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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , parking lot scam, , , Scams, theme parks,   

    This scam takes advantage of Prime Day purchases! 

    This scam takes advantage of Prime Day!

    As we mentioned yesterday, Amazon just had its annual Prime Day sale. If you decided to take advantage of the deals to be had online you should be aware of a particular scam that looks to take advantage of all the orders made on Prime Day. It’s called brushing and some retailers will send you a product of their’s unsolicited and at no charge to you. They’re looking for favorable online reviews and even if sent to you free of charge, the vendor can consider you a ‘verified purchase’ on Amazon. The main problem with brushing scams is that someone may have purchased these items on yours on someone else’s stolen account.

    In other scam news, reports are coming out of Northern California about a parking lot scam designed to pressure you into giving a stranger money. Several residents have complained about a scam where someone walks behind your car in a parking lot as you try to pull out. The scammer will drop their phone then act like it’s broken, or more than likely they’ll have dropped an already broken phone. They’ll then try to claim it was your fault and try to get you to give them money for their phone’s insurance deductible. If this scam happens to you, it’s recommended that you call the police.

    While this next scam happens all year round with places like Disney World, it picks up in the summer months due to other regional theme parks being open for the season. If you see a post on social media promising you free tickets to a theme park or other attraction it is more than likely a scam. This happened recently in the Sandusky, Ohio area where the popular Cedar Point theme park is. This scam is intended to get either your personal or financial information which the scammers will say is necessary in order to get the tickets. They could even ask for a processing fee. In the end, the scammers end up with your information and possibly your money and you’re left with nothing.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: MLM, multi-level marketing, , Scams   

    Are MLMs the biggest scam? 

    Are MLMs the biggest scam?

    Let’s say that you’re between jobs and looking for work. You come across an ad for an amazing position that promises flexible hours and an amazing salary, however, it’s a sales position. Sales isn’t the worst thing that you could do and you need a paycheck soon. You may then be asked to join a group of people in a meeting room where you realize that this isn’t just any sales position, it’s an ‘opportunity’ to join the exciting world of multi-level marketing.

    If you’re not familiar with multi-level marketing, or MLMs as they’re commonly known, are those ‘businesses’ that one of your Facebook friends may be trying to recruit you to join. The reason they’re trying to recruit you is that they only really make any kind of money if they get more people to join. The MLMs impress this upon their members to try to recruit their friends and family. Outside of just being annoying when someone tries to recruit you to one of these schemes, there’s a darker side to MLMs. Often, you have to buy stock from the person who recruited you before you can sell your own stock. Many MLMs are accused of having many cult-like tendencies such as pressure to stay and isolation from those critical of MLMs. Sometimes friend or family relationships are severed due to someone’s devotion to an MLM.

    The truth is that MLM salespeople tend to not make very much money and in numerous cases wind up in crippling debt. The math just isn’t in their favor. MLMs generally tell their salespeople that they need to recruit a certain number of other people to join the MLM. Then those people also need to recruit the same number of people. What they don’t tell you is that this cycle can only be repeated a handful of times before the number of people needed becomes astronomical and unobtainable. But that’s not the MLM’s problem since they already sold you, and anyone else who’s joined, their product. If this sounds a lot like a pyramid scheme that’s because it essentially is. The only reason there hasn’t been mass prosecution of these MLMs is that the fact that they’re ‘selling’ a product makes their businesses legal.

    In most MLMs, the only people making any real money are the ones at the top of the pyramid and unfortunately, that’s probably not you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , defense contractor, google voice, , Scams   

    These tech scams are frightening! 

    These tech scams are frightening!

    This week’s set of scams are incredibly troubling. Technology has advanced to a point where scams have become harder to spot. Not to mention that some of the tactics used by these scammers are like something out of a movie.

    The first scam is kind of confusing and seems a little convoluted for something that doesn’t bring that much to the scammers. If you’re not familiar with Google Voice, it’s a service that provides you with a free supplementary phone number. Scammers are using Google Voice to hijack phone numbers from personal numbers that have been shared online. For example, if you’ve posted your phone number in a classified ad the scammers will attempt to hijack that number. The scammers won’t be able to take any money from you but could potentially use your number for criminal activity. If your number has been hijacked in one of these scams this article has instructions on how to get your number back. Unfortunately, the steps won’t be that easy.

    The next scam, while rare, is very disconcerting. Security firm Symantec has said that they have found a handful of scams where the scammers have used deep fake audio of business executives in order to trick employees into transferring money to the scammers. Deep fakes are AI generated video or audio that can be hard to tell from the real thing. We’ve previously discussed the potential harm that deep fakes could cause here. The process to generate these deep fakes can cost thousands of dollars ut could end up costing businesses untold losses in the future.

    Our last scam for today is the most alarming. According to news site Quartz, a US military defense contractor was taken for $3 million in top-secret equipment by international con artists. All the scammers had to do was use an email address that looks similar to official military domains. This is basically the same phishing scam that’s used to try to steal your banking information except a company with a high government security clearance fell for it to the tune of $3 million. Thankfully, the scammers were apprehended after federal investigators tracked them down through the mailing address they used that they claimed was a military installation. Disturbingly, neither the Quartz article nor the legal documents Quartz obtained state whether or not the sensitive equipment was ever recovered.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on July 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , influencers, Scams, ,   

    This Snapchat scam can cost you thousands! 

    This social media scam targets the young!

    When you hear the term ‘influencer’ thrown around today you’re almost certain to roll your eyes. While the term may make the person claiming to be an influencer sound vapid, it can be pretty lucrative if you’re successful at it. Depending on how many followers you have on your social media platform of choice, you could have advertisers lining up at your virtual doorstep hoping that you’ll promote their product or service. Many of these influencers have been able to turn their social media presence into a successful full-time job. However, for those just starting out, there are those who will look to take advantage of you.

    Once again, the Better Business Bureau is reporting a scam targeting young would-be influencers. The scam is said to be specifically targeting users of the photo-sharing app Snapchat. The scammer will offer a Snapchat user an advertising opportunity but will ask the user to pay for this opportunity by sending the scammers gift cards. If that wasn’t a big enough scam the scammers will then ask for the user’s login information before changing the login information essentially locking the user out of their own account. Then posing as the user, they’ll invite the user’s friends and followers to the same phony advertising offer perpetuating the cycle.

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, any time someone asks you to pay for something in gift cards, it is most definitely a scam. However, the younger social media users among us may not yet be aware of the gift card scam. If you buy any type of gift card and give the card’s ID number to a third-party, they can quickly empty that card and disappear without a trace. If you see one of your friend’s or followers on social media offering one of these bogus opportunities, their account may have already been taken over by con artists.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scams, ,   

    Is student loan debt consolidation a scam? 

    Is student loan debt consolidation a scam?

    Student loan debt has been a hot topic in public conscience for a number of years now. It doesn’t only affect the recently graduated but those who have been out of school for years as well. Many college graduates go for most of their lives just trying to pay the interest off from these loans. It’s bad enough that these graduates face mountains of debt due to predatory practices performed by the lenders but now an army of scammers are looking to capitalize on their hardship.

    You may hear these commercials on the radio, see the fliers in the mail, or see the signs along roadways promising student debt relief or consolidation. A number of these so-called services promise to get you a better interest rate or lower your payments. All you have to do is pay a nominal fee to get the ball rolling. But instead of getting a better rate, these con artists just take your fee and disappear leaving you with more debt than when you started.

    The Better Business Bureau recommends that if you’re having trouble paying back your loans that you should contact your lender directly to try to negotiate a lower payment. Also, you should never pay up front for any debt service until they give you results first. Never give a debt consolidation service power of attorney as they can use this to take over your loan and make your payments even greater. While there is no quick and easy solution to alleviating the ever-mounting student loan debt problem, keeping these tips in mind will prevent you from it becoming an even bigger problem for you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bank scam, , Scams, smishing, , Wells Fargo   

    Text message scams are on the rise! 

    Text message scams are on the rise!

    We’ve talked about email and phone call scams before but we’re pretty sure we’ve never discussed scams that specifically target you through text messages. Well, we’re going to correct that today.

    The Better Business Bureau recently reported on an employment scam that uses text messaging to try to swindle their victims out of their money or personal information. If you’re currently looking for a new job you could potentially be at risk for this scam. If you post your resume online you could be contacted by text from someone claiming to be a reputable company looking to hire you. They’ll then either ask you to pay for supplies or try to get your banking information for direct deposit. If they say you’re hired without even having you come in for an interview, it’s more than likely a scam.

    In Knoxville, Tennessee, a woman suffering from a cancer recurrence was recently scammed for hundreds of dollars in what’s referred to as ‘smishing’. That’s short for SMS phishing. She received a text message from one of her phone contacts telling about a grant she qualifies for that would provide $50,000 for her cancer treatment. The hook was that she would have to pay $500 first. After she mailed a $500 money order out of state she received another text asking for more money. This time the scammers were asking for $5,000. Luckily, her bank made her aware that this was a scam before she lost the $5,000. Text messages can be spoofed to make it look like they’re from someone you know. If a friend or associate texts you about a too good to be true offer, call them to make sure they sent the text.

    And lastly, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection is warning about a similar smishing scam that involves the Wells Fargo Bank. The text message says that there is an urgent discrepancy in your bank account that requires your immediate attention. You’ll then be instructed to click on a link or call a phone number to correct the discrepancy. You’ll then be asked for your ATM card number, PIN, expiration date, 3-digit security code, Social Security number, billing zip code, and your last known checking account balance. If you ever receive one of these text messages from any bank do not call the number or click on the link in the text. Instead, call your bank’s verified customer service number which you can usually find on their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jim Browning, Scams,   

    Inside the Tech Support Scam! 

    Inside the Tech Support Scam!

    If you’re not familiar with tech support scam, it’s an insidious scheme designed to hijack your computer for one reason or another. Groups of scammers will robocall people claiming to be from Microsoft. They’ll tell their victims that they have a virus on their computer and will ask for remote access to the victim’s computer in order to fix the problem. What they’re really doing is either injecting malware into the victim’s computer or stealing personal information from the victim. However, one man has made it his mission to scam the scammers.

    A man who goes by the pseudonym of ‘Jim Browning’ is skilled enough that he’s able to take control of the scammers’ computer when they try to take control of his. In one particular instance that Browning has posted to YouTube, he was able to not only spy on the scam call center but he was also able to change the scammers’ outgoing robocall message to warn people that the call is a scam. Browning recently told CBS This Morning that the reason he’s doing this is to make more people aware of the scam.

    Normally, it’s encouraged by security experts that if you receive one of these phone calls the best thing to do is hang up. Also if you see a pop up on your computer claiming that you have a virus be suspicious and try running an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes instead. While Mr. Browning’s methods may be unorthodox sometimes it takes a new way of thinking to combat the con men.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , John Martin Hill, , Scams   

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down! 

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down!

    We’ve talked about romance scams before. Usually, these scams are perpetrated online by overseas scammers who con people into thinking they’re in a long distance relationship before trying to squeeze money out of their victims. However, in some cases, the romance scam can take place in the real world too. Today, we bring you the story of a man accused of committing real-world romance scams in several states for years before finally being apprehended.

    Police in Franklin, Tennessee recently arrested 35-year-old John Martin Hill. Hill was wanted out of Gwinnett County, Georgia for allegedly defrauding a woman out of $80,000 in a romance scam and using the money to buy a BMW. Hill met his latest victim on a dating site where he claimed to be a millionaire. He proposed quickly to the woman and then got the money from her claiming it was for furniture for the new house they were supposed to be moving into. Hill then reportedly took the money and ran. After he was arrested in Tennessee and extradited back to Georgia a judge ordered Hill be held with no bond. That’s probably because Hill had escaped prosecution in several other states where he is said to have committed similar crimes. Hill had his name legally changed five times while avoiding charges in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. There was even a Facebook group dedicated to putting a stop to his actions.

    While this is an extreme case of the romance scam this story serves as a warning for people who might be vulnerable to being taken in by a scammer like Hill. This story also shows what lengths romance scammers may go to in order to cover their own tracks. So if something seems not quite right in the relationship you may have every right to be suspicious. If you feel like you’ve been the victim of a romance scam don’t hesitate to contact your local police.

     
  • Geebo 8:05 am on June 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Scams   

    Don’t take out a loan for that job! 

    Don't take out a loan for that job!

    While we’re far from the authority on online scams, we are surprised when we hear about one that we’ve never heard of before. Often these online scams are just variations of only a handful of scams such as the phony check scam. Not to mention that we thought we’ve heard of every job scam under the sun. However, even we were taken aback when we read about this job scam from Arizona.

    According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, there was an employment scam going through their state in 2017. Two men were posting help wanted ads for phony clerical and administrative jobs. They would then tell the applicants that their credit score wasn’t good enough for the position but that they could improve their credit score by taking out a loan. The scammers would then request the money from the applicants claiming that they would pay the loans back for them but of course, never did. Thankfully, the Attorney General’s office was able to prosecute these scammers but we have to wonder if the victims’ credit ever recovered after these incidents.

    While there are some jobs in the financial sector that require you to have a good credit score, you should never have to pay anything to get a job. If a company offers you an immediate position do some research to make sure they are a legitimate employer. And as always, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Scams,   

    Summer is scam season for jobs! 

    Summer is scam season for jobs!

    With Memorial Day Weekend behind us and many schools ending the year, a number of people will be looking for seasonal employment during the warm weather months. Whether it’s students looking for some pocket money for weekend activities or adults and retirees looking to supplement their incomes, many of these temporary positions are in demand. That doesn’t mean that scammers take the summers off. They’ll be using this influx of job seekers to try to fleece their victims any way they can.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning people to be on the lookout for certain scams targeting seasonal applicants. One particular scam is said to target college students by sending spoofed emails that look like official emails from the college the student is attending. In reality, it’s another take on the fake check scam. The student will be sent a phony check that the scammers say is for the supplies the student needs for the position and will be asked to deposit the check and will then be asked to wire the money to phony vendors. Again, once the bank where the check was deposited finds out the check is fake the victim will be on the hook for the money owed to the bank.

    The BBB is also warning to be on the lookout for employment listings that say things like ‘no experience needed’ or ‘immediate start.’ These are red flags for potential scams. Don’t be in a rush to accept any position that may come your way. Ask as many questions as possible from your potential employer and try to get everything in writing. Real positions will be willing to provide any information you might need while the scammers will try to convince you otherwise. Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll have a productive and enjoyable summer.

     
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