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

    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 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , unemployment scam   

    New job scam steals your identity 

    New job scam steals your identity

    By Greg Collier

    With so many job scams out there, it’s often hard to discern between a legitimate job offering and a scam. More often than not, there is usually a red flag somewhere along the line in the application process. For example, if you’re asked by the potential employer to pay for things like application fees or background checks, that’s a good indicator that the job could be a scam. Even if you get hired, there can still be red flags, such as being asked to deposit a check used for business expenses into your own bank account. But what if scammers were able to mimic a legitimate company while offering a phony position. According to the Better Business Bureau, that’s exactly what is happening.

    A woman in Rhode Island received an email that said she was eligible for a position after the company found her information on a state employment website. She was asked to reply to the email if she was interested in the position. The email appeared to come from a legitimate company in the region and even used the name of an actual company employee. The victim interviewed for the job. The report doesn’t say how she was interviewed, but it’s probably safe to assume it was a virtual interview.

    The scammers sent her a bunch of normal-looking paperwork to fill out and instructed her to verify her identity at a legitimate web portal used by many employers. After she signed in to the portal and gave all her pertinent information, she received a notification that her information was being sent to the California unemployment office. Essentially, the scammers stole her identity out from under her to apply for unemployment benefits in her name.

    If you’re unsure if a job offer is legitimate or not, check the email address the offer was sent from. If the email is from a free service like Gmail or Outlook.com, there’s a good chance the offer may not be real, as most legitimate employers have their own corporate email addresses. You can also go to the company’s website to see if the position you’re being offered is even open.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , unemployment scam   

    New phishing scam sells your identity on the dark web 

    New phishing scam sells your identity on the dark web

    By Greg Collier

    An insidious phishing scam has turned up in the nation’s largest metropolitan area.

    For those who may not be familiar with what phishing is, it’s when you get sent a phony email or text that has you click on a link. These links either take you to a phony website where identity thieves will try to steal your personal information or the links will inject malware into your device. If malware were to get into your device, it could transmit your data to scammers and identity thieves and scammers, or it could lock your device in a ransomware attack. However, this new phishing attack has victims voluntarily giving up their information in a more comprehensive way than before.

    Reports out of New York are saying that victims of the attack are receiving authentic looking emails and text messages that appear to be from the State Government. The messages largely target those who are currently unemployed in the Empire State. Once the victim clicks the link in the message, they’re taking to a website that is a mirror image of the official New York unemployment website.

    After the victims use their login information on the phony website they’re then asked to take high-quality pictures of their driver’s license and other sensitive documents. Once the identity thieves have your information, they turn around and sell your identity on the dark web. According to security experts, Social Security cards are going for around $1.50 while driver’s licenses are going for around $100. Just imagine, a $1.50 transaction on the dark web that happens instantly can have expensive repercussions on your life for years to come.

    Always be suspicious of any text message, email, or social media message that wants you to click on any kind of link, especially if it’s for such a crucial matter like your unemployment benefits. Most government agencies like unemployment offices will not email or text you but instead will almost always contact you through the postal mail. And keep in mind that all official government websites end in .gov.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , unemployment scam   

    Why you shouldn’t use social media for unemployment problems 

    By Greg Collier

    Many internet users only use the internet to browse their favorite social networks. To them, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is their internet. This is what’s known as being in a walled garden. Why leave the confines of the garden when everything you need is right there. These users can talk to their friends, see what’s in the news, and watch videos in their social network of choice. So, it should come as no surprise when these users have a problem they need to resolve, they use social media. In some instances, this is perfectly acceptable as many companies have someone manning their social media accounts at all time. In other instances, using social media like this can open you up to fraud. One governmental agency recently found this out the hard way.

    The state of New Jersey recently had to close the comments on the Facebook page of the Department of Labor. People who were having issues with their unemployment were leaving comments on the NJDOL’s Facebook page. Then scammers would appear posing as state employees in an attempt to get personal information out of those who were having issues. The NJDOL issued a warning on their Twitter account that they closed comments on their Facebook page because of the deluge of scammers. They wanted to remind unemployment recipients that their agents will never reach out to them on social media.

    This is just the latest in a long line of unemployment scams that have plagued the country since the start of the pandemic. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, consumers should still be vigilant when it comes to sharing their personal information. If you’re dealing with an unemployment issue in New Jersey or any other state, you should always use the state’s official website that deals with unemployment. That’s usually the Department of Labor, but some states call it something else. These websites should always end in the .gov domain. Even if it’s the state’s official social media account, it’s always best to use their actual website to try to get unemployment issues resolved.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , unemployment scam   

    More fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed than real ones 

    More fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed than real ones

    The state of Colorado has been just one of the many states that has been dealing with record numbers of unemployment fraud. Since last year, unemployment scammers have overwhelmed all 50 states with unheard of amounts of fraudulent unemployment claims. Most, if not all, of the states found themselves unprepared for the onslaught of fraudulent claims. California infamously have paid over $1 billion in fraudulent claims.

    The fraudulent claims are coming from scammers who are using stolen identities to apply for fraudulent unemployment benefits. It doesn’t matter if the identity belongs to someone who is employed, they’re still being used in the scam. Some scammers will use the same identity to apply for fraudulent benefits in multiple states.

    While not sending out as nearly as much money as California, it’s been recently reported that the state of Colorado has had more fraudulent unemployment claims filed with Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment than legitimate claims. According to reports, Colorado has issued approximately $6.5 million to fraudsters. The state is looking at that as a win considering they’ve paid $7 billion to actual applicants.

    That’s not to say that legitimate recipients haven’t been having problems getting their benefits. While the state is investigating fraudulent claims, some innocent recipients have had their benefits held up until they can verify their identities. Colorado offers options both online and over the phone where recipients can verify their ID. However, the phone lines have been flooded as you might imagine and the online option can be daunting for some.

    It’d also not helping that Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment is also dealing with a phony Facebook page that is impersonating them. The impostor page is asking residents for their personal information.

    You may ask why we’re bringing you this story. It’s not to chastise Colorado, but to make our readers aware just how prevalent unemployment fraud has become and that it shows no signs of slowing down. It affects both the employed and unemployed in all 50 states.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , unemployment scam   

    Driver’s license scams are happening all over 

    Driver's license scams are happening all over

    Recently, we’ve seen reports from different parts of the country about scams that involve driver’s licenses. Sometimes when we discuss scams, they come from smaller cities and towns in America. That doesn’t make those scams any less dangerous, but today we have scams that are being reported in major urban areas like Chicago and New York.

    In Chicago, residents are receiving text messages that claim to be from Illinois’ unemployment office. The texts ask residents to update their driver’s license information to comply with upcoming Real ID regulations. The messages contain a link that once you click on it, you’ll be asked for your personal information. Authorities in Illinois say that identity thieves are looking for new identities, so they can file false unemployment claims. The state’s unemployment office wants to remind residents that they’ll never communicate by text with claimants.

    In New York, residents there are receiving emails that purport to be from the New York Department of State. The emails ask you to validate your current ‘profile’ to avoid future delays in renewing your license. Much like the aforementioned Chicago scam, the emails contain a link that the senders want you to click on. Again, this is more than likely designed to steal your identity. New York authorities are urging residents to delete the emails if they receive them.

    Lastly in Phoenix, the Arizona Department of Transportation is warning their residents about text messages being sent that appear to be from their Motor Vehicle Division. These messages also claim that they need you to update your license information to meet new guidelines. The link in these text messages take you to a website where you’re asked for your name, birthdate, address and license plate number.

    No state government agency is ever going to contact residents through text message or email for things like license renewal. If a license renewal is required, you will receive any notification in the postal mail. Scammers use text messages in scams like this because they can say they’re being sent from anybody. You should never click on any link in a text message or email from people you don’t know personally.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , unemployment scam   

    Dating site scam leads to death threat 

    When it comes to dating sites, the scam we normally have to warn people about is the romance scam. This is where scammers will cultivate a romantic type relationship with their victims before repeatedly asking their victims for money. However, we recently learned about a different type of scam taking place on a dating site that we wouldn’t have guessed. That would be the unemployment scam.

    While we call it the unemployment scam, it can actually take many forms. Essentially, overseas scammers are applying for unemployment benefits in the names of people who have had their identities stolen. One of the problems that unemployment scammers have is trying to get the money from these fraudulent claims sent to them. Too often the payments go to the people whose identities have been stolen.

    An Ohio woman signed up for a dating site where, to put it delicately, the male participants of the dating site are supposed to financially support the women they match up with. These men share a name with a somewhat famous candy bar.

    Anyway, the woman from Ohio matched with a man who claimed to be a businessman from Texas. He asked the woman to open a new bank account in her name, so he could send her money. However, after she opened the new account, there was a payment from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services pending. The amount was for $489, and she was told that she could keep $100 and send $389 to the supposed Texas businessman.

    The woman was hesitant to accept the money, but the scammer tried telling her that it wasn’t actually an unemployment payment but a payment from his private account. The woman didn’t fall for this. Not only did she refuse the payment, but she closed the account she was asked to open. It didn’t end there, though.

    After she closed the account, the scammers started sending her death threats which she took very seriously. More than likely, these scammers were from overseas which most unemployment scammers are. We doubt they had any real means of carrying out any threat.

    While it’s an unusual one, this is just one of the many dangers that dating sites hold. While we previously mentioned romance scams, there are also numerous predators and even human traffickers that use these sites and apps to find new victims.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , unemployment scam   

    New unemployment and stimulus scams emerge 

    New scams involving both unemployment and stimulus

    Two of the biggest scams that dominated the headlines in 2020 were scams involving either the stimulus payments or unemployment benefits. Early in the year, scammers were hot to get their hands on the $1200 economic impact payments issued to eligible citizens. Then later on in the year, a massive wave of scammers filed for billions of dollars in fraudulent unemployment benefits taxing already overburdened unemployment systems in each state. With 2021 just barely being underway, it seems like we’re in for more of the same for now.

    Previously in unemployment scams, the scammers would file for fraudulent benefits using stolen identities. Sometimes, they would be filed in the name of people who were still employed. This tipped off the employers that unemployment benefits were filed falsely for current employees. Employers could then notify employees who could notify the state about the fraudulent filing. More recently, the state of Illinois has discovered a new tactic being used by unemployment scammers. Somehow, the scammers are changing the employer’s address when filing for benefits, so the employer does not get a notice. This removes a key barrier to preventing fraudulent benefits from being claimed. The state says they are already taking steps to prevent this information from being altered and are notifying any potential victims.

    In Florida, scammers are looking to take advantage of not just the unemployed but those awaiting their economic impact payments as well. Phishing emails have already gone out that look like they’re from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The legitimate looking emails are being sent to those already on unemployment and promise recipients a payment of $12,600. The email then asks you to click on a link that says ‘Accept My Claims’. A copy of the email can be viewed here. If you’ll notice, the email says that payment will be in USD. That’s kind of redundant since this supposedly from a US-based organization. Anytime USD is used in an email like this, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s an overseas scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , unemployment scam   

    Inside the life of an unemployment scammer 

    Inside the life of an unemployment scammer

    We’ve been discussing the current spate of unemployment scams for quite some time now. In case this is the first time you’re hearing of it, the unemployment systems in all 50 states have been assailed by both foreign and domestic scammers. The scammers use stolen identities to apply for fraudulent unemployment benefits. The state systems have been overwhelmed. Not only have they issued billions in fraudulent benefits, but they’ve also had little to no success in recouping the money.

    Recently, USA Today published an expose where they spoke with one of these scammers. It might surprise you how easy it is for these scammers to file for fraudulent benefits.

    The scammer that USA Today spoke with said that it only costs $2 to purchase a stolen identity online. That gets them a name, a date of birth, and a Social Security number. In most states, that’s all they need to file a fraudulent claim. If the state requires more information like a maiden name, the scammer can usually find that information publicly online. The scammer claims that they’re able to successfully file for benefits one out of 6 attempts. So far the scammer claims they’ve made $50,000 in 2020 alone. When asked if they have any remorse the scammer says their victims are nobody to them.

    The reason that the unemployment scammers have been so successful is that the state unemployment systems are not designed to catch these kinds of fraudulent claims. Instead, they’re designed to catch regular people who are lying in their applications. So far, the states have been very slow in reacting to these new scams and that has hurt legitimate unemployment recipients in the process. Some recipients have even been cut off by their state while the scammer collects their money. Even if you discover the fraud and report it to the state, it may take them a while before they can even react. Meanwhile, the scammers are collecting money hand over fist.

    We don’t know what the states need to do to turn back the tide of scammers, but the longer they take to act, the more money ends up in the pockets of scammers. Meanwhile, American citizens go hungry while the states try to figure this out.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , unemployment scam   

    Two TV reporters hit by unemployment scam 

    Two TV reporters hit by unemployment scam

    Once again, it seems like the current spate of unemployment scams show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. For those who may be unaware, domestic and foreign scammers are filing for unemployment benefits using stolen identities. The stolen identities were said to be obtained from previous corporate data breaches that exposed their customers’ information. These scams are overwhelming state unemployment systems due to the current pandemic. California alone is said to have paid out close to $2 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.

    Many of these scams were discovered by people who are still employed. They either find out through their employer who is wondering why their employee filed for unemployment, or when the employee receives the unemployment payment in the mail. When scammers have the payment sent to the victim’s home address, it usually means they’ll try to convince the victim into transferring the fraudulent payment over to the scammer. Since the states are overwhelmed, trying to notify them you received a fraudulent payment has been time-consuming and frustrating.

    While North Carolina does not have nearly the same population as California, they’ve still paid out $11 million in fraudulent unemployment claims. Two of those claims were paid to two TV reporters who work for the same station out of Raleigh. One of the reporters is even a consumer protection reporter. One of the reporters had even taken steps to try to prevent being targeted in this scam. The news anchor reportedly put a freeze on his credit that should have prevented claims from being filed under his name. Both reporters said that they had difficulties explaining their situations to the state when they called the states’ fraud hotline. They felt like the representatives taking their calls were not trained well enough to deal with fraud claims. Both reporters also said they received the fraudulent payments in the mail before their employer even knew about the claims being filed. The state claims that they’re having a difficult time balancing between preventing fraud and paying out legitimate claims.

    The country is already facing an economic crisis because of the pandemic. If states don’t start getting a handle on unemployment fraud, the crisis could become worse than we ever thought.

     
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