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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Homeless victim loses savings in scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    In this week’s round up, we have an update on a recent scam, a reminder of a grim scam, and a heartbreaking story on how heartless scammers are.

    ***

    You may remember a story from our last Scam Round Up where teachers in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area were being targeted in a jury duty scam. More recently, this scam moved westward and is now targeting teachers from the Cleveland, Ohio area, with at least one teacher falling victim to the scam.

    This is where scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. However, a payment over the phone will supposedly resolve the matter.

    Much like in the Pittsburgh scam, scammers are calling schools in the Cleveland area asking for specific teachers and threatening them with arrest. One teacher is said to have lost $2000 to these scammers.

    Again, when it comes to jury duty, all communication is done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    In Upstate New York, police there are warning residents about a scam affecting the families of the recently deceased. Scammers are calling these families posing as an actuarial company claiming there’s been a data breach of the deceased’s information. The families are then asked for personal identifying information of the deceased.

    In this instance, scammers are likely trying to commit identity theft. They want to do things like open credit cards or take out loans in the deceased’s name before the credit companies update their record.

    If you were ever to receive a phone call like this, the best thing to do is to ask for them to send a request in writing. While not a guarantee, this does go a long way on discouraging these kinds of scammers.

    ***

    If that story wasn’t disturbing enough, a homeless woman from Florida was recently taken for over $1000 in a rental scam. After saving up enough money for her and her newborn baby to rent a home, she responded to an online real estate ad. She was texted by the supposed landlord, who asked her to pay a $75 application fee over Zelle. She was told she couldn’t see the property for a few days since it was currently occupied. Then she was asked by the supposed landlord to send $1049 for the first month’s rent. Fearing she might not get the home, she sent the money.

    Anytime a prospective landlord can’t show the property for whatever reason, there’s a good chance they’re not really the landlord.

    ***

    We hope that our readers never have to deal with scammers like this. But if you do, we hope we’ve prepared you enough to detect them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re presenting our readers with three scams that, while not new, deserve to be reviewed.

    ***

    Reports from Pennsylvania are saying that the Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper scam is making the rounds again. Many retail chains do employ secret shoppers who go around to the various stores and rate their experience. However, scammers would have you believe these positions are plentiful, which they are not.

    In Pennsylvania, reports there state that victims of the scam are being given fake checks to deposit in their bank accounts. They’re then asked to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards using the money from the fake checks. The victims are then asked to give the gift card numbers to their fake employer. By the time the victim’s bank notices the check is fake, the scammers have made off with the amount of the gift cards, while the victim is responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    Remember, no legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit money into your bank account that is supposed to be used for business purposes.

    ***

    Our next scam comes to us from the Jacksonville, Florida-area. Reports there state that a police impersonation scam is ongoing there. In this particular police impersonation scam, the scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The scammers tell their victims that a box of drugs intended for the victim was intercepted. In order to avoid arrest, the victims are asked to make some kind of payment.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s recommended not to give the caller any personal information before hanging up.

    Again, no law enforcement department or agency is going to call you and threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment to them.

    ***

    Lastly, we have another police impersonation scam, and it’s the most common one. What’s different about this scam is who the scammers are targeting.

    Reports out of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area are reporting an increase in the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. Of course, a payment over the phone will make the warrant magically disappear.

    Like we said, this is hardly a new scam, but the scammers are specifically targeting school teachers in the Pittsburgh-area. The scammers have even been calling schools and are asking to be patched in to teachers while they’re teaching class.

    The report doesn’t say why scammers are targeting teachers, but if we had to hazard a guess, they’re targeting a profession where teachers usually have their hands full with what’s going on in the classroom and could be distracted easily by the scammers.

    When it comes to matters concerning jury duty, all communication is usually done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    These three scams can happen at anytime, anywhere in the country. Hopefully, we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect yourself.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The most common scams are the worst 

    The most common scams are the worst

    By Greg Collier

    The most common scams are also the most profitable scams. The reason scammers keep committing these scams is that victims keep falling for them. As we research the news for the latest information about scams, there’s one scam we continually see on an almost daily basis. If we were asked, we’d probably say that the most common scam in this country is the jury duty scam.

    The scam is almost elegant in its simplicity. Many of us grew up being told that if we miss jury duty, you can be arrested. Scammers take that one kernel of truth and twist the reality around it to make their scam seem so plausible.

    For example, a woman from the Houston-area of Texas almost fell victim to one of these scams. She received a phone call that appeared to come from a local phone number. The man on the other line spoke with a Texas accent and claimed to be from the Sheriff’s Office. He informed the woman that she had missed jury duty. The caller gave the woman three options to rectify the matter. She could either go to the Sheriff’s Office and be held in custody for 8-10 hours, have a warrant issued for her arrest, or drive to a nearby address with $900 in cash.

    This scammer is good at what he does. His threats for not paying the cash are more of an inconvenience than life and death stakes, making the scam seem more believable. As well as only asking for $900, as that can appear to seem like a reasonable court cost to many. However, I think he overplayed his hand by asking the woman to go to an address with cash that I’m guessing wasn’t the Sheriff’s Office.

    While the woman admitted that the scam seemed very real, she did not fall victim to it. Her husband contacted a lawyer friend of his, who told them it was a scam.

    Our point is that just because a scam is common doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has heard of it. We deal with this subject every day, so we know. You read our posts, so you know. But there are so many more people out there who don’t.

    The only thing the others are missing is just a small amount of knowledge to protect them from that scam. And that knowledge is police departments don’t call citizens to threaten them with arrest over jury duty. Everything concerning jury duty is typically done by the postal mail. That includes missing jury duty. So if you haven’t received anything in the mail about jury duty, you’re not on the verge of bring arrested.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The latest twist on the police impersonation scam 

    The latest twist on the police impersonation scam

    By Greg Collier

    Law enforcement officers and agents are arguably the people most imitated by scammers. Most people either have a certain respect for or a fear of the police. So, it seems almost an obvious choice for scammers to impersonate police to get their victims to do what they want.

    We’ve discussed many of these police impersonation scams before. The two most common police impersonation scams are the jury duty scam and the arrest warrant scam. Actually, they’re both the same scam. In the jury duty scam, the scammers will call their victims to tell them they’ve missed jury duty. The victims are then instructed to make a payment over the phone or a warrant will be issued for their arrest. In the arrest warrant scam, the scammers just say that there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest, although a payment could make the warrant go away.

    When these scammers ask, or in some cases, demand payment, they usually ask the victim to pay through untraceable means. These usually include payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, prepaid debit cards like Green Dot, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and of course, gift cards.

    King City, on the Central Coast of California, has reported that scammers are posing as one of their detectives in a police impersonation scam. However, the scammer isn’t threatening their victims with arrest. In this case, the scammer says that they’re investigating a case where the victim’s identity has been stolen. The victim is then instructed by the phony detective to move all their money from the bank to a Bitcoin account to clear their identity. In reality, the money goes into the scammer’s Bitcoin wallet, and they make off with the victim’s money.

    This scam isn’t just limited to your local police department, either. In the past, we have seen scammers pose as the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security, and Border Patrol just to name a few. However, you can protect yourself from this scam with just one important piece of knowledge. No law enforcement office or agency will ever demand payment for anything over the phone.

    If you ever receive one of these phone calls, try to give the caller as little information as possible and tell them you’ll call them back. Don’t let them keep you on the phone. Then call your local police department and inform them of the call.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    The jury duty scam is becoming more sophisticated 

    The jury duty scam is becoming more sophisticated

    By Greg Collier

    As we have previously mentioned, the jury duty scam is probably one of the most prevalent scams going on out there today. As you may know, scammers will call their victims posing as local or federal authorities. The scammers then tell their victims that they missed jury duty and there’s a warrant out for the victim’s arrest. Then the scammers ask the victim for money, so the victim can avoid arrest. Like most scams, they’ll ask for payment in virtually untraceable ways like money transfers, gift cards, and cryptocurrency.

    The first tip off that this may be a scam is the fact that the scammers are calling you. If you actually missed jury duty, you would receive a summons in the mail from whatever court you were supposed to be reporting to. It seems that enough people have caught on to the jury duty scam that the scammers are changing their tactics, and it begins with a letter in the mail.

    According to law enforcement in the state of Oklahoma, residents have been receiving official looking documents in the mail telling residents that they’ve missed jury duty. However, the letters are being followed up with phone calls to the residents, with the scammers once again posing as law enforcement and threatening arrest. They’re then telling the residents that they need to pay a fine right then and there over the phone.

    The phone call is the tell because law enforcement will never call you to threaten you with arrest, and court fines are not paid over the phone.

    If you receive one of these letters or a letter like this, call the agency or office in claims to be from. Don’t use any phone number that may be listed on the documentation. Those could lead you directly to the scammers. Instead, get the phone number from the agency’s or office’s website. It should be listed on their ‘contact us’ section.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam victim led on terrifying goose chase 

    Victim led on terrifying goose chase

    By Greg Collier

    The jury duty scam is one of the more prevalent scams being perpetrated today. Usually, the victim receives a phone call from a scammer posing as local law enforcement. They then tell the victim that the victim has missed jury duty and that they need to pay a fine, or they’ll be arrested. The victim is then instructed to go out and buy gift cards so they can pay the fictitious fine over the phone. Longtime readers will know that the only thing gift cards should be used for are gifts. While we know this to be true, not everyone has gotten the message yet.

    A woman from North Carolina recently found this out the hard way. She received a phone call from scammers posing as the federal government and told her that she missed jury duty on a federal jury. The scammers told her that she received a certified letter informing her of being selected for jury duty and that she signed for it. They kept the victim on the phone while she drove to several different convenience stores in the area to purchase prepaid debit cards. When she questioned the method of payment, the scammers told her that this is how everyone pays in court now. She was also told that she was being kept under surveillance, and she couldn’t tell anyone because she was under a ‘federal gag order’.

    Before it was all over, she had spent $6000 on prepaid debit cards, before giving the numbers to the scammers. They then informed her to go to the county sheriff’s office to sign some affidavits before letting her off the phone. The scammers may have even had her go to the sheriff’s office as part of a cruel joke because when she had gotten there, their office was closed for the day.

    While we can look back at this scam with hindsight, it can be terrifying for people who are caught in the middle of it. However, we can also use hindsight to warn people how not to fall for such a scam. If there was a warrant out for your arrest for skipping jury duty, you would receive a notice in the mail. Law enforcement agencies do not call citizens to threaten them with arrest. Gift cards and prepaid debit cards are the number one sign that something is a scam. This is not how everyone in court pays fines today. Court costs and fines are still paid by traditional means such as cash or credit cards. Lastly, legal gag orders are only issued to people who are involved in a current and ongoing court case. Gag orders are not just issued on random citizens.

    If you were to receive a phone call like this, you should hang up and call your local police department at their non-emergency number.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    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 June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Police impersonation scams on the rise 

    Police impersonation scams on the rise

    Within the past few weeks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of news articles about police impersonation scams. This is where scammers will pose as your local or state police and try to pressure their victims into making a large payment under the threat of arrest. The scammers will often call their victims and make the phone number look like they’re calling from the police department.

    These scams can take a number of forms. One of the most infamous ones is the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers will call you up and tell you that you missed jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. Then they’ll tell you that the warrant can be withdrawn if you just pay them a fine over the phone. Sometimes the scammers will just say that you have a warrant out for your arrest and will forgo the jury duty angle. Other times, the scammers will just say that you owe a fine.

    What all of these scams have in common is that the scammers will try to pressure you into making a payment right away and over the phone. Police departments do not call people to tell them that they have warrants or owe fines. You will almost always receive that information by mail if it is legitimate. Scammers, on the other hand, will try to get you to make a payment either through gift cards or wire transfer. If you weren’t sure if a call you received from someone claiming to be the police was a scam or not, the gift cards should be a dead giveaway as no government agency accepts them as payment. As we have said in the past, gift cards are the currency of scammers due to the fact the cards can be emptied remotely and anonymously.

    If you receive one of these calls, just hang up. Don’t even engage with the scammers. However, you are asked that you report the calls to your local police.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot 

    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot

    Once again, it’s time to bring you three scams from across the country that could potentially affect you in your area.

    One scam that is being reported out of Raleigh, North Carolina is called a brushing scam. The scam may seem innocuous at first but has the potential to be costly. In the brushing scam, online retailers will send you a product of their’s unsolicited and at no charge to you. It’s all part of an international scheme to try to get favorable reviews online so the company can boast of getting higher star ratings. While getting free stuff sounds like a great deal, the products are often shoddy or something you have absolutely no use for. The potential for abuse comes from the fact that someone may have opened an account in your name to have the products delivered which could lead to fraudulent charges.

    In northwestern Iowa a phone scam is proliferating that threatens to send you to jail if you don’t pay a fee. In this scam, someone calls you posing as a county authority accusing you of skipping out on jury duty then demands a fine from you in the form of a gift card or PayPal payment in order for you to avoid arrest. If a government body has any kind of issue like this more often than not they will send you something in the mail rather than calling you, and as always you should never make payments over the phone using gift cards as they are virtually untraceable once the serial number is given out to someone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up and contact your local law enforcement.

    The last scam for today is not only pretty scary but could end up costing you your life savings. A man in Massachusetts was getting ready to close on a new house. He was waiting for an email on how to make the final payment. He first received one email with the proper instructions then almost immediately received an identical email stating that the previous email was wrong and for him to wire the money under these new instructions. It turns out the man wired $300,000 to a scammer who had gained access to his email account. According to the FBI in Boston, this scam has cost potential homebuyers $53,000,000 just across Massachusetts. If you receive emails like this contact the financial institution or realtor you’ve been dealing with immediately to determine which of the instructions is the correct one.

     
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