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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , missing person, ,   

    Kidnapping scam targets families of missing migrants 

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever we discuss the kidnapping scam, we always like to remind our readers that kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the United States. But what if you were from a country where kidnappings happened often enough to make the scam seem more believable? That is exactly what is happening to families who live in the US who have family members trying to cross our southern border.

    For those of you who may not know, the kidnapping scam is when a scammer calls you and tries to convince you that a loved one has been kidnapped. Often, they’ll also put someone on the phone who sounds like they’re in distress, who is supposed to be your loved one. The scammers will then demand payment it gift cards, cryptocurrency, money transfer or some other form of untraceable payment. Now, this scam is being perpetrated on those who have had loved ones go missing while trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

    NBC News has relayed a story from a New Jersey woman whose brother was trying to come here from Ecuador to make a better life for himself and his family. After he crossed the border into the United States, he got lost in the Texas desert before the battery on his cell phone ran out.

    Two months after her brother disappeared, she posted his picture and her contact information on a Facebook page for missing migrants. It wasn’t long before the woman was contacted by scammers claiming to have her brother. They are said to have sent her a picture of her brother holding a sign with that day’s date on it. Then they sent her a video of someone who was supposed to be her brother, but the man’s face was partially covered. The scammers demanded $5000 in ransom which she paid through money transfers. Then all communication with the supposed kidnappers stopped. Her brother is still missing.

    It turned out that the photograph used was photoshopped, and the details the scammers knew about the woman’s brother were taken from social media.

    In 2021, almost 700 migrants died trying to cross the border. That was an increase of over 300% from the previous year, and that’s only the deaths that we know about. There could be countless others.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that the families in America can do to prevent this scam outside of not posting their information to social media, but sometimes, family members are found this way. The woman from the story regrets not having her brother call 911 before she lost contact with him. In this instance, it’s better to be picked up by Border Protection than being left to fend for themselves in the desert.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gabby Petito, , missing person,   

    Phony GoFundMe pages set up for missing woman 

    By Greg Collier

    One of our mantras here is that there is no tragedy that scammers won’t take care of. They don’t care who they hurt in order to make a quick buck. In this case, it’s the family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito who went missing in Grand Teton National Park. Sadly, at the time of this writing, investigators believe they found her body. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest.

    Scammers have used the tragedy to set up phony GoFundMe pages to solicit unsuspecting good Samaritans who just want to help. According to one news report, four different fake GoFundMe pages were set up using Gabby Petito’s name. According to Gabby’s family, the only verified donation sites are this GoFundMe and a donation page at the John MacNamara foundation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve posted about crime victims being used in GoFundMe scams. It’s horrible enough that these families are going through one of the worst tragedies that a family can endure, they don’t need these predatory scammers making things worse.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to a charity or fundraiser to help out victims of a tragedy like this. What we are saying is to take a step back before you click that donate button. While it’s commendable that your heart wants you to help those in need as soon as possible, it’s an unfortunate fact that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity. What you should do is make sure that GoFundMe page is legitimate by checking local news sources. Local news is great in getting the word out about legitimate crowdfunding accounts.

    At this time, we here at Geebo would like to extend our condolences to Gabby Petito’s family and friends.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alaska, , missing person, , ,   

    Scammers use missing persons to commit fraud 

    Scammers use missing persons to commit fraud

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve often said that scammers will stoop to any lengths to try to get one over on their victims. We also say that scammers will try to take advantage of any kind of tragedy to make a quick buck. Now, think of one of the worst tragedies that can befall a family. Then imagine that family having to deal with a scammer that’s trying to take advantage of that tragedy. That’s what’s been happening to many families in Alaska.

    Due to the sheer amount of untamed wilderness that Alaska has, the state has an inordinate amount of missing persons cases per capita. This has led to scammers trying to extort money out of the families involved in these cases. Even we were taken aback when we read about this scam as it’s beyond cruel.

    The scammers take to social media looking for posts that deal with a missing person. They’ll then use that information to contact the missing person’s family. The scammers will say that they are holding the missing person hostage and that the missing person is now ill. The family will be instructed not to contact police and that their loved one will be released if they make a ransom payment. The ransom payment is then demanded to be paid through a payment app like PayPal or Cash App.

    This is a variation of the virtual kidnapping scam with the only difference being is that the person being used in the scam is actually missing. The reason this particular scam is doubly cruel is that not only are the scammers harassing an already distraught family but in some cases, it’s giving them a false sense of hope that they may be getting their family member back.

    Whenever one of these scams come up, we like to remind our readers that kidnapping for ransom is actually very rare in the US.

    We hope that anyone reading this never has to deal with a missing person in their family. However, if the unthinkable happens, and then you receive a scam call like this, you should contact your local police immediately.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , missing person, ,   

    Real disappearance of teen used in Cash App scam 

    Real disappearance of teen used in Cash App scam

    Earlier this month in Virginia a 17-year-old girl went missing from her home. Tragically, her body was found a few weeks later. However, that did not stop the greed and depravity of at least one scammer. While the victim’s family was mourning for their loss, some scammer took to Instagram to solicit donations in the victim’s name.

    The families of crime victims sometimes do solicit donations for medical or funeral expenses on sites like GoFundMe. Instead, this scammer was asking for donations through Cash App. If you’re unfamiliar with Cash App, it’s a payment app that allows you to send or receive money wirelessly. Due to some of the flaws in its system, Cash App is often used by scammers to collect money and then block the person they stole it from. Victims of Cash App scams usually have little recourse once the money is gone.

    In this instance, a single person is said to have taken to Instagram and posted solicitations for donations through Cash App in the victim’s name. The victim’s family has expressed that no fund for donations has been set up as of yet. There has bee no word that we’ve seen if anyone has actually given money to the scammer.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with offering assistance to a family in need. However, scammers have shown no remorse in trying to make money through a tragedy no matter how personal it may be to someone. As much as we might hate to say it, even when making donations to someone claiming to be collecting for a crime victim, do your research. Local news outlets almost always have the correct information on where donations can be sent.

    We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the victim’s name. She was 17-year-old Asia Cowell of Norfolk, Virginia. As of the time of this posting, police are asking for the public’s assistance for any information about Asia’s disappearance. Her body was found in Newport News.

    You can submit an anonymous tip by calling the Crime Line at 1–888-LOCK-U-UP or submit a tip online at p3tips.com if you have any information that might help.

     
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