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  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: back brace, , , Scams   

    Are ‘free’ back braces really free? 

    Are 'free' back braces really free?

    Have you ever seen a TV commercial with an offer that you know has to have a catch but can’t quite put your finger on it? For example, there are TV commercials currently airing that offer Medicare recipients a knee or back brace for little to no cost. While the catch may not be targeted directly at consumers there is still a catch. The catch is actually targeted at Medicare which could end up costing individual recipients in the long run. The TV commercials for the back brace usually look something like this.

    The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report calling these offers scams. According to the FTC, the braces are offered to Medicare recipients to obtain your Medicare information so these companies can bill braces you may not need to Medicare. Back in April, Federal Investigators broke up an orthopedic brace scam that was costing Medicare $1.2 billion a year. Shady doctors were said to have written the prescriptions for these braces and then received kickbacks from the company peddling the braces. If a Medicare recipient were to order one of these braces it could affect their benefits. If they needed a better or different brace in the future it could be denied by Medicare due to frequency policies thereby affecting the patient’s potential health issues.

    The FTC advises that under no circumstances should you give out your Medicare information over the phone unless it’s a doctor you’ve seen personally. Also, you shouldn’t accept any medical equipment in the mail unless you or your doctor ordered it. And if you are in need of a back or any kind of brace, only use one that your doctor has prescribed to you as your doctor knows your exact needs, a company on TV does not. Lastly, always check the noticed you receive from Medicare in the mail to make sure that no one else is using your Medicare benefits.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , fund raising, , , Scams, ,   

    Scammers took advantage of late teen’s fundraiser 

    Scammers took advantage of late teen's fundraiser

    Here are some more scams happening to various communities from around the country. Always keep in mind that if they’re happening in one place, they could be happening somewhere near you.

    In Arkansas, a 15-year-old boy passed away after a freak accident that happened at his home. His grandparents took to social media in order to raise funds for the boy’s funeral expenses. While the family was able to raise the money needed, scammers set up fake social media accounts also posing as the boy’s family. The scam targeted people who already donated asking for phony donations in Amazon gift cards. Thankfully, many of the victims were able to get their money back. However, it shows what depths scammers will stoop to just to make a few hundred bucks.

    In Central Texas, a local police department is warning residents about a phone scam that has been worrying local residents. In it, the scammers pose as agents from the Social Security Administration claiming that there have been bank accounts opened using your Social Security number and that they’re tied to criminal activity. They threaten to freeze all of your bank accounts unless a payment is made over the phone. These calls are reportedly coming from overseas while appearing to be from local phone numbers.

    The last scam may seem like it’s an urban legend passed around on Facebook but according to police in Indiana, it has happened to a number of victims. Police there say a man has been going to WalMart and using the self-checkout to scam victims. The scammer has been allegedly using the self-checkout to scan gift cards but not paying for them. Then, the next person who uses the self-checkout inadvertently ends up paying for the gift card that the scammer scanned. While this sounds like a simple scam to foil, anyone could fall for this if they’re not paying attention. Always make sure that there are no already scanned items on the self-checkout screen. If there are, go to another scanner or contact a store employee.

     
    • Nk 9:36 pm on November 5, 2019 Permalink

      I spoke yesterday to a young man who was in India who originally claimed to be from social security. I admonished him for lying and stealing from people. He was very serious and proud of himself and his team because they don’t wipe out anyone’s money. They only take half. He said that if they have $1000 in their account, they only take $500. He said that’s because they show compassion.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cash App, cash flipping, Scams, Square   

    Cash flipping isn’t a real thing 

    Cash flipping isn't a real thing

    If you’ve never heard of the company Square, they are innovators in the mobile payment space. Before Square, if a merchant wanted to be able to accept debit and credit card payments they needed an expensive and complicated system to do so. Now, thanks to Square, all a merchant may need is a tablet with Square’s dongle attached to it to process debit and credit card payments. Square also has a service for consumers called the Cash App. It’s a mobile payment system that is in the same vein as Venmo. And of course, when there’s a tool for money to change hands there are people looking to get their hands on that money.

    The Cash App has giveaways on Fridays that they call #CashAppFridays. If you follow that hashtag on Twitter or Instagram you could be eligible for a cash prize from Cash. This has spawned several Cash App imitators hijacking the hashtag claiming that they can give you money if you just pay them a little bit of money in a practice known as cash flipping. For example, these imitators will say they work for Cash App and can get you $500 if you give them $50. Other Cash App imitators will try to direct you to a phony website that looks like it’s run by Cash App but in reality, they’re just trying to get your Cash App login credentials in a phishing attempt.

    This brings two adages to mind, ‘if it’s too good to be true it probably is’ and ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. No one is going to give you more money if you pay them money for this scam. They’re simply going to bait their victims into sending a large amount of money before disappearing. You wouldn’t hand money to a stranger on the street who said they’ll give you $500 if you give them $50, so why give it to some stranger on the internet? These apps should only be used for exchanging money between friends and family. If a random stranger online is asking you for money through these apps, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Scams   

    91-year-old man taken in grandparent scam 

    91-year-old man taken in grandparent scam

    If you haven’t heard of the grandparent scam it can be a particularly heartbreaking story. The scam targets the elderly and how it works is that the scammer will call their target pretending to be one of their grandchildren. They will ask the grandparent for money claiming they’re in some kind of jam such as being in jail or an emergency room. They’ll also ask the grandparent not to say anything to the parents because they’re too embarrassed when in reality it’s just to keep the target’s adult children from finding out about the scam. Scammers count on their victims being more trusting, more willing to answer a call from an unfamiliar number, and not being as tech-savvy as younger segments of the population.

    Unfortunately, a 91-year-old man from Indiana was scammed out of almost $3,000 in one of these scams. He received a call from someone claiming to be his grandson who claimed to be in jail and needed bail money. The phone was then handed over to someone pretending to be the arresting officer who instructed the man that bail could be paid with eBay gift cards. The man ended up buying $2,600 worth of gift cards in two separate trips to his local supermarket. The man then gave the gift card serial numbers to the scammers. Even after thew scammers got the money from their victim, they kept calling him asking for more money. His daughter finally intervened and had his calls forwarded to her line where she confronted the scammers. Sadly, the money the man spent will more than likely not be recovered.

    We know we say this a lot but that’s only because it’s such a common trait in most scams; don’t ever pay for anything over the phone with gift cards. If you or a family member receive a call like this and they ask for payment in gift cards or prepaid debit cards it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam. You should also handle these phone calls calmly if you receive one and don’t give in to the pressure the caller will try to apply. If they claim to be a family member, ask them something that only that family member would know. You should also call another relative who is more familiar with that person’s current location to make sure they’re not in any kind of trouble. And if you have elderly friends or relatives, especially if they live alone, please share this information with them so they can better handle any scam calls they might receive.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scams, timeshares   

    Scam targeting timeshare owners 

    Scam targeting timeshare owners

    A number of people think timeshares themselves are a scam. Considering how predatory some of their sales pitches can be you really can’t blame them. However, there are many who consider timeshares to be an affordable alternative to owning their own vacation getaway. It also means that you don’t have to worry about hotels or Airbnbs being sold out when it’s time to take your vacation. It also doesn’t hurt that many timeshare properties offer amenities that many other lodging situations don’t offer with more privacy. But just like everything else, there are those looking to take advantage of timeshare owners when it comes time to sell their timeshare.

    A recent report out of San Antonio, Texas, discusses a situation where a local man was approached by a brokerage firm about selling the timeshare that he had in Mexico. He agreed and began to fill out the paperwork in order to initiate the transfer process. After the paperwork was completed he then began getting requests from the brokerage for things like legal fees and international taxes. He was then told that he would get the money back once the deal went through. Then the brokerage firm continued to ask the man for more money and threatening him with lawsuits when he refused to pay. After the man stopped paying the fees they were requesting the ‘brokerage firm’ cut off all contact and disappeared off the face of the earth with them turning off the phone line and shutting down their website.

    While it’s unfortunate that any victim of this scam lost money, there were a number of red flags that this was a scam. The first was that the victims are approached unsolicited. If you’re not in the market to sell and someone calls you with promises of quick cash it’s probably a scam. Secondly, was the first request for additional funds. If you send them money once the scammers will continue to ask for it until they bleed you dry. Lastly was the act of them pressuring for the victim to send more money. Legitimate real estate brokers may try to put the squeeze on you a little bit but they won’t go to such extremes. If you’re in the market to sell your timeshare, have a legitimate broker do it for you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scams, unclaimed funds, unclaimed money   

    Do you really have unclaimed money? 

    Do you really have unclaimed money?

    Occasionally, you might read or hear a news report stating that you should check with your state’s government to see if you have unclaimed funds. For whatever reason, you may have some money owed to you by the state. Sometimes it may be a bank account that you’ve forgotten about or it may be a small inheritance that you were totally unaware of. For some of us, it’s the dream to find out that we’re due an unexpected windfall to possibly help us out of our current financial situations. As usual, there are people looking to take advantage of that dream.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau has been receiving complaints about a scam promising unclaimed funds to its victims. It starts out like most scams. You’ll receive some kind of call, mailer, email, or social media message telling you that you have some kind of unclaimed money due to you. All you have to do is call this number and hand over all your personal information in the guise of ‘identity confirmation’. You’ll also be told that you only have a few days to claim your money. However, this is all a plot to steal your personal information for identity theft. That’s not to say that funds can’t be claimed.

    You can check with local or state governments to see if there are unclaimed funds in your name. These services are free so don’t pay any money to services who try to charge you. A good resource to use on how to check for unclaimed funds is the USA.gov website. Good luck on your hunt but don’t be taken in by those who would give you false promises.

     
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