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  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , housing scam, jury duty scam, , wire fraud   

    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot 

    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot

    Once again, it’s time to bring you three scams from across the country that could potentially affect you in your area.

    One scam that is being reported out of Raleigh, North Carolina is called a brushing scam. The scam may seem innocuous at first but has the potential to be costly. In the brushing scam, online retailers will send you a product of their’s unsolicited and at no charge to you. It’s all part of an international scheme to try to get favorable reviews online so the company can boast of getting higher star ratings. While getting free stuff sounds like a great deal, the products are often shoddy or something you have absolutely no use for. The potential for abuse comes from the fact that someone may have opened an account in your name to have the products delivered which could lead to fraudulent charges.

    In northwestern Iowa a phone scam is proliferating that threatens to send you to jail if you don’t pay a fee. In this scam, someone calls you posing as a county authority accusing you of skipping out on jury duty then demands a fine from you in the form of a gift card or PayPal payment in order for you to avoid arrest. If a government body has any kind of issue like this more often than not they will send you something in the mail rather than calling you, and as always you should never make payments over the phone using gift cards as they are virtually untraceable once the serial number is given out to someone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up and contact your local law enforcement.

    The last scam for today is not only pretty scary but could end up costing you your life savings. A man in Massachusetts was getting ready to close on a new house. He was waiting for an email on how to make the final payment. He first received one email with the proper instructions then almost immediately received an identical email stating that the previous email was wrong and for him to wire the money under these new instructions. It turns out the man wired $300,000 to a scammer who had gained access to his email account. According to the FBI in Boston, this scam has cost potential homebuyers $53,000,000 just across Massachusetts. If you receive emails like this contact the financial institution or realtor you’ve been dealing with immediately to determine which of the instructions is the correct one.

     
  • Geebo 8:47 am on September 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , wire fraud   

    Fake check scam hitting new highs 

    Fake check scam hitting new highs

    If you’ve been following our blog for a while you’re probably familiar with the fake check scam. It’s a scam that has been around since the early days of craigslist but has since expanded into other avenues. If you’re unfamiliar with the scam, a scammer will send you a check for various reasons and will ask you to deposit the check into your banking account then will have you wire them back a large portion of the money they sent you. The problem is, by the time the bank finds out the check is a fake, you’ve already sent the money back and you’re stuck with repaying the check amount back to the bank.

    Since this scam has been around for such a long time and has been written about a myriad of times, one could assume that the scam was on the decline. Not so says the Better Business Bureau as a new report they recently released claims that as many as 500,000 people in the US fell victim to this scam last year at an average rate of $1200 per person. If their estimation is correct, that means scammers cost their victims around $600 million altogether.

    As I previously stated, this scam has evolved into taking many different forms although there are many common ones. The most common is when you’re trying to sell something online and you receive a check for more than the amount your asking. Another common tactic the scammers take is tied to an employment scam, like secret shoppers. They’ll send you a check for phony expenses and have you wire the money to a phony vendor. Sweepstakes scams are another favorite tactic of fake check scammers where they will send you a check but you need to wire someone the taxes or fees needed to handle the cost.

    Any time someone you don’t know personally asks you to deposit a check into your bank account is more than likely trying to scam you. Another good tip-off to being scammed is when you’re asked to wire any kind of money to a third-party. Scammers have been taking advantage of money wiring services for years as in many cases they can receive the money anywhere and walk away with your cash completely anonymously.

     
  • Geebo 10:32 am on May 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Lincoln, , , wire fraud   

    A Capital city hit with trio of scams 

    A Capital city hit with trio of scams

    Lincoln, Nebraska, population 280,000+, was recently hit by a trio of online scams that were reported to police. Regular readers of our blog may recognize these scams, but as long as victims keep falling prey to them, it gives us the opportunity to review them once again, and discuss how to avoid them.

    In the first scam, a man was selling his car on craigslist and received a check for more than the amount asked. The man then wired the difference back to the ‘buyer’. The check later turned out to be a phony and the man was out over $1500 since the bank debited the man’s account for the amount of the fraudulent check. This is one of the most common scams when selling something online. If you receive a check that’s over the amount asked, chances are the check is a fake and should be discarded accordingly. In cases like this, you should always deal in cash only and meet the buyer at a secure transaction location like a police station.

    In the second scam, a woman lost close to $5000 after she received a Facebook message from a friend claiming to have received money from a grant in order to pay their bills. The victim paid the money to the phony grant givers for ‘processing fees’ before finding out that her friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. If you receive this kind of message from a friend on Facebook, it’s more than likely that their account has been compromised. You should contact them in a way outside of Facebook to let them know their Facebook has been taken over.

    Lastly, a woman was out close to $700 after trying to buy a dog online. In this instance, the victim was told to wire most of the money out to one state while paying the rest in gift cards to another state. Unfortunately, this victim was double-scammed. Both wiring money and paying through gift cards are sure signs of a scam and should always be avoided when buying something online. After the funds have been transferred in these matters, once the money is gone it’s impossible to get back and the scammers are virtually untraceable at this point. Also, if you’re looking to purchase a pet, we strongly recommend going to your local shelter or a licensed breeder as you’re also less likely to get a pet with health conditions as many puppy mills and the like advertise online.

    Again, while most of our regular readers are probably familiar with these scams, there are still many others out there that aren’t. We ask you to please share this blog post with them so they can be better-prepared consumers in the future.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art theft, , Mordokwan, rembrandt, wire fraud   

    Was craigslist used in the country’s largest art heist? 

    Was craigslist used in the country's largest art heist?

    There’s no doubt that craigslist has a crime problem. One industry observer even called craigslist a ‘cesspool of crime’. The crimes committed on craigslist are countless, but one you don’t normally hear about is art theft. We’re not talking about dogs playing poker either.

    Over 25 years ago, two men disguised as police stole over $500 million in artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Two of those pieces were Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (partially shown above), and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Concert”. “The Concert” is valued at $200 million. The FBI has been offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the paintings.

    Recently, a man known only by the pseudonym of ‘Mordokwan’, allegedly took out craigslist ads all over the world claiming he had the aforementioned paintings and was selling them both for $55 million. So, was a crime so rare that it’s usually reserved for heist movies brokered through craigslist? Not exactly.

    As it turns out, it was a crime that craigslist is more known for, wire fraud. ‘Mordokwan’ turned out to be 47-year-old Todd Andrew Desper of Beckley, West Virginia. Authorities were able to track him down after he allegedly requested a $5 million cashier’s check be sent to a PO Box at a local UPS Store. Desper was said to not be in possession of any of the paintings advertised or any of the ones stolen and is not believed to be connected to the original heist.

    While Mr. Mordokwan may not be the smartest criminal to ever use craigslist, he’s far from the only one, and craigslist continues to not lift a finger when it comes to their users’ safety.

     
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