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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , romance scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: 3 phone scams worth noting 

    Scam Round Up: 3 phone scams worth noting

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we’re discussing three scams related to phones that have been in the news a lot recently.

    ***

    Our first scam has been affecting both T-Mobile and Verizon customers. Users of both services have reported receiving text messages offering them a free gift. The text messages say, “Your bill is paid for March. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you.” The text message also contains a link for customers to click on to get their free gift. These messages are not coming from the phone providers, but instead are coming from scammers. If a customer clicks the link, they’ll be taken to a page where they’ll be asked for their personal information under the guise of verifying their identity. Or, they’ll be asked for payment to cover the cost of shipping the supposed free gift. Of course, there is no free gift to be had. If you receive a text message like this, it’s best just to ignore and delete it.

    ***

    The next phone scam is one of those scams that would be ingenious if it wasn’t so harmful. In this scam, scammers are calling their victims and asking them one question, “Can you hear me now?” The scammers are hoping that the victim gives them a ‘Yes’ response, so the scammers can get a voice recording of the victim. This is so the scammers can use the victim’s recorded voice as a voice authorization for any number of reasons. Such voice authorizations can be used to make purchases or access a victim’s bank account in some situations. If someone you don’t know calls you and starts asking you questions, it’s advised that you do not respond. Another way to protect yourself from this scam is to use the ‘if it’s important enough, they’ll leave a voice mail’ method.

    ***

    Our last scam has been problematic for us to post about since it involves some adult themes. In this scam, victims receive a text message that comes attached with a picture of a young woman. The text messages say something along the lines of “I was hoping we could repeat last night” or “I haven’t heard back from you, did I do something wrong?”. Many people have responded to the texts, telling the sender they have the wrong number. This lets the scammer know that the victim’s number is a legitimate phone number. In some cases, the scammers have sent explicit images trying to instigate a romance scam. In other cases, victim’s have been lured to dating sites where they’re asked to pay money. Much like the previous two scams, you should not respond to the scammers. If you do, it lets them know that someone is at that number and can be targeted for other scams in the future.

    ***

    Since most of us carry are phones with us everywhere we go, scammers can technically target someone at any time of the day, no matter where they are. Hopefully, we’ve given you the knowledge to protect yourself against such scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , romance scam, ,   

    The other victims of romance scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Typically, when we discuss romance scams, or catfishing as it’s sometimes known, we talk about the victim who ended up losing money to these scammers. However, there’s sometimes another victim in these scams. In romance scams, the scammers often use the photos of actual people and in some cases even impersonate that person. This could lead not only to unnecessary grief for the person being impersonated, but it also has serious safety implications as well.

    A woman from the Scottsdale area of Arizona found herself in the middle of one of these scams. She suddenly started receiving emails at her business, before receiving phone calls at home about a man who was allegedly threatening to show up at her home or business. The man claimed that they had been dating online for months and that he flew from New York to see her. A romance scammer had tricked the man using the woman’s identity into thinking he was in a relationship. It’s believed that the man had given the scammer a substantial amount of money. According to reports, the scammers cut off communication with the man once he landed in Arizona.

    According to the Scottsdale woman, the New York man had trouble accepting that he had been scammed and directed his anger toward her. She claims the man has been leaving voice messages on her phone from multiple phone numbers. She has no idea what the man even looks like.

    Since the woman is a business owner who deals in social media, she has a large social media presence. This allowed the scammers to essentially copy her life and use her online identity in their scam.

    To better protect yourself from not only being in this side of a romance scam, but from other scams as well, it’s best to change your social media profiles to private or friends only. While it’s not a guarantee your online photos won’t be used in a scam, It does help in discouraging scammers from doing so.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam, , , sugar momma scam   

    BBB warns of the Sugar Daddy romance scam 

    BBB warns of the Sugar Daddy romance scam

    By Greg Collier

    While approaching Valentine’s Day, we posted a couple of stories about government and consumer protection agencies warning about the typical romance scam. That’s where scammers will pose as a prospective romantic partner and foster a phony online relationship with their victim. Eventually, the scammer will start asking the victim for money disguised as some kind of emergency request. Although Valentine’s Day has now passed, that doesn’t mean that romance scams magically disappear. And that also doesn’t necessarily mean that a romance scammer will ask you for money. In what can somewhat be described as a reverse romance scam, the scammers are giving their victims money, or so the victims thought.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning about a disturbing scam that we’ve seen emerge over the past year or so. The scam is kn own as the sugar daddy or sugar momma scam. In this scam, the scammer starts up an online relationship with their victim before offering the victim money to be their sugar baby. The scammer promises the victim a monthly allowance if the victim just promises to exchange pleasant messages with the scammer. If the victim agrees, they’ll be sent either a check or an electronic transfer to their bank account as payment. But of course, there’s a catch. The scammer will ask the victim to use some of their allowance to do an errand for them, such as giving money to a needy friend or pay a bill for them. After the money is withdrawn from the bank and used for the errand, the bank finds out that the payment was fake, and the victim will be responsible for the overdrawn amount and associated fees. Some victims have reported losing thousands of dollars.

    What’s even more disturbing about this scam is that the scammers will often target minors. In that case, it’s almost akin to being groomed by an online predator. While many adults have the life experience to recognize this scam for what it is, most minors do not. They could easily fall for the slick promises of free money from a scammer. This scam could potentially ruin their credit before they’re even old enough to use it. If you have any minors in your family who may be vulnerable to this scam, you may want to have a talk with them about strangers who promise them money. Any stranger who promises a minor money, especially if they tell kids to not tell their parents, they have no good intention in mind.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 8, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , romance scam,   

    Romance scams ramp up in time for Valentine’s Day 

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, the FBI issued a warning urging citizens to be wary of romance scams in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. For new readers, romance scams typically consist of scammers luring their targets into false romantic relationships as a way to steal money. The scammers usually pose as oil rig workers, military members stationed overseas, or international business people. This is done in order to have a built-in excuse as to why the scammer can’t meet their victim face to face. While anybody can fall for a romance scam, elderly women are frequently the targets for this scam. While the FBI is warning about Valentine’s Day as a possible flashpoint for romance scams, they can happen at any time.

    For example, a woman in Minnesota is said top have recently lost $57,000 in a romance scam. While it’s not clear who the scammer was posing as, the scammer kept giving the woman excuses as to why they couldn’t meet face to face. Moreover, the scammer would use these excuses to solicit more money from their victim. In one instance, the scammer said they made it halfway to Minnesota, but fell ill before they could get there. Another time, the scammer said they made it to the Twin Cities, but needed more money for gas. When nobody showed up, the woman realized she had been scammed.

    Another recent romance scam happened in Pennsylvania, where a woman lost $5000. She met a scammer on a chat app posing as an oil rig worker in the Gulf of Mexico. The scammer claimed they had lost their debit card and needed money. The victim ended up mailing $5000 in cash to an address in Ohio.

    It’s believed that many romance scams go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to come forward, which is the main reason why this scam continues to proliferate.

    If you ever meet a potential romantic partner online, the first thing you should do is a reverse image search on their picture. Scammers will often steal pictures from someone’s social media who has no idea their picture is being used in a romance scam. If your prospective partner is being cagey about meeting in person, that is usually a good indicator that they’re trying to scam you. Lastly, if they ask for money before meeting, that’s a huge red flag indicating a scam.

    If you know someone who may be a victim in a romance scam, it’s often difficult to convince them that they’re being scammed. It may help if you show them this blog post or any of the articles out there that detail how a romance scam works.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , pig butchering scam, romance scam,   

    Man loses $1M in romance/crypto scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Traditionally, in an online romance scam, the scammers cultivate a false romantic relationship with their victims to get the victim to send the scammer money. The scammed often pose as military personnel, oil rig workers, or international businessmen to avoid meeting the victim face to face. Now, there’s a new scam that shares many traits with the romance scam, but instead of asking the victim for money, the scammers are directing their victims to ‘invest’ in cryptocurrency.

    A 52-year-old man from Denver recently spoke to his local media about how he lost over $1 million in this scam. He is said to have met a woman online who supposedly also lived in Denver, although he never met her face-to-face. After a few weeks, the conversation turned to cryptocurrency. The woman said that she invests in cryptocurrency using a certain platform and app. She suggested to the man that he should invest as well. The man had made money before investing in cryptocurrency, so this was something he was familiar with. After the man checked out the platform, he thought it was all legitimate. He transferred a small amount of cryptocurrency into his account and was able to take out his money with no problem. Thinking this was a good investment, the man put his entire retirement savings of $1.6 million into his account.

    At the end of the investment period, it appeared the man had made $8 million in returns. However, when he tried to withdraw his money, he was told he’d need to pay back the loan of the initial $1.6 million. When he asked them to take it out of his $8 million windfall, they refused.

    The scam has been given the unfortunate name of the ‘pig butchering’ scam. The victims are the pigs who the scammers ‘raise’ until it’s time to lead the victim to financial slaughter.

    Investing is tricky enough, but when you add the volatility of cryptocurrency that can change wildly in value due to a tweet from Elon Musk, it becomes even more difficult. If you’re looking to get into investing, never invest more than you can afford to lose, even if the investment looks like a sure thing.

    As far as romance scam goes, if your online partner keeps giving excuses as to why you can’t meet them or see them face to face, there’s a great chance you’re being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , romance scam,   

    Can you be tricked into being a money mule? 

    By Greg Collier

    The Federal Government has recently issued multiple warnings about the dangers of becoming a money mule. The phrase is reminiscent of someone who is a drug mule. However, it’s much easier to be a money mule since money mules don’t have to leave the country or there on home for that matter since money can be moved around in several virtual ways. The main problem with money mules is that many of them don’t even know they’re being used to move dirty money around the globe.

    Both the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission have issued warnings about unwittingly becoming a money mule. Most of the ways people become unwitting money mules is through many of the scams that we should already be familiar with. The major ones are the fake check scam and the romance scam. The fake check scam is when the scammer sends you a fake check for any number of reasons. They then ask you to deposit the check into your bank account, keep a little bit of the money for yourself before sending the remainder to a third party. By the time the victim’s bank finds out the check is fake, the scammers have made off with the money, while the victim is responsible for the amount of the check to their bank.

    Meanwhile, the FBI is warning citizens about romance scams and how even victims of a romance scam can find themselves on the wrong side of the law. They’ve released a video about an 81-year-old woman who fell for a romance scam and allegedly helped her ‘boyfriend’ defraud other people.

    The reshipping scam is another avenue where scammers use unwitting participants as money mules. This is when people think they have a legitimate job as a package inspector. The victims receive packages, inspect them, then send them to a third part. The items they inspect are usually bought with stolen credit card information. By the time the credit card company catches on, the merchandise is in another country. If a reshipper does anything to skirt US Custom laws, even if instructed by the scammer, they could face arrest.

    This also includes any scam that involves gift cards or money transfers.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam,   

    Look out for romance scams during the holidays 

    Look out for romance scams during the holidays

    By Greg Collier

    Most people don’t like being alone during the holiday season. When someone finds themselves in just such a situation, they can often let their heart override their mind when it comes to being scammed. Many people who are looking for a little companionship, especially during the holiday season, can frequently ignore red flags which would normally be obvious indications of a scam. This is why we see romance scams affect people from those just getting by to those in the upper echelons of business.

    The online romance scam can target not just those who are on dating apps, but those who may not have even been searching for a new partner. It starts when the victim is messaged by a scammer posing as someone else. Often the scammers will pose as a military member who is stationed overseas, but will sometimes pose as an oil rig worker or an international businessman. This is done to make it so the scammers have an easy out when it comes to why they can’t meet their supposed romantic partner in person or talk on the phone. The scammers will even use stolen pictures of actual service members and others to make the scam seem more convincing.

    What all the romance scams have in common is that the scammer will eventually ask their victims for money. Sometimes it’s for a supposed emergency, while other times it’s to help with a big international business deal. We’ve even seen instances where victims were asked for money to help get jewels and gold bars out of a foreign country. Once a victim gives money to a romance scammer, the scammer will continue to ask for even more money. Recently, a Colorado woman was scammed out of $8000 by someone claiming to have been stationed in Afghanistan. However, we’ve also seen reports where victims ran afoul of the law after embezzling money from their employers just to pay their romantic partners, who are actually scammers.

    If you’re on a dating app or platform and someone wants to message you outside the platform, this could be an indicator that they’re a scammer. The best way to protect yourself from romance scammers is to do a reverse image search of any picture they send you of themselves. If the results some back to someone who isn’t who they say they are, then your best bet is to cut off any communication with them. It goes doubly so if they start asking you for money if you haven’t even met yet.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , romance scam, , virginia beach   

    Romance scam victim sent to jail 

    Romance scam victim sent to jail

    By Greg Collier

    Whenever we discuss romance scams, we always take care to mention that anybody from any socioeconomic status can fall prey to this scam. We also say that some people fall so deep into the scam that they end up stealing the money that their scammer continues to ask for. Unfortunately, today’s story is one of those stories.

    For context, a romance scam is when a scammer approaches a victim online and initiates what appears to be a romantic relationship. The scammer usually claims they have some job that keeps them from meeting face to face. Typically, that’s usually a member of the military who is stationed overseas, an oil rig worker, or a businessman working outside the country. The scammers will usually use pictures of people that they’ve stolen from the internet. They might even use the names of real people. The fake romance will be kept going for a while before the scammer starts asking for money. This will be under the guise of some kind of emergency or to urgently complete some kind of business deal. We’re talking anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars if the scammer finds the right victim. Too many people let their hearts get in the way and end up going bankrupt sending money to these scammers. For one victim, it’s going to cost her 18 months in jail.

    The 58-year-old woman, from Virginia Beach, thought she had met a chemical engineer named Leo who was working overseas. Leo allegedly claimed that he needed money to rescue him from foreign authorities. At first, he asked for $460,000. It wasn’t too much long after that he asked for another $220,000. The victim didn’t have this kind of money, but worked for an escrow and title company. She ended up taking the money from her company to give to the scammer. After realizing she had been scammed, the victim turned herself in and has now been sentenced to 18-months in federal prison. Meanwhile, the scammer was never apprehended.

    This isn’t the first instance we’ve heard of where a victim of a romance scam went to jail for misappropriation of funds. It probably won’t be the last, either. There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone online and starting a relationship, if you take the right precautions. When they send you a picture, do a reverse image search to make sure they are who they say they are. If they make excuses as to why they can never meet in person, there’s a good chance they’re trying to scam you. Lastly, never send money to someone you never met in real life, no matter how charming they may be.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , romance scam, , ,   

    Woman poses as man in $500,000 romance scam 

    $4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

    By Greg Collier

    One of the earliest memes that shows the anonymity of the internet was not even first published on the internet. It was from one of the famous cartoons in New Yorker Magazine from 1993. It was a cartoon of a dog sitting at a computer talking to a smaller dog while saying “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. 28 years later, that cartoon is still relevant. Even today, when many people are using their real names on social media, you can still slip into a false identity just about anytime you want. For one woman from South Carolina, her online persona was that of a male Texas oil rig worker for the purposes of a romance scam.

    The 68-year-old woman recently pleaded guilty to elder abuse and theft. She posed as the oil rig worker on Facebook and approached a 74-year-old widow from Wichita, Kansas. After the scammer convinced the woman to be in an online relationship, the money requests started coming in. The phony oil rig worker told the widow that ‘he’ wanted to live with the widow when he retired, but needed money. The widow eventually sent multiple cashier’s checks that totaled $532,000. The widow’s family told her she was being scammed, but she didn’t want to believe it. When investigators finally caught up with the scammer, the scammer claimed the checks were for a business arrangement.

    Anybody on the internet can tell you they’re an oil rig worker, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. The position of oil rig worker is often used in romance scams because it’s difficult to verify and gives scammers a reason to not communicate by phone or meet in person. The same can be said for a military member who says they’re stationed overseas or an international businessman.

    This story also dispels the stereotype of the overseas scammers, who tend to be young and male. A scammer can be from anywhere, including your own neighborhood.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , orlando, romance scam,   

    Oil rig romance scams hit Florida 

    By Greg Collier

    According to local news reports, a number of romance scam victims have come forward recently in the Orlando-area of Florida. If you’re not familiar with the romance scam, the scam targets older people who may be widows or widowers, or who don’t have a partner for whatever reason. The scammers will approach the victim on social media or through dating websites and apps. The supposed romantic interest will claim to either work in a remote location, possibly overseas, or they’re stationed overseas with the military. A romance scammer will never meet face to face with a victim including the avoidance of video chat apps like Skype and Zoom. The scammers will then continually ask the victims for money under the false pretense of some kind of emergency.

    A 60-year-old woman from Florida, recently found herself out of $11,000 after falling for one of these scams. The scammer claimed to be working on an oil rig and used the profile picture of a somewhat famous actor but not someone as obvious as Brad Pitt or George Clooney. The woman allowed the scammer to deposit three supposed paychecks into her bank account so he could pay his daughter’s nanny back in Houston. After sending the payments to the supposed nanny, the woman’s bank discovered the checks were fake and since she used her own account she owed the bank that $11,000.

    As we have said in the past, the romance scam is one of those scams that could victimize just about anyone. We have seen the scam hurt people from those who have refused to admit they were scammed, to CEOs who have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scam. It can affect anyone from any economic or educational status. So, when you ask how could anybody be this dumb to fall for a romance scam, these people are not dumb in the least. They’re just in a vulnerable place in their life.

    As always, if you think you or someone you know is the victim of an ongoing romance scam, please show them our posts on romance scams, or direct them to the FTC’s website about romance scam.

     
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