries to claim ownership of your home 

    By Greg Collier

    A tax scam has recently surfaced in Pasco County, Florida. And as we like to say, if a scam can happen in one place, it can happen near you. At least one elderly resident was terrified by this scam, but thankfully she was told it was a scam before lost anything to the scam. A scammer called the woman and told her that they had paid the back taxes on her home, and they now owned it. She did the smart thing by calling the county tax collector’s office, and they informed her that this was all part of a scam. But the question remains, what is the end goal of this scam?

    With most scams today, the end goal is usually to get money out of the victim, but under what guise? One scam that uses a threat like this is one where scammers offer a service where they claim to assist in helping pay your back property taxes, especially if there is a lien on your home. Of course, this service will cost the victim money, but once payment is made, there is no tax assistance given and the scammers have made off with the victim’s payment. It could be that this particular scammer in Florida hasn’t quite grasped how the scam is supposed to work.

    That’s not to say that a home can’t switch ownership due to delinquent taxes. However, the process isn’t as simple as walking into the tax collector’s office and paying off someone’s back taxes. In Florida, the process can take years and requires an auction to take place. It’s probably safe to assume that other states have an equally lengthy process before a home can change hands due to delinquent taxes. So if you receive a call from someone either telling you that they now on your home or can help you pay your back taxes, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: florida, , ,   

    Victim refuses to believe they’re being scammed 

    Victim refuses to believe they're being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    What can you do when someone you know is caught up in the middle of a scam, and they refuse to believe they’re being scammed. That’s the question that a community in Central Florida is currently struggling with. One of their neighbors is a 91-year-old woman who believes she won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. She received a phone call last year telling her that she had won $10 million. Since then, the scammers have continuously strung this woman along into making payments under the guise of taxes she needs to pay on her prize.

    Neighbors estimate that she’s paid at least $150,000 to these scammers. The woman is also said to have no cognitive disabilities, but just refuses to believe any evidence that she’s being scammed. It got to the point where she not only sold her car, but also placed her home on the market to try to pay these fictitious taxes for her non-existent prize. Her neighbors have reached out to police and the state Attorney General’s office, who both say they’re investigating the matter. One neighbor even contacted the woman’s bank to make them aware of possible fraud from the scammers.

    Some retirees love to play the lottery and enter sweepstakes as a form of entertainment. So, it’s very likely that the woman did enter the sweepstakes she believes she won. However., it’s illegal in the US for any sweepstakes to ask for money in exchange for prizes. Any legitimate sweepstakes will tell you that no purchase is necessary. The Better Business Bureau has said that sweepstakes scams claimed more money from victims than any other scam in 2020 according to the complaints they’ve received.

    If you know someone who you think might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know that it’s illegal to make someone pay for a sweepstakes prize.

     
  • Geebo 8:17 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: florida, , ,   

    Kidnapping scam becomes even scarier 

    Kidnapping scam becomes even scarier

    By Greg Collier

    The reason the virtual kidnapping scam is named that way is because the kidnapping victim is virtual. In essence, there is no kidnapping victim. However, that hasn’t stopped scammers from scaring families into making ransom payments for someone who was never in any danger. For new readers, in this scam, the scammers will call someone and claim to have kidnapped one of their loved ones. The scammers will even have someone screaming or crying in the background to make the call seem real. The victim of the scam will then be instructed to make a payment through untraceable means like gift cards, money transfer, prepaid debit card, or cryptocurrency. By the time the victim figures out that there was no kidnapping, the scammers are long gone with the victim’s money.

    Unfortunately, not everyone has been educated about this scam. Recently, a couple in South Florida received such a call telling them that their daughter had been kidnapped. The callers made threatened to murder their daughter if they didn’t pay $1500 in ransom. What made this call particularly terrifying was that the call appeared to be coming from the daughter’s phone. It wasn’t, though. The scammers had spoofed the daughter’s phone number which is concerning in itself. Luckily, the couple reached out to a friend they have in law enforcement who informed them this was a scam. It’s unknown how the scammers were able to obtain the daughter’s phone number.

    Scammers use tactics like this to catch you off guard to say the least. They want you to think emotionally rather than logically. The more emotionally charged the scenario is, the more likely the scammers are able to convince a victim into making a payment. If you ever receive a call like this don’t give the scammers any personal information. If they say they have your daughter, for example, don’t say your daughter’s name. Then have someone else contact the person the callers claim to have kidnapped. More often than not, that person will be just fine and will have no idea that people are claiming that they’re holding them hostage.

    Remember, kidnapping for ransom in the United States is extremely rare, but is kept in the public’s consciousness thanks to popular media.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , florida,   

    Scammers imitate defunct boat business 

    Scammers imitate defunct boat business

    By Greg Collier

    The weather is getting warmer and pandemic restrictions continue to be lifted. This has led to many consumers being in the market for buying a boat. (While we’re thinking about it, please check out Geebo.com’s boat listings.) However, like any other major purchase, you don’t want to buy a boat sight unseen through an online ad. Scammers are hoping you do, though, and they’re going to great lengths to try to fool you.

    An overseas scam ring is allegedly taking tens of thousands of dollars from each victim who thinks they’re buying a boat. The way the scammers did it would even be considered clever if it wasn’t for the fact they may be stealing people’s life savings. The scammers assumed the name of a Florida boat dealer that actually closed its doors in 2010. The scammers set up a website using the defunct business’ name and listed pictures of boats that they claimed to be selling. The boats don’t actually exist, and the pictures were stolen from various places on the internet.

    People were buying these fictitious boats, then they would show up to the vacant business looking for the boat they just bought. One victim was even set to have a boat shipped to Australia.

    You wouldn’t buy a house or car without seeing it in person, so you shouldn’t purchase a boat this way either. Boats especially need to be inspected before being purchased since a buyer would need to know if the boat is actually seaworthy or not. If you’re in the market to purchase a boat, try to stay as local as possible when conducting your search. This way you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be able to inspect it in person. Lastly, if an ad says that your purchase is guaranteed by a platform like eBay or PayPal, that is definitely a scam as these platforms don’t provide such guarantees.

     
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