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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , police impersonation scam, , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Homeless victim loses savings in scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    In this week’s round up, we have an update on a recent scam, a reminder of a grim scam, and a heartbreaking story on how heartless scammers are.

    ***

    You may remember a story from our last Scam Round Up where teachers in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area were being targeted in a jury duty scam. More recently, this scam moved westward and is now targeting teachers from the Cleveland, Ohio area, with at least one teacher falling victim to the scam.

    This is where scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. However, a payment over the phone will supposedly resolve the matter.

    Much like in the Pittsburgh scam, scammers are calling schools in the Cleveland area asking for specific teachers and threatening them with arrest. One teacher is said to have lost $2000 to these scammers.

    Again, when it comes to jury duty, all communication is done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    In Upstate New York, police there are warning residents about a scam affecting the families of the recently deceased. Scammers are calling these families posing as an actuarial company claiming there’s been a data breach of the deceased’s information. The families are then asked for personal identifying information of the deceased.

    In this instance, scammers are likely trying to commit identity theft. They want to do things like open credit cards or take out loans in the deceased’s name before the credit companies update their record.

    If you were ever to receive a phone call like this, the best thing to do is to ask for them to send a request in writing. While not a guarantee, this does go a long way on discouraging these kinds of scammers.

    ***

    If that story wasn’t disturbing enough, a homeless woman from Florida was recently taken for over $1000 in a rental scam. After saving up enough money for her and her newborn baby to rent a home, she responded to an online real estate ad. She was texted by the supposed landlord, who asked her to pay a $75 application fee over Zelle. She was told she couldn’t see the property for a few days since it was currently occupied. Then she was asked by the supposed landlord to send $1049 for the first month’s rent. Fearing she might not get the home, she sent the money.

    Anytime a prospective landlord can’t show the property for whatever reason, there’s a good chance they’re not really the landlord.

    ***

    We hope that our readers never have to deal with scammers like this. But if you do, we hope we’ve prepared you enough to detect them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , police impersonation scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re presenting our readers with three scams that, while not new, deserve to be reviewed.

    ***

    Reports from Pennsylvania are saying that the Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper scam is making the rounds again. Many retail chains do employ secret shoppers who go around to the various stores and rate their experience. However, scammers would have you believe these positions are plentiful, which they are not.

    In Pennsylvania, reports there state that victims of the scam are being given fake checks to deposit in their bank accounts. They’re then asked to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards using the money from the fake checks. The victims are then asked to give the gift card numbers to their fake employer. By the time the victim’s bank notices the check is fake, the scammers have made off with the amount of the gift cards, while the victim is responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    Remember, no legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit money into your bank account that is supposed to be used for business purposes.

    ***

    Our next scam comes to us from the Jacksonville, Florida-area. Reports there state that a police impersonation scam is ongoing there. In this particular police impersonation scam, the scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The scammers tell their victims that a box of drugs intended for the victim was intercepted. In order to avoid arrest, the victims are asked to make some kind of payment.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s recommended not to give the caller any personal information before hanging up.

    Again, no law enforcement department or agency is going to call you and threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment to them.

    ***

    Lastly, we have another police impersonation scam, and it’s the most common one. What’s different about this scam is who the scammers are targeting.

    Reports out of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area are reporting an increase in the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. Of course, a payment over the phone will make the warrant magically disappear.

    Like we said, this is hardly a new scam, but the scammers are specifically targeting school teachers in the Pittsburgh-area. The scammers have even been calling schools and are asking to be patched in to teachers while they’re teaching class.

    The report doesn’t say why scammers are targeting teachers, but if we had to hazard a guess, they’re targeting a profession where teachers usually have their hands full with what’s going on in the classroom and could be distracted easily by the scammers.

    When it comes to matters concerning jury duty, all communication is usually done through postal mail and not over the phone.

    ***

    These three scams can happen at anytime, anywhere in the country. Hopefully, we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect yourself.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , police impersonation scam, ,   

    The most common scams are the worst 

    The most common scams are the worst

    By Greg Collier

    The most common scams are also the most profitable scams. The reason scammers keep committing these scams is that victims keep falling for them. As we research the news for the latest information about scams, there’s one scam we continually see on an almost daily basis. If we were asked, we’d probably say that the most common scam in this country is the jury duty scam.

    The scam is almost elegant in its simplicity. Many of us grew up being told that if we miss jury duty, you can be arrested. Scammers take that one kernel of truth and twist the reality around it to make their scam seem so plausible.

    For example, a woman from the Houston-area of Texas almost fell victim to one of these scams. She received a phone call that appeared to come from a local phone number. The man on the other line spoke with a Texas accent and claimed to be from the Sheriff’s Office. He informed the woman that she had missed jury duty. The caller gave the woman three options to rectify the matter. She could either go to the Sheriff’s Office and be held in custody for 8-10 hours, have a warrant issued for her arrest, or drive to a nearby address with $900 in cash.

    This scammer is good at what he does. His threats for not paying the cash are more of an inconvenience than life and death stakes, making the scam seem more believable. As well as only asking for $900, as that can appear to seem like a reasonable court cost to many. However, I think he overplayed his hand by asking the woman to go to an address with cash that I’m guessing wasn’t the Sheriff’s Office.

    While the woman admitted that the scam seemed very real, she did not fall victim to it. Her husband contacted a lawyer friend of his, who told them it was a scam.

    Our point is that just because a scam is common doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has heard of it. We deal with this subject every day, so we know. You read our posts, so you know. But there are so many more people out there who don’t.

    The only thing the others are missing is just a small amount of knowledge to protect them from that scam. And that knowledge is police departments don’t call citizens to threaten them with arrest over jury duty. Everything concerning jury duty is typically done by the postal mail. That includes missing jury duty. So if you haven’t received anything in the mail about jury duty, you’re not on the verge of bring arrested.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , police impersonation scam, ,   

    Why are scammers asking if you’ve seen a missing person? 

    Why are scammers asking if you've seen a missing person?

    By Greg Collier

    In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about police impersonation, we found three more police impersonation scams in less than 24 hours. These scams have become so prevalent that the scammers have started changing their game in order to find new victims.

    Our first scam comes to us from Georgetown, Kentucky, where scammers are posing as investigators with the local police department. While spoofing the number of the police department, the scammers are asking victims if they’ve been in contact with a missing person. The victim is then told that their phone number is the last one the missing person contacted. The next step of the scam is kind of unclear, but the police are saying the scammers are asking the victims for $1500 that is supposed to help the family of the missing person. Typically, in these scams, the scammers demand money under the threat of arrest. It’s unknown if that tactic is being used here. In any event, Georgetown Police are asking residents to contact them if they receive a call like this.

    Scammers in Southwestern Virginia are taking advantage of families who are already down on their luck and have a family member who is incarcerated. These families are receiving calls from someone posing as a sergeant from the regional jail where the victim’s family member is being held. The scammer is offering to have the incarcerated family member moved to a home confinement program for $500 to $600. In this instance, the scammer is said to be accepting money through a payment app, although the specific app has not been made known. Please keep in mind that law enforcement and government agencies do not ask for payments through apps like Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, etc.

    Lastly, police in Vermont are warning retail business owners about a scam that’s been targeting them lately. In this scam, the scammers pose as police, again using a spoofed phone number. The scammers then tell one of the business’ employees that the owner has filed a police report claiming that the money in the cash register has been switched with counterfeit bills. The employee is then instructed to collect the money and bring it to the back door of the business. There’s no word on if anyone has fallen victim to this scam. For the victims’ sake, we hope not, as an in-person scam like this could put a victim in extreme danger.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , police impersonation scam, ,   

    The latest twist on the police impersonation scam 

    The latest twist on the police impersonation scam

    By Greg Collier

    Law enforcement officers and agents are arguably the people most imitated by scammers. Most people either have a certain respect for or a fear of the police. So, it seems almost an obvious choice for scammers to impersonate police to get their victims to do what they want.

    We’ve discussed many of these police impersonation scams before. The two most common police impersonation scams are the jury duty scam and the arrest warrant scam. Actually, they’re both the same scam. In the jury duty scam, the scammers will call their victims to tell them they’ve missed jury duty. The victims are then instructed to make a payment over the phone or a warrant will be issued for their arrest. In the arrest warrant scam, the scammers just say that there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest, although a payment could make the warrant go away.

    When these scammers ask, or in some cases, demand payment, they usually ask the victim to pay through untraceable means. These usually include payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, prepaid debit cards like Green Dot, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and of course, gift cards.

    King City, on the Central Coast of California, has reported that scammers are posing as one of their detectives in a police impersonation scam. However, the scammer isn’t threatening their victims with arrest. In this case, the scammer says that they’re investigating a case where the victim’s identity has been stolen. The victim is then instructed by the phony detective to move all their money from the bank to a Bitcoin account to clear their identity. In reality, the money goes into the scammer’s Bitcoin wallet, and they make off with the victim’s money.

    This scam isn’t just limited to your local police department, either. In the past, we have seen scammers pose as the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security, and Border Patrol just to name a few. However, you can protect yourself from this scam with just one important piece of knowledge. No law enforcement office or agency will ever demand payment for anything over the phone.

    If you ever receive one of these phone calls, try to give the caller as little information as possible and tell them you’ll call them back. Don’t let them keep you on the phone. Then call your local police department and inform them of the call.

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

    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 March 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , identity protection PIN, , , police impersonation scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Protect yourself from tax scammers and more 

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the Scam Round Up, we’re bringing our readers a great tip, a new scam, and a reminder of an old scam.

    ***

    One of the more prevalent tax related scams over the past few years has been scammers filing a tax return in your name, so they can claim your refund check. Previously, we’ve recommended filing your tax return as early as possible to beat the scammers, but that isn’t always possible. However, there is another way to prevent fraudulent returns being filed in your name. The IRS has an option where you can get an identity protection PIN. This is a six-digit number that only you and the IRS know. If this number is not included on your tax return, it will not be processed by the IRS. If you’d like to know more about the identity protection PIN or apply for one, you can find more information at the IRS website.

    ***

    A Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina has recently uncovered a scam that could be affecting people nationwide. According to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, scammers are stealing money from bank accounts where the account holder may not notice the missing money. They give estate accounts as an example. The scammers will then send a check to an unsuspecting victim asking them to deposit the check, keep a portion of it, and wire the rest overseas. The Sheriff’s Office found a man who was just getting ready to wire close to $200,000 overseas. If you have an account like an estate account, you may want to check on it periodically to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions. Also, no matter how good the promise of money may be, never deposit a check from a stranger then wire the money somewhere else. Not only could this be a fraudulent check, but you could also potentially get in legal trouble for helping to facilitate the scam.

    ***

    Lastly for today, the Border Patrol scam is making headlines again. This is where scammers will pose as agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Victims will receive a phone call that says Border Agents intercepted a box full of drugs and money that was supposedly being shipped to the victim. Other times, the scammers will say that a car rented in the victim’s name was found with drugs in it near the Southern Border. In either case, the scammers will threaten the victim with arrest if they don’t pay a fine. As with most modern scams, the scammers will ask for payment in non-traditional means like cryptocurrency or gift cards. Always keep in mind, no law enforcement agency will ever ask for money over the phone or threaten someone with arrest over the phone.

    ***

    We hope you found this post informative, as nobody should ever have to endure the damaging schemes of scammers.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: good samaritan scam, police impersonation scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Good Samaritan scam, and more 

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Good Samaritan scam, and more

    By Greg Collier

    Once again, we’re bringing you a trio of scams we’ve discussed before, but now have a slight new angle to them.

    ***

    The last time we mentioned QR codes, they were being used in a parking scam in Texas. Now, the Attorney General of North Carolina is warning about QR code scams in the Tarheel State. Many businesses are using QR codes for customers to scan to see things like menus on the customer’s phone. This helps cut down on potentially coming in contact with COVID-19. The NC Attorney general is saying scammers are replacing QR codes used by businesses with stickers of the scammer’s QR code. These scam codes can take you to malicious websites that will either ask you for personal information or inject spyware on to your device which could compromise any of your online accounts. Before scanning a QR code in public, make sure the code has not been tampered with and do not download any software the QR code may instruct you to do.

    ***

    Speaking of North Carolina, for our next story we go to Charlotte where a man was scammed out of $4000 for just trying to be a good person. The man lent his phone to another man who said he needed to use the phone for an emergency. The other man made a call then said he needed to text his sister since the connection was bad. What the other man was really doing was accessing the man’s Venmo app and sending $4000 to himself. The victim didn’t realize his money was gone until two days later. If you use any payment app like Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal, among others, there are security measures you can enable to prevent this from happen. You can enable a PIN to keep strangers out of these apps if they happen to access your phone. You can also use a fingerprint lock for devices that are equipped with a fingerprint scanner. It might be a slight inconvenience, but it will help keep thieves out of your financial accounts. And as an additional precaution, you really shouldn’t keep thousands of dollars in apps like Venmo.

    ***

    If you’re in college or even went to college, you may have imbibed in illicit indulgences. Even though it’s legal in many places now, if you engaged in that activity, running into campus police was always one of your biggest fears. In New Mexico, the substance in question is legal, if you’re older than 21. In college, age restrictions usually don’t stop those who are under the legal age limit from partaking. Now, scammers are looking to take advantage of that fear. They’re posing as the New Mexico State University Campus Police and threatening their victims by telling them that the victim is being investigated for a narcotic crime. The scammers are threatening students with arrest if they don’t comply with giving the scammer their personal information. Like any other police impersonation scam, real police will not threaten someone with arrest over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, it is recommended you hang up and call the actual police at the non-emergency number.

    ***

    As we like to tell our readers, even though these scams are not currently happening in your area, now you’re prepared if they do.

     
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