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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , sweepstakes   

    Instagram scam promises free iPhone 

    Instagram scam promises free iPhone

    By Greg Collier

    Not too long ago, we brought you a post about how an Instagram scam could hijack your account. As we mentioned then, there are no shortages of scams on the popular photo sharing platform. Recently, one of those scams rose above the others to garner some headlines.

    CNET is reporting an iPhone giveaway scam is currently plaguing Instagram users. If you use Instagram on a consistent basis, you may have seen one of these scam posts. Users are being tagged by what are essentially spam accounts. These posts promise you a free iPhone 13 and all you need to do is click the link in the tagger’s profile. According to CNET, if you click the link, you’ll be taken to a website where you’ll be asked for your personal information and a credit or debit card number.

    While the CNET article does not go into specifics, we believe this could be one of two scams. The first one is straight up identity theft. With your personal and financial information, scammers could easily take over your life. Not only could identity thieves use your card for fraudulent purchase, but they could also use your information to take out loans or open other lines of credit.

    The other scam could be the advance fee scam. This is where a user is told they’ve won something, but have to pay a fee to collect their prize. This is a common scam when it comes to online giveaways. The scammers will disguise the payments as shipping fees, insurance for the item, or some form of tax. While this practice is illegal in the United States for legitimate sweepstakes, scammers aren’t concerned with the law.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to not expect anything for free on social media. Never click the links that these scam Instagram accounts provide. Furthermore, never give your personal information to random Instagram accounts, no matter how good the prize their offering is. Lastly, you can set your Instagram account to only be tagged by people you know or people you follow. You can also set it to where users can manually approve each tag they receive. The CNET article has the instructions for that.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sweepstakes   

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again 

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again

    By Greg Collier

    It appears that the scammers who pose as Publishers Clearing House are wreaking havoc again, And, as always, they’re targeting the elderly in their scams. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the magazine marketing company that runs the country’s most well-known sweepstakes. We’ve all seen their commercials where their Prize Patrol van pulls up to a lucky winner’s home and presents them with a novelty-sized check for a substantial amount of money.

    Instead of pulling up in a van, scammers will call their victims while posing as PCH. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve won one of the cash prizes. Then, the scammers will inform the victim that the victim needs to pay either a tax on their supposed winnings or some kind of processing fee. These scams tend to target the elderly, since they’re one of the larger demographics who participate in the sweepstakes.

    Recently, several elderly victims have fallen for this scam. In Maryland, a man was scammed out of $1500 when a phony PCH representative told the man he needed to pay $1500 in eBay gift cards to claim his prize. A 93-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was scammed out of $3000 after she gave the scammers access to her bank account. And an 81-year-old woman, also from Pennsylvania, was scammed out of $15,000 after she was promised a prize.

    This is known as the advance fee scam. It’s called that, since victims are paying a fee in hopes of getting a bigger payout. In some instances, once scammers will receive the first payment, they’ll come up with more fraudulent scenarios where they’ll ask the victims to pay even more money while still dangling the promise of a huge cash prize in front of them.

    The best way to prevent someone from falling for this scam is to keep the one phrase in mind that’s included in every sweepstakes in the US, no purchase necessary. It’s illegal for anyone who runs a sweepstakes to collect money before a prize is awarded. Even on PCH’s own website, they go into extensive detail how to recognize a scammer from the real thing.

    So please keep in mind, if someone asks you for money to claim a prize, you haven’t won. Paying for a prize is only a losing proposition.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DVD in the mail, , , , sweepstakes,   

    Scam Round Up: Don’t put that disc in your computer 

    Scam Round Up: Don't put that disc in your computer

    By Greg Collier

    Once again, it’s time top bring our readers another trio of scams that deserve their attention.

    ***

    Our first scam is kind of a bizarre one. Residents of a town in Maine have reported receiving something strange in the mail. They’ve been receiving handwritten envelopes, addressed only to ‘A friend’. The envelope contains a DVD that has “Please watch, copy, and share with friends” written on it, with no indication of what may actually be on the DVD. More than likely, the DVD contains malware or ransomware. What’s strange about this story is most modern computers don’t even have optical drives installed in them anymore. This scam may have been targeting elderly residents who may have older computers that still have their optical drives. A more modern take on this scam is when scammers will leave USB drives lying around out in public, just hoping that someone will actually plug the drive into their computer.

    ***

    Our next scam is one that you’re probably more familiar with. Residents of New York have reported that they’ve received letters in the mail telling them that they’ve won an $880,000 sweepstakes. The letter even includes a check for $8000. However, you have to pay a $7000 fee to ‘release’ your winnings. This is illegal and known as the advance fee scam. Some victims may think they’ll just deposit the check and use the money to claim their supposed winnings. As you’ve probably surmised, the checks are fake, which would leave the victim paying back the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers make off with $7000. Not that we like to compliment scammers, but this is a pretty clever way of combining two known scams into one to further lure their victims into their trap.

    ***

    Lastly, this is just a warning to people who use mobile banking apps that Zelle scams are still finding victims and draining their bank accounts of thousands of dollars. A woman in Portland recently fell for the scam and lost $23,000. If you receive a text message that is supposedly from your bank asking if you’ve made a large purchase or transaction, do not reply. If you do, you’ll get a call from a scammer posing as your bank and will use the Zelle app to drain your account under the guise of protecting your money. Zelle should only be used when giving or paying money to someone you know personally. If you get a text like the one mentioned, call your bank directly instead, or stop by your local branch.

    ***

    Again, these scams may not be in your area right now, but they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to combat them.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pinhole camera, , , sweepstakes, ,   

    Scam Round Up: New sweepstakes scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    Today we’re our readers three more scams that are happening around the country that could be coming to your area.

    ***

    In Raleigh, North Carolina, people are reporting being called by scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House telling them that they’re winners in the famous sweepstakes. PCH’s name has been used in scams for a number of years. What’s different this time is the scammers are leaving voicemail messages that say, “This is a legitimate call notifying you that you have won.” That’s the equivalent of leaving a message that says, “We’re totally not scammers, we promise.” If you were to call the number provided, you would more than likely be lured into an advance fee scam, where the scammers would get you to pay a phony tax or processing fee on your winnings. That’s illegal in the US, and why all legitimate sweepstakes say that no purchase is necessary.

    ***

    It was brought to the attention of police in Fairfield, California, that an ATM had a small camera known as a pinhole camera attached to it. The camera was attached to what was supposed to be a rearview security mirror. The camera is used in an operation known as skimming. Skimmers are usually attached to the card reader to get the information from your debit card’s magnetic strip. However, the camera helps the scammers get your card number and PIN. Devices like this are normally attached to freestanding ATMs like the ones in convenience stores and gas stations. However, bank ATMs are not immune to these devices.

    ***

    Recently, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a warning to its residents about text messages related to unemployment benefits. Some residents of the Keystone State have received text messages saying that their unemployment benefit debit card has been frozen. The text contains a link to supposedly verify the recipient’s identity and card status. Clicking such a link could lead to identity theft or having malware infect your device. The state has said that they never send out text messages with embedded links.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area right now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t. But now you have the knowledge to protect you if they do.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , sweepstakes   

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam 

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam

    By Greg Collier

    Police in Oregon are warning about a new rash of sweepstakes scams or advance fee scams, as they’re sometimes known. In this scam, the scammers pose as a sweepstakes company, usually Publishers Clearing House since they’re the most well-known. The victim will receive a call, text or email telling them that they’ve won a big jackpot, except they need the victim to pay them taxes or a processing fee. Also, the victim needs to keep this matter private, so the local media supposedly doesn’t find out. These scams often target the elderly and when a victim pays once, the scammers will keep coming back for more. Now, scammers are using a new tactic to make sure the victim keeps paying.

    According to a report out of Oregon, the sweepstakes scammers make the victims pay by check. Once the scammers receive that check, they’re calling the victim back, posing as the FBI. The phony investigators tell the victim that the check they wrote was fraudulent. The scammer then threatens the victim with arrest if they don’t make another payment. Essentially, the scammers are combining two scams into on, the advance fee scam and the police impersonation scam. As you probably surmised, the police impersonation scam involves scammers posing as police, usually telling the victim they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that the victim needs to pay over the phone to make the warrant go away.

    Please keep in mind that you can’t win prizes from a sweepstakes you never entered. Plus, it’s also illegal for any sweepstakes to make you pay for any prize. As far as the FBI goes, no law enforcement agency will call you on the phone asking for money and threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay. The report from Oregon gives a great tip when it comes to police impersonation phone calls. Ask the caller for their phone number and tell them that you’ll call them back after speaking with your attorney. If they try to pressure you into staying on the phone, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , pet sitting, , , sweepstakes   

    Scam Round Up: Pet sitting, Bitcoin, and Magazines 

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re bringing you another trio of scams that warrant your attention. This week, we have three scams that variants of other scams we’ve discussed.

    If you’re in college, or have a child in college, the Better Business Bureau is warning about a particular job scam. It appears that in both Florida and New York, college students are being offered part -time pet-sitting jobs for a pretty good wage. However, this is just a ruse to send the college student a fake check as payment. The students will be told to deposit the check, purchase some supplies, and return a portion of the check. While the bank will honor the deposit at first, they will eventually determine it’s fake and put the financial burden on the student since they were the one that deposited the check.

    ***

    In Northern Ohio, authorities there are reporting victims there are falling for a Bitcoin scam, but it’s more like the police impersonation scam. The scammers are posing as federal investigators who tell the victims that someone in Texas near the Mexican border has rented a car in the victim’s name and a large cache of illegal drugs were found in the car. In order to avoid arrest, the victim is told to pay a substantial amount of money. Previously, the scammers would have victims mail cash or buy gift cards. In this case, the scammers are instructing victims to make payments through Bitcoin ATMs, which we’ve previously discussed here. No law enforcement agency is ever going to threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment in cryptocurrency or other untraceable means of payment like gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, in Rhode Island, an alert FedEx clerk saved a man from falling for a scam that could have cost the victim thousands of dollars. When the clerk asked about the man’s shipment, the man claimed it had $500 worth of old magazines in it. The clerk was suspicious and was worried that the man was being scammed. With a manager’s approval, the clerk opened the package and there was $15,000 worth of cash inside. While the news report doesn’t say what kind of scam the man had almost fallen for, the man said that he was promised a bigger payout if he mailed the cash. This sounds an awful lot like an advanced fee scam or sweepstakes scam where that victim was told to send cash intertwined in the pages of magazines. Remember, that you don’t have to pay any fees for a prize like that. Taxes for such prizes are usually figured out later.

    ***

    Hopefully, these scams don’t come to your area, but now you’ll be prepared if they do.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , California Gaming Commission, , , sweepstakes   

    Never send money in magazines 

    Never send money in magazines

    By Greg Collier

    If you discuss scams on a regular basis like we do, you’re occasionally going to get a comment that says something along the lines of, “I would never be scammed.” or the more callous, “They get what they deserve.” That’s a dangerous way of thinking because, as we like to think we’ve shown, anybody can get scammed. If you dangle a big enough carrot in front of someone, so to speak, it’s not difficult to convince your target to dismiss any and all red flags. That’s exactly what happened to a retired couple in North Dakota when they were promised a $1.7 million cash prize.

    They received a call from a scammer claiming to be from the California Gaming Commission, which isn’t a real thing. In California, it’s called the California Gambling Control Commission. One of the first things the scammers told the couple was to not tell anyone about the prize. Of course, the prize came with a string attached. They couldn’t get the prize until they paid fees and taxes on it. Initially, the couple was sending payments through money orders before they were told to send cash through UPS by placing the bills in between the pages of magazines and labeling the package ‘legal documents’. Before it was all over, the couple had paid $89,000 to the scammers and had even taken out a loan on their house to pay the phony fees.

    This is what’s known as the sweepstakes scam or the advance fee scam. There is no such thing as a prize for a contest you did not enter. Even if you did enter a cash prize contest, it’s illegal in the United States to charge money for a contest like that. That’s why most sweepstakes contests tell you in the disclaimer that there is no purchase necessary.

    But getting back to the victims of this scam, no one deserves to have this happen to them. Any one of us could potentially fall victim to a scam that could cost us a lot of money. Maybe not this one, but it’s almost a guarantee that there’s a scam out there that could have your name on it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AirPods, , , , , sweepstakes,   

    Amazon raffle text is a scam 

    By Greg Collier

    The Better Business Bureau is reporting that they’ve received complaints in the hundreds about a new texting scam. Considering the number of people who report things to the BBB, there are probably thousands more who are receiving this scam text message. And once again, due to their popularity and ubiquity, online retailer Amazon is having their name used in this new scam. The same could be said for Apple, as one of their more popular products is being used in the scam.

    As you can see above, the text message gives off the impression that you’ve won a pair or Apple AirPods from Amazon. All you have to do is click the link in the text message. The link takes you to a fraudulent website that looks like Amazon but isn’t. You’re then asked to enter your financial information to pay for a $6 shipping charge. Except, your card isn’t charged for $6 and instead is charged for close to $100. For your trouble, you still get a pair of earbud style headphones in the mail, but they’re a cheap knockoff that are probably worth less than the supposed shipping charge.

    When it comes to things like online raffles and sweepstakes, you need to keep one rule in mind. You can’t win a contest that you didn’t enter. Corporations like Amazon don’t do random surprise drawings to give away prizes. It’s also illegal for any contest or sweepstakes to make you pay for your prize, this includes shipping. It’s also recommended that you don’t click on random links in text messages and emails. These links could lead you to scam websites such as this or inject malware into your device.

    It might be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. If sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sweepstakes   

    Victim refuses to believe they’re being scammed 

    Victim refuses to believe they're being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    What can you do when someone you know is caught up in the middle of a scam, and they refuse to believe they’re being scammed. That’s the question that a community in Central Florida is currently struggling with. One of their neighbors is a 91-year-old woman who believes she won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. She received a phone call last year telling her that she had won $10 million. Since then, the scammers have continuously strung this woman along into making payments under the guise of taxes she needs to pay on her prize.

    Neighbors estimate that she’s paid at least $150,000 to these scammers. The woman is also said to have no cognitive disabilities, but just refuses to believe any evidence that she’s being scammed. It got to the point where she not only sold her car, but also placed her home on the market to try to pay these fictitious taxes for her non-existent prize. Her neighbors have reached out to police and the state Attorney General’s office, who both say they’re investigating the matter. One neighbor even contacted the woman’s bank to make them aware of possible fraud from the scammers.

    Some retirees love to play the lottery and enter sweepstakes as a form of entertainment. So, it’s very likely that the woman did enter the sweepstakes she believes she won. However., it’s illegal in the US for any sweepstakes to ask for money in exchange for prizes. Any legitimate sweepstakes will tell you that no purchase is necessary. The Better Business Bureau has said that sweepstakes scams claimed more money from victims than any other scam in 2020 according to the complaints they’ve received.

    If you know someone who you think might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know that it’s illegal to make someone pay for a sweepstakes prize.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sweepstakes, vaccine lottery, vax for the win   

    Scammers pose as state vaccine lotteries 

    By Greg Collier

    Several states have implemented what are being referred to as vaccine lotteries. Cash prizes are being given out to encourage more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some states have even begun to issue payments to winners. However, with any act that’s designed to help the public there are inevitably those who try to use the system to their own advantage and the vaccine lotteries are no different.

    For example, California has just paid out prize to winners in their ‘Vax for the Win’ lottery. They’re expected to make another drawing this week. The Department of Health has recently said they’ve received dozens of calls about residents being told they’ve won the lottery by scammers. At least one resident received a message through social media. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since sweepstakes and lottery scams have been taking money from victims for decades.

    As with most modern scams, the goals in this scam are after one of two things. Either the scammers want your personal information, or they want you to pay them. In many lottery scams, the scammers will tell the victim they need to pay taxes or a processing fee before they can receive their winnings. Making lottery or sweepstakes winners pay for their prize is illegal in every state, so if someone asks for a payment, they’re a scammer.

    California says that their winners will receive a phone call with an official state caller and text ID, and they’ll also receive an email from the state with a form to fill out for their winnings. Residents are told to make sure the emails come from official state email addresses, in this case CA.gov.

    If your state is holding a vaccine lottery, it’s a good idea to check with your state to know how legitimate winners are being rewarded.

     
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