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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, ,   

    Rental car scam is the latest attack on consumers 

    Single father taken in craigslist car con

    By Greg Collier

    Due to the pandemic, car rental companies were forced to sell off a lot of their cars just to stay afloat. Now that people are starting to travel again, car rental agencies have drastically raised their prices because of the shortage of inventory. Not surprisingly, scammers have stepped in to take advantage of the shortage. It seems like scammers always have their fingers on the pulse of multiple industries so they can immediately jump on any situation that could benefit them. While this scam may seem new, it’s actually a common scam with a new target base.

    How it works is the scammers are taking out ads on search engines. These ads claim to be from known car rental agencies except they have a different phone number listed than the actual agencies. If someone calls one of these phony numbers the person on the other end of the call promises a great deal for a rental car. The catch is that not only do you have to pay up front, you have to do so using a pre-paid debit card or gift cards. After someone makes the payment they’re told that the payment didn’t go through, and they need to make another payment. Scammers are notorious for trying to get more payments out of their victims if they can con them into sending the first payment.

    If this scam sounds a little familiar that’s because it’s a variation on the customer service scam. This is where scammers take out online ads purporting to be customer service departments for well-known companies. Cash App users have been plagued by this scam for years since Cash App doesn’t actually take customer phone calls.

    As far as avoiding this scam when renting a car, you should always use the customer service number that’s on the agency’s website. Most agencies have a location finding feature on their website that will direct you to the nearest local location along with their phone number.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Offices of scammers are a thing 

    By Greg Collier

    eBay Motors works almost exactly like regular eBay does. You find a vehicle you want, you make the payment, and it’s up to you and the seller to arrange delivery of the vehicle. eBay Motors does not have its own delivery service. Neither do they contract out to third-party vehicle delivery services. Despite multiple warnings from eBay itself on their website, scammers have continually convinced victims that not only does eBay deliver vehicles, but you have to pay for the vehicle in eBay gift cards.

    This recently happened to a victim in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. She found a vehicle for sale on another platform. When she reached out to the seller, she received emails that looked like they had been sent by eBay Motors. The emails claimed that the purchase would be protected by an eBay Motors guarantee. All that she would need to do is pay for the vehicle using eBay gift cards. While eBay Motors does have financial protections in regard to fraudulent sales, that’s only if the vehicle is sold through their platform. As with a number of email scams, anyone can add an official-looking logo to their email to make it appear as if it had come from a legitimate source.

    What sort of surprised us about this story is what an AARP spokesperson said about the proliferation of scams like this, When we think of scam rings, we tend to think of shady people that are constantly on the move to prevent apprehension. However, the AARP spokesperson says that there are offices operating as businesses that are just scam operations. She says that leads are bought from other businesses and employees are given bonuses for successfully scamming a victim. That goes a long way in showing just how organized these scammers can be.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, , , ,   

    Arrest warrant scammers now showing up at people’s homes 

    Arrest warrant scammers now showing up at people's homes

    By Greg Collier

    One of the most common scams is the arrest warrant scam. A scammer will call a victim out of the blue claiming to be with the local police. The scammers will then tell the victim that there’s a warrant out for their arrest. Most of the time, the scammers will say it’s because the victim missed jury duty. This makes the thought of an arrest warrant more believable since missing jury duty is a pretty innocuous crime that most people could see happening to them. The victims are then instructed to make some kind of payment over the phone, usually by untraceable means like gift cards or money transfers. We want to stress that these scams were normally done over the phone because in at least one community a scammer has added a dangerous step to the scam.

    In Suffolk, Virginia, a man showed up at a woman’s doorstep asking for the woman’s son. The man said that he was with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and that her son had a warrant out for his arrest. The scammer identified himself as Lt. Johnson, however, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office does not have a Lt. Johnson working for them. Thankfully, the woman did not open the door to the scammer, but the story doesn’t end there. The scammer called the son telling him there was a warrant for his arrest unless he made a $1500 payment in gift cards. In the family’s defense, none of them had ever been arrested before and didn’t know that this was not how arrest warrants work. Once payment was made the scammer even called them back to gloat. We can only imagine what would have happened if the woman had opened her door to the scammer.

    If there is a warrant out for someone’s arrest, police will approach the suspect’s home which makes this new version of the scam incredibly dangerous for the victim. However, typically, police will send at least two officers to execute an arrest warrant. Also, please keep in mind that no law enforcement agency whether local, state, or federal will ever ask for any kind of payment in gift cards.

    We believe scams like this continue to happen because there is not enough education about situations like this. Please consider sharing this post on social media so more people can be protected from this scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim loses $16,000 in Amazon scam 

    Victim loses $16,000 in Amazon scam

    By Greg Collier

    Amazon scams are nothing new. To be clear, we’re not talking about scams perpetrated by the online retailer giant. Instead, we’re talking about scams that use the Amazon name. The most infamous of these scams is the brushing scam. The brushing scam is when you get sent packages to your home of things you didn’t order. Usually, these packages come from Amazon and contain low-cost items. This is done so third-party vendors that sell through Amazon can give themselves good online reviews in your name, and the review shows up on Amazon as a verified purchase giving the phony review more legitimacy. In turn, this leads to these products being more recommended by Amazon. Sometimes, these items are charged to someone’s Amazon account.

    Today, we’re going to talk about what we’re going to call the false order scam. In this scam, the victim receives an email that looks like it came from Amazon. The email claims that expensive and high-end items have been charged to you. It then conveniently goes on to say that if you didn’t order these items, call the toll-free number contained in the email. The phone number goes to a phony customer service department that will either try to steal your personal and financial information or your money.

    Recently, a woman in North Carolina fell victim to this scam and lost $16,000. She received a scam email and when she called the fake customer service number she was instructed that she needed to buy thousands of dollars in gift cards to cancel the phony purchase. What made this scam particularly egregious was when the scammer stayed on the phone with the woman the entire time she went from store to store buying multiple gift cards. When she started suspecting this was a scam the scammer allegedly said that “You called us, scammers call you.”

    This is nowhere near being true. Scammers often set up phony customer service numbers for popular platforms. The Cash App customer service scam is one that immediately comes to mind.

    There are several ways to protect yourself from this kind of scam. The first is to check the email address from the sender. If it’s not from Amazon.com, it’s a scam. Also, before you go calling anyone suggested by the email, you can go into your Amazon account and check your order history to see if the order is real or not. Lastly, if you actually need to call Amazon, you can click on the Customer Service tab at the top of Amazon’s website for more information.

  • Geebo 9:19 am on March 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, icloud, , ,   

    Victim loses $15,000 in iCloud scam 

    By Greg Collier

    iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that it supplies to its users for free up to 5 GB of storage. If you’re not an Apple or iOS user, iCloud is akin to Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive, or Dropbox. A few years ago, iCloud made the headlines when a number of celebrities had the contents of their iCloud accounts leaked to the internet. So, in theory, iCloud accounts can be hacked. Scammers know this and use this fear as a way to trick their victims who may not be that technically savvy as one woman in Missouri recently discovered.

    The 86-year-old woman was expecting an important call from her daughter when she answered her phone. The person on the other line claimed that the woman’s iCloud account had been hacked along with 42 other iCloud users. The scammer then told the woman that she would need to buy gift cards in order to protect her data. Since the woman used iCloud frequently she complied. She ended up buying 29 $500 gift cards for Walmart. When store clerks asked her what all the gift cards were for, she was instructed by the scammers to tell the clerks that the cards were for her grandchildren. The scammers told her that she would be reimbursed, but instead she was out $14,500.

    Tech support scams and their variants have been around since the dawn of the internet and continue to find victims. However, these scams are easy to thwart. All you need to keep in mind is that none of the big tech companies are ever going to call you out of the blue. That includes Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the like. The best way to keep your personal storage accounts safe is to use a password that is difficult to guess. Password managers are a great tool to assist you with this. It also helps if you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Again, this is where a password manager comes in handy.

    However, if someone calls you out of the blue to tell you that your account has been hacked or your computer has a virus, hang up on them. The tech companies will never call you and no one can remotely tell if you have a virus on your computer.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Tech support scam leads to home security breach 

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach

    A woman from Tennessee not only lost thousands of dollars to a tech support scam, but she also had her privacy violated by a group of scammers.

    It started when she received an email from what she thought was her antivirus provider. The email claimed that they would be automatically charging her $299 for a year’s service. The woman called the customer service number included in the email and the person on the other line said they would refund her money. She was then instructed to download an app to her computer that would aid in her receiving her refund.

    The program she downloaded was actually a remote access program. This gave the scammers control of her computer. The woman input the amount of $300 for the refund, but the scammers added two more zeros to the amount making the phony refund look like the woman would be receiving $30,000.

    The scammers convinced the woman that they just paid her $30,000 to her bank account and that she needs to return it. She was told that the only way the money could be paid back was through wire transfer. The scammers even printed out documentation she would need for her bank on her own printer since they had control of her computer. They even had the woman leave her computer on all night while they did scans claiming they had to make sure the money went through.

    In the morning the woman’s bank account was down $50,000. When she called the scammers back still thinking they were customer service, they told her that the transfer didn’t go through, and they needed $10,000 in gift cards instead.

    Then the woman noticed that the light on her computer’s webcam was lit without her turning it on. This indicated that she was being watched by the scammers. She covered up the cam but her home security cameras were also connected to her computer, so she disconnected those cameras as well.

    Before all was said and done, the woman was out $37,000 to the scammers and her privacy had been essentially violated.

    The first way a scam like this can be avoided is to not use an antivirus software. While that may seem risky, Windows 10 has a pretty robust antivirus solution built into it, and it’s free. Secondly, if you receive an email like this, and you think there may actually be a problem with your account, don’t use the phone number in the email. Instead, go directly to the company’s website and look for a phone number there. Lastly, no legitimate company is going to ask for money through wire transfer or gift cards. Scammers do this because the money is virtually untraceable once they receive it that way.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards,   

    Be careful of that Christmas gift card 

    Be careful of that Christmas gift card

    With so many people unable to visit their loved ones this holiday season, gift cards were a popular choice among the socially distanced. If you received a gift card for Christmas this year, remember it’s the thought that counts and you might want to check the balance on the card before you try to spend it. Not only are gift cards used in any number of payment scams, but they’re also vulnerable to scams when used for their intended purpose.

    Scammers will go into a store and take down the serial numbers on a series of gift cards. Once the cards are activated by a paying customer, the scammers will immediately drain the balance off of that card. Check to see if the card has already been scratched off or if the scratch-off area has been replaced by a sticker. That could indicate the card has been tampered with. Gift cards usually have a phone number or a website where you can check the balance before you spend it. This will prevent a possibly embarrassing trip to where you want to use the gift card.

    You should also be wary of anyone who tries to sell you a partially used gift card. Often, the scammer will approach someone in the parking lot trying to sell the gift card at a discounted rate. They’ll show you that the card has a balance on it but once you buy the card from them, the scammer will transfer the balance off of the card they just sold you.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do once the funds have been drained from a gift card. The best thing to do once you receive a gift card is to try to use it as soon as possible and hope that you’ve beaten the scammer to the punch.

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

    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 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Why you should really avoid Black Friday this year 

    Why you should really avoid Black Friday this year

    In the past, we’ve always advised our readers against going to a brick and mortar store on Black Friday. This year, it should be quite obvious why you should avoid the big box stores this year. Not only has the CDC urged Americans to not travel this Thanksgiving due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, but many retailers have also reversed the previous trend of starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day. However, if you insist on braving the current landscape on Black Friday, there are still the annual pitfalls you have to look out for.

    The first thing to beware of is the so-called doorbuster deals. These items are usually very limited in stock. These items are generally designed to get you in the door and try to get you to buy something more expensive once the limited stock is exhausted. Some have even said that the doorbuster products are manufactured with cheaper components to keep profit margins high for the store.

    Shopping online is a much better alternative, but there are pitfalls online that need to be avoided as well. While shopping with the major online retailers is relatively safe, scammers will try to trick you into believing you’re using one of those retailers. Scammers will send out phishing emails using the actual logos of famous shopping sites but will leave a link in the email that will take you to a phony site that resembles the real thing. They’ll then try to gain your financial information for possible identity theft and other potential abuses. Along the same vein, scammers will pose as retailers and send you an email asking you to download something in order to get a deal. This will instead infect your device with malware which could allow bad actors to access your device remotely and steal as much information as they want from it. Always go directly to a retailer’s website rather than clicking on anything in an email.

    If at all possible when shopping online, use a credit card over a debit card when making purchases. While both debit and credit cards offer protection against scam purchases, credit cards have better protections and won’t take any money directly from your bank balance. Also, keep an eye on both your debit and credit card accounts to make sure that no unauthorized purchases have been made on them. Many of these services can be set up to send you a notification every time the account is used. While the notifications may be a bit annoying, they can go a long way in preventing fraud on your accounts.

    Even if you’re just buying gift cards for the family this year, there are still hazards to look out for. If you get a card with the PIN already being exposed it’s likely that card has been purchased already with the scammer putting the card back on the shelf hoping that someone will add additional funds to the card that the scammer could then use without your knowledge. Another variation of this scam is when a scammer will scratch the protective coating off of the card’s PIN then replace it with a sticker after writing down the number.

    To all our readers, we hope that you have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

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

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