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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gold bars, , , , tech support scam   

    Gold bar scammers scammed by police 

    Gold bar scammers scammed by police

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to collecting money from their victims, scammers prefer instant and untraceable forms of payment. In that vein, scammers frequently ask for payment in gift cards, cryptocurrency, money transfers, or through payment apps like Zelle and Venmo. Some scammers even try to coax cold hard cash out of their victims. While cash is largely untraceable, it presents problems when trying to collect it. When a scammer asks for cash, they usually ask for it to be sent through courier services like UPS.

    Then, every once in a while, there are scammers who demand payment in one of the most conspicuous ways possible, gold bars. While technically untraceable, not only does the movement of gold attract a lot of attention, most people wouldn’t know how to convert their cash into gold in a short amount of time.

    That didn’t stop some scammers from trying their hands at getting some gold out of an elderly couple from Georgia. The couple received one of those infamous pop-ups on their computer that said their computer had been hacked. They called the number included in the message, and talked to a phony tech support call center.

    The fake support representative told the couple they definitely had a virus, then asked if they ever used their computer for online banking. They said they did, and the scammer asked which bank they used. After telling the scammer, the couple was told they were being transferred to their bank’s fraud department, which was just another member of the scam ring.

    The scammer posing as the fraud department told the couple their accounts had been compromised, and close to $200,000 in fraudulent transactions could leave them penniless. Then they were transferred to someone claiming to be an agent of the Federal Trade Commission. Again, this was just another scammer. However, the phony federal agent told the couple that in order to protect their money, they would need to withdraw their savings and convert into gold bars. The gold bars would need to be sent to Washington, D.C., where the FTC would issue a check to the couple. A courier would have to come to the couple’s home to pick up the gold.

    Currently, gold is around $2000 per ounce. For $200,000 that would be 100 ounces, which is 6.25 lbs of gold, or roughly 3 kilograms. The couple purchased the gold from a legitimate gold seller in Texas, but before they gave the gold to the scammers, they went to their local police.

    Knowing this was a scam, police set up a sting operation and waited for the courier to show up. Once he did, police were quick to apprehend him. It’s believed the scammer flew from Southern California to Georgia just to steal from the couple.

    This couple should be commended for following their gut when they did. Too often, we’ve seen elderly victims lose their life savings to less convoluted scams.

    Anytime someone you don’t know is telling you that you need to move your money to protect it, or pay yourself, they are trying to scam you. Moving your money is not a thing, and it doesn’t matter if you’re being told this by someone claiming to be from your bank, law enforcement, or any other position of authority, the person telling you this is an impostor.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , tech support scam   

    Fake federal agents go to victim’s house to clean money 

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to today’s scams, most scammers will try to take your funds electronically. Then there are those who want your cash and want it immediately. This has led some scammers to employ ‘couriers’ who will go to a victim’s home to pick up the cash. Sometimes the couriers are unwitting participants, such as rideshare drivers. Other times, they’re either working for the scammer or they’re the scammer themselves. Since scammers tend to target the elderly, it’s disturbing to think of scammers going to the home of an elderly loved one.

    In Western Pennsylvania, an elderly couple were in the process of falling victim to the pop-up scam. They received a message on their computer it had been hacked, and they called the number from the message. The couple was told their bank accounts were compromised, and they needed to withdraw their money from the bank. A federal agent would come by to pick up the money to have it ‘cleaned’, before they would get their money back.

    The federal agent was actually a 22-year-old student from Penn State. When he showed up at the couple’s home, they did not believe he was a federal agent and asked to see some ID. The student was unable to produce any identification, so the couple did not give him any of their money and called police. The student was arrested shortly after the encounter.

    While most victims of these scams are physically unharmed, there is a possibility of danger. Not every scammer or ‘courier’ is going to accept walking away empty-handed.

    For whatever reason scammers may claim, no legitimate law enforcement officer or agent will come to your home to protect your money. If that’s what they’re telling you, they are trying to scam you.

    If you receive a message on your computer telling you it’s been hacked, the odds are it hasn’t been hacked at all. If you can’t close out the message, try doing a hard rest on your device by holding down the power button until it shuts off. If the message continues to appear, run a malware scan on your device.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 5, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phantom hacker scam, , , tech support scam   

    What is the phantom hacker scam? 

    What is the phantom hacker scam?

    By Greg Collier

    FBI offices across the country are warning citizens about a new scam that’s said to be plaguing Americans. The scam is called the ‘phantom hacker’ scam and is bears a striking similarity to the pop-up tech support scam.

    If you’ll recall, in the pop-up scam, internet users can receive a pop-up on their device that claims the device has been hacked, This pop-up will also claim to be from a big tech company like Microsoft or Apple, and will include a phone number for the device’s owner to call for tech support. The phone number actually goes to a call center that’s part of a larger scam ring.

    The user will be asked to give remote access to the supposed tech support person. After a scan, the scammers will tell the user, the user’s bank account has been hacked. The tech support scammer then tells the user, they’ll be receiving a call from their bank’s fraud department. The victim will then be directed to mover their money to a ‘safe’ account for protection. That safe account is actually a bank account that belongs to the scammers.

    Now, the scam has been modified. After receiving a call from the scammers posing as the bank, victims are instructed to move their money to a government protected bank account. To make the scam appear more legitimate, victims have been receiving correspondence that appears to come from the Federal Government. The correspondence provides instructions to the victim on how to move their money to the government protected account by wire transfer.

    The reason it’s called the phantom hacker scam is because there is no actual hacker involved. If someone were to hack into someone’s bank account, the account would be drained instantly. There is no time-limit that hackers have to wait for before stealing someone’s money or data.

    To better protect yourself from this kind of scam, educate yourself and others about the common signs of pop-up scams, such as unsolicited pop-ups or alarming messages, and never share personal or financial information with unknown sources. By following these precautions and maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism online, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to pop-up scams and protect your digital security.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: moving money, pay yourself, , , tech support scam   

    Victim loses $600K to tech support scam 

    Victim loses $600K to tech support scam

    By Greg Collier

    If the jury duty scam is the most common scam we see, the tech support scam has to be a very close second. This is another scam where hardly a day goes by where we don’t see a news story where someone fell victim to the scam.

    Typically, the tech support scam occurs when someone is surfing the internet on their device when all of a sudden they receive a pop-up message telling them either their device or their bank account has been hacked. These messages also contain a phone number for the device owner to call for further assistance. If someone were to call the number, they’d be connected to scammers posing as any number of positions such as tech support or their bank’s fraud department, just to name a few.

    In numerous tech support scams, the scammers will convince their victims to download software that allows the scammers to have remote access to the victim’s device. This is done under the guise of wanting to help protect the victim, or make things easier for the victim. In reality, the scammers are now watching your every move on the device where the software was installed. From there, the scammers can either access your bank account themselves from the victim’s device, or they direct the victim to move their money in order to protect it. It’s not unheard of for victims to lose thousands of dollars in this scam.

    In that vein, a Pennsylvania man came forward to let the public know that he was taken for a staggering $600,000 in a tech support scam. In his case, the scammers convinced him to download remote access software. The scam went on for a while, with the scammers throwing a bunch of tech mumbo jumbo at the man to make it seem like the scammers were catching hackers. Instead, they were actually draining the man’s bank account until it was empty.

    If you receive any kind of message that claims your bank account has been compromised, do not call the phone number in the message. Instead, call your financial institution at the customer service number that’s on the back of your debit card, or the bank’s website. Also, please keep in mind, no one claiming to be from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, or any other tech giant has any idea what’s going on with your bank account. The only company that has access to your bank account is your bank. Even then, if someone contacts you claiming to be from your bank telling you that you need to move your money in order to protect it is lying. Never move your money or send it to yourself when a stranger tells you to. Neither of those transactions or something a real bank does.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , tech support scam   

    Pop-up scammers are showing up at elderly victims’ doors 

    By Greg Collier

    The pop-up scam is one of the more prolific online scams out there. It tends to target elderly victims, who may not be tech-savvy enough to recognize the scam. The scam starts out while the victim is online, and they receive a pop-up message on their device. It doesn’t matter what kind of device it is. They can be using a phone, tablet, or computer and the scam works the same.

    The pop-up message typically says there is something wrong with the victim’s device. The message can even end up locking or freezing the device. There is almost always a phone number included in the message that claims to offer the solution to the victim’s tech problem. These phone numbers often claim to be from Microsoft, Apple, or some other tech giant, so they can appear more legitimate.

    As we’re sure you’ve surmised, the phone number actually goes to a call center full of scammers. The scammers will usually tell their victims that their computer or bank account is being hacked. In either instance, the scammer will have the victim download an application that allows the scammer to have remote access to the victim’s device.

    From there, the scam can go in any number of directions. Personal information could be stolen from the victim’s device, the scammers can access the victim’s financial accounts, or the scammers will ask for a substantial payment to ‘fix’ the device. This can be in the thousands of dollars in some cases. However, all of this is typically done remotely. Now, there is a group of scammers who are going to the victims’ houses to collect the victim’s money.

    In Colorado, a number of elderly victims have reported falling victim to this new scam. It starts out the same with the victim getting the pop-up message, but from there it takes a wildly different turn.

    In one instance, an 83-year-old woman was told the reason she got the message was because her bank was failing. She was also told not to tell anyone in her family or the police. They directed the woman to buy another cell phone they would use to communicate with her. She was then instructed to empty her bank account because the bank couldn’t be trusted, but someone from the ‘new bank’ would come by to pick up her money, so they could ‘protect’ it. A man showed up at her door to collect the money and the cell phone she was using to communicate with the scammers.

    Similar scams happened to at least two other victims in the scam county. One victim was told to buy gold, which they gave $125,000 worth to the scammers. Another victim lost $36,000 in cash. Police were given different descriptions of the people who came to pick up the money, leading them to believe the collectors may not even be part of the same scam ring.

    Anytime someone you don’t know tells you not to talk to your family or police, they’re trying to isolate you, so they can take advantage of you. If you receive one of these pop-up messages, try turning the device off and back on again to see if that resolves the issue. You should never call the phone number in the pop-up because it only goes to scammers, even if they claim to be from a large company.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fear, , , , tech support scam   

    The Psychology of Scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Fear can be a great motivator. Fear triggers are fight or flight responses and often force us to make a split-second decision. Even though we’re making a decision in that short amount of time, that decision isn’t always the right one, and in many cases, that decision may not even make sense. That’s why fear is the greatest tool in the scammer’s arsenal.

    Let’s take a look at a scam that happened recently in Minnesota. A 65-year-old woman lost $20,000 to the Microsoft pop-up scam. She received a pop-up on her computer that said she needed to call Microsoft. That’s where the fear starts. For people not super-familiar with how computers work may think the worst when getting a message like that. Have I been hacked? Is my identity being stolen? Will I lose all my pictures and personal files? Has my entire digital life been compromised?

    The answer the woman got after calling the supposed phone number to Microsoft was probably worse than she could have imagined. The person she spoke with told her that there had been suspicious activity on her computer, and she needed to call the Federal Trade Commission and was given another number to call.

    When she called who she thought was the FTC, she was told her IP address was being cloned and used by someone in Texas for illegal activity.

    An IP address is like a phone number for your computer. Just as you need a phone number to make a call, your computer needs an IP address to connect to the internet and communicate with other devices. The IP address is a unique set of numbers assigned to your device by your internet service provider (ISP) that identifies it on the internet.

    The person who was supposedly from the FTC told the woman that her IP address was being used to view explicit illegal images and illegal gambling. At this point, the scammers have elevated their fear tactics. Illegal gambling may not seem so bad, but when you add it to one of the worst online crimes a person could commit, and that you could be blamed for it, would send anyone into a deep state of fear.

    The woman was then told that this was all part of an international money laundering scheme, and she needed to protect her money. The scammer told her she needed to take $20,000 out of her bank and UPS it to an address in Florida. She suggested she would withdraw the money and keep it in her home. The scammer told her if she did that, the local police would arrest her for money laundering. That probably pushed the woman into an even bigger panic, which is precisely what the scammers want.

    We have the benefit of hindsight to be able to look at this scam and can see how convoluted it is. Microsoft doesn’t know what’s going on your computer. They’re also infamously known for being difficult to get a hold of. Even if they did know your device was compromised, they would tell you to call the FTC, who is also known for being difficult to contact, as most government agencies are. And no government agency would ever threaten a citizen with arrest over the phone.

    So, we may look at this and wonder how anyone could fall for this scam, but when fear kicks in like this and someone is dealing with the pressure of the moment, anyone could be vulnerable to a scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , tech support scam   

    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more 

    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the round up, we’re bringing you three scams that may not be new, but have a new aspect to them.


    For our first scam, we have a Nebraska woman who lost $53,000 to a pop-up scam. She got a pop-up on her computer that said someone had used her personal information for online gambling. The pop-up also had a number to call. The woman called the number, and the person she spoke with claimed to be from her bank. She was told she needed to transfer her money to a separate bank account to protect her money. The new aspect of this scam is that she was told when the person who supposedly stole her information tried to take money from her account, they would be arrested. Instead, she transferred her money to scammers.

    Never call any phone number that appears on a computer pop-up. Those numbers only go to scammers, no matter what the pop-up might say.


    Our next scam shows how well-informed scammers can be. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, retirees of the historic Los Alamos National Lab, were recently told their prescription insurance would no longer be taken at Kroger pharmacies. This story doesn’t get any more local. However, it hasn’t escaped the purview of scammers. Residents have reported that they’ve received phone calls from people impersonating the prescription insurance company. These callers have been asking for personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

    Health insurance companies typically only call customers when the customer has called them first. Also, the health insurance companies typically don’t ask a customer for their Social Security number, as most insurance companies use their own internal ID numbers for their customers.

    If you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from your insurance company, hang up and call them directly at the customer service number on your health insurance card.


    Lastly, we have a disturbing version of the arrest warrant scam, as if that weren’t disturbing enough. In the arrest warrant scam, scammers will pose as local police and call their victims. The scammers will tell their victims they’ve missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for the victim’s arrest. The victim will then be instructed to make payment through gift cards or pre-paid debit cards. But this scam usually only takes place over the phone.

    In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this scam is said to have stepped into the real world. A man dressed as an officer from the local County Sheriff’s office approached a woman and told her she would need to buy $8,000 in gift cards to avoid arrest for missing jury duty.

    It’s unclear how the victim in this news story was approached, however, if you’re approached by someone you think may be impersonating an officer, there are steps you can take. If you’re approached at your vehicle or home, call 911 and ask them if you’re being contacted by an actual officer. Police dispatch will have a record of it if they are an actual officer.

    No police officer would ever stop someone and threaten them with arrest if they didn’t pay a fine then and there. Police would also never ask for payment in gift cards.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , tech support scam   

    Scam victims sue bank for failing to protect accounts 

    By Greg Collier

    In the past year or so, some of the nation’s largest banks have been notoriously ambivalent when it comes to helping their customers who have been scammed. For example, many of the victims who were scammed through Zelle have been told their money can’t be recovered since the customer authorized the transfer. Although, some of the victims have gotten reimbursed after going to their local media.

    One bank that seems particularly obstinate in helping their customers is Chase bank. A number of incidents have been reported in the media lately where Chase customers have been scammed in a similar way to the Zelle scam. Chase customers have reported receiving phone calls that appear to come from Chase, but are spoofed calls from scammers. The scammers tell the customer there’s been some kind of fraudulent activity on their account before getting the customer to transfer the money in their account to the scammer. This is typically done through the guise of ‘protecting’ the customer’s account. Not only has Chase refused to assist some customers, but in at least one instance have accused the customer of being the scammer themselves.

    Now, two customers from the Dallas area have decided to take Chase to court. One of the customers lost $51,000 in a tech support scam. She went to her local Chase branch for assistance, and they allegedly told her that the transfer was caught in time, and she won’t lose the money. A few weeks later, the money was gone from her account.

    The other victim lost $3500 to a fake Chase representative who also claimed they were trying to protect the account. This caller was said to have the customer’s account information already. Like the first customer, she went to her local Chase branch and closed her account and opened a new one. She was told the bank would launch a fraud investigation. A week later, she was told the claim was denied since she authorized the transfer.

    So, even after notifying the bank of the scams and being told the transfers have been caught, Chase allegedly failed to protect their customers. Instead, they’re unintentionally, at least, supporting the scammers.

    While you may have been a loyal customer to your bank for decades, these days, most of us are just numbers to them. They’re not in the business of trying to protect you. If you receive a call from your bank asking about fraudulent charges, hang up, and call them back at their customer service number from the back of your debit card. If you receive a text message, don’t respond. Instead, call your bank or go to your local branch.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Express, , , Macy's, , , , , , tech support scam   

    Scammers try to scam victim again 

    Scammers try to scam victim again

    By Greg Collier

    In the 1984 sci-fi classic ‘The Terminator’, one of the protagonists describes the Terminator by saying, “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever.” That’s an apt description of scammers as well. They will use any opportunity to scam someone, no matter what the cost may be to the victim. And if that victim has been scammed before, then that just means they can be scammed again, according to scammers. Even if the intended victim didn’t fall for the scam, that doesn’t mean scammers won’t try to scam them again.

    A Rhode Island widow says she was scrolling Facebook on her computer when she started receiving a number of pop-ups that said her computer was infected and to call Microsoft at the number listed. Avid readers of this blog will recognize this as the pop-up scam. The phone number doesn’t actually go to Microsoft and instead goes to a scammer’s call center.

    After calling the number, the widow was told that her American Express card had been compromised, and she was about to be charged $16,000 for a fraudulent purchase. She was then connected to another scammer posing as an American Express agent. That scammer told her she would need to buy $8000 in Macy’s gift cards to override the fraudulent charge. The victim went and bought the gift cards while the scammer stayed on the line with her.

    The scammer told her to scratch the backs of the cards and give him the code numbers. The victim gave him one before realizing this may be a scam. Instead of giving the remaining numbers to the scammer, she went to the police. But the story doesn’t end there.

    The victim didn’t want anyone else to fall victim to the same scam she did. She posted a warning about it on Facebook. It didn’t take long for her to receive a comment from another scammer. This scammer said that the FBI helped them get their money back and the victim would need to text a phone number left by the scammer. The supposed FBI agent kept asking the victim for personal information in exchange for assistance. Thankfully, the victim realized this was a scam and ceased all communications with the scammer. Scammers never stop scamming.

    While the first scam is one that we’ve gone into detail before, the second scam is not so well known. That scam looks for scam victims on social media, and will try to send victims to a phone number or social media account that can supposedly help a victim get their money back. This is just another scam. Once money is lost to a scam, no recovery service can get it back, no matter how much someone promises you they can.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Best Buy, , , , , tech support scam   

    You probably don’t have a Geek Squad subscription 

    By Greg Collier

    Tech support scams have been a blight on both smartphone and computer users for years. As much as we hate to say it, this goes doubly so for elderly users of these devices. Currently, the most common tech support scam is the pop-up scam. This is when a computer user gets a pop-up on their display that tells them their computer has been infected with a virus, and they need to call the phone number on the pop-up to have it resolved. Typically, the phone number claims to go to Microsoft, but they can also claim to be from any large tech company. If someone were to call the number from the pop-up, they’d be talking to scammers who would swindle their victims of their savings.

    However, there is a tech support scam that is a close second to the pop-up scam in the frequency with which it occurs. The difference with this scam is that it’s a phishing scam. Phishing scams are where scammers send out emails or other messages hoping to catch a victim on their proverbial hooks. This specific phishing attack uses the name of Geek Squad, which is the computer repair service arm of Best Buy.

    Scammers have been sending out emails that say your Geek Squad subscription is about to run out. The email continues with the claim that you’ll be charged several hundred dollars if you don’t cancel your subscription. The email contains a phone number to call if you want to cancel your subscription or dispute the charge. Much like the pop-up scam, the phone number leads to scammers instead of Geek Squad or Best Buy. From there, the scammers can commit a number of frauds by either taking control of the computer, getting your financial information, or both.

    Before calling any number, think back. Have you taken any device to the Geek Squad for any kind of service? If not, the email is almost certainly part of a scam. If you’re unsure, go over your financial records to see if any payments have been made to Geek Squad in the past. If not, then this is probably a scam email.

    It’s good general advice to never call any number or click on any link in an email that’s asking you for money. These emails can look like they’ve been sent by any number of legitimate companies. Instead of using the information in the email, go to the company’s website and instead contact them through official means at their website.

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