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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Michigan, ,   

    State warns of increase in puppy scams 

    State warns of increase in puppy scams

    By Greg Collier

    When the emotional overrides the rational, we leave ourselves open to scams. And nothing much elicits a more emotional response than when someone sees a puppy. It’s even more so when someone has recently lost their long-time canine companion. This is why one state has recently issued a warning about an increase in puppy scams.

    The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has issued a warning to residents of The Great Lakes State that they’ve seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of puppy scams being reported. Typically, puppy scams occur when someone is shopping online for a puppy. Too often, the puppies found for sale online don’t even exist. Scammers will set up a website that makes it look like they’re a legitimate dog breeder. The photos of puppies used on the scammer’s website are often stolen from the websites of legitimate breeders.

    Scammers will offer the puppy at a price below what most breeders are asking for. If someone attempts to buy a puppy from a scammer, they’ll then be asked to pay more money for more services that were not part of the original asking price. These can include payments for shipping insurance or specialized shipping crates for the puppy. Like in most scams, the scammers will continue to ask the victim for money until the victim realizes they’ve been scammed.

    The AG’s Office says that, specifically, scammers have been using COVID-19 as part of their scams. The scammers will say a buyer can’t see the puppy in person because of COVID-19. The scammers have also been asking for additional money for protective crates, COVID-19 vaccines for the puppy, and pandemic insurance.

    If you find yourself in the market for a puppy, research is the best way to protect yourself from these scams. Prospective pet owners should first research the breed they’re interested in to make sure they can properly care for the puppy’s needs. Not all breeds are the same. Buyers should try to stick to their local area as much as possible. You increase your chances of becoming a scam victim if you order a puppy from too far away. Research the breeder as much as possible. You can do a web search with the breeder’s name along with the words ‘complaint’ and ‘scam’ to see if anyone’s been a victim of a fake breeder. The Michigan AG even recommends making any puppy purchase with a credit card, as credit cards have a higher level of protection than most forms of payment. Speaking of payment, never pay for a puppy using apps like Cash App, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, as these are all indicators of a potential scam.

    As always, we highly recommend adopting a puppy from your local animal shelter. This can often be done with minimal or no cost. Some shelters even have waiting lists you can sign up for if you’re looking for a certain breed. Don’t let the shelter stigma convince you that all shelter dogs are problems. Many of them are there through no fault of their own and would make a great addition to any household.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Michigan, , ,   

    Puppy scam back in time for holidays 

    Puppy scam back in time for holidays

    By Greg Collier

    With the holidays approaching, many people may be looking to add a new pet to their families. These same people may also not be aware of the pitfalls that await them when trying to buy a puppy online. When online puppy scams first started they were simple. The scammer would place an online ad for a trendy breed of puppy for sale, where the price would be well below market value. The victim would send their money for the puppy, but the puppy would never show up because the puppy never existed. While this scam is generally the same, in more recent times, scammers have added extra steps to try to get their victims to pay even more money.

    For example, a Michigan woman was scammed out of $5300 when she fell victim to a puppy scam. Not only did the scammer ask for the price of the puppy, but also said there were additional fees for shipping the puppy. This included shipping insurance, vaccines, and housing among other charges. More often than not, scammers will also try to charge victims for a special shipping crate. The victim was also instructed to send all payments through the Zelle app, which we know now doesn’t have the best protection when it comes to scammers.

    If you are thinking about getting a puppy this holiday season, please take the decision seriously. Depending on the breed, some dogs can live as long as 20 years. Getting a puppy is something you and your family should be physically and financially ready for. Too many people who adopted pets during the pandemic ended up leaving them at shelters and abandoning them.

    However, if you have given this decision serious thought, try to avoid buying a puppy online. Scammers often set up phony websites with stolen pictures of puppies to make it look like they are legitimate breeders. Your best bet is to stick with a local breeder. Make sure that the breeder is licensed, as backyard breeders often sell puppies that have terminal illnesses like parvo.

    But before you head to your local breeder, we ask that you stop at your local animal shelter or humane society first. More often than not, you can adopt a dog, puppy or even a cat at little to no cost, and many shelters have already given the animals their first set of shots. Shelter dogs get a bad rap because too many people think that they’re problem dogs, but in most cases they’re at the shelter through no fault of their own.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Michigan, , ,   

    Mich. residents taken for $150,000 in sweepstakes scam 

    A new twist on the sweepstakes scam

    By Greg Collier

    By now, most of us are familiar with Publisher’s Clearing House. They’re the magazine marketing company that also runs its eponymous sweepstakes. We’ve all seen the commercials where their prize van pulls up to someone’s home and surprises them with a novelty-sized check that represents a substantial pay out. Since PCH is so well known, their name is often used by scammers so they can dupe their victims. Unfortunately, two residents of Michigan found that out the hard way.

    Two married residents of Troy, Michigan were contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of PCH. The residents were told that they had won $5,000 a month for life, or they could take the lump sum payment of $2.6 million. If they took the lump sum, however, they would need to pay $129,000 in state and local taxes before they could be paid. The supposed PCH agent even told the residents that they shouldn’t tell anyone about their winnings because of cyberattacks. Before the scam was discovered by the post office after they intercepted one of the cash payments being sent to the scammers, the two residents found themselves in the hole for close to $144k.

    There’s a reason that the disclaimer on every sweepstakes in America says ‘no purchase necessary’. If you’ve entered a sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay to receive your winnings. It’s illegal for any sweepstakes to make you do so. Also, you can’t win a sweepstakes that you never entered. Cash prizes are not handed out to random citizens for no reason. Publisher’s Clearing House has quite an extensive web page showing all the ways that scammers may try to fool you while using the PCH name.

    This post is not an endorsement of Publisher’s Clearing House. But since their name is synonymous with American sweepstakes, it’s also become synonymous with sweepstakes scammers.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , home repair scam, Michigan,   

    It’s door-to-door scam season 

    It's door-to-door scam season

    By Greg Collier

    With the weather being warmer, scammers are starting to move from online scams to scams that come to your door. Many of these scams target older people who are home during the day especially if they live alone. One of the more popular scams is the home repair scam. In these instances, scammers will knock on your door and tell you that they have left over supplies from a job they just completed and will do repairs to your home for cheap. Typically, these jobs are shoddily done if anything is done at all after you pay. However, in at least one community, the scam starts out this way, but has a much more nefarious purpose.

    In the Southwest corner of Michigan, several communities have reported home repair scammers in their area. These scammers are said to travel in nondescript trucks with no company markings. Some vehicles are even said to have tinted windows. The men in the trucks will go up to the homes of elderly residents offering home repair services. They’ll then try to get the resident to come out of the house by showing parts of the outside of the house that could potentially need repairs. Meanwhile, the scammer has a partner who goes in through the unlocked door to steal items from inside the home. One victim had thousands of dollars in cash taken from inside their home.

    If someone approaches your door offering you services unsolicited, there’s a good chance they may be a scammer. Legitimate salesmen, as annoying as they might be, will leave product information and their business card if you’re interested. Scammers will try to pressure you into making a decision right there and then. One of the best ways to avoid these scammers is to not answer the door if you’re not expecting anyone. A better way is to have a camera doorbell installed. This way, you’ll be able to see and communicate with the person at your door without opening your home to them.

    If you have family that is older and possibly living alone, please let them know about this scam.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: medical license, , Michigan, physical therapist,   

    Healthcare professional loses life savings in licensing scam 

    Healthcare professional loses life savings in licensing scam

    By Greg Collier

    The scam we’re talking about today doesn’t affect every day consumers all that much. It’s geared more toward medical professionals. By medical professionals we mean any healthcare worker who requires a license to do their job. This not only includes doctors but also nurses and many other healthcare workers. However, this particular scam is a great example of how far con artists are willing to go to steal money from their victims.

    The licensing scam is not new. It’s been targeting medical professionals for a while now. Typically, a scammer will contact a licensed healthcare worker while posing as someone from their state government. The scammers will tell the healthcare worker that their license has been suspended due to a drug trafficking investigation. Sometimes the scammers will even go as far as to confuse the victim with official looking paperwork. The scammers will then try to pressure the victim into making some kind of payment so the healthcare worker can preserve their license.

    This recently happened to a physical therapist in Michigan. Scammers told her that her license was in jeopardy because it had been used in a drug trafficking scheme that had also laundered $2.4 million. They told her to go to the nearest UPS Store to receive notification in writing. The letter she received appeared to be on official letterhead from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The scammers even posed as agents from the LARA and the FBI. They convinced the physical therapist that she could spend six months in jail if she did not sign a federal bond agreement with the Department of Justice. This bond agreement was then paid by money transfer. The amount she paid to the scammers was not disclosed but was said to be her family’s life savings.

    The lengths these scammers went to has to be marveled at. The thing is with scams like this is they don’t have to fool many people. They only need to fool a few who are willing to pay large sums of money.

    And again, if anyone was under investigation for drug trafficking, you would be visited by law enforcement personally and wouldn’t just receive a phone call. Also, law enforcement agencies whether local, statewide, or federal will never ask for any kind of payment over the phone while simultaneously threatening arrest. If you receive a phone call like this, hang up and call whatever agency the caller is claiming to be from.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Michigan, ,   

    Kidnapping scam threatens to sell your family’s organs 

    Kidnapping scam threatens to sell your family's organs

    The virtual kidnapping scam is probably one of the more disturbing scams we’ve discussed here. If you’re unfamiliar with the scam, the virtual kidnapping scam is when a scammer calls a victim and claims to have one of the victim’s loved ones held hostage. The scammers will usually embellish the scam by having someone screaming in the background. Then a ransom will be demanded for the release of the loved one. Usually, the payment is requested in some form of untraceable payment like gift cards or a money transfer. Meanwhile, the supposed hostage is safe and unaware of what’s going on.

    A man in Michigan recently received one of these distressing calls. The man on the other end of the call said that the man’s son had been in a car accident and the caller was holding the teen hostage. Instead of falling for the scam, the Michigan man did the right thing by getting police involved. Local police were able to locate the boy at a friend’s home. Knowing that his son was safe, the man asked the caller to speak to his son. The caller then threatened the man by saying that he was going to take his son to the border and sell his organs. Even knowing that his son was safe, this had to be harrowing to hear from a total stranger.

    As we’ve discussed in the past, kidnappings for ransom are actually rare in the United States. However, your reaction to this scam should always be the same. Remain calm and locate the person the callers are claiming to have kidnapped. In cases like this where a car accident has been claimed, you can call police, and they’ll be able to tell you if a crash actually happened. Also, you should avoid giving the caller any personal information. If they say they have someone in your family, ask them who it is rather than asking if they have your 17-year-old daughter for example. The scammers will just use that information to their advantage. Lastly, you should always contact the police even if your loved one is safe to let them know this scam is making its way through your area.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Michigan,   

    Grandparent scam still sending strangers to your door 

    Grandparent scam still sending strangers to your door

    The grandparent scam is terrifying enough as it is. It preys on the elderly and convinces them that a family member is in grave danger. Then if the scam is successful, it can take thousands of dollars that an elderly person needs to survive. That’s not even taking into account the embarrassment victims often feel after being scammed. In recent times, scammers have even sent strangers to victims’ homes to pick up the money that the victims think is getting their loved one out of trouble. Such a thing just happened to an elderly couple in Michigan.

    The couple received a call from someone claiming to be their granddaughter. She said that she had been arrested after a vehicular accident. The impersonator then instructed the couple to call a friend’s father who happened to be a lawyer. When the couple called the supposed lawyer, they were told their granddaughter was in serious trouble and would $12,000 for bail. The phony attorney then sent a ‘courier’ to collect the money. The next day the lawyer called back saying he needed an additional $14,000. Thankfully, the actual granddaughter showed up before they lost any more money.

    These couriers that the scammers send could literally be anybody. They could just be an unwitting participant, or they could be the scammer themselves. At best, you’re ‘just’ losing money to the scammer. At worst, they could be someone who is scouting out the home for a possible burglary or worse. If you’ve already given the scammer money, they could always come back and try to get more, or your valuables.

    As always, it is recommended that if you receive a call like this to contact the person first who is supposedly in trouble. If you can’t contact them, you can always call the police department where they’re supposedly being held, and they should be able to tell you if this is a scam or not.

    And as we always recommend, if you know an elderly person or couple who live alone and do not have access to the internet, please let them know about this scam. Also, consider setting up a family password for just such emergencies, so you can verify the person calling is who they say they are.

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