Scam of the day – March 9, 2017 – New variation of the jury duty scam

The jury duty scam is a scam that has been used effectively for years by scammers to con people out of their money.  The scam starts with a telephone call that you receive purportedly from a law enforcement officer informing you that you have failed to appear for jury duty and that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.  You are told, however, that you can avoid arrest and greater fines by paying a fine through a credit card or or prepaid cash card.  Of course, the phone call is a scam.  Even if you have missed jury duty, you will never be called by legitimate court officers and shaken down for a payment.

Now, however in a new twist on this old scam, the City of Emmett, Idaho is warning people about a scammer who, when he was initially unsuccessful in persuading his intended victims to make a payment to him under the threat of arrest, called the local sheriff’s office posing as his intended victim and threatening to shoot any law enforcement officer who came to his home.  Ordinarily, this might have prompted a visit from the sheriff’s office which could have been used to scare the victims into making the demanded payment.  Fortunately, the sheriff’s office had already reported the scam to the sheriff’s office so that they knew when they got the call from the scammer that it was not a legitimate phone call.

TIPS

Initial contacts from the courts regarding jury duty are always in writing through the mail although some systems will permit you to receive future notices through email.  Under no circumstances will you receive telephone calls or text messages indicating that you have failed to report for jury duty.  No court will demand payment over the phone for failing to appear for jury duty.  If you do receive such a call and you think that there is even the possibility that you might have forgotten to report for jury duty, merely call the local clerk of courts in order to  get accurate information.

Scam of the day – October 20, 2015 – Update on Dow Jones data breach

A week ago in the October 13th Scam of the day I informed you about the hacking of Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Barron’s. This data breach went all the way back to August of 2012 but was not identified until July of 2015.  There has been much speculation about the goal of the hackers as they did not attempt to reach much in the way of personal information.  Now Bloomberg is reporting that the FBI, Secret Service and SEC are investigating the possibility that the hacking, which they are presently attributing to unidentified Russian hackers may have been done to obtain insider information that could be used before it would be made public for purposes of profitably trading stocks.  This certainly is not as far fetched as it may initially appear.  As regular readers of Scamicide will remember, in the September 20th Scam of the day I reported to you about the SEC settling civil charges against two defendants who used this same type of tactic of stealing inside information to make stock trades.  In that case, the defendants made 23 million dollars by hacking into public relations companies Marketwired, PR Newswire and Business Wire to learn  inside corporate information before these companies could release the information to the public through press releases.  In regard to Dow Jones’ publications, early access through hacking to information about mergers and acquisitions as well as other corporate information could well be exploited to make profitable stock trades based on this inside information before it became known by the public.

TIPS

Scam artists are the only criminals whom we refer to as artists and they are constantly coming up with new ways to turn hacking into profits.  Companies have got to start doing a better job of recognizing that they are targets and protect their data better.  I will report to you about future developments in this story as they occur.

Scam of the day – March 13, 2013 – Spring Break grandparent scam

The words Spring Break conjure up images of young college students on beaches and would not seem to be much of a match with grandparents, but for scammers, they are a match made in heaven or perhaps hell.  Many of you are familiar with the grandparent scam where a grandparent receives a telephone call from someone purporting to be their grandchild who has gotten into some trouble, either a traffic accident, legal trouble or medical  problems in a far away place.  The caller pleads for the grandparent to wire some money immediately to help alleviate the problem.  However the caller also begs the grandparent not to tell mom and dad.  One would think that no one would be gullible enough to fall for this scam, but don’t be so hard on the victims of this scam.  Scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists, have a knowledge of psychology of which Freud would have been envious and are able to use that knowledge to persuade their victims to send money right away.  With so many college students in warmer parts of the country or even on beaches outside of the country during Spring Break, it is a perfect time for scammers to put this scam to work.

TIPS

Sometimes the scammers do not know the name of their victim’s grandchildren, but often they do.  Sometimes they get this information from perusing obituaries which may name grandchildren by name so merely because the correct name is used in the call is no reason to believe the call.  Don’t respond immediately to such a call without calling the real grandchild on his or her cell phone or call the parents and confirm the whereabouts of the grandchild.  If a medical problem is the ruse used, you can call the real hospital.  If legal problems are the ruse, you can call the real police.  You can also test the caller with a question that could be answered only by the real grandchild, but make sure that it really is a question that the real grandchild could answer and not just anyone who might read the real grandchild’ s Facebook page or other social media.  As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”

Scam of the day – August 16, 2012 – Voter survey scam

Political candidates derive much of their strategy from the information they obtain from telephone surveys so it is not surprising that you may receive a telephone call from a company taking a survey on behalf of a particular candidate.  Even if you are on the federal do-not-call list, the law permits you to receive these kinds of calls.  Scam artists and identity thieves are aware of this and will call you posing as legitimate poll takers.  They will then tell you that in return for taking their poll, you are eligible for a prize and in order to be eligible for the prize, you must provide them with some personal information such as your Social Security number or your bank account number.  Unfortunately, there are no prizes for participating in such surveys and if you provide this information, you will become a victim of identity theft.

TIPS
Legitimate political poll takers never offer prizes for participation in their polls so if one is offered, you know it is a scam.  As I have repeatedly said, never give your personal information, such as your Social Security number to anyone whom you have not called and are sure of their identity and their need for the information.  Finally, as I have indicated before, you may wish to place a credit freeze on your credit report so that even if your Social Security number is stolen, the identity thief will not be able to get access to your credit report to make large purchases in your name.