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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scams, virtual kidnapping   

    What to do when a kidnapper calls! 

    What to do when a kidnapper calls!

    We’ve all seen it in movies or on TV. You receive a phone call from a stranger telling you that a family member has been kidnapped. You’re instructed not to call the police and you have to take a briefcase full of cash to a seedy part of town to make the exchange. In reality, kidnappings for ransom are extremely rare. However, that hasn’t stopped high tech scammers from fleecing victims of their money in what’s being called virtual kidnappings.

    The virtual kidnapping scam works by the scammer calling their victims using a spoofed number to make it look like they’re calling from a relative’s phone. They’ll claim to be kidnappers and that they have taken your relative hostage. They’ll instruct you to not call the police and then have you send them money either by making you buy pre-paid debit cards and giving them the card’s numbers or by having you wire the money somewhere. By the time the ordeal is over, you find out that your relative was never in any danger but the scammers have made off with your money and are virtually untraceable.

    So what should you do if you receive one of these phone calls? Most experts agree that you should hang up immediately and call the police. If you do actually speak on one of these phone calls never give out any personal information especially the name of your relative that they’ve claimed to kidnap. If there’s another avenue of communication available, like another phone, call the loved one in question to make sure they’re ok. The FBI contends that these virtual kidnappings will only become more frequent over time so being prepared will allow you to better recognize one of these calls.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Scams, voicemail   

    This voicemail should go unanswered! 

    This voicemail should go unanswered

    The Better Business Bureau is warning about a new scam that has taken the internet by storm. It’s a version of the phishing attack with a new twist. Normally in phishing attacks, you’ll be sent an email that looks like it came from a legitimate business or contact where they’ll ask you to either click on a link or enter some information. These attacks are designed to either get your personal information or install malware on your computer. Now, according to the BBB, scammers have added a new wrinkle to this attack.

    In the new attack, the scammers will send an email that claims to be from Office 365 or some other business software telling you that you have a new voicemail message. The email will even tell you that the message is from a trusted source. Then the email will provide you a link to click on to listen to the voicemail but instead will try the aforementioned tactics of either trying to steal your information or inject malware on to your device.

    In order to avoid phishing attacks like this, you should never click on unsolicited links especially if you’ve never opted in for receiving these kinds of alerts. Never log into any of your accounts through an email link, instead log in directly from the main page or app for your account. And if you’ve been a victim of one of these scams you can report it to the BBB.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADT, , Scams   

    Scam stats that will blow you away! 

    Scam stats from an expert

    When it comes to scams we’re pretty good in explaining how they work and how to avoid them. However, when it comes to organizing the facts and figures behind them it seems like no one has ADT beat. The home security leader has an extensive write-up about almost every scam that is affecting American citizens today. Utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker ADT has compiled an almost exhaustive compendium about all the scams affecting us today from the most common to the absolutely rare.

    For example, the most common scam in the US is phishing attacks. These are the emails that are designed to get some kind of personal information out of you or infect your device with malware by disguising themselves as legitimate emails. This makes sense since phishers have to send out millions of emails just to try to hook a handful of victims. Rounding out the top 5 of common scams are tax collection scams, online purchase scams, employment scams, and debt collection scams.

    The scams that cost victims the most money are investment scams costing victims on average close to $9,000. The most infamous type of investment scams are Ponzi and pyramid schemes. The second most costly scam per victim is the romance scam which we just recently discussed here. The romance scam has cost victims roughly $6,000 each but as we’ve discussed previously, some victims have lost upwards of thousands of dollars to a million.

    Scams also have geographic targets as Alaska is said to be the state hit hardest by scammers while North Carolina has escaped relatively unscathed. Alaskans reportedly lose twice as much money to scams than the next state in the most scammed list being Hawaii.

    Being armed with all the information that ADT has kindly provide us should allow you to be better prepared to when it comes to recognizing a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scams   

    How do you stop a romance scam? 

    How do you stop a romance scam?

    We’ve talked about a lot of scams over the past few years, however, one that we barely touched on is the romance scam. The romance scam is exactly what it sounds like. A scammer will pose as a variety of people claiming to be looking for a relationship. They’ll pose as men and women on dating sites as well as social media. The scammers will use any and all information that you’ve shared on your profiles in order to lull you into a false sense of security before hitting you with a request for money. We’re not talking small amounts either. Some victims have lost anywhere from thousands to over a million dollars. It’s unknown how many victims of this scam there truly are since many of them are too embarrassed to come forward.

    One family from the Midwest is said to be currently living this nightmare as a member of their family reportedly does not believe it’s a scam and continues to send money to someone claiming to be a woman from overseas. Even after being confronted by his family the man refused to stop communicating with the woman and is said to have sent $34,000 to the supposed woman. Unfortunately, the family is helpless to do anything since the man won’t go to the authorities himself.

    So what happens when a victim runs out of money? They can become unwitting pawns in a money laundering scheme. The scammer will then claim to be paying them back and send the victims phony checks. This is when the old phony check scam kicks in. The victim will be asked to cash the phony check and send a portion of it to a third party. The FBI has the following tips on how to avoid being a victim.

    • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
    • Go slow and ask lots of questions.
    • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
    • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
    • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t.
    • If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
      Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. “If you don’t know them, don’t send money,”

    If you’ve been the victim of a romance scam you can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , paypal scam, , , , Scams,   

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more 

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more

    We’re back again with another trio of scams to be on the lookout for.

    It seems that the much-criticized Armslist isn’t immune to scams as a woman from Western Pennsylvania has been charged with defrauding users of the website. The woman allegedly advertised several firearms for sale on the controversial site and collected the payments for them in money orders. However, she did not have any of the actual guns for sale and she’s accused of keeping all the money for herself. There’s no word on whether or not any background checks were completed on any of the victims.

    ***

    A man from Silver Lake, Washington was trying to sell his late wife’s wedding ring on craigslist when he was approached with an out-of-state offer. The man then received a bogus email stating that the money for the ring had reached his PayPal account. The man sent the ring but the money wasn’t actually there. Amazingly, after he contacted the police the ring was found in Illinois. This is a rare occurrence on the scale of a solar eclipse. Ok, maybe not that rare but it is remarkable that the man was able to get the ring back as in most cases once the item has been shipped it’s usually gone forever. In most cases, you should only deal locally and only in cash and when completing the transaction it should be done at a local police station.

    ***

    Lastly for today, a rental scam that we’ve discussed before has started popping up again and that’s the lockbox scam. The scam works like the typical rental scam where someone claiming to be a landlord will rent you a property sight unseen if you wire them a deposit. With the lockbox scam, the phony landlords have somehow gained access to the realtor’s lockbox on the property that contains a key to the home. A family in Phoenix, Arizona recently fell for this scam and even moved into the property after wiring their money to a scammer. Sadly, they had to be evicted from the property. Under no circumstance should you ever wire funds to someone you’ve never met. Most legitimate property managers will do background checks on prospective renters and will meet them in person.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: arrest warrant, , Scams, , utitlitiy company   

    Are these the top phone scams? 

    Are these the top phone scams?

    Residents of San Angelo, Texas have been reporting that there have been three particular phone scams plaguing them this year. While you may not be a resident of San Angelo if these scams are prevalent there then there’s a likely chance they’re prevalent in a lot of American towns.

    The first phone scam is someone calling you claiming to be from a local police department stating that you have a warrant out for your arrest for either failure to appear or missing jury duty. They’ll then try to pressure you into making some form of payment. When someone has a warrant issued for their arrest, police do not call them on the phone. Instead, they’ll take a more personal approach by sending officers to your door. If you receive one of these phone calls do not give out any personal information and call your local police department to report it.

    The second phone scam being reported is that of someone posing as a local utility company threatening to turn off power if payment is not made right away. If your account is in arrears you should receive several notices with your bill that the power could be turned off. The scammers may also try to pressure you into making a payment with either a gift card or pre-paid debit card. As usual, this should be a red flag that the call is more than likely a scam. If you receive a call like this one, once again hang up and call the number of the utility company that appears on your bill if you have any questions about your account.

    Lastly, is the most common phone scam that targets seniors and that’s the Social Security scam. In this scam, someone will call claiming to be from Social Security telling you that your benefits are about to be cut off or your Social Security account will be suspended because your Social Security number was used in a crime. These scammers are either looking for you to give them your Social Security number or will once again ask you to make a payment through gift cards. Social Security rarely calls recipients and will never ask for payment, especially not through gift cards. If you receive one of these calls hang up and call Social Security directly at 800-269-0271 during business hours.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Scams,   

    Double craigslist scam and more 

    Double craigslist scam and more

    Previously, we’ve told you about gift card scams and phony check scams. Now, at least one scammer tried to swindle someone using both scams at the same time. A woman in Madison, Wisconsin was trying to sell an item on craigslist and she received a check for more than $1000 than what she was asking for. The scammers told her to deposit the check and return most of the balance in gift cards. Luckily, the woman did not fall for the scam. If she had, not only would she have been on the hook for the amount of the phony check but once the gift card numbers would have been given to the scammer, the funds would be virtually untraceable.

    ***

    Speaking of gift cards, a New York man was arrested after allegedly using stolen gift cards to withdraw money at an ATM. The man allegedly used the account information from the gift cards to withdraw around $9,000. While the report doesn’t clarify what kind of gift cards were used we would imagine that they were something along the lines of a pre-paid VISA gift card. This is another potential reason you may want to avoid using gift cards as presents. We have some great tips here on how to avoid being ripped off when buying gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, you may be tempted to buy a device online that promises you unlimited access to free movies and TV shows. Devices comparing themselves to the Amazon Fire Stick are showing up claiming to be ‘jailbroken’ which allow you to circumvent copyright protection in order to stream movies and TV shows which you would normally have to pay for a service like HBO to view. As you can probably guess, these devices are not only illegal but they’re usually loaded with malware according to CNET. This malware could potentially hijack devices connected to your home network such as microphones and cameras and could also send your personal information to any number of identity thieves. In the long run, you’re better off paying for a legitimate streaming service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , paycheck scam, Scams   

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams 

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams

    Today, we have three new scams for you to be aware of on this Monday morning.

    This first one is more out of your hands and could be targeting your HR department. Overseas scammers are now posing as employees of a company and trying to get HR departments to reroute an employee’s direct deposit for their paycheck. They’re also posing as company CEOs and CFOs in urgent need of changing their direct deposit as well. The scams are all done through email with email addresses that come from outside the company. Most companies are wise to this scam but if you have a small company you may want to let your HR person know to be aware of this particular scam.

    The next scam involves medical DNA testing. Authorities are warning people that seniors are being targeted in this scam where people are offering to perform medical screening DNA tests. They’re not trying to steal your family’s DNA but instead are looking to gather enough information to steal your family member’s identity. In other aspects of the scam, these phony DNA testers are looking to bill Medicare and Medicaid for unneeded medical tests. The scammers will pose as legitimate medical companies but you shouldn’t take part in these tests unless done by a professional your doctor has referred you to.

    Our last scam for today comes to us from the Raleigh, North Carolina area where residents have been receiving texts and phishing emails claiming to be from a local newscaster. The messages state that the recipient has won a contest but in order to claim the prize they would need to purchase $200 in various gift cards then send a picture of the cards back to the person who sent the message. This is just another twist on the gift card scam where scammers try to pressure you into sending them the serial number on gift cards so they can drain the money from the cards and leave you out of a substantial sum of money.

    Hopefully, none of these scams will find their way to you, but if they do now you’re prepared.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , north dakota, , , , Scams   

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon’s board to vote on facial recognition 

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon's board to vote on facial recognition

    As we always say, when meeting someone for an online transaction you should always make the transaction at a local police department. It can go a long way in helping to ensure your safety. However, that was not the case for a man in Albuquerque. This man was meeting someone through OfferUp to sell a camera. The suspect posing as a buyer lured the man out of the view of the police department’s security cameras before trying to rob the man. The victim was dragged about 20 feet after the suspect drove off while holding on to the camera. If someone tries to get you away from the police station it may just be a trap.

    ***

    The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning residents of the two states to be aware of phony car scams that are proliferating in the area. They’re reporting that there are a number of phony car dealerships who are advertising cars on craigslist for a price well below market value. The phony dealerships then ask for the money to be wired to them before cutting off all contact with the victim. When buying a car online from a dealership, always do a web search to make sure such a dealership exists and money should never be wired for a transaction under any circumstance. It’s too easy for scammers to make off with your money while remaining anonymous.

    ***

    Previously, we’ve discussed how high-ranking Amazon employees have called Amazon’s environmental practices into question. Now it seems that shareholders are also getting ready to decide on another one of Amazon’s business practices. Next month the board will vote on whether or not Amazon should ban the sale of their facial recognition software called Rekognition to governments and governmental agencies. We’ve posted before about how a number of civil liberty groups complained about Amazon trying to sell Rekognition to police departments as the tool could be easily used to violate civil rights. Combine Rekognition with all the Amazon Echoes in people’s homes and Jeff Bezos’ ownership in the Washington Post and you could see how some board members may view this all as a privacy overreach on Amazon’s part.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: car wrapping, , , , Scams,   

    Wrapped car jobs, more from the IRS, and DNA scams 

    https://wwmt.com/news/local/better-business-bureau-warns-of-car-wrap-scam-found-in-local-newspaper

    What a wrapped car may look like.

    We have three scams happening across the country for you again. As we’ve stated before, if the scams are happening in one community, they could be happening in yours.

    If you think you’re not going to get scammed by using your local newspaper’s classified section you’d be wrong. While not as prevalent on some of our competitor’s sites, scams do happen on print classifieds as well. For example, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the BBB is reporting that a number of people have submitted complaints about an ad promising $300-$400 per week by driving your car around with advertisements on it. It’s called car wrapping and is usually as much as a legitimate job as a secret shopper. And the goal of the car wrapping scam is the same as the secret shopper. People who applied for the job were told to cash a check they were sent, keep some of it as your payment, and send the remainder to someone else. The check turns out to be phony but if you cashed the check your bank will make you foot the full amount of the check. Remember, there’s no such thing as easy money.

    With the annual income tax deadline looming, the IRS has released their Dirty Dozen of IRS scams. Some of these scams we’ve covered before such as don’t take calls from someone claiming to be the IRS as they ever rarely call someone over tax issues. One of the scams that we’ve not mentioned before is to be wary of shady tax return preparers. While most tax professionals would never try to rip off a client, there are some shifty ones who would use your tax return as a way to steal your identity. They may also promise you an unusually high return. The IRS also warns you not to avoid paying taxes by claiming that income tax is somehow illegal or unconstitutional. No one has ever proven that and you’ll end up owing the government a lot more money than you did before.

    Previously we’ve posted about a scam where a scammer poses as your county and threatens to send you to jail for skipping jury duty. The scammers will try to make you pay a fine over the phone which most county governments never do. Now, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada is warning about a twist on that scam. In this new scam, the perpetrators claim to be local police and that your DNA has been found at a crime scene. They’ll then try to get you to make a payment through Bitcoin, wire transfer, or gift cards. Again, if you’re DNA was found at a crime scene, police would come to your location and not make a phone call. That’s not to mention that county governments would not ask for payment outside of check, cash or credit/debit card.

     
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