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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scams,   

    Kidnapping scam claims more victims 

    Kidnapping scam claims more victims

    We’ve discussed the virtual kidnapping scam before. While it’s an uncommon scam, it does seem to be becoming more prolific. It sounds like something out of a movie or TV show where you receive a call telling you that a loved one has been kidnapped and you need to pay the ransom. Actual kidnappings for ransom, no matter the amount asked, are incredibly rare. However, when you receive a phone call telling you that a family member has been kidnapped, you may not act in the most rational way since you believe that someone close to you is in danger.

    Recently, a woman in Alabama received such a phone call. The person on the other end claimed to be her grown son and that he was in trouble. Another person got on the phone and told the woman that her son’s friend owed a gang $5,000 and they were keeping her son hostage until she paid them the money. The scammers had her pay by making her purchase pre-paid debit cards, known as vanilla cards However, they didn’t stop there. The scammers also made her wire part of the phony ransom and made her send the rest in gift cards. The scammers even instructed her on what to say if any store employee got wise that this was part of a scam. In the end, her son was never in danger and the caller even admitted that they scammed her.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, you should hang up and call police. If you end up engaging the caller, don’t say the name of the person they’ve claimed to kidnap. If you are concerned about your loved one’s safety, try texting or emailing them while you’re on the phone with the supposed kidnappers. A similar occurrence happened recently in Kentucky as well. The scammers are hoping to capitalize on you being in an emotional state, but if you just stay calm you can prevent these scammers from terrorizing you.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Scams,   

    Getting scammed after being scammed 

    Getting scammed after being scammed

    If you’ve ever been scammed you may have reported the scam to your local police, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While you should report scams to the FTC, if you have, you may want to be on the lookout for a scam that comes from reporting the scam. According to reports, people who report scams to the FTC are sometimes targeted by a new set of scammers. These scammers claim to be a company that can help you get your money back from the original scammers. While a service like this sounds great, sadly, it’s just another scam.

    Residents of the Denver area have been reporting they’ve been getting calls from people posing as the Denver Police Department. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve been the victim of identity theft then ask for their banking information. Once the information was given the scammers would just hang up. If police discover that you’ve been an actual victim of identity theft, they will send an officer to your home rather than call you. And as always, you should never give your financial information over the phone to any stranger, even if they claim to be the police.

    In Greenville, South Carolina, authorities there have warned elderly residents to be aware of various scams that have affected the area. At least two elderly residents were taken for a combined total of $80,000. One of the victims gave control of her computer remotely to a scammer who claimed to be helping process an unexpected refund. This led to the scammer advising the victim to buy a number of gift cards in order to receive the phony refund. Control of your computer should never be given over to strangers even with the promise of money as this could lead to ransomware or malware being placed on your computer or your personal information being stolen. And as always, no legitimate service, business, or agency will request payment by gift cards.

    Please always keep in mind just because these scams aren’t happening in your area doesn’t mean they’re not on their way.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jamaica, lottery scam, Scams   

    Victim fights back in lottery scam 

    Victim fights back in lottery scam

    A 90-year-old woman from a small town in North Dakota was taken for $400,000 in a foreign lottery scam. A scammer called the woman to tell her that she had won millions of dollars in a lottery. The catch was that she would have to pay advance fees in order to claim the winnings. This woman ended up paying $400,000 to scammers by sending them checks, cashing out a life insurance policy, and even borrowing money from family members. The woman’s children were finally able to discover what was happening and explained to the woman what was really going on.

    The victim, in this case, didn’t take the losses lying down and helped launch a federal investigation into this particular scam. Federal investigators have been able to apprehend 31 suspects allegedly involved in the scam. Most of the suspects were captured in the United States but a number of them were extradited from Jamaica. It’s believed this scam ring was able to bilk its elderly victims out of $6 million. While federal prosecutors have pledged to get the woman’s money back, so far she’s only been able to collect $287 out of the $400,000 she lost.

    With most scams, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Even if you play your state lottery the lottery commission isn’t going to call you by phone. In that case, you need to contact them to claim any winnings if there over a certain amount. While you may be in a desperate situation where the money would be a welcome relief, take a moment to think about wahts’ going on. Why would someone call you to give you money for a lottery that you didn’t even enter? There are no mystery lotteries giving out money to random winners. While it may sound like a gift from above, it’s actually a deal with the devil.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Scams, ,   

    Scams that veterans should be aware of 

    Scams that veterans should be aware of

    With today being Veterans Day it only seems fitting that we should look out for those who have given so much for our country. It seems that veterans are often targeted in government impostor scams. Since veterans often have to deal with several government agencies about benefits and services hearing from the government may not seem that out of the ordinary. Scammers will try to take advantage of the frequency that veterans deal with the government in hopes that the victim of their scam will believe that they are calling from the government. However, most of the scams they try to commit are also some of the same scams civilians have to deal with.

    The most common scam reported by veterans is the IRS impersonation scam. This is where scammers will pose as IRS agents and try to persuade their victims into believing that they owe back taxes. The scammers will try to pressure their victims into making a payment as soon as possible either through wire transfer or gift cards. The next common scam for veterans is the grant scam where the victim will receive a message on social media from a friend’s compromised account telling the victim they can get federal grant money. The scammers will then say that in order to get the grant the victim will need to pay a processing fee which will disappear as soon as it’s paid. And lastly, scammers will pose as being from the VA in order to try to get medical and healthcare information from the victim.

    As with most government scams, the ways of prevention remain the same. If the government really needs to get a hold of you they will more than likely contact you by mail. The government will also never ask for payment over the phone through wire transfer or gift cards. Those are tools of choice used in most scams today. And as always, if you receive one of these calls and you may believe that there is an issue with one of these agencies, hang up and call the agency back at their proper phone number.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Scams   

    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals 

    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals

    Airbnb has not had the best week PR-wise. After a shooting took place at one of their listings in Orinda, Califonia, Airbnb is also facing backlash in Jersey City after voters approved restrictions of short term rentals. On top of that there was also the expose published by VICE that uncovered a nationwide scam run by phony Airbnb hosts. Scandals like these have sunk lesser companies and platforms. However, instead of trying to defend what has happened, Airbnb has promised that they will be enacting sweeping changes to their platform to ensure better experiences for their users.

    In the wake of these issues, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced plans to make all listings 100% verified. According to Chesky, this means all hosts and listings will undergo further scrutiny. Airbnb will also be launching a 24-hour hotline for users so problems can be reported immediately. This is almost unheard of in the era of everything being done online. Good luck trying to get a hold of many other platforms by phone for assistance. They also plan to make the refund process much smoother if a listing doesn’t measure up to standards.

    What gives us pause is Chesky says that part of the verification process will be depend on community policing. That means that users will be relied on to give honest reports of listings they encounter. We have seen other sites that have relied on community policing where the community was overrun by those that community policing was supposed to report on. However, Airbnb is promising that community policing is not the only method of verification they will be using. They will also be conducting their own monitoring of listings for fraudulent activity. Not a lot of companies or platforms are willing to commit that kind of manpower to monitoring.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Scams, , ,   

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account? 

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account?

    Today, we’re bringing you scams that are happening locally in communities around the country. As we always say, if it’s happening there it could also be happening in your community.

    First up is a report out of Westchester County, New York where police there are warning residents about calls claiming to be from Amazon. Residents have complained about receiving calls from someone claiming that their Amazon Prime accounts have been compromised and need to be renewed. Victims of the scam are then asked for their financial information to resolve the non-existent issue. In one case, a victim was asked to remotely give control of their computer to the scammers so they could ‘improve the security settings.’ So this scam appears to be a hybrid of phishing and the tech support scam.

    A student at Texas A&M recently found herself scammed out of $10,000 in a Social Security scam. She received a phone call with the caller claiming that her Social Security information was misused with some drug issues in El Paso. They threatened her with arrest or she could pay them $10,000. The student was then instructed to transfer money to the scammers by way of BitCoin and gift cards. No government agency will call you on the phone like this and they especially wouldn’t ask for payment in BitCoin and gift cards. If you suspect there may actually be an issue with your Social Security, call the Social Security Administration yourself at their official customer service number of 1 (800) 772-1213.

    Lastly, if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone promising you a great cable deal, it’s more than likely a scam. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of these fraudulent phone calls. The caller will promise you a discounted deal on your cable bill if you pay a certain number of months upfront. As with many scams, they ask you to make the payment by using pre-paid debit cards. Like gift cards, one the scammers are able to get the money off of the pre-paid debit card there’s no way of getting it back.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Scams   

    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam 

    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam

    Whenever there is an online platform that requires a level of trust between users, there is always going to be someone looking to take advantage of that trust. Take Airbnb for example. Usually, when a violation of that trust makes the news, it’s about how a renter took advantage of the host’s trust and trashed the property. We hardly ever hear about hosts taking advantage of renters and if we do, it’s not on the scale that was recently uncovered by former senior staff writer at VICE, Allie Conti. What she uncovered can almost be considered a conspiracy.

    While Ms. Conti was in the process of renting an Airbnb for a concert festival she was notified by the hosts that the property she rented was having plumbing issues and the property was flooded. The hosts then reportedly said that they have another property they can rent to her. Ms. Conti agreed and went to the new property which she describes as nothing short of a flophouse. She was only able to get a partial refund from Airbnb. After her trip, she decided to investigate and found that the hosts were allegedly phonies who were using stock photos in their Airbnb profile. Apparently, the hosts were using this same scam all across the country using various names. We recommend reading the entire VICE article to get the full experience from Ms. Conti’s investigation.

    So how can you protect yourself from such a scam? Unfortunately, the nature of Airbnb is that you really can’t protect yourself from this kind of scam. In many cases, guests are depending on the Airbnb they’ve booked and the scammers don’t contact them about the ‘problem’ until the guests are already in town. If guests are in town for a major convention, festival, or sporting event then their options are minimal. Finding a hotel room at this point is almost impossible. Also, keep in mind that Airbnb refund policies seem to favor the host rather than the guest. The only thing we can really recommend is to book a hotel room early.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , award scam, business owner, , maternity, , Scams   

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams) 

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams)

    Today, we end the week the same way we began it, with a roundup of scams that have turned up across the country. As always, just because the scam isn’t currently happening in your town doesn’t mean it won’t.

    The first scam is kind of an unusual one. A woman in Highlands Ranch, Colorado owns a dog training business. She received an email from someone claiming to be from the Highlands Ranch Award Program and that she had won an award for being the best dog trainer in the area. To claim a specially engraved plaque all she would need to do is send them $169. When the woman received the plaque it was of dubious quality and the Highlands Ranch Award Program was actually based in New Jersey. As it turns out, shady companies will scan news articles for ‘best of’ lists for business owners they can prey on.

    A number of women in Arkansas have received what look like handwritten greeting cards in the mail congratulating them on their pregnancies. The problem is that a great many of them aren’t pregnant. It turns out that these cards were sent from an online retailer of baby items and the card was actually a coupon. However, some of the women allege that when you enter the coupon code at the retailer’s website the price of shipping became so outrageous that it would wipe out any potential savings. The Better Business Bureau is investigating.

    And lastly, we have a scam that has a neighborhood in San Diego quite concerned. This neighborhood has been having a problem with porch pirates stealing packages from their doorsteps. Now, someone has been going around allegedly posing as an Amazon salesman trying to get residents to install the Amazon Key service in their homes. The real Amazon key allows delivery people to place packages inside the home if instructed. However, Amazon does not sell door to door. Amazon has also confirmed that the man was not an employee of theirs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , payment app, Scams, Zelle   

    Payment app used by major banks targeted in scam 

    Payment app used by major banks targeted in scam

    Zelle is a payment app much like Venmo or the Cash App except that it’s tied directly to your bank account. The Zelle service is offered by major banks like Bank of America, Chase, and Fifth-Third among others. With Venmo and other apps, scammers can only drain your account of whatever amount you put in it. With Zelle, scammers now have the potential to drain your entire bank account and you don’t even have to use the Zelle app for it to happen.

    The scam starts out with a phone call where the scammers pose as your bank including using a spoofed phone number. They say that there is some suspicious activity with your account and that they need your login information in order to verify your identity. The scammers then use this information to lock you out of your own online account. They then activate the Zelle app under your account and transfer the money to Zelle accounts that were opened on burner phones. To the bank, it appears like you’ve made the changes to your account and used the Zelle app to make payments. Zelle itself uses two-factor authentication to try to prevent scams but if the user gives out their information to scammers there’s basically nothing Zelle can do.

    To better prevent this from happening to you it is recommended that you either activate the Zelle app through your bank or have the bank turn it off. If you receive a call from someone saying they’re from your bank, they will always have your account information and won’t need to ask for it. Even if you believe the call is from your bank it’s always better to call the bank back at their customer service number listed on the back of your card or in the bank’s mobile app.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Scams   

    Scam targets distraught pet owners 

    Scam targets distraught pet owners

    Losing a beloved family pet is one of the most heartbreaking experiences that anyone can endure. In some ways losing a pet is worse than having a pet pass away as when a pet gets loose and runs off you may never know what has happened to them. It doesn’t help when there are those out there who are looking to take advantage of your loss. That’s right, there are scammers and con artists out there who are going to try to make money off of you while you’re trying to find your lost pet.

    In a recent report out of the Orlando, Florida area, a local animal shelter there has reported that scammers have tried to prey on at least one family who recently lost their dog. The scammer will get the victim’s contact information off of a flyer or social media post. They’ll then tell the victim that they have their pet but will demand a gift card as a type of reward before giving the pet back. In reality, the scammer does not have the pet and just wants the gift card so they can drain the gift card of its value and disappear.

    If you have lost a pet and receive notification of someone claiming to have your pet, ask them for a current picture of your pet. If they can’t produce one or send one that is obviously not the pet then they’re trying to scam you. You can also better protect yourself by omitting some of the identifying marks on your pet from their description on any missing pet posts. This will better allow you to tell if someone really does have your missing pet. If someone does provide proof they have your pet, have them meet you at a local police station to minimize any potential threat. And as always, never make payments over the phone to strangers with gift cards.

     
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