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  • Geebo 8:02 am on June 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: New Jersey, ,   

    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam 

    NJ couple conned victims out of $6M in romance scam

    A married couple from New Jersey are accused of conning 33 people out of $6 million collectively in a series of romance scams. That averages out to close to $200,000 per victim. The couple are said to have made $3 million for themselves while the rest went to an overseas romance scam ring that operated out of Nigeria and Turkey. The couple allegedly ran the scam for almost 4 years before being apprehended by authorities.

    Like most romance scams, the pair were said to have approached their victims through social media or dating websites. Once their victims were fooled enough into believing that they were in an actual romantic relationship, the scammers would then request money from their victims. The requests would often be disguised as emergency medical expenses or for business purposes.

    One particular victim found themselves in trouble with the law after she embezzled money from the company she worked for. Prior to that she had given the scammers her entire life savings, maxed out her credit cards, and even took out a loan to give money to someone she thought she was in a romantic relationship with. That victim is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to embezzlement.

    This not only shows that just about anyone can be taken for a ride in a romance scam but also shows how expensive and devastating it can be for the victims.

    If you or someone you know is involved with someone online that you haven’t met face to face yet, you should be very suspicious if they start asking for money. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website about romance scams and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on June 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: New Jersey, , ,   

    Unemployment scams continue on social media 

    Unemployment scams continue on social media

    Last week, we posted about how unemployment scams have spread to social media. In that post, we discussed how scammers were posing as government officials so they could steal personal information under the guise of assisting people with their unemployment claims. More recently, we’ve heard of a similar unemployment scam that tries to steal more than that.

    A man in New Jersey recently reported an unemployment scam to the state’s Department of labor. He says that he found a Facebook page of someone pretending to be a DOL employee. The man’s unemployment recently stopped and was looking for assistance on his claim. The scammer had a phone posted on his Facebook page so the NJ man decided to text the scammer.

    The scammer claimed to work for the ‘unemployment fund’ and asked the man for a lot of identifying information including name, address, date of birth, gender, and his unemployment claims number. The scammer then said the man would receive a six-digit code through text and once he received that he should give it to the scammer to set up a vague ‘confirmation code’.

    Thankfully, the New Jersey man realized that the text message was the verification code to reset his Facebook password. The scammer then asked the man if he received his unemployment benefits through a debit card or direct deposit. The scammer then said the man would have to pay $100 to start receiving his benefits again and that the man could make the payment with either eBay or Steam gift cards. Steam is a popular online gaming storefront.

    When the man told the scammer he didn’t have any money the scammer tried to pressure the man into making some kind of payment as quickly as possible. While this man escaped without being taken, not everyone who has encountered this scam has been so lucky.

    The reason the scammer probably wanted to steal the man’s Facebook account was so the scammer could pose as the man and send whatever scam messages he could to the man’s friends. Not only are the gift cards a dead giveaway for a scam but no state government is going to ask you for money to fix your unemployment claim.

    Please keep in mind, anyone can make a fake social media account claiming to be anyone they want. If you come across a phony social media account like this one, it is recommended that you contact your state’s fraud department. You may know it’s a scam but other people may not. You can be the difference it that person’s life that keeps them from losing what little money they may have.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , New Jersey, Publishers Clearing House, , sweepstakes   

    Sweepstakes scammers show up at man’s door 

    Sweepstakes scammers show up at man's door

    Usually, today’s scammers like to be as far away from their victims as possible. Between the internet and cheap phone rates, scammers can target just about anyone anywhere around the globe. However, every once in awhile a scammer will take it to the next level to try to fool their victim.

    That happened to a man in New Jersey recently. Scammers targeted him in a sweepstakes or lottery scam. The way the scam normally works is scammers will contact random people to tell them that they’ve won a great deal of money in a contest that they didn’t actually enter. The scammers will then say that the ‘winner’ has to either pay taxes or some kind of transfer fee on their winnings before they can collect it. Even if the victim pays there are no winnings and the victim is usually out thousands of dollars.

    The scammers in this case posed as the most famous sweepstakes in America, the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. We’ve all seen the commercials over the years of PCH delivering oversized novelty checks to their winners. The scammers, in this case, called the man repeatedly to tell him that he had won one of their renowned prizes. They told him a representative would show up at his door with the prize. A woman actually showed up to his home claiming to be from PCH and was said to be holding a bouquet of flowers to make the illusion seem more authentic. Thankfully, the man was on to the scam and threatened to call the police if they did not leave his property. The woman got into a waiting car and left.

    No legitimate sweepstakes or lottery will ask you for tax money or fees in advance if you win as that is illegal in the United States. There’s also no such thing as winning a contest that you didn’t even enter.

    While we all dream of winning a giant jackpot to relieve our financial woes, don’t let the dream cloud your common sense.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , New Jersey, , Rubbin Sarpong,   

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions 

    Gold bar romance scam cost victims millions

    A 30-year-old man from New Jersey was recently arrested for allegedly swindling over $2 million from victims in a romance scam. Romance scams are designed to prey upon the lonely and take advantage of their vulnerable state. It’s not unheard of for victims to have given anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars to romance scammers. The scammers typically tend to pose as military personnel who are stationed overseas as was the case of Rubbin Sarpong of Millville, New Jersey. Sarpong is accused of scamming millions of dollars from a total of 30 victims.

    Sarpong reportedly posed as a member of the military stationed in Syria on multiple dating and social media sites. After he had his victims believing in the fictitious romance, Sarpong would ask for money to ship gold bars from Syria to the United States. In reality, there were no gold bars and Sarpong kept the money for himself. At least one victim wired $28,000 to Sarpong. While Sarpong was able to maintain this scam for three years it didn’t stop him from bragging on social media about how much money he made. He would often post pictures online of himself with large stacks of cash. At his court appearance after his arrest, Sarpong even tried telling the judge that he couldn’t afford an attorney. The judge denied his request for a public defender. If convicted, Sarpong is looking at 20 years in federal prison.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are likely that they’re trying to con you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on January 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , New Jersey,   

    NJ proposes crowdfunding scam law after GoFundMe debacle 

    NJ proposes crowdfunding scam law after GoFundMe debacle

    If you’ll recall, you may remember hearing a story in the news about a New Jersey couple who raised close to $500,000 on crowdfunding site GoFundMe in order to help a homeless veteran that they claimed showed them kindness in a time of distress. The story made national headlines and even resulted in the trio being interviewed on several national news reports. Then as the months went by after the story was initially reported it was discovered that most of the story was fake. The man was a homeless veteran but he was talked into the scam by the couple. Now, all three are facing charges of fraud. GoFundMe has stated that there is very little fraud on their platform and have refunded donors to the fraudulent campaign and vow to assist law enforcement when it comes to phony campaigns. Now, one New Jersey legislator is trying to make it so it never reaches that point.

    New Jersey State Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a bill that would increase the penalties for crowdfunding theft in the Garden State. The bill calls for a $500 fine for each fraudulent contribution collected. Considering how many people donated to the fraudulent campaign that could rack up a very hefty fine in no time. The bill also suggests that the money collected through fines could be used to assist New Jersey citizens who are in danger of losing their homes. While the law is noble in its intentions could it have unintended consequences? Could it be applied to failed campaigns on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo if the campaign failed to deliver its promised product? If so then the bill would definitely need some fine tuning.

    As far as consumers go, should you be wary of crowdfunding campaigns like this? Absolutely. While GoFundMe maintains that fraud is low on their platform that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. If a story sounds too good to be true or farfetched it probably is. You don’t have to donate to a campaign just because everyone else is. While it’s important to be charitable when someone is down on their luck it’s just as important to protect yourself from being fleeced by a phony sob story.

     
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