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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , San Francisco, ,   

    Man loses half of his savings in bank impersonation scam 

    Man loses half of his savings in bank impersonation scam

    By Greg Collier

    It’s a scammer’s ‘job’ to make them appear as legitimate as possible, no matter how outlandish their request might be. That’s exactly what happened to a San Francisco man recently when scammers convinced him to transfer half of his life savings to a different bank.

    The call appeared to come from the man’s bank, which was Bank of America. The name and number appeared on his phone as being from his bank, so at the start the man didn’t have a reason not to believe it wasn’t his bank calling. The scammers told him that someone was accessing his bank account in Georgia. It’s not unheard of for banks to call their customers to warn them of fraudulent activity on their accounts. So, the man still believed he was talking to his bank. However, what happened next should have been a tip off that this was a scam call.

    The scammers told him that in order to protect his money, the man needed to transfer his money to another bank account with a different bank. He was given instructions on how to use the payment app Zelle to send his money to a Chase bank account for ‘protection’.

    Of course, the Chase account belonged to the scammers, who emptied the Chase account as soon as the man’s money landed in their account. Luckily, Bank of America was able to issue him a refund, but this is the exception rather than the norm.

    If a bank calls you, it’s not wrong to be immediately suspicious. If you think it’s not your bank calling you, politely hang up and call the bank directly using their customer service number that’s on the back of your bank card or on the bank’s website. You can even go to your local branch if that’s what you prefer. Any of those avenues will be able to tell you if there is an actual issue with your account. Also, banks will never tell you to use an app like Zelle to move money around. Zelle, and apps like it, are specifically designed to pay other people or receive payment from other people. If someone claiming to be from your bank tells you to transfer money using one of these apps, there’s a high possibility it’s a scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , San Francisco,   

    COVID-related rental scams continue 

    COVID-related rental scams continue

    The ongoing pandemic has had at least one positive effect. Rental fees in the San Francisco Bay Area have gone down. Since the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, this is a needed relief for those looking for housing there. However, the new lower rents make this a veritable field day for rental scammers.

    Rental scammers normally use lower than market value rents in the fraudulent listings. With the current market in the Bay Area already at new lows, it makes it harder to spot a scammer. Also thanks to the pandemic, rental scammers have been using social distancing as an excuse not to meet with their victims.

    A San Francisco couple found a listing for an apartment on Craigslist that was bigger than the one they had, but the new apartment had a cheaper rent. They contacted the supposed rental agent from the contact listing. He told the couple to download an app that would allow them access to tour the apartment by themselves. While they toured the apartment the rental agent was talking to them through FaceTime the entire time.

    The couple agreed to move in and the agent requested first months rent and a deposit which amounted to $6000. Later, the agent asked them how much rent they could pay in advance. Begrudgingly, the couple agreed to pay another $6000 up front. Then the agent requested another $1500 which the couple agreed to $750.

    As you’ve probably guessed by now, the couple went to move in on January 1st only to find that the apartment had been rented to someone else. The Craigslist listing was a fake. That left the couple out close to $13,000. Even for a successful Bay Area couple, that isn’t exactly small potatoes.

    No matter how legitimate someone may seem, there’s always the potential that you’re being scammed when trying to rent a property. As always, we recommend doing as much research as possible before entering to any agreement on a property. Do a reverse image search to make sure the pictures on the listing aren’t stolen from a realtor. Plus, you should always check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner or realtor is. While research may be time-consuming, it could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , pickpockets, San Francisco, ,   

    Now you see your jewelry, now you don’t 

    Now you see your jewelry, now you don't

    If you’re planning on traveling this holiday season you may want to avoid San Francisco, or at least leave the jewelry at home. San Francisco police are warning visitors about a street-level scam that has seen its victims lose a lot of personal items. Con artists are said to be approaching victims by performing sleight of hand tricks. These deft deceivers then switch out your jewelry with fakes before absconding with the real thing. If you think that this only happens in movies, think again. You may also want to rethink the notion that it can’t happen to you.

    The virtual kidnapping scam is making the rounds again, this time in the Sedona area of Arizona. In case you’re not familiar with this scam it can be particularly disturbing to the victim. In it, the scammer will call their victim and claim that they’ve kidnapped one of their loved ones. Sometimes they’ll even have other people act as the alleged kidnapping victim. In reality, there has been no kidnapping and the scammers are trying to get the victim into an emotional state where they’ll pay a ransom without question. If you receive a call like this, it is recommended that you try to contact the person who the scammers claim is being kidnapped.

    Lastly, in Virginia, a man was targeted in a car wrapping scam. This is yet another variation of the phony check scam. The man was contacted by someone claiming to represent an energy drink company and they wanted to pay him for wrapping his car in advertisements. They sent him a check for $3,000 which he was supposed to deposit in his bank account, keep $500 and use the rest to buy the wrapping for his car. Thankfully, the man felt like something was wrong and had his bank investigate the check before depositing it. The check was a fake and if the man had deposited it and spent the money he would have had to pay the bank the difference back.

    Please keep in mind that while these scams may not be happening in your area right now, they could be showing up there soon.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , San Francisco,   

    Should teachers have to pay for their own substitutes when sick? 

    Should teachers have to pay for their own substitutes when sick?

    The one profession that is probably the most underpaid but most needed is a school teacher. In a state like California that is possibly the richest state in the country, you might think that teachers are paid a fair wage and have a decent benefits package. As one story has shown us recently that may not be the case. A San Francisco teacher who is currently undergoing cancer treatment has to pay for her substitute out of her own paycheck. Sadly, this is not some rare exception for California teachers as it’s been this way since the ’70s.

    The teacher in question has half of her paycheck deducted each pay period to pay for her temporary replacement while she undergoes treatment. Public school teachers in California don’t pay into the state disability insurance program and can’t draw benefits from it. The teachers only get 10 sick days a year and 100 extended days of sick leave. It’s during these sick leaves when they have to pay for a substitute teacher out of their own pockets.

    In many instances, teachers on extended leave are more concerned with getting better than fighting this drastic cut in pay. However, many teachers return to work too soon in order to try to provide for their families. No family should have to worry about losing their home or worse when trying to recover from a major illness. Is it time that we not only rethought how we treated our teachers but the whole healthcare paradigm as well?

  • Geebo 10:21 am on August 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , San Francisco   

    The house where craigslist was born is up for sale 

    The house where craigslist was born is up for sale

    The San Francisco condo where Craig Newmark founded his eponymous list has gone up for sale. For a cool $1.4 million you could own the three-bed, one-bath, 1,250 square-foot, condo with a backyard. It sounds like the perfect place for some up and coming startup CEO who just got their first round of funding. I mean it’s not like an actual working family could afford it or anything.

    Mr. Newmark himself hasn’t lived in the condo since 2005. Since then he’s bought a $6 million home in New York City that takes up two floors of a four-story building in addition to his primary residence in the San Francisco Bay Area that I’m sure must have cost him a pretty penny. Yet over the years, Craig Newmark has said that craigslist’s profits are so small that the company can’t hire additional employees such as moderators or customer service agents. The profits must at least be enough that he can afford multi-million dollar homes in the most expensive real estate markets on both coasts.

    Not surprisingly, the realtor who is handling the condo’s sale has not listed the property on craigslist. How ironic would it be if someone posted a phony ad on craigslist purporting to rent the condo out below market value? You know, like all the homes that claim to be up for rent on craigslist where scammers steal money from people looking for homes. The same phony real estate ads that craigslist does nothing to prevent from being posted in the first place.

  • Geebo 10:03 am on December 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , San Francisco   

    San Francisco bans delivery robots 

    San Francisco bans delivery robots

    Previously, we’ve discussed delivery robots not only as a possible way of the future, but also how they could be used to make online classifieds transactions safer. Instead of having to meet someone in public, the robots could be used instead to deliver the goods which could greatly educe the risk to personal harm. While three states have approved legislation for delivery robots one major metropolitan area just terminated their public use.

    San Francisco is a very tech-centric city and has been the home of many start-ups over the years. However, recently they did something very Un-San Francisco like by virtually banning delivery robots. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors just voted to bury these robots in an avalanche of red tape. Now, these delivery start-ups will have to get permits to use their robots, they can only be used in low pedestrian traffic areas, and can only be used for research purposes. While not outright banning them this does effectively cripple the industry. The Board of Supervisors claims that they’re banning the robots over safety concerns, but is that really why?

    Rather than safety issues could the city instead be worried about the potential loss of jobs that these robots could represent? It brings to mind that in two states, Oregon and New Jersey, it is illegal to pump your own gas. These states claim it’s a safety concern while the other 48 states have little to no issues with people pumping their own gas. Instead these bans are used to protect jobs more than to protect consumers from any possible hazards. This seems like a more logical reason for San Francisco to ban these robots than safety issues, but if they were to publicly claim this it could potentially dissuade other start-ups from wanting to make San Francisco their home.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on May 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , San Francisco   

    Airbnb waves the white flag in fight with San Francisco 

    Airbnb waves the white flag in fight with San Francisco

    In case you were unaware, there is a dire housing crisis in San Francisco. There is little housing available and the housing on hand is priced out of the range of most working families. This is why the city of San Francisco decided to step in when it came to home sharing services like Airbnb. For those of you who may not know, Airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your home for temporary or short stays. The city’s concern was that property owners would keep their properties unavailable for renters or buyers so they could instead make more profit by renting them out on Airbnb as de facto hotels. Some sources say there are close to four times more Airbnb properties for lease then there are Airbnb property owners.

    Airbnb and the city were locked in a legal battle over the registration of its users with the city. The municipal government feels the registration is necessary due to the potential abuses landlords could inflict on their tenants, such as evicting them so they could instead cash in with Airbnb. Airbnb tried a tactic that may be familiar with some of our readers. They claimed the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the First Amendment protected them since Airbnb believed they were not responsible for the actions of its hosts. This is the same argument Backpage uses when it comes to defending the sex trafficking ads that continue to litter their site. As much as patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel so is claiming free speech in order to potentially violate the rights of others.

    On Monday, Airbnb finally settled with the city and will require its San Francisco hosts to be registered with the city.

    Airbnb has said they will institute software for their hosts to register with the city and current hosts have 8 months to register.

    Much like Uber and Backpage, it seems start up culture tries to establish their businesses before not only taking the legal ramifications into account, but also not seeming to care who is harmed in the wake of their search for profits.

    • varitasit 2:30 am on May 4, 2017 Permalink

      I like this on little housing available and the housing on hand is priced out of the range of most working families.

  • Greg Collier 2:30 pm on April 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Rent Control, Rent Ordinances, , San Francisco   

    Risky Business: Watch for Business Models that Boost the Bottom Line but Tarnish the Reputation 

    When Terms & Agreements Don’t Mesh with Local LawsThere’s an interesting debate going on in San Francisco with Airbnb, where a crackdown on short-term rentals – especially those being advertised on online sites like Airbnb – are leading to lease violations and eviction notices.

    The site, Airbnb, connects people looking to make a few bucks by renting out space in their own homes with visitors who are looking to save a few bucks by using alternative accommodations when they pop into a city for a short visit.

    It’s kind of like they’re hotel rooms, except that they’re not. They’re residential homes and apartments. And in San Francisco, the two – residential units and hotel rooms – are not allowed to mix, by law. In a city with tight housing and even tighter rental laws, the crackdown is sending some otherwise law-abiding citizens to the streets, evicted for letting a stranger crash on the couch every now and then.

    It’s an unfortunate story, though it appears that the city and Airbnb are working together to provide some better clarity around the ordinances, including a hotel tax on Airbnb transactions, which will certainly change the dynamic of the debate down the road. That may not change things for those affected – but at least it recognizes the problem. And that’s a start.

    In the meantime, at least one lawyer has raised the question about Airbnb’s share of responsibility in what’s happening to its customers during this crackdown. Is it the responsibility of Airbnb to provide each person who submits a listing with a notice of all laws and regulations – whether local, statewide or national? Or is it enough to remind people to check their local laws and leases before renting the spare room for a weekend?

    It’s a question that the company has faced before. A few years ago, I chimed in about some growing pains that Airbnb was experiencing as it was dealing with reports of people who were trashing rental units. The company rode that storm nicely and went on to see some amazing growth, with listings now expanding in Europe and investors suggesting a $10 billion valuation, bigger than some hotel chains.

    Airbnb, a site much like Geebo in that it connects two parties with a common interest, should have a responsibility to inform people of the risks they are about to engage in and, in some certain circumstances, take extra steps to ensure that people are compliant with the law.

    Geebo is a site with listings from cities across the nation across a wide range of categories. For the site to specify each of the laws and ordinances for each of the cities and each of the categories of products or services is unrealistic. In that sense, I understand Airbnb’s defense. On the other hand, I also understand the need for a company to be accommodating and to take action to be better safe than sorry.

    Years ago, I removed personal ads from Geebo’s listings, in part because I felt that what was being advertised wasn’t appropriate for my site. I’m not suggesting that Airbnb block listings with San Francisco addresses (or am I?) but perhaps it could do something else to drive home the point, maybe an extra acknowledgment prompt before the final submission.

    I want to make sure that my visitors have a good experience and that they return the next time they’re looking for something specific. I would think that Airbnb would like the same.

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