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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kansas, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC, ,   

    Human Trafficking Scam threatens victims 

    Human Trafficking Scam threatens victims

    By Greg Collier

    Human trafficking is something that affects all communities around the country, regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Many more people have become aware of the human trafficking problem over the past few years. So, it should come as no surprise that scammers are using the scourge of trafficking in their scams.

    Police in Wichita, Kansas, have been reporting about a new phone scam that uses human trafficking to try to extort money out of local residents. The scammers are calling their victims and claiming that the victims are being investigated by the National Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit for child trafficking crimes. The scam victims are then asked for $5000, or they’ll be arrested and taken to court.

    There are many layers to this scam about how someone can tell it’s a scam. The first is that there is no such organization as the National Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit. However, there is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. As much great work as the NCMEC does when it comes to missing children, they are not an arm of any law enforcement agency. They do assist law enforcement in their investigations by passing on tips that they receive, but they do not arrest people.

    Secondly, if someone is being investigated for a major crime let alone one that involved children, no law enforcement agency is going to announce that to the person being investigated, especially over the phone.

    Lastly, no law enforcement agency will demand money over the phone and threaten arrest if it’s not paid. If someone does need to pay some kind of legal fine, they’ll be notified through the mail. Even then, it doesn’t hurt to call the courthouse who issued the fine to make sure the fine is on the up and up.

    If you receive one of these phone calls threatening you with arrest, hang up and contact your local police department.

    If you’d like to learn more about how human trafficking really happens in America, please read our previous posts discussing the matter.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kansas, , , , ,   

    Woman poses as man in $500,000 romance scam 

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

    By Greg Collier

    One of the earliest memes that shows the anonymity of the internet was not even first published on the internet. It was from one of the famous cartoons in New Yorker Magazine from 1993. It was a cartoon of a dog sitting at a computer talking to a smaller dog while saying “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. 28 years later, that cartoon is still relevant. Even today, when many people are using their real names on social media, you can still slip into a false identity just about anytime you want. For one woman from South Carolina, her online persona was that of a male Texas oil rig worker for the purposes of a romance scam.

    The 68-year-old woman recently pleaded guilty to elder abuse and theft. She posed as the oil rig worker on Facebook and approached a 74-year-old widow from Wichita, Kansas. After the scammer convinced the woman to be in an online relationship, the money requests started coming in. The phony oil rig worker told the widow that ‘he’ wanted to live with the widow when he retired, but needed money. The widow eventually sent multiple cashier’s checks that totaled $532,000. The widow’s family told her she was being scammed, but she didn’t want to believe it. When investigators finally caught up with the scammer, the scammer claimed the checks were for a business arrangement.

    Anybody on the internet can tell you they’re an oil rig worker, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. The position of oil rig worker is often used in romance scams because it’s difficult to verify and gives scammers a reason to not communicate by phone or meet in person. The same can be said for a military member who says they’re stationed overseas or an international businessman.

    This story also dispels the stereotype of the overseas scammers, who tend to be young and male. A scammer can be from anywhere, including your own neighborhood.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kansas, , utility assistamce, ,   

    Heating assistance scam hits Midwest 

    By Greg Collier

    This past winter, Texas had a record-breaking winter storm that left most of the state unprepared for the damage that followed. However, Texas wasn’t the only state that was affected by the storm. Most of the Midwest was also caught up in the inclement winter weather that resulted in record cold snaps across the Great Plains. While most of the Midwest is more prepared for weather like this than Texas, it still resulted in higher than normal heating bills. Many Midwest residents are just now starting to receive these bills that many found to be astronomical. Leave it to the scammers to then try to take advantage of some already vulnerable residents.

    The State of Kansas has reported that many residents of the Sunflower State have received phone calls from scammers posing as the state government offering utility assistance. While the state does have programs that can help you with unusually high utility bills, the state does not call residents at random to offer the service. While there has not been a report of anyone falling for the scam, the state believes the calls are intended to steal your identity by asking for personal and financial information. People who are desperately trying to keep the gas or electricity on could be increasingly vulnerable to this scam.

    We’d like to remind our readers that just because a scam is happening in one state it could easily happen in your state as well. Government agencies normally don’t call residents out of the blue to offer financial assistance. Anybody who requires assistance would need to contact the state first. If you receive one of these phone calls, you’re asked to report it to the state along with the phone number that appeared on your caller ID and the name used by the phony state agent.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kansas, , , , unclaimed property   

    Unclaimed property scam making the rounds again 

    Unclaimed property scam making the rounds again

    Every once in a while, you might see a news report about unclaimed property in your state. The stories usually recommend you check with your state’s treasury department to see if you have any unclaimed property. Usually, this property is money from old bank accounts you may have forgotten about or a small inheritance you may not have been aware of. You may think to yourself that you’d probably remember any bank accounts or inheritances, but you may be surprised what you find when you check with your state. That’s not to say that everyone will have unclaimed property when they check with their state. However, scammers may try to convince you otherwise.

    In the state of Kansas, the Treasury Department there is warning residents about an unclaimed property scam that’s been going around. Scammers have been sending text messages telling residents that they have unclaimed property with the state. As with most text messaging scams, the texts contain a link where you can supposedly claim your property. This is a trick designed to get your personal information. If you click on the link you’ll be asked to input your personal information for ‘verification purposes’. If you do input your information you will more than likely have your identity stolen.

    There is another ploy that also uses unclaimed property as its motivator. Some people will go through the state’s records of unclaimed property holders. They’ll then contact the inheritor unsolicited to let them know that they have unclaimed property with the state. They’ll claim to act on your behalf to procure you those funds for a fee, of course. This may not be illegal per se, but if you make the claim with the state yourself there is no fee involved.

    A good resource to use on how to check for unclaimed funds is the USA.gov website. Good luck on your hunt but don’t be taken in by those who would give you false promises.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kansas,   

    Credit card scammers take advantage of economic need 

    Credit card scammers take advantage of economic need

    Credit cards have long been a subject of contention in our country. Banks and institutions have been criticized for alleged predatory practices when it comes to offering credit cards. Conversely, many consumers have racked up mountains of credit card debt that they’ll eventually go bankrupt from. Leave it to the scammers to take advantage of such a chaotic situation to make matters even worse for consumers.

    With so many people trying to scrape by during the pandemic, large numbers of consumers are using credit cards just to keep the lights running as long as possible. While they are living well beyond their means, most of these consumers have little to no choice in doing so.

    Enter the scammers who are promising economic relief. According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas, residents there have reported a slew of scam phone calls they’ve received about credit card relief. Scammers have been posing as credit card companies like VISA, Master Card, and Discover. They’ll claim that due to the pandemic they’re offering zero percent interest and a refund of all the interest that’s been paid this year.

    Not only are the scammers asking for your credit card numbers but they’re also asking for your banking information under the guise of direct depositing your ‘refund’. Of course, what they’ll really do is run up charges on your credit card and drain your bank account.

    If you receive one of these calls, it’s recommended that you hang up and contact your local law enforcement. If you’ve been a victim of this scam, you should contact police and also your credit card company using the number on the back of your card.

    One good way to avoid this scam is that if your credit card company called you, they would already know your credit card number. However, as a general rule, you should never give your financial information to a stranger over the phone. If your credit card company does call and you don’t feel secure talking to their representative, you can call them back at the number on the back of your card.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kansas, , ,   

    A new twist on the sweepstakes scam 

    A new twist on the sweepstakes scam

    Sweepstakes scams seem to be on the rise in the current uncertain economic climate. With so many people desperate for money to help make ends meet, it’s no surprise that this scam is proliferating. Normally in a sweepstakes scam, the scammer will contact a potential victim out of the blue and tell them that they’ve won some kind of monetary prize. Scammers will often claim to be from Publishers Clearing House since it’s such a popular sweepstake. If a scammer claims to be from PCH they have a pretty good chance that they’ll find a victim who actually entered the PCH sweepstakes.

    The hook of the sweepstakes scam is that the scammer will ask for some kind of payment before you can collect your prize. They’ll either say the payment is for taxes or processing. However, once you send the payment, the scammers disappear with your money.

    Recently, in Kansas the Brown County Sheriff has reported a sweepstakes scam where the scammers are trying to double dip their victims. In many cases, if a scammer finds a victim to give them money, the scammers will sometimes string the victim along to try to get the victim to make additional payments.

    In the Kansas scam, someone is claiming to be from PCH and is calling residents telling them that they’ve won. The victim is then instructed to send a money order to an address in Ohio before they can receive the check.

    Here’s what’s unusual about this scam. Once the victim sends the money order, they actually receive a check. The check that is sent to the victims ranges in value from $250,000 to $500,000. Then the scammer contacts the victim again and tells them that they need to send another payment to a different address in order to be able to cash the check. When the Sheriff’s Office investigated the check, it traced back to a bank in Africa.

    If you ever enter into any sweepstakes, please keep in mind that it is illegal for sweepstakes to ask you to pay anything before receiving your winnings. Even on PCH’s own website they state that if someone claims to be from PCH and asks you for money it is a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kansas, , ,   

    Unemployment scam turns up on social media 

    Unemployment scam turns up on social media

    Previously, when we’ve discussed unemployment scams they’ve happened in one of two ways. The first way is when a scammer or identity thief has applied for benefits in your name. They do this because many state unemployment offices are currently receiving a deluge of applications due to the recent mass layoffs. The scammers are getting people’s identities from either a large data breach or from people sharing too many personal details on social media.

    The other scam involving unemployment has been scammers posing as state unemployment office employees. They’ve been calling people and telling them things like they’ve been approved for additional benefits but they have to verify their information. This is when the scammers will ask for information like Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and bank account passwords. Instead of receiving additional benefits, victims have had their bank accounts emptied and identities stolen.

    Now, the Department of labor in Kansas is reporting a twist on the second type of scam. The KDOL is issuing a warning about scammers creating fake Facebook profiles and posing as KDOL employees. They’ve been said to be messaging people offering assistance with their unemployment benefit claims. While the KDOL did not go into great detail, it’s safe to assume the scammers are asking people for their personal information as mentioned above. The State of Kansas has said that its state’s unemployment office would only email recipients from the ks.gov email address.

    As we always say, if a scam is happening in one state it can happen in all the others. If you receive one of these Facebook messages offering unemployment assistance it is more than likely a scam. Keep in mind that anyone can make a Facebook account pretending to be a state employee. Messages like this should be reported to your state’s fraud department. If you’ve fired for unemployment, the state should already have the personal information they need to issue payments and will not ask you for information like your Social Security number or bank account.

     
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