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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: card shimmers, , gas pumps, , , mail fraud, , , , , , , urban legend,   

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more 

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week, we’re bringing you a plethora of scams from around the country that you may want to be aware of. You never know when they might come to your area.

    ***

    Some residents of Lauderhill, Florida, have reported receiving phony red light tickets in the mail. Typically, if a motorist runs a red light equipped with a camera, they will receive a ticket in the mail. However, these phony tickets have a few red flags attached to them. In one instance, the date listed on the ticket was February 30th. The tickets also had the insignia of the Fort Lauderdale police for an infraction that supposedly happened in Lauderhill. That’s not to say these phony tickets are harmless. Pictures of the recipient’s license plate appear on the ticket. Police believe the scammers are stalking their victims. If you receive a ticket like this, do not make any kind of payment requested. Instead, contact the police department the ticket is supposedly from to make sure the charge is not legitimate.

    ***

    Residents of the Houston, Texas area have said they’ve received an alarming text message. The text message claims that phones in the area have been hacked, and you’ll receive a call asking about your vaccination status. Supposedly, if you reply to the phone call, your banking information will be stolen from your phone. It doesn’t end there, though. The text message also claims the Department of Homeland Security is advising citizens to top off the gas in their vehicles and keep cash on hand because of the situation in Ukraine. So what’s the scam here? Well, we don’t think there is one. Instead, we believe that this is an instance of an urban legend. This incident hearkens back to the early days of the internet, when people would forward emails about untrue things like Bill Gates giving away a million dollars, or why you shouldn’t flash your high beams at a car that flashes you first. If you receive a text like this, check with legitimate sources first before proclaiming it as fact.

    ***

    Speaking of gas for your car. If you pay at the pump, you may often check the gas pump for card skimmers. These are devices that are attached to the card slot of the gas pump that steals your card information. Most people who do check do so by pulling on the card slot to make sure nothing comes free. However, according to the Better Business of Bureau of Nebraska, there is a new threat at the gas pump to worry about. These devices are called shimmers, and are virtually undetectable. They are paper thin devices that go in the card slot and can also steal your card information. To avoid this scam, you can pay inside the gas station or use a credit card, which has more protection than a debit card.

    ***

    Lastly, if you’re a customer of Verizon, you may have received a text message that looks like it came from your number. The text messages claim to be from Verizon and state that your bill is paid and to click a link to receive a gift. In some instances, customers were taken to a website that asked them for personal and financial information. In other instances, customers were taken to a Russian state media network. As always, you should never click on strange links from people you don’t know personally, and even then, you should still be suspicious. If you receive one of these texts, you should delete it immediately.

    ***

    We hope we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect you from these scams in the future.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , mail fraud, , poshmark,   

    Luxury platforms encounter same old scams 

    Luxury platforms encounter same old scams

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve never heard of Poshmark, it’s an online marketplace that deals in designer clothes and items. It’s similar to eBay since Poshmark’s users can both buy and sell designer goods. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Poshmark, but with any online marketplace, Poshmark is not immune to scammers.

    A victim of a Poshmark scam recently went viral on TikTok for her video detailing how she was scammed. She had found a Chanel purse on Poshmark and bid $400 for it. Typically, Chanel purses like the one she found go for ten times that amount. The victim states that should have been a red flag, but often people will sell items like this at a steep discount just to clean out their closets.

    Her bid was accepted, and she waited for her purse to arrive in the mail. She gets a notification from the post office stating her purse had been delivered, but the purse did not arrive. She notifies Poshmark who allegedly told her that their records say the purse was delivered, so she would need to contact the United States Postal Service, which she did. USPS showed her a scan of the package. The package did not have her address but an address nearby. What was received at the incorrect address was just an empty envelope. The scammers had changed the address to something nearby to show the package was delivered by the post office. They were probably hoping that the victim would think that their package was stolen from their mailbox.

    This is not too dissimilar to a PayPal scam we’ve posted about in the past. In the PayPal scam, phony vendors will promise a popular product at a steep discount. Victims will receive some cheap product that they didn’t order. When victims have tried to argue with PayPal, in some instances, they’re told the package has been delivered to they can’t refund the payment.

    On platforms like Poshmark, consumers also have to be wary of designer counterfeits as well. These counterfeits have been known to fund organized crime or sweatshops that use child labor.

    If the seller is used to dealing with luxury items, they should have the receipt from the original purchase. Ask to see it. While it’s not a perfect way to prevent being ripped off, it does go a long way.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: free piano scam, , mail fraud, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: The free piano scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: The free piano scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we have the reemergence of an old scam, a new twist on an old scam, and scam we’ve not heard of until now.

    ***

    As our readers know, gift cards are being used in all manner of scams. Often, the advice about gift cards is to only use them for gifts. But even then, you can still be scammed. In Centennial, Colorado, a woman purchased a gift card in the amount of $500. However, no funds appeared on the card. A scammer had replaced the barcode on the back of the gift card with sticker. The sticker had a barcode that redirected the $500 to a card the scammer had bought. When buying gift cards, check the card for tampering before taking it to the register. You should also take the cards from the middle of the stack as they are less likely to be tampered with.

    ***

    Another scam our readers should be aware of is the arrest warrant scam. This is where scammers will pose as your local police department or sheriff’s office. Typically, the scammers call their victims and threaten the victims with arrest. In the majority of cases, the scammers will say that the victim missed jury duty, but other fake infractions have also been used. The scammers tell the victim that they can avoid arrest by paying a fine over the phone. Again, scammers usually ask for these payments in gift cards.

    One county in Northeastern Pennsylvania is receiving these threats in the mail instead of over the phone. The letters appear to be an arrest warrant from a federal court. The letter also says the arrest is on hold for 24 hours and can be avoided by purchasing gift cards.

    As always, no law enforcement agency in the United States accepts gift cards as payment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have the scam we’ve not heard of before which is saying something. It’s called the free piano scam. Have you ever seen an online ad for a free piano? They’re out there. It seems really plausible when someone says they have a piano that no one uses, and they just want to get rid of it. As with most things that are too good to be true, there’s a catch. If the seller says that the piano is on a moving truck and the buyer needs to contact the moving company, there is a scam afoot. The scam is when the moving company asks the buyer for money to have the piano shipped to them. Once the buyer sends the money, the movers disappear with the money.

    If you’re in the market for a piano and find an ad for a free one, unless you pick it up yourself, or hire your own movers, it’s best left alone.

    ***

    While these scams may not be currently appearing in your area, it could be a matter of time before they are. But now, you’ll be ready.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mail fraud, ,   

    USPS warns about ongoing change of address scam 

    USPS warns about ongoing change of address scam

    By Greg Collier

    Have you ever walked into a post office, saw the change of address forms, and wondered what’s stopping someone from changing my address and receiving all my mail? As it turns out, there’s not a lot stopping someone from doing just that.

    The United States Postal Service has issued a warning about such a scam that appears to be ramping up just in time for the holidays. Just about anyone can go to the post office or the USPS website and change anyone’s mailing address. This time of year, the scammers could be receiving money and gifts meant for the holidays. For the rest of the year, the scammers could be gaining access to your personal and financial information to use for identity theft. Keep in mind that the USPS forwards mail to a new address for a year. That means, potentially, scammers and identity thieves could receive your mail for an entire year. Unfortunately, the USPS does not have many safeguards in place to prevent this from happening.

    When someone does fill out a change of address form, the USPS sends a confirmation letter to the old address letting residents know that their mailing address is about to change. While you can check your mailbox every day, a lot of us aren’t home during the day, and scammers have been known to stalk their victims’ mailboxes and take what they need from the mailbox. If you haven’t received mail for an in ordinate amount of time, you should report that to the USPS right away.

    A good way to possibly protect yourself from such fraud is to sign up for the USPS’s Informed Delivery service. It’s free, and every day you receive postal mail, you’ll receive an email with pictures of your scanned mail letting you know what to expect in that day’s mail. That way, you can see if a change of address letter has been sent to you before someone can take it from your mailbox.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: deeds, Donda, Kanye West, mail fraud, , , unclaimed reward,   

    Scam Round Up: House Deeds, Kanye, and more 

    Scam Round Up: House Titles, Kanye, and more

    By Greg Collier

    We’re back again with a handful of scams that may require your attention. This week, we’re bringing you four scams that have popped up around the country.

    ***

    If you own a home, and you want a copy of your home’s deed, you shouldn’t have to pay to get it. In most counties, you can get a copy of your deed for free at your county’s Register of Deeds’ office, or your county’s equivalent. If there is any cost attached to obtaining your deed, it should only be for the copier and not cost $95. In Tennessee, residents have been receiving letters saying they can get their deed for a $95 fee. Deeds are public records, and the scammers wait for changes to be made to them before sending out the letters offering their service. While not necessarily illegal, if you get one of these letters, shred it and toss it in the recycling.

    ***

    We’re not sure how many of are readers are fans of Kanye West, but he’s been teasing a new album drop for a while now. Scammers are quite aware of this and are using the new album to their advantage. Scammers are setting up websites where they claim you can download Kanye’s new album entitled ‘Donda’. As you might expect, the files you end up downloading contain malware, which can do any number of malicious things to your device. As with any popular media, if you’re purchasing it online, stick to reputable distributors like Apple and Amazon and avoid the shady bootleg sites.

    ***

    Police in Hillsboro, Texas have reported a significant increase in virtual kidnapping calls. Residents there have been receiving phone calls that tell them a loved one has been kidnapped. They’re then instructed to go to Walmart to await further instructions. The scammers will then have the victim send the ‘ransom’ through a money transfer service like MoneyGram that is untraceable once the scammers have their money. If you ever receive a call like this, try not to panic. Instead, reach out to the supposed kidnap victim, and you’ll probably find that they’re ok. You should also notify your local police as well.

    ***

    Lastly, from North Carolina, we have a scam where a man received a letter in the mail that said he had an ‘unclaimed reward’ that was worth $100. The man called the number in the letter and was asked to confirm his identity. He was then asked for his credit card number to pay to have the reward shipped. Thankfully, the man didn’t fall for the scam, but it only takes a handful of people to fall for the scam before it becomes profitable for the scammer.

    ***

    The more people are aware of scams like these, the better prepared they are to prevent them. Please consider sharing this and any of our posts with your friends and family.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , mail fraud, , ,   

    Reshipping scam tries to pose as legitimate business 

    Reshipping scam tries to pose as legitimate business

    By Greg Collier

    The reshipping or repackaging scam is one of the more dangerous scams for consumers. Usually, scammers will advertise this scam as a work from home position where your job is to inspect packages you receive from a shipping company You’re then instructed to inspect the items for damage before sending the items to a third party. The third party is usually someone overseas. These positions are often advertised online with such titles as ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. In reality, its just a way to traffic stolen goods and now some reshipping scammers are trying to appear as a legitimate service.

    One man from the Kansas City Metro Area found this out recently when he applied for one of these positions as a second income. He was told that he’d be paid $2800 a month for inspecting the packages and shipping them off. The man didn’t find out he was scammed until he received a call from police stating that a stolen phone had been ordered in his name.

    The scammers explained the fake position to the man as if they were a legitimate shipping service. They said that some vendors don’t accept overseas credit cards and that they were acting as middle men essentially. There are real and legitimate services like this. For instance, say you want to buy a collectible from a Japanese website, but they don’t ship to the US. These reshipping services will act as your Japanese address and will send the item to the US for a fee. What these platforms don’t do is advertise for work at home jobs, as the scammers would have you believe.

    The real danger of the reshipping scam is that it could potentially land you in jail, even if you’re an unknowing participant. If you knowingly falsify shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs, you could potentially face a prison sentence.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , mail fraud, , ,   

    How scammers use the post office to steal from you 

    By Greg Collier

    The US Post Office does a lot to try to prevent their system from being used for fraudulent purposes. The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the USPS, and they do a lot to investigate and prevent mail fraud. Unfortunately, with the way the mail system in the US has become automated, scammers have taken advantage of the modern conveniences of the postal system. Here is just one of the ways scammers use the post office to separate you from your money.

    In Idaho, a man ordered some gardening supplies from a random website. The man used PayPal to pay for the items that only amounted to around $45. A week went by and the man did not receive the items he ordered. He tried contacting the seller but received no response. He then tried filing a complaint with PayPal. At first, his request was denied because the seller provided PayPal with a USPS tracking number showing that the item was delivered. The supposed delivery was sent close to the man’s address. Typically, in postal scams like this, the victim will be sent an empty box or be sent an item that’s well below the value of the item they ordered. The man was eventually able to get a refund from PayPal, but it took him a month to do so. Again, that’s more the exception than the rule.

    When ordering online from a small or unfamiliar business online, your best bet is to use a credit card instead of a payment app like PayPal. While there are advantages to using services like PayPal, they do not offer the same protections that a credit card does. And again, when making a purchase from an unfamiliar website, do some research first to see if the website has any fraud complaints against it before making any purchases. While this purchase may have been a negligible amount, if enough people fall for the scam the small amounts can add up quickly.

     
  • Geebo 8:11 am on May 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: mail fraud, , , ,   

    Victim calls unwitting participant in scam 

    Victim calls unwitting participant in scam

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve discussed the reshipping or repackaging scam many times before. These scams start out as online job listings that have been placed by scammers. The ads will offer work at home positions with titles like ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. You’ll be ‘hired’ almost immediately without ever meeting your employers face to face. You’ll be instructed to receive packages at your home. Once you receive a package, you’ll be asked to photograph the contents before shipping the goods to their new destination. While the phony job is supposed to be seen as a form of quality control, what you’re really doing is sending fraudulently purchased items to people who will then sell the stolen items.

    A woman in Utah recently applied for one of these phony jobs. She needed extra money to help pay off her student loan debt. She found the position on a legitimate job board. Furthermore, she was hired on as a ‘warehouse coordinator’ almost immediately. The woman was promised $2000 a month along with $40 for every package she shipped. All she had to do was print off shipping labels that the job would send to her and take the packages to the post office. The woman then received an angry phone call from someone accusing her of buying items with the caller’s stolen credit card. When the woman spoke with her new employer they told her that calls like this were ‘normal’. That’s when the woman realized she was part of a scam.

    This woman was lucky she got out when she did. More often than not in the reshipping scam, the unwitting reshippers are often paid with fraudulent checks. Some of these reshipping operations are so sophisticated that they have official looking web portals where the reshippers can report their hours and progress.

    There’s also another hazard to this scam besides lost wages and angry phone calls. Reshippers can sometimes be arrested for their roles even if they didn’t know it was a scam. If you knowingly falsify shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs, you could potentially face some jail time.

    Please keep in mind that reshipping jobs aren’t a thing. There are no legitimate reshipping jobs.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mail fraud, ,   

    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims 

    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims

    Back in the days before the internet, it was somewhat of a special occasion to receive something in the mail that wasn’t a bill or junk mail. Apparently, it seems that some scammers are still using snail mail in order to find more victims. The thinking here might be that by using the postal mail it gives the scam more of an air of legitimacy than an online scam. However, postal scams can be just as devastating as online scams. Although, the red flags can be just as recognizable.

    A man in Virginia recently received a letter in the mail with a check attached to it. The letter offered a secret shopper position with directions to cash the check before buying Nike gift cards and keeping $450 for himself. Then he would have to take pictures of the front and back of the gift cards to email back to the ‘company’.

    As you’ve probably surmised, the check was fake. The man even said that the check looked like a fake to him. If he were to deposit this check, he would be responsible for the amount to his bank once they found out the check was fake. That’s not even taking into account that companies that employ secret shoppers don’t send out unsolicited mail to random people. Not to mention that any transaction that’s not for a gift card’s intended purpose is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    Thankfully, the man noticed some other red flags as well. One was that the supposed company that was employing secret shoppers didn’t exist. He found this out after a quick web search. Then he noticed that the name of the company on the check didn’t match that of the company who claimed to have sent it.

    The more concerning part is that the scammers tried following up with the man over text message. They had both his name and his phone number.

    If you receive one of these secret shopper letters, just throw it out. If you receive a text message related to the letter just ignore it. Any response to the scammers will let them know that there is a real person on the other end who could potentially be targeted for more scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on June 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mail fraud, , ,   

    Warnings issued about illegal job scam 

    Warnings issued about illegal job scam

    With so many Americans still looking for employment during this time of record job losses, the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about an employment scam that could land the victim in hot water. We’re, of course, referring to the reshipping or repackaging scam.

    The online job listing may say that the position is called ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse redistribution coordinator’, or something similar. In some cases, the scammers even pose as major retailers like Amazon or Walmart. The scammers will tell you that you can work at home and all you have to do is receive packages in the mail, inspect the contents for damages before shipping them to a different address.

    The problem with this is that the goods are usually purchased with stolen credit card information and you’re helping the scammers transfer stolen goods across the country. People who have been unknowingly conned into taking part in the scam have even faced jail time. For example, if you were instructed to lie on US Customs Service forms for packages leaving the country, you could be charged with fraud.

    If you do escape the long arm of the law, you could still find yourself the victim of identity theft or worse. Since the scammers are posing as legitimate employers, they will ask you for personal information including bank account information for phony direct deposits. Or they could disguise paying you by sending you a falsified check. This is when the scammers will say the check is for more than they meant to send you and will ask you to send the difference back. Of course, after you deposit the check and send the difference back to the scammers your bank will discover the check is a fake and you’ll be responsible for the amount of the check to your bank. So in the end, you’ll actually be deeper in debt than when you started the ‘job’.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

     
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