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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church, dmv, gift cards, ,   

    Even your church can be scammed! 

    Even your church can be scammed!

    Once again, we’re here to bring you the latest in scams that you should look out for.

    This week, we start off with a scam that has affected a number of churches in America. The latest area to be hit with this scam is Fargo, North Dakota where parishioners have been receiving messages claiming to be their local priest. The messages sent through an app designed to inform churchgoers of church news has been hijacked and is asking for donations to be made through gift cards. Any kind of transaction asked to be made through gift cards are usually a scam as the gift cards can be virtually untraceable.

    Our next scam is another romance scam that cast a very wide net. According to the Des Moines Register, someone took out a print ad with their paper claiming to be a 57-year-old man looking for someone to marry. However, the same as has appeared in several other newspapers across the country. As with most romance scams, this ad was more than likely placed with the hope of trying to con money out of a vulnerable victim. The Register pulled the ad after they investigated the source of the ad.

    Lastly, in North Carolina, the State Attorney General is warning people there not to fall for phony DMV sites. He says that there are websites popping up that mimic the DMV’s official website. These sites could either be offering services for a fee that the DMV does for free or they could be trying to steal your personal information. You should always use your state’s official DMV website which usually has a ‘.gov’ address.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, , , ,   

    Double craigslist scam and more 

    Double craigslist scam and more

    Previously, we’ve told you about gift card scams and phony check scams. Now, at least one scammer tried to swindle someone using both scams at the same time. A woman in Madison, Wisconsin was trying to sell an item on craigslist and she received a check for more than $1000 than what she was asking for. The scammers told her to deposit the check and return most of the balance in gift cards. Luckily, the woman did not fall for the scam. If she had, not only would she have been on the hook for the amount of the phony check but once the gift card numbers would have been given to the scammer, the funds would be virtually untraceable.

    ***

    Speaking of gift cards, a New York man was arrested after allegedly using stolen gift cards to withdraw money at an ATM. The man allegedly used the account information from the gift cards to withdraw around $9,000. While the report doesn’t clarify what kind of gift cards were used we would imagine that they were something along the lines of a pre-paid VISA gift card. This is another potential reason you may want to avoid using gift cards as presents. We have some great tips here on how to avoid being ripped off when buying gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, you may be tempted to buy a device online that promises you unlimited access to free movies and TV shows. Devices comparing themselves to the Amazon Fire Stick are showing up claiming to be ‘jailbroken’ which allow you to circumvent copyright protection in order to stream movies and TV shows which you would normally have to pay for a service like HBO to view. As you can probably guess, these devices are not only illegal but they’re usually loaded with malware according to CNET. This malware could potentially hijack devices connected to your home network such as microphones and cameras and could also send your personal information to any number of identity thieves. In the long run, you’re better off paying for a legitimate streaming service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, paycheck scam,   

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams 

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams

    Today, we have three new scams for you to be aware of on this Monday morning.

    This first one is more out of your hands and could be targeting your HR department. Overseas scammers are now posing as employees of a company and trying to get HR departments to reroute an employee’s direct deposit for their paycheck. They’re also posing as company CEOs and CFOs in urgent need of changing their direct deposit as well. The scams are all done through email with email addresses that come from outside the company. Most companies are wise to this scam but if you have a small company you may want to let your HR person know to be aware of this particular scam.

    The next scam involves medical DNA testing. Authorities are warning people that seniors are being targeted in this scam where people are offering to perform medical screening DNA tests. They’re not trying to steal your family’s DNA but instead are looking to gather enough information to steal your family member’s identity. In other aspects of the scam, these phony DNA testers are looking to bill Medicare and Medicaid for unneeded medical tests. The scammers will pose as legitimate medical companies but you shouldn’t take part in these tests unless done by a professional your doctor has referred you to.

    Our last scam for today comes to us from the Raleigh, North Carolina area where residents have been receiving texts and phishing emails claiming to be from a local newscaster. The messages state that the recipient has won a contest but in order to claim the prize they would need to purchase $200 in various gift cards then send a picture of the cards back to the person who sent the message. This is just another twist on the gift card scam where scammers try to pressure you into sending them the serial number on gift cards so they can drain the money from the cards and leave you out of a substantial sum of money.

    Hopefully, none of these scams will find their way to you, but if they do now you’re prepared.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, , , shimming, white van scam   

    Shimming, white vans, and employment scams 

    Shimming, white vans, and employment scams

    Today, we’re bringing you three scams from around the country that may also affect you in your area.

    The first is what’s called shimming. If you’re the type that wiggles the card slots at gas pumps and ATMs to check for card skimmers, you have a new concern about your credit card. Much like skimming, in shimming the scammers place a device in the card reader that reads the new security chips on credit and debit cards instead of the magnetic strip. If you’re thinking the new chips were supposed to make cards more secure you are correct, however, the scammers were quick to crack the chip. One of the ways you can tell if a card reader you’re using has been shimmed is if the card feels too tight when put into the card reader. If so, cancel the transaction immediately.

    The second scam we have today is a scam that predates the internet but is still going on today. It’s called the white van scam and usually involves knock off or stolen electronics. Back in the pre-internet era, this scam would involve someone trying to sell you stereo components at a steep discount but now the scam usually offers discounted ‘high end’ TVs or other modern electronics. The scammers will claim that they work for a legitimate retailer or company and say that they have too much inventory and need to sell these units at a discounted price. As with most scams, they will try to pressure you hard into purchasing one of the items from their vehicle. These scammers tend to target their victims in strip mall parking lots and other locations near ATMs.

    Lastly, the secret shopper employment scam has made the news again. While many retailers do employ secret shoppers to review the work retail staff, these jobs aren’t as readily available as the internet may have you think. Recently, a woman from Greensboro, North Carolina, almost fell for this scam. The so-called secret shopper service sent her a check for thousands of dollars and asked her to use the money to buy gift cards at retailers. She was then supposed to send the gift cards back to the secret shopping service and keep some of the money for herself as payment. Of course, there are two red flags that the woman noticed and that was the fact of the scammers asking her to deposit a check and send them gift cards. Both are well-known scams as if she had deposited the phony check and spent the money she would have been responsible for the money owed to her bank. Not only that but the scammers would have received the gift cards and used the fraudulently purchased gift cards as they saw fit.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards,   

    Gift cards may not be the greatest gift idea anymore 

    Gift cards may not be the greatest gift idea anymore

    We’ve talked about gift card scams many times before, but usually, they were about how you should never pay for any online classifieds transaction using gift cards. The reason for that is once you give the fake seller your gift card numbers the scammers then empty the balance of the gift card and never ship the item. Now, with the Christmas holiday behind us and many of us giving or receiving gift cards, there’s a newer scam that consumers should be concerned about.

    If you received a gift card as a present this year, you may want to use it as quick as you can. With this newer scam thieves are getting the numbers off of the gift cards before they’re even purchased. The scammers then monitor the card numbers waiting for the cards to be activated. Once the card is activated the scammers are able to easily and quickly deplete the card of funds. In most cases, there’s little the card vendors or the store that sold them can do.

    While no tip is foolproof, there are ways to better protect yourself when purchasing gift cards. First, you should inspect the sticker or strip that covers the card number and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and make sure the strips match those of the other gift cards on the rack. You can also try selecting a card from the middle or back of the rack as it’s more difficult for scammers to replace those cards. However, if you really want to give a last-minute gift that you don’t have to worry about, you can always give cash.

     
  • Geebo 10:32 am on May 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , gift cards, Lincoln, , ,   

    A Capital city hit with trio of scams 

    A Capital city hit with trio of scams

    Lincoln, Nebraska, population 280,000+, was recently hit by a trio of online scams that were reported to police. Regular readers of our blog may recognize these scams, but as long as victims keep falling prey to them, it gives us the opportunity to review them once again, and discuss how to avoid them.

    In the first scam, a man was selling his car on craigslist and received a check for more than the amount asked. The man then wired the difference back to the ‘buyer’. The check later turned out to be a phony and the man was out over $1500 since the bank debited the man’s account for the amount of the fraudulent check. This is one of the most common scams when selling something online. If you receive a check that’s over the amount asked, chances are the check is a fake and should be discarded accordingly. In cases like this, you should always deal in cash only and meet the buyer at a secure transaction location like a police station.

    In the second scam, a woman lost close to $5000 after she received a Facebook message from a friend claiming to have received money from a grant in order to pay their bills. The victim paid the money to the phony grant givers for ‘processing fees’ before finding out that her friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. If you receive this kind of message from a friend on Facebook, it’s more than likely that their account has been compromised. You should contact them in a way outside of Facebook to let them know their Facebook has been taken over.

    Lastly, a woman was out close to $700 after trying to buy a dog online. In this instance, the victim was told to wire most of the money out to one state while paying the rest in gift cards to another state. Unfortunately, this victim was double-scammed. Both wiring money and paying through gift cards are sure signs of a scam and should always be avoided when buying something online. After the funds have been transferred in these matters, once the money is gone it’s impossible to get back and the scammers are virtually untraceable at this point. Also, if you’re looking to purchase a pet, we strongly recommend going to your local shelter or a licensed breeder as you’re also less likely to get a pet with health conditions as many puppy mills and the like advertise online.

    Again, while most of our regular readers are probably familiar with these scams, there are still many others out there that aren’t. We ask you to please share this blog post with them so they can be better-prepared consumers in the future.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on January 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards,   

    New gift card scam on the rise 

    New gift card scam on the rise

    With the holidays having just passed it’s almost a guarantee that many of us have gift cards looking to burn a hole in our pockets. While gift cards make a convenient gift to give and receive unfortunately, there are some risks inherent with gift cards these days. In the past. we’ve discussed such scams as people wanting gift cards as payment for either items or services. This practice is discouraged as once you give someone the gift card’s serial number they can make off with the value of the card without having to provide you with anything.

    Another common gift card scam is the gift card exchange. These are places or offers online who ask to buy your unwanted gift cards. Again, the scam here is mostly the same where the scammers will try to get the card number before paying you anything and once that value of the card is gone there is no way to get it back. If you have a gift card to a merchant you don’t normally patronize, think about giving it to someone who does or donating it to charity.

    However, a newer and even quick scam is being reported by both the Better Business Bureau and the FBI that rips you off before you even make it back to you car. According to reports, these scammers go into the stores that sell gift cards and scratch off the strips hiding the card’s number. Once that particular card is activated, the scammers are able to automatically steal that card’s value. So if you’re purchasing a gift card, make sure the card’s safety strip hasn’t been scratched off already.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on August 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards, ,   

    New wrinkle on old tech support scam appearing 

    New wrinkle on old tech support scam appearing

    If you’re not familiar with the tech support scam, here’s how it works. You’re on your computer, browsing the web when all of a sudden a pop-up appears. It says something to the effect of you have a virus and you need to call a Microsoft technician right away. It then provides you with a toll-free number. When you call the number, someone says they’ll remove the virus remotely for a nominal fee. It’s a complete scam as Microsoft never asks you to call them for anything.

    Now, there’s been a new aspect added to this scam. According to reports coming out of Virginia, the scammers are asking for a new form of payment, then asking for additional payment on top of it. First the scammers ask you to buy a Steam gift card. Steam is a PC gaming platform and games can be bought with the gift cards. They’ll ask you for the Steam card’s serial number as the form of payment. Then they’ll say the number on the Steam card is invalid and they’ll give you a refund, but you need to then buy an iTunes gift card and give them that serial number. If you’ve made it that far, they’ll gain remote access of your computer and search for any vital information they can capitalize on. They’ll then sell the serial numbers to the two gift cards you purchased on the black market. So at this point, not only are you out of whatever money you spent on the cards, but you could have also exposed your financial information.

    Gift cards have become the new currency among scammers as of late. They’re easy to get and are virtually untraceable once the serial numbers are taken and sold. If you see any of these pop-ups that say you have a virus, never call the number on the pop-up. You should be able to restart your computer and you’ll be fine. More than likely you don’t have a virus in the first place, but just to make sure run a scan with your antivirus software.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, ,   

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads 

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads

    After having the credit card companies cease doing business with them, forcing them to turn to Bitcoin, Backpage has now made it much easier and more anonymous to purchase sex ads.

    According to an article by the Dallas Morning News, Backpage is now accepting gift cards as payment for their ads for prostitution. The same gift cards you can buy from just about any store in the world, from your high-end retail outlets to your local bargain store.

    How it works is you purchase any one of these gift cards, like iTunes or Starbucks or Target, and give the card number to Backpage. Backpage then allegedly turns around and sells the card number for cash. If this sounds familiar, this is the same way craigslist scammers try to get you to pay them. If they’re not asking you to wire them money, they’re asking you to pay them in gift cards. The obvious problem with this is it breaks a chain in the paper trail. If someone pays for a gift card with cash, that’s a virtually anonymous transaction which makes it more difficult to find the victims of sex trafficking.

    So now it’s even more business as usual at Backpage. Just think, some underage girl is probably going to be sold into sexual slavery by someone who bought an iTunes gift card at Dollar General.

    The devaluation of human life continues at Backpage.

     
  • Geebo 1:34 pm on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards   

    Unload the gift cards you didn’t want 

    Unload the gift cards you didn't want

    Are you a vegan who got a gift card to the hunting store? Are you an XBox player who received a PlayStation Store gift card? Are you anybody who got a gift card from Applebee’s? Well fear not, because a solution is at hand.

    With the gift giving holidays behind us many of us may have received a gift card we have no use for whether it be personal taste or the lack of a local available store. This article from the Associated Press details what you can do with those unwanted gift cards. While it has many good ideas there is at least one I would recommend avoiding, selling your gift cards.

    While the article states that there are legitimate outlets for selling your gift card it just reminds me too much of the many gift card scams that appear online. Basically the scam works is that the seller claims to be selling a gift card for some ridiculous price like half off but when you get the gift card it’s completely worthless. I’m not saying the outlets listed do that but caveat emptor.

    An idea that was not mentioned in the article was you could try to set up an unwanted exchange at your place of work. Surely you can’t be the only one with an unwanted gift card. Maybe someone at work would be willing to trade you for something you could use.

    Of course the best idea, which is mentioned in the article, is to donate the card to charity. There really is no greater gift than helping out someone in need and that gift card could do just that.

     
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