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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Washington   

    New moving scam dumps your belongings 

    By Greg Collier

    It wasn’t too long ago that we discussed a moving scam that was taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina. In that scam, illegal moving companies would pack up a person’s belongings, but instead of delivering them to their destination, the con artists would hold the belongings hostage under the pretense of needing additional fees. Now, a similar scam has appeared in the Seattle area, but it seems that the scammers are more interested in quick cash than a long con.

    A woman in King County, Washington was recently taken in one of these scams. She was moving some of her items to another property in Austin, Texas. She had enlisted the services of a moving broker, bur right as she was about to board her flight to Austin, the broker switched to a new moving company. The woman had previously paid the movers with a cashier’s check. The woman arrived in Austin, but her belongings never did. Both the movers and the broker would give excuses before cutting off all contact with her.

    King County Sheriffs believe that her belongings may have been abandoned in a storage unit somewhere in the area. This gives the thieves the opportunity to dump their cargo, so they can immediately move on to another victim. Rather than extortion or trying to sell stolen goods, the illegal movers seem to be more interested in getting the payment more than anything. They tend to ask for payment in cash or cashier’s checks, so the money is virtually untraceable.

    Moving brokers may offer convenience in helping find a moving company, but they can also be just another fly-by-night company. If you’re going to use a broker, make sure they’re registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the US Department of Transportation. Also, you should only use movers that are also registered with the FMCSA.

    If a company gives you an estimate sight unseen, they may also be trying to scam you. Always get at least three estimates from three different movers and get them in writing. Never make payment in full upfront, and make sure that the movers provide full-value protection insurance. Lastly, if anything feels out of the ordinary with your movers, don’t be afraid to go with another company.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on March 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Washington,   

    Woman thwarts virtual kidnapping scam 

    Woman thwarts virtual kidnapping scam

    By Greg Collier

    We often talk about how someone gets taken advantage of in a scam and use it as a way to educate our readers on how to avoid scams. It’s not very often we discuss someone who realized it was a scam before they end up losing thousands of dollars, but that’s the story we have today.

    A woman in Spokane, Washington received a phone call with someone claiming that her sister had been injured and that the woman needed to come get her. She asked the person on the other line if police had been involved yet and the caller’s disposition quickly changed.

    The caller then said that the woman’s sister ‘stuck her nose where it didn’t belong’ and that he needed to ‘rough her up a little’. The caller then demanded a $10,000 ransom, or he was going to sell the woman’s sister to a human trafficking ring overseas. Then the caller threatened violence against the woman if she didn’t cooperate.

    The Spokane woman asked to speak to her sister and a woman got on the line and mentioned the woman’s name, but that was about it. The woman wasn’t convinced that was her sister. She asked to talk to her some more to verify a few things, but the caller refused. She told the caller that they wouldn’t get any money unless she saw her sister. It was when the caller asked her to wire money to them, she realized it was a scam.

    We have to applaud this woman for being so tenacious about getting proof that this was actually her sister or not. In addition, she did the right things when confronted with a scam like this. She demanded verifiable proof and when she didn’t get it she stood up to the scammers.

    If you encounter this situation, there are also a few other things you can do. One is to ask the person who’s supposedly kidnapped a question that only they would know. Additionally, you can set up a safe word in advance. However, the first thing you should do, if you can, is try to contact the person they’ve supposedly kidnapped. In most if not all cases, you’ll find that the person is safe and sound.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Tacoma, , Washington   

    New scam poses as Border Protection 

    New scam poses as Border Protection

    A new police impersonation scam has emerged in the Tacoma area of Washington state. This time, the scammers aren’t just posing as any local law enforcement, though. The scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, so they can target a specific segment of the population.

    This scam works like most police impersonation scams. The scammers call their victims posing as law enforcement and tell the victim that they’ve been connected with some crime. The scammers will then ask for payment over the phone to magically clear up the situation. As with most scams, the scammers will ask for payment in untraceable means like gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or through wire services like MoneyGram or Western Union.

    In this particular scam, the scammers are posing as Border Protection agents and are specifically targeting Latino residents of Tacoma. The scammers are telling their victims that a box full of drugs and money has been intercepted at the border that has the victim’s name on it. Then the scammers ask for payment to rectify the situation.

    This scam is particularly disturbing as it further victimizes a group of people who may already feel marginalized. This is especially true for someone who may be undocumented. When faced with the threat of the current state of detention or being deported, a victim may pay the scammers out of fear. Then the scammers could capitalize on that fear by continually requesting payments from the victim. That essentially results in extortion.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stated that they do not call anyone to solicit money for any reason. No legitimate government agency will ever ask for payment through things like gift cards. If you receive one of these phone calls it is recommended that you hang up and not engage with the scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: snow, , , Washington   

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims 

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims

    Scammers are notorious for trying to take advantage of people after a natural disaster. One of the more common times this happens in the US is right after a hurricane. There are so many hurricane-related scams that they are almost a state of emergency themselves. But did you know scammers can use even seasonal weather occurrences to try and take money from unsuspecting victims? They do as one city in the Pacific Northwest recently found out.

    Recently, many western parts of the United States experienced an early snowfall. Some areas received just a light dusting while others experienced up to a foot of snow. Spokane, Washington got hit pretty good by the snow leading to many downed tree branches which can cause headaches for the city’s electrical infrastructure. Loss of power could mean loss of heat as well for many households. Scammers took advantage of this anxiety by posing as the local power company and calling residents to tell them that their power was in danger of being shut off if they did not pay a fee. One person who received one of these calls didn’t believe the call was legitimate and said that she was refusing to pay. She was then transferred to another person who claimed to be a manager.

    The power company in Spokane said that they always send out paper notices through the mail before terminating someone’s service. That probably goes for most utility providers as well. If you receive a call like this no matter where you live, hang up and call your local utility company to make sure that your account is actually in good standing. And while it’s not mentioned in this particualr story, never make any payments over the phone using any kind of gift card as this is almost guaranteed to be part of a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Washington   

    Illegal ivory trade online in America 

    Illegal ivory trade online in America

    When most people hear about the illegal ivory trade they usually think of it taking place in remote destinations overseas, far from the coasts of America. What if we told you that the Pacific Northwest was home to such activity? While endangered animals are not being killed in places like Seattle or Portland, the products of these illegal killings are being sold in the Northwest. While it may not be the largest market for illegal animal product sales the states felt that it was enough of a problem that a law was passed in both Washington and Oregon that outlawed the trade or sale of products made from certain endangered animals, such as elephants, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and rhinos. Both states passed the laws after voters backed the measures in overwhelming margins.

    With the Northwest being a gateway to countries where these items are sought they are often brought into the country here such as furs, boots, skin cream, and even elephant tusks. Recently, two Washington men were the first to be charged under the new law for allegedly selling ivory. One man was charged after caught trying to sell carved ivory on eBay. While eBay forbids the sale of ivory, traders use code words to try to disguise the fact that the item is illegal.

    The second man was allegedly selling ivory on craigslist which makes us wonder if those ads were disguised at all, knowing craigslist’s reputation. The man was said to be in possession of close to 2,000 different ivory items at the time of the initial investigation. While neither suspect has been jailed, they’re both facing a potential five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and a $4,000 criminal wildlife penalty paid to the state.

    If you live in Washington and you happen to be in possession of a piece of ivory that was obtained before the 2014 ban you can give them to state law enforcement where they’ll be used in education programs to combat wildlife trafficking.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Washington   

    Amazon job scam is permeating NW Washington State 

    Amazon job scam permeating NW Washington State

    Previously, we’ve mentioned how Amazon is hiring for new work at home positions and how job scams topped the BBB’s list of worst scams in 2018. Now, those two stories seem to have converged into one. One of the states where Amazon is looking to hire new employees is Washington. They are also looking to open a new fulfillment center in Spokane that promises an additional 1500 positions. Due to those factors. among others, scammers have decided to use Amazon’s hiring initiative in the are to embark on a massive fleecing of Amazon hopefuls.

    The scam appears to be overly elaborate but effective at the same time. It starts out with a robocall going out to local residents offering positions with Amazon that supposedly pay $27 an hour. The robocall directs victims to go to a website that has the Amazon name in the site’s address but isn’t an official Amazon website. Once there, victims are instructed to enter personal and financial information while the phony website makes it look like the victim is applying for a job at Amazon. More than likely, any unsuspecting victim of this scam will have their identity and possibly their finances stolen.

    Another aspect of the scam has the scammers trying to get their victims to pay the scammers money for phony employment fees such as processing fees or background check fees. The scammers will try to get this money through either requesting the money be wired to them or paid through gift cards, two of the most prevalent calling cards of a scammer. Amazon themselves have commented on this scam stating that they will never ask a prospective employee for financial information or request any kind of employment fee. These tips not only apply to Amazon but also to most major employers. If these tips are kept in mind hopefully your potential job search will be a relatively stress-free one.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Washington   

    Backpage ordered to pay trafficking victims, may have to pay more 

    Backpage ordered to pay trafficking victims, may have to pay more

    The now-defunct Backpage is no stranger to lawsuits. The controversial classifieds site has been taken to court by sex trafficking victims for many years now. For the longest time, Backpage would largely escape having to pay any settlements by hiding behind section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. However, even before FOSTA was passed Backpage was starting to lose whatever goodwill they had in the courts when Congress began revealing evidence they were knowingly facilitating prostitution and profiting from it. When this evidence was made public, it started a multi-state set of lawsuits in early 2017.

    Now, in one of those states, a judge has sanctioned Backpage and ordered them to pay $200,000 each to two underage trafficking victims in Washington State. The ruling in Pierce County came earlier this week when attorneys for the victims argued that Carl Ferrer’s admission of guilt contradicts Backpage’s earlier stance of having done nothing wrong. The judge also gave Backpage 60 days to produce 1.2 million documents sought in the lawsuit or pay a fine of $1.2 million.

    Hopefully, more financial penalties will be levied against Backpage and its string-pullers as that may be the only justice they’ll truly understand. Let’s be reasonable, Carl Ferrer, Jim Larkin, and Michael Lacey will probably not see the prison time they deserve. They can afford high-priced lawyers that could potentially keep them out of jail. The only true way to exact justice on them is to take away the money they greedily made off the blood of their victims.

     
  • Geebo 9:13 am on June 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Washington   

    WA offers resources to trafficking victims 

    WA offers resources to trafficking victims

    One of the problems with human trafficking is that often the victims don’t know where to turn to get help. Too often they’re treated like criminals along with the pimps and traffickers who sell them. So even when they find themselves at police stations, victims don’t know where to turn to get help. Now, the state of Washington is hoping to correct that problem in their state.

    Washington has always been at the forefront of trying to prevent human trafficking and to help its victims. Unfortunately, the Seattle-Tacoma area has long been a hotbed of human trafficking activity. Recently, the Washington State Government has unveiled a new website that looks to assist victims of human trafficking with getting out from under their traffickers. At WATraffickingHelp.Org trafficking victims can find a list of resources ranging from shelter to legal services to healthcare services and more.

    Just because Backpage is gone, doesn’t mean that trafficking magically disappears even though that was a major step in fighting it. Sadly, not as many states are as proactive in helping victims like Washington is. Hopefully, Washington’s initiative to help victims get their life back will spark other states to do the same.

     
  • Geebo 8:22 am on May 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Washington   

    Can legal weed be sold online? 

    Can legal weed be sold online?

    DISCLAIMER: This is not an endorsement for the use of or prohibition of recreational marijuana. This is merely the discussion of a topic.

    Whether or not you’re a fan of legal recreational marijuana use or not you can’t ignore the economic impact it has had on states like Colorado and Washington. This industry however, is tightly regulated by the state. Not just anyone can set up shop in these states.

    That hasn’t stopped people from trying to be the modern-day equivalent of street corner pot dealers. In Colorado specifically, police are patrolling online venues looking for illegal marijuana sales. While the recreational use of marijuana may be legal the recreational sale of it is not. Some people are using their medical marijuana cards to legally purchase it then turn around and try to sell it online for a profit. Others are growing their legally allowed personal plants and trying to sell them online. Both of those practices are considered illegal since the sellers are circumventing tax laws and we all know how seriously the government takes their tax money. That’s how the Treasury Dept. was able to apprehend Al Capone.

    Just because something that was previously contraband that has now been made legal doesn’t make the situation like the Wild West. If you use, please use in moderation and obey all local laws and ordinances.

     
  • Greg Collier 11:04 am on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Washington   

    Note to Washington: Don’t Play Chicken with US 

    I usually try to keep my politics out of my business decisions – but after the Great Government Shutdown of 2013, I think it’s time to speak up.

    You see, when it comes to running my business, I am neither Republican or Democratic. I make decisions about how to run my business based on things like market demands, competitive forces and industry outlooks. I invest in my company when I can. I scale back when I must. But I never stop working.

    I may be my own boss – but I answer to many others when it comes to running my online classifieds site. My clients expect their products and services to appear in the right places so they can reach the right audience. The visitors to my site expect a certain experience when they arrive. My partners expect me to deliver on my end of our agreements.

    I guess that’s what frustrates me the most about the 16-day shutdown of the federal government. We are the people who the elected officials must answer to. We are their bosses, the people who put them into these positions of power and can have them removed. We are the ones who need to remind them that, if they continue to fail to do their jobs, they will lose them.

    I can’t imagine telling my partners that I won’t be paying my bills this month or turning away visitors to my site because of some internal strife among the grown-ups who make decisions about the future direction of the company.

    Frankly, that’s no way to run a business. And while I’ve never subscribed to the idea that a government can be run like a business, it’s also an unacceptable way to run a government. It doesn’t matter what the issue at-hand may be. You don’t shut the doors because you can’t make difficult decisions.

    Yes, Washington is in shambles. Yes, the politicians have corrupted themselves by allowing their motives to be driven by special interests with big checkbooks. Yes, we’re probably looking at another showdown on Capitol Hill when the next budget battle and debt ceiling fight come up again early next year.

    But the message we send now, ahead of the next big showdown should be that it’s never acceptable to use the country – whether it’s the credit rating or day-to-day operations – in a political game of chicken

    Certainly, we can all agree to disagree when it comes to how our government is run. Whether you think we can spend our way out of a recession or believe that drastic spending cuts are the way to prosperity doesn’t matter. How you feel about Obamacare, Medicare or the Department of Energy should not come into play.

    The message that all of us should be sending to Washington – regardless of our political leanings or beliefs – is that it’s never OK to shut the door to government or to become a deadbeat nation. It’s a good thing for the politicians that the government isn’t run like a business. If it were, they’d all be fired.

     
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