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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: closing cost scam, , , , wire fraud   

    Victim loses closing costs in real estate scam 

    Victim loses closing costs in real estate scam

    By Greg Collier

    When dealing with real estate, rental scams are not the only scam you have to worry about. Lately, we’ve seen an ever-increasing rise in a scam where the victims are set to close on a new home. The scammers are somehow sliding into the home buyer’s email and posing as the loan agency. The scammers then ask for the closing payment to be wired to them. By the time the victim realizes that they’ve been scammed, they’ve lost thousands of dollars with little to no recourse. We can’t even imagine the sense of dread that the victims of this scam feel when they find out they’ve not only lost their closing payment, but also finding out that the deal on their new home might fall through because of it.

    This is exactly what happened to one woman in Alabama when she was getting ready to close on her home. The night before she was getting ready to close on a new home for her and her children, she received an email that appeared to come from her closing agency. The email asked her to wire $6,000 for the closing costs. On closing day, she received a call from her bank asking her if anyone else had contacted her about the closing cost. She was then told that whoever contacted her wasn’t from the bank. As in most cases, once the wire transfer was sent, the money was unrecoverable.

    If you’re working with a loan agency, bank or credit union to obtain a mortgage for a new home, be suspicious of any communication asking you to send money. If you receive an email like the one in the story above, call the bank to verify that they sent the email in the first place. It would be even better to visit the bank in person to verify any requests. No one wants to go through the process of buying a new home only to have the deal fall through at the very last minute.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: down payment, , , wire fraud   

    Don’t wire the down payment for your house 

    Don't wire the down payment for your house

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to real estate, one of the most common scams is the rental scam. If you’re a longtime reader you’re probably very familiar with this scam. In the rental scam, the scammer poses as a landlord to a property that they don’t actually own. They’ll advertise the property as being for rent on unmoderated marketplaces like Craigslist. The scammers will then collect money from victims with the payments being disguised as security deposits or first month’s rent. Family’s have moved into these properties only to find out that the property wasn’t even for rent. But what if you’re looking to buy a house? Surely, there are no such scams that could affect home buyers. While not as common as the rental scam, there is at least one scam new home buyers need to look out for.

    A couple who were in the process of buying a new home in Kansas City recently found out about such a scam. In the deluge of emails they were getting from various parties involved in the sale of the home, they received an email that instructed them that their $40,000 down payment would need to be sent by wire transfer. The email wasn’t sent by anyone involved in the process but from a scammer who disguised the emails to look like it was coming from the bank and the title company. Later they received a legitimate email from the title company saying they need to bring a cashier’s check, but by that time the couple had already wired the money to the scammer.

    It’s unknown how the scammers knew the couple was in the process of buying a home. This could have been a phishing attack that just got extremely lucky, or the scammers could have gleaned some information about the couple from social media. In any case, if you’re in the process of buying a new home and someone asks you to wire any money, verify it first with the parties involved and do so by phone call or in person. Wire transfers have long been a preferred method of payment by scammers.

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

    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 8:00 am on October 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , wire fraud   

    Wire fraud victim gets money back from scam 

    Wire fraud victim gets money back from scam

    Most often we discuss how to recognize a scam to keep from you losing money. Very rarely do we discuss how to get your money back after a scam. That’s because once a scammer takes your money, especially electronically, they can virtually disappear and never be heard from again. However, one man was able to get the money back that his elderly father was scammed out of.

    The victim in this story was an elderly man who was told that he had won $250,000 in a sweepstake. As is usually the case in sweepstakes scams, the scammers told the victim that he needed to pay a processing fee before he could collect his winnings. The scammers instructed the victim to wire the money to them through Western Union which he did.

    Realizing they had a vulnerable victim on their hands, the scammers are said to have convinced the victim to send over $90,000 during a 44 day period. This was all allegedly done through Western Union.

    The victim’s son tried to convince his father that this was a scam but his father wouldn’t believe it. Of course, the victim never received any winnings.

    The son, however, stumbled across a news article about a settlement the Department of Justice had with Western Union. The DOJ claimed that Western Union turned a blind eye to obvious scams and scammers. Western Union settled with the DOJ and a $153 million fund was set up for victims of fraud who paid through Western Union. The victim’s son was able to file for full compensation for his father.

    In doing some research for this story, we also found that a similar action had previously been levied against Western Union’s biggest competitor Moneygram.

    Wire transfers like Western Union and Moneygram are only second to gift cards in the ways scammers try to get their victims to pay them. If someone you don’t know personally is asking you to make a payment through one of these services it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flight attendant, , , , wire fraud   

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars 

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars and other scams

    In Wisconsin, the Better Business Bureau is warning residents there about an ongoing scam involving the online sale of used cars. Scammers will post an ad online for an in-demand car. Sometimes it will be a classic car while other times it will be a modern car at a too good to be believed price. The scammer will claim to be local but currently out of the local area. In the Wisconsin case, the scammers are claiming to be a flight attendant who is currently out of town, going through a divorce and needs to move the car fast. In the more common version of this scam, the scammers will pose as members of the military who are stationed overseas.

    In any case, the scammer will tell you that the car is being held by a shipping or logistics company and that you need to pay the shipping company. They’ll then instruct you to make the payment through wire transfer services like Moneygram or Western Union. The scammers will often use the name of legitimate shipping companies to make the transaction seem more legitimate but once the money is wired the person pretending to be the seller disappears with your money. In all likelihood, the car being advertised never existed.

    When shopping for a vehicle online, you should automatically stop dealing with a seller if they give you a story about being out of town and unable to show the vehicle. Even if they say they can’t show the vehicle due to coronavirus concerns you should stop dealing with them. Also, you should never wire money to someone you don’t personally know. Money transfers are one of the standard tools used by scammers due to the fact they can use them to take your money and vanish into the wind.

    So hopefully, the next time you’re searching for a car to buy, you won’t waste your time dealing with a con artist.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cincinnati, fitness trainer, , wire fraud   

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam 

    Woman loses thousands in fitness trainer romance scam

    A woman from Cincinnati recently came forward to the media after falling victim to an online romance scam. This is significant as many victims are too embarrassed to report the scam to police let alone the press. She met the scammer on Instagram where they posed as a sort of fitness trainer to the stars. The scammer claimed that he trained many contestants on a popular reality show. They would include pictures of the trainer working out with many of the show’s cast members. The scammer messaged the woman saying he wanted to get to know her better.

    He invited the woman to his fitness studio in New York but first, he had to travel to Africa on business. It was while the supposed trainer was in Africa when the money requests started. First, the scammer requested money for a plane ticket after he got stranded in Africa. The woman wired the money to him. After receiving the first money transfer, the scammer went back to the well asking for more money claiming that he had to pay back taxes to the local African government or they wouldn’t let him go. The woman wired the additional funds to Africa to the awaiting scammer.

    This scammer was clever enough to the point where he instructed his victim to visit different wire service locations so clerks couldn’t recognize the woman as a repeat customer and warn her of the scam. A friend of the woman felt something was up and told the victim to try to contact the scammer on FaceTime. The scammer replied that he couldn’t communicate with her over FaceTime, Skype, or even through a regular phone call. It was at this point that the scammer stopped responding to the victim but not before she was out of $2,076.

    When it comes to romance scams, if money becomes involved before you ever meet someone face to face then the odds are they’re trying to scam you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website with tips on how to avoid romance scams, as does the FBI. If you think someone you know may be the target of a romance scam, please show them the FTC’s website and/or our posts about romance scams.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , wire fraud   

    Protect yourself against deepfake fraud 

    Protect yourself against deepfake fraud

    Last week, it was revealed that a German energy company doing business in the UK was conned out of more than $240,000. The scammers were using a form of deepfake technology that mimicked the voice of the company’s CEO. A director of the company was instructed by the phony CEO over both phone and email to wire payment to an account in Hungary to avoid a late payment fine. Reports say that the director could not distinguish between the AI-assisted deepfake and the CEO’s actual voice so the money was wired without question. The plot may not have been uncovered if it wasn’t for the scammers’ greed.

    The scammers tried getting the director to wire more funds to another account. At this point, the director felt like something was up and called the CEO himself. It was at this point that the scammers posing as the CEO called the director while the director was on the phone with the CEO himself. Unfortunately, by this time it was too late to do anything about the original payment. The funds had been scattered across the globe after being wired to the initial account and no suspects have been named as of yet.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some good news and bad news about deepfake audio though. The bad news is that the technology is advancing at such a rapid pace it could only be a matter of time before scammers would only need to keep you on the phone for a minute before getting enough of your voice to make a deepfake out of you. However, the good news is that companies can fight deepfakes by instilling a culture of security. They suggest that companies should confirm transactions like this by calling the person who supposedly requested the transaction directly.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , wire fraud   

    Six million dollar romance scam ring busted! 

    Romance scam ring busted!

    When we discuss scams like wire fraud or romance scams, the perpetrators largely operate with impunity since they’re overseas. This makes it difficult for US investigators to apprehend the suspects. Even if the US has an extradition treaty with the scammers’ home country that doesn’t necessarily mean that the scammers will be extradited to the US no matter how much money they’re accused of taking. However, that doesn’t mean that federal investigators are totally powerless in bringing some of these crooks to justice.

    Yesterday, The FBI unsealed an indictment from October of 2018, against 80 alleged international scammers. Between corporate fraud and romance scams, the ring is suspected of raking in at least $6 million from their victims. On the corporate side of things, the scammers would allegedly send fake but realistic-looking emails to the financial departments of companies requesting that funds be sent to certain bank accounts. With the romance scams, they reportedly posted fake accounts on dating sites and apps while conning their unsuspecting victims out of money disguised as gifts. The FBI says that this particular scamming ring tried to steal $40 million from potential victims. As we have discussed previously, sometimes the victims of these scams themselves can end up in legal trouble because of it.

    In this instance, federal investigators have arrested 14 alleged scammers who were living in the US who are accused of sending the money they stole back to their home country of Nigeria. The West African country is notorious as a haven for scammers because it’s more lucrative to become a scammer rather than holding a legitimate job. This is also where the ‘419’ scam originated named for the Nigerian legal code that makes these scams illegal. Unfortunately, while some of the scammers in this particular ring have been apprehended, there are many more who at large overseas.

    To better protect yourself against these scams if you work in a company where you receive these types of financial requests, always double-check with the person making the request through a phone call or face to face meeting. As far as romance scams go, no matter how good looking they may appear, if they start asking for money the odds are likely that you’re being scammed. And we’re not talking about a couple bucks here and there either. Some victims of romance scams have lost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips on how to avoid romance scams. If you know someone who may be a victim of a romance scam please have them read this post or the FTC website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , wire fraud   

    Check out this bizarre double scam! 

    Check out this bizarre double scam!

    We’ve been telling you about numerous scams for some time now in order to help better protect consumers. Every so often we’ll post a story about a scam we’ve previously discussed to remind consumers that these scams are still out there. Occasionally we’ll post about a brand new scam that’s either brand new or one we’ve never heard of before. Then there are times like now where we bring you a scam so unusual it almost defies belief. One such scam just recently took place in the state of Kentucky where a woman was almost scammed twice by the same scammers using two different scams.

    The victim thought she was buying an iPhone online through a marketplace app. She paid $200 for the phone over the internet but never received the phone. Months later, she was contacted by someone posing as some kind of investigator. They showed her a copy of a receipt that was supposed to be for her phone and that the scammer had been caught and was being forced to pay restitution as part of a settlement. She was told that as part of the settlement she could receive $30,000 in compensation. Of course, there was a catch. All she had to do was wire some money to cover the costs of processing. Luckily, the woman’s mother warned the victim that this was nothing more than a scam.

    When dealing with marketplace apps that have no verified sellers, always deal locally and never send any money over the internet. Never wire any money either for any part of the transaction as marketplace apps are rife with wire fraud like this. Only deal locally and in cash. When you meet to make the transaction always do so at a local police station. With as great as a convenience online shopping can be, with marketplace apps there are too many variables that can’t be controlled.

     
  • Geebo 9:23 am on March 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coupon scam, , , , wire fraud   

    Social Security Suspension, Fake Coupons, Florida is #1, and cancer patient scammed out of $32K 

    Social Security Suspension, Fake Coupons, Florida is #1, and cancer patient scammed out of $32K

    It’s that time again to bring you the scams of the week that are happening around the country that could eventually come to your area. This week, we also have one that is particularly heinous.

    First up is a new scam targeting senior citizens. A number of our more mature members of society are stating that they are receiving phone calls that tells them that their Social Security numbers are being suspended. Since many seniors rely on Social Security benefits they could be prone to fall for this scam. The FTC is warning seniors that Social security numbers cannot be suspended and to not give any information to anyone calling you pretending to be the government and that if there is an issue with your Social Security the government will contact you by mail.

    Next, we have an online coupon scam that seems to be circulating on social media. If you see a coupon for the pizza chain Little Caesars promising you three free pizzas for their 60th anniversary it’s a scam. If you click on any links regarding this phony coupon it could lead to malware being installed onto your system. Little Caesars themselves has even issued a warning to consumers to avoid this coupon at all costs.

    In scam related news it turns out that Florida is the scam capital of the nation but the victims aren’t who you might think. While many seniors either live or spend a lot of time in Florida they’re not the main targets of scammers. Instead, scammers are targeting people of the so-called Millennial generation. Victims have fallen prey mostly to debt collection scams which seems to track since many Millennials are burdened with outrageous student loan debt. Once again, consumers are being warned about making any kind of payment through wire service or gift cards as these are clear indicators that any collection calls they receive may be a scam.

    Lastly, we have quite the heartbreaking story out of Northern California where a man in the Sacramento area has been taken in by a scam to the tune of $32,000. What makes this particular scam egregious is that the victim is currently struggling with cancer. The man wanted to travel the country with his wife in a motorhome. Unfortunately, the man wired money to someone posing as eBay Motors. Again, wiring money is usually a sure sign of a scam as once the money is wired it’s almost impossible to get it back.

    If you feel like you’ve been the victim of an online scam it is recommended that you contact the FTC at their complaint website.

     
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