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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , apartment fire, , Bronx, , , , , parking scam, , san antonio, , texas   

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More 

    Scam Round Up: QR Codes, Bitcoin, and More

    By Greg Collier

    It’s time once again to bring you three scams from around the country you should be aware of.

    ***

    Major cities in Texas like Houston, Austin, and San Antonio have reported a scam involving QR codes and parking. For those who may not know, QR codes are those square codes you sometimes see. If you point your phone’s camera at a QR code, it will take you to a website where you would normally be provided with additional information. In Texas’ case, scammers around these cities are placing QR codes around city-owned parking spaces. Once you scan the code, you’re asked to pay to use the parking spot. However, the money is going to scammers instead of the city. Along with your payment, the scammers now have your payment information as well. If you have fallen to this scam, you’re asked to file a police report and contact your payment issuer.

    ***

    Cryptocurrency scams continue to find victims across the country. Recently, a North Carolina man lost $15,000 to one of these scams. He was contacted through social media to invest in a cryptocurrency company who claimed that profits were 100% guaranteed. Supposedly, the man’s initial investment grew to $95,000; however, he would need to pay another $14,000 to get his windfall. This is a new crypto-flavored twist on the advance fee scam. For example, when a scammer tries to tell you that you’ve won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes, but you need to pay a fee to claim your winnings. Please keep in mind that the crypto market is filled with scammers, and no investment, not even cryptocurrency, can guarantee you a return on your investment.

    ***

    Lastly, we have to talk about charity scams again. We’re sure most of our readers have heard about the tragic apartment fire that took place in The Bronx recently. The fire has left several families displaced and many in the hospital fighting for their lives. You may feel the need to donate to a charity that would benefit these families. Be careful because scammers will use any tragedy to try to benefit themselves. The Mayor’s Office has set up a donation fund where all proceeds go to help the victims. There is also another city website where you can find additional information on how to help the victims. Don’t make a donation through a robocal. If you’re suspicious about a certain charity, you can always check with the BBB to see how legitimate they are.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area, they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to recognize these scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , texas   

    Adoption scams can break the hearts of potential parents 

    By Greg Collier

    Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent. It can also be one of the most challenging. The adoption process is not only costly, but there are also miles of red tape that perspective parents have to navigate. In the end, the experience is worth it, as you’re giving a home to a child who may not have had one otherwise. However, money and bureaucracy are not the only thing adoptive parents have to worry about. Even in adoption, there are scammers looking to take advantage of those with good intentions.

    An Ohio couple recently fell victim to one of these scams. They were looking for an expectant mother who was looking to have their child adopted. A woman from Houston, Texas replied, and an arrangement was made. The couple even hired a Texas adoption lawyer to make sure that the Texas woman was who she said she was. The couple paid $9,000 in medical expenses for the supposedly expectant mother. Eventually, the Texas woman messaged the couple saying that labor would be induced in the next few days. The Ohio couple traveled to Texas expecting to welcome a new member into their family. They received a call from the Texas woman, who said that she had to postpone being induced into labor because her mother was ill. Then more days passed, and the couple received no response from the Texas woman. It was at this point their lawyer advised them that they had been scammed.

    We can’t speak for the couple, but we imagine the lost money might have been secondary to the feeling of disappointment that they were leaving Texas without a son or daughter.

    If you’re a family looking to adopt, especially if it’s a private adoption, hire an attorney who specializes in adoption. While not a guarantee of avoiding a scam, they go a long way in helping avoid one. If you are engaging in a private adoption, don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you need to help you verify that the baby is on the way. Lastly, you may want to go through an adoption agency. Again, it’s not a guarantee of avoiding a scam, but the agencies do a great job of rejecting potential scammers.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , texas,   

    Victim loses $25K in Zelle scam 

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been a few weeks since we last talked about the Zelle scam. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the scam has stopped. For those who may need a reminder, scammers are posing as bank customer service departments. They’ll text you asking if you’ve made a large purchase or withdraw recently. If you text them back, you’ll receive a call from the scammers. They’ll then instruct you that you need to move your money through the payment app Zelle to protect your account. What you’re actually doing is taking money out of your own account and sending it straight to the scammers. This scam has been an ongoing problem since at least this past fall.

    Recently, in Texas, a victim is said to have lost $25,000 to scammers through the Zelle app. Her story is much like the others. Except, instead of a text, she had a voicemail that was claiming to be from Chase Bank asking her if she had recently made a $5000 payment. She called the number back and the scammer told her that there had been fraudulent activity on her account and that she needed to use Zelle to reverse the fraudulent payment. Usually, that’s when the scammers disappear, but in this victim’s case they kept the scam going. They called her back in successive days, telling her the fraudulent activity happened again and that she needed to reverse the payment though Zelle again. This happened a total of five times for a total of $25,000 before she realized she had been scammed.

    In many of these cases, the banks try to wash their hands of the matter by saying that they’re not responsible for money lost through the Zelle scam. Some victims have gotten their money back but only after getting their local news media involved.

    If you receive a text asking you about fraudulent activity on your bank account, do not respond to it. Instead, call the customer service number listed on your debit card or bank statement. You can also visit your bank’s local branch, and they should also be able to assist you.

    If you end up being a victim of this scam, do not hesitate to take action. Notify your local police and bank immediately. This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get your money back, but it goes a long way in helping. The longer you wait, the less of an opportunity there will be to reclaim your loss.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , photographers, , texas   

    How a Texas photography scam affects you 

    By Greg Collier

    It seems that scam artists are targeting wedding photographers in North Texas with a familiar ploy. The scammers are posing as wedding parties who are booking the photographer for a session. The scammers then send a check that’s more than the amount the photographer is asking. The scammers tell the photographer that the check was in the wrong amount and that the photographer should just deposit the check and send back the difference.

    Long-time readers may recognize this as the fake check or overpayment scam. If any photographers have deposited these checks, they may find their bank accounts a lot lighter. Banks usually don’t receive notice that the checks are fake for a couple of days. By that time the scammers have their money and the victim is stuck with paying off the phony check to their bank plus any fees incurred. At least one photographer asked her bank to research the check before she deposited it, and the check turned out to be fraudulent.

    You’re probably saying to yourself that you’re not a photographer from Texas, so why should you have to worry about this scam? The answer to that is this scam just doesn’t target one industry or one location. If you’re an employee, a business owner, or freelancer you could be targeted in this scam. If your position or business requires you to accept payments, you could be targeted in this scam. That’s not even considering that this scam has a long history of targeting individual consumers who sell items online.

    If you ever receive a check that’s over the amount you’re expecting, either destroy the check or send it back. If a business or business owner were to deposit one of these checks you could see your checks to vendors start bouncing. That could end with your business having a negative reputation with your vendors that could take a while to rebuild.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , texas,   

    The scams after the storm 

    The scams after the storm

    By Greg Collier

    Even though temperatures are returning to normal in Texas, there is still a lot of clean-up that needs to be done in the Lone Star State. Power lines still need to be restored and many Texas residents experienced substantial home damage after frozen pipes burst in their homes. After any disaster, scavengers will descend upon the area looking to take advantage of those in need. The Texas winter storm is no different, and it’s not just Texas residents that have to look out for scammers.

    If you live in the affected areas of Texas, you might want to keep an eye out for shady or phony contractors who appear out of the blue offering to repair your home. If you receive unsolicited calls offering repair service or someone just shows up to your home, there’s a very good chance that they are a scammer. We’re obviously not saying that all contractors are scammers, however, there are many scammers who pose as contractors.

    If you were to accept one of these offers, you could be looking at unfinished work at best and loss of potential federal assistance funds at worst. The Texas Department of insurance recommends getting multiple bids from contractors before settling on one to repair your home. You might be tempted to go with the first offer since you want your home operating properly as soon as possible, but that could possibly lead to even more problems. In turn, that could potentially further delay your home from returning to normal.

    You should also avoid anyone who says they’ll waive your insurance deductible or asks for a large down payment or full payment up front. In many cases, these actions are illegal in Texas.

    For people living outside of Texas, you have to be wary of charity scams. If you receive a phone call, text, email, or social media message soliciting for donations, ignore them and delete them. Most scammers will use vague names of charities like ‘Storm Relief’. They’ll also try to pressure you into making a donation at that very moment. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t donate to a legitimate charity to help those in need in Texas. CNN has a list of legitimate charities assisting in Texas disaster relief. You can also go to Charity Navigator to make sure the charity you’re donating to will actually get help to where it’s needed most.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , texas,   

    More cold weather scams to be aware of 

    By Greg Collier

    When we think of natural disasters, we normally think of things like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. However, the current brutal winter conditions that a large part of the country are currently enduring is also a natural disaster. As such, the current climate crisis is bringing scammers out of the woodwork. We’ve already touched upon how scammers are using the power outages to steal your information or gain access to your home, but other scams are starting to emerge as well.

    In Texas, where residents have been the hardest hit by the cold, FEMA is warning residents about a scam propagating on social media. In this scam, fake social media accounts are posing as FEMA and are listing a phone number for residents to call so they can be provided with a free hotel room. As of the time of this writing, FEMA is not providing any hotel room assistance, however, they are providing other emergency services to the Lone Star State. FEMA hasn’t stated what the purpose of this scam is, but one could assume it’s designed to steal your identity, money, or both.

    While Texas is feeling the brunt of the current weather situation, other states are dealing with the record-breaking weather as well. States in The Great Plains and Midwest are also dealing with rolling blackouts, just not on the level of Texas. Like any other natural disaster, this has the potential for some retailers and lodgings to start price gouging. Most states have laws preventing vendors from excessively raising their prices during a time of crisis. If you encounter price gouging, it’s recommended that you document the incident and report it to the state’s Attorney General office. Price gouging can also happen where an emergency has not been declared, so be on the lookout for that if you’re leaving your current state for a neighboring state that may not be going through the same crisis.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ERCOT, , texas, ,   

    Scammers take advantage of Texas power problem 

    Scammers take advantage of Texas power problem

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, most of the country is experiencing record-breaking cold weather. Probably the state that’s been the hardest hit by the below freezing temperatures is Texas. Millions of Texas residents have been without power for days now. The Texas power gird has been overworked since it’s easier to make a home 30 degrees cooler in the heat than it is to make a home 60 degrees warmer in the freezing cold. Many Texans are desperate to have their heat and power restored. Unfortunately, this leaves them vulnerable to scammers.

    The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is better know as ERCOT. ERCOT manages the power grid that supplies electricity to 90% of Texas. The Council has issued a warning about a scam that is currently preying on Texas residents.

    According to ERCOT, scammers have taken to social media posing as ERCOT telling residents that if they give their account numbers to the phony ERCOT social media accounts, residents will have their power restored. It’s unknown why scammers want the account numbers, however, with those account numbers, scammers can cause all sorts of havoc for the ERCOT customer.

    Meanwhile, reports from Houston are saying that scammers are impersonating utility employees to gain access to customer homes. Officials there say that no power utility employee will need to enter the home but may be by your outdoor power meter. They also suggest that real employees will drive a company marked vehicle and not an unmarked personal vehicle.

    With more winter storms supposedly headed to Texas, residents need to be on the lookout for these scams. Scammers love nothing more than a time of crisis and despair to try to take money, information of both from their victims.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , texas,   

    Used car scam plagues Texas county 

    Used car scam plagues Texas county

    Harris County in Texas is one of the largest county’s in the country. It doesn’t hurt that it contains Houston the 4th largest city in the country. Due to its large and culturally diverse population, Harris County has become susceptible to a scam where victims are losing thousands of dollars at a time.

    Scammers are listing stolen vehicles for sale on platforms like Craigslist, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. When the buyer goes to purchase the vehicle, all the paperwork looks legitimate including the car title. When the buyer goes to the DMV to put the car in their name, they find out that the vehicle has been reported stolen. Meanwhile, the scammers are long gone with the victim’s money. Harris County investigators say that they’ve investigated at least 125 of these fake title scams in the past year. There may even be more victims, but the scammers seem to be targeting members of the Latino community. Some of these victims may be undocumented and are fearful of going to the police. The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office has stated they will not ask for anyone’s immigration status if they’re reporting a crime.

    There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from this scam. The first is checking the vehicle’s VIN through one of the many services that will give you a car history. In some states, including Texas, you can check with the state’s DMV website to find this information. You can also ask to have the seller meet you at a local police department parking lot to make the exchange. If the seller does not want to meet you there it’s advisable not to make the transaction. Some police departments can even tell you if the VIN has been changed on the vehicle. Lastly, ask the seller to come with you to the DMV while you get the title changed. Again, if they refuse, the vehicle may be stolen.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , texas,   

    Man loses $28,000 in Craigslist truck scam 

    A man in Lubbock, Texas recently found himself out of close to $29,000 after he bought a truck he found on Craigslist. The transaction had every indication of being a scam, but that’s only if you know what to look for.

    First off, the vehicle was being listed at $6,000 below market value. Scammers often list vehicles at these prices to lure in potential victims. The seller claimed that she was getting rid of the truck because it was owned by her son who passed away. Scammers often use some tale of heartbreak to not only prey on a victim’s emotion, but to also explain why the vehicle is being sold at such a loss.

    The seller was said to have provided the man with legitimate looking documentation that matched up with information he was given. The seller provided a title and other paperwork that appeared to correspond with the vehicle’s VIN. The man was even provided with a CARFAX report that made the vehicle appear as if it was being sold by the legitimate owner. The seller insisted that the man pay in cash.

    When the man went to the DMV to transfer the title, he was told that the truck was stolen and belonged to a rental car company in Houston. The truck had been rented with a stolen credit card and never returned. All the documentation that the man had been provided with were all legitimate looking counterfeits.

    If you’re going to buy a vehicle from an online listing, don’t be taken in by a too good to be true price. Do your research and make sure the car isn’t stolen or being misrepresented in any way. Taking the seller’s word at face value can often lead to a substantial loss of money.

    The best way to protect yourself in a situation like this is to meet the seller at the DMV and have them go with you to transfer the title. If the sale is legitimate, they should have no problem with extending this courtesy to you.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , texas   

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account? 

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account?

    Today, we’re bringing you scams that are happening locally in communities around the country. As we always say, if it’s happening there it could also be happening in your community.

    First up is a report out of Westchester County, New York where police there are warning residents about calls claiming to be from Amazon. Residents have complained about receiving calls from someone claiming that their Amazon Prime accounts have been compromised and need to be renewed. Victims of the scam are then asked for their financial information to resolve the non-existent issue. In one case, a victim was asked to remotely give control of their computer to the scammers so they could ‘improve the security settings.’ So this scam appears to be a hybrid of phishing and the tech support scam.

    A student at Texas A&M recently found herself scammed out of $10,000 in a Social Security scam. She received a phone call with the caller claiming that her Social Security information was misused with some drug issues in El Paso. They threatened her with arrest or she could pay them $10,000. The student was then instructed to transfer money to the scammers by way of BitCoin and gift cards. No government agency will call you on the phone like this and they especially wouldn’t ask for payment in BitCoin and gift cards. If you suspect there may actually be an issue with your Social Security, call the Social Security Administration yourself at their official customer service number of 1 (800) 772-1213.

    Lastly, if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone promising you a great cable deal, it’s more than likely a scam. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of these fraudulent phone calls. The caller will promise you a discounted deal on your cable bill if you pay a certain number of months upfront. As with many scams, they ask you to make the payment by using pre-paid debit cards. Like gift cards, one the scammers are able to get the money off of the pre-paid debit card there’s no way of getting it back.

     
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