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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fake clergy, , , scam reporting, , sweepstakes, , USA.gov   

    Scam Round Up: Where to report a scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Where to report a scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Scammers in Modesto, California, are preying upon Spanish-speaking residents by posing as clergy from the local Catholic diocese. These scammers are allegedly charging families up to $2000 for baptisms, confirmations, and first communions.

    Some scam victims may be afraid to come forward due to their immigration status. However, police have urged residents to come forward by reassuring them they won’t be asked their current status.


    Police in Evanston, Illinois are warning residents there about a police impersonation scam happening in their area. According to the Evanston PD, scammers are calling residents and telling them they owe money for traffic tickets.

    As with all police impersonation scams, real police will never call you and ask for money over the phone, nor will they threaten you with arrest for not paying.

    If you receive a call like this, hang up, and call your local police department at their non-emergency number.


    An elderly woman from Western New York received a letter that appeared to come from Publisher’s Clearing House, telling her she won $2.6 million. Thankfully, she caught on quickly that it was a scam. The letter asked her to pay $4000 in insurance to ensure she would receive the $2.6M check.

    This is known as the advance fee scam, and PCH has always been imitated in these scams. Keep in mind, it doesn’t cost anything to enter sweepstakes like this. That’s why they always say no purchase necessary.


    Lastly, the Federal Government has set up a new website that will help consumers report scams. Anyone can go to USA.gov and answer a quick series of questions. The tool will advise the user where to report a particular type of scam.

    For example, we answered that we were inquiring about identity theft regarding our tax return, and it directed us to the proper department of both the IRS and FBI to report the scam.

    Related Video: Kenmore woman doesn’t fall for $2.6 million scam prize letter posing as Publishers Clearing House

  • Geebo 8:01 am on June 26, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sweepstakes   

    Elderly man loses $800K to in a week to scammers 

    By Greg Collier

    This story is as heartbreaking as it is infuriating. An elderly man from Washington sold his home for $800,000 and planned to use the money for his retirement. Within a week, he was essentially homeless.

    When the movers showed up at his home, he couldn’t afford to pay them. He called his daughter, who lives in Minneapolis. The man kept telling his daughter everything will be fine soon, but wouldn’t elaborate. Eventually, she was able to coax out of her father he thought he had won a sweepstakes.

    The man had fallen victim to the advance fee scam. This is when scammers will tell the victim they’ve won something, but they need to make a payment in order to claim their prize. Typically, the scammers will say the money the victim is paying is for taxes or processing fees.

    In this man’s case, the scammers kept asking for cashier’s checks in the amount of $50,000 each before they took all of his savings. They called and texted him every day for a week before they completely drained him of all his money.

    Once again, the bank is being called into question for not allegedly seeing the red flags of a man who withdrew $200,000 in one day from two separate branches of the same bank. Scammers of all types will often instruct their victims to use separate bank branches to try to throw off suspicion from the banks.

    There could be a light at the end of the tunnel for the victim of this story. Both the media and the FBI are looking into the man’s case and seem to have some promising leads. However, in the majority of cases, victims never see their money again.

    For those of us with elderly relatives, we want to try to protect them from cruel scams like this, but we can’t be there 24-7 for them. The best way to help them is to remind them of scams like this. You can let them know it’s illegal for anyone to ask for money for a sweepstakes prize. You can also show them this blog post or any number of news articles that detail this scam.

    No one’s parents or grandparents should have to endure this kind of financial torment.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , look who died, , , , , sweepstakes   

    Scam Round Up: The classics make a return 

    By Greg Collier

    Even though there has been an uptick in technologically advanced scams, there are some classic scams that never went away. Here are three we think you should be reminded of.

    If you get a phone call or email that says there’s been a fraudulent charge on your Amazon account, the chances are it’s a scam.

    A woman from Lincoln, Nebraska, recently fell victim to this scam when she thought she was talking to the fraud department of her bank. The scammers convinced her she needed to make payments in Bitcoin to correct the error. She ended up sending the scammers $52,000 in Bitcoin after withdrawing it from her 401K.

    If you receive a call or message like this, go directly to your Amazon account and check for fraudulent charges. If there aren’t any, then whoever contacted you is trying to scam you. No matter how urgent they make it seem, slow down and verify their story before sending any money. And if Bitcoin is brought up in the conversation, then it’s definitely a scam.

    Scammers love to hijack Facebook accounts. When they do, not only do they get your personal information, but they can then use your account to try to scam everyone on your friends list.

    One of the ways they do this is by sending a Facebook message that says, “Look who died.” The message contains a link that appears like it will take you to a news article. Instead, it will inject malware onto your device that can hijack your Facebook account.

    Messenger is a pretty big breeding ground for scams. Outside of the ‘look who died’ message, you should also avoid messages about government grants, cryptocurrency, or just about any message that involves money.

    You may also want to let your Facebook friend know outside of Facebook that their account has been hacked.

    Last, but certainly not least, is the Publisher’s Clearinghouse scam. We’re all familiar with PCH. If you win a substantial prize from them, they surprise you at home in their Prize Van with a large novelty check. The thing with PCH is, you have to enter their sweepstakes first before you can win anything.

    Scammers will call victims at random while posing as PCH, telling their victims they’ve won millions of dollars. The scammers will then try to get their victims to make a payment to claim their prize. The payment will be disguised as something like taxes or processing fees. This is known as the advanced fee scam, which has cost victims thousands of dollars. Once a victim makes payment, the scammers will continue to string the victim along by asking for more money.

    Keep in mind, it’s illegal for sweepstakes like PCH to ask for money before issuing a prize. That’s why legitimate sweepstakes always have the tagline of ‘no purchase necessary’.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , sweepstakes   

    Sweepstakes scam has a new twist 

    By Greg Collier

    Outside of law enforcement, Publisher’s Clearing House has to be one of the most impersonated organizations. We’re certain that most of us are familiar with the actual PCH. Older generations might remember the TV commercials where Ed McMahon would show up to a winner’s house with a large novelty check. More modern commercials show PCH’s Prize Patrol van showing up to congratulate the winner.

    Scammers often imitate PCH while trying to dupe their victims. Typically, scammers will use the Publisher’s Clearing House name to commit an advance fee scam. This is when a victim is told they are a PCH winner, but they need to make a payment to cover things like taxes and processing fees. If a victim does make a payment, the scammers will string the victim along with excuses for why the victim hasn’t received their prize money yet. They’ll then tell the victim that more payments need to be made and will continue this grift until the victim finally catches on.

    More recently, scammers have tried a new tactic using the PCH name in an attempt to fleece their victims, and they’re using another scam to try and accomplish that. Residents of Kentucky have said they’ve received letters telling them that they’ve won second place in the PCH Sweepstakes. Instead of telling the residents they need to make a payment to claim their prize, these scammers are including a check that will cover the cost of insurance and attorney fees.

    Of course, the checks are fraudulent and while the news report doesn’t go into detail, we imagine the victims will be asked to deposit the check in their own bank account and then pay an attorney or insurance agent chosen by the scammers. And as always, once the bank determines the check is fake, the victim will be responsible for the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers get away with the money.

    It’s actually rather easy to protect yourself from this scam. Even if you did enter the sweepstakes, keep in mind the phrase ‘no purchase necessary’. This includes things like the phony fees that scammers keep trying to inflict on their victims. When it comes to sweepstakes like this, it’s actually illegal for the sweepstakes to charge the winner to get their prize.

  • 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.

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