Posts Tagged: ‘Scam’

Scam of the day – April 19, 2014 – Electricity termination notice scam

April 19, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently warned consumers about a scam involving people receiving phone calls purportedly from their electric utility company threatening the consumer with having their electrical service terminated for non-payment.  The consumer is then told that the only way they can avoid having their electricity turned off is to send payment by way of a Green Dot Card.  Green Dot Cards are prepaid debit cards that can be obtained in many places.  Scammers use them frequently because unlike a check, payment cannot be stopped on a Green Dot Card and they are extremely difficult to trace.  They are very much the equivalent to having money wired which is another favorite method that scammers like to use for their payments.  Although this particular scam warning came from the Pennsylvania Attorney General, this scam is being done throughout the country.

TIPS

Whenever you get a telephone call, you can never be sure who is actually calling you.  Even your Caller ID can be fooled by clever scammers who can make it appear that the call is from a legitimate source.  State regulations require you to receive written notice before a utility can be turned off and you will also receive information as to how to make arrangements for payments.  If you do receive a call from any company that you do business with demanding payment, your best course of action is to hang up and call the business back at a number that you know is accurate to make arrangements for the payment of your bill.

Scam of the day – March 31, 2014 – Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) scams

March 30, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Today is the deadline for the applying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the initial open enrollment period.  People required to enroll who have not started the process by today face being assessed with a financial penalty.   This is a great opportunity for uninsured people to purchase health insurance.  It is also a great opportunity for identity thieves and scam artists to take advantage of the confusion that surrounds the Affordable Care Act and try to steal your money and your personal information which they can use to make you a victim of identity theft.  There are a number of phony Affordable Care Act websites and people are also receiving calls from identity thieves and scammers posing as legitimate insurance brokers where the goal is merely to obtain your personal information and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Never give personal information to anyone over the phone who calls you regardless of who they say they are because you can never be sure of their true identity.  Even if your Caller ID indicates that they are legitimate, scammers and identity thieves are able to manipulate Caller ID through a technique called spoofing whereby they are able to make their call appear to be from a legitimate source.  As for websites dealing with the Affordable Care Act, the problems initially occurring with the functioning of the website have been eliminated.  The best source of information both as to how to learn about the Affordable Care Act and to sign up for a plan is https://www.healthcare.gov/

 

Scam of the day – February 27, 2014 – Another Nigerian letter that isn’t from Nigeria

February 27, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Today’s Scam of the day comes right from my email and I am sure that it has appeared in the email boxes of many of you.  Although it may appear that the Nigerian email scam began in the era of the Internet, the basis of the scam actually goes back to 1588 when it was known as the Spanish Prisoner Scam.  In those days, a letter was sent to the victim purportedly from someone on behalf of a wealthy aristocrat who was imprisoned in Spain under a false name.  The identity of the nobleman was not revealed for security reasons, but the victim was asked to provide money to obtain the release of the aristocrat, who, it was promised would reward the money-contributing  victim with great sums of money and, in some circumstances, the Spanish prisoner’s beautiful daughter in marriage.

Today’s scam of the day is yet another variation of what has come to be known as the Nigerian letter scam.  In the various versions of this scam circulating on the Internet today, you are promised great sums of money if you assist a Nigerian in his effort to transfer money out of his country.  Variations include the movement of embezzled funds by corrupt officials, a dying gentleman who wants to make charitable gifts or a minor bank official trying to move the money of deceased foreigners out of his bank without the government taking it.  the example below of the email I received isn’t from Nigeria, but the scam is the same.  Although generally, you are told that you do not need to contribute anything financially to the endeavor, you soon learn that it is necessary for you to contribute continuing large amounts of money for various reasons, such as various fees, bribes, insurance or taxes before you can get anything.  Of course, the victim ends up contributing money to the scammer, but never receives anything in return.

Here is a copy of the email, I recently received:

“Dear Friend,
i need your kind attention. I will be very glad if  you do assist me to relocate this sum of ( US$15.Million dollars.) to your bank account for the benefit of our both families.
only i cannot operate it alone without using a Foreigner who will stand as a beneficiary to the money, that is why i decided to contact you in a good manner to assist me and also to share the benefit together with me.
for the sharing of the fund 50/50 base on the fact that it is two man business note that you are not taking any risk because there will be a legal back up document as well which will back the money up into your bank account there in your country.
all i need from you now is to indicating your interest and I will send you the full details on how the business will be executed.
Thanks & Best Regards,
Dr Lahman”

TIPS

This is a simple scam to avoid.  It preys upon people whose greed overcomes their good sense.  The first thing you should ask yourself is why would you be singled out to be so lucky to be asked to participate in this arrangement.  Since there is no good answer to that question, you should merely hit delete and be happy that you avoided a scam.  As with many such scams, which are originating outside of the United States, the punctuation and grammar are not very good.

 

Scam of the day – December 4, 2013 – Online coupon scams

December 3, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Cyber Monday was. by some accounts, the biggest day of online shopping in history as many of us find the convenience and comfort of online shopping very attractive.  Whether you shop at a brick and mortar store or an online retailer, legitimate coupons can save you a great deal of money.  Consequently many people are always on the lookout for helpful coupons to reduce their shopping costs.  Unfortunately, scam artists and identity thieves are only too aware of how much we like our online coupons and have tied phony coupons to many scams.  One of the scams involves an email that you receive that appears to come from a legitimate retailer with a link for you to click on to access a coupon that you can use either in online shopping or shopping at a store.  The problem is that sometimes these emails which appear to be from the real store have malware attached to the phony coupon so when you click on the link to download it, you are actually unwittingly downloading a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of your personal information from your computer including credit card information and banking information.  They will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

As always, if the coupon looks too good to be true, it usually is and you should immediately be skeptical.  You should also be skeptical if the email requires you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Finally, the sad truth is that it is so easy to counterfeit an email to make it look like it is from the legitimate company that you cannot trust any email that you receive with a link until you have confirmed that the email is legitimate.  In the case of emails with coupons, the easiest way to deal with this dilemma is to merely go to the real website of the real company (and not through a link provided in the email) and look for the coupon.  Any coupons that you would legitimately receive in an email will also be available at the company’s official website.  Also, you can further checkout the coupon’s validity by going to the website of the Coupon Information Corporation, a non-profit association of manufacturers that has a section of their website devoted to notifications of counterfeit coupons.  Go to their website at http://www.couponinformationcenter.com/ and merely click on the section entitled “Counterfeit Notifications” to see the latest list of phony coupons.  Merely because your coupon does not appear there does not insure that the coupon is not a phony, but if it does appear, you can be pretty confident that the coupon you received is indeed a scam.

Scam of the day – June 20, 2013 – Nigerian email scam is still with us

June 20, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Like an old friend or perhaps a bad penny, the Nigerian email scam by which you receive an email promising riches under various pretexts such as an inheritance or in return for simple assistance in moving money out of Nigeria keeps on coming back.  A copy of one of these emails which I recently received is copied below.  Someone must be still falling for this scam because they still are being sent out, but I hope you are not one of the people who falls prey to this totally bogus scam.  What happens if you respond to the email is you get strung along, constantly being required to pay money for various things such as taxes, bribes, administrative fees or other costs.  All the while, you receive nothing.

Here is a copy of the email I received:

“FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA

VERIFICATION OF CLAIM CONTRACT/INHERITANCE
Central Bank of Nigeria
Head Office Complex,
Central Business District
Abuja FCT. – Nigeria.

From The Desk Of:

Dr. Mrs. Juliet A. Madubueze

phone Number:+234-8030-940-186

EMAIL:d.madubueze@yahoo.com.hk

(Board Member).

Attention: Beneficiary ,

I am Chief Dr Joshua Omoye , Board Member of Central Bank Of Nigeria (C.B.N) I am Instructed to officially inform you that we have verified your contract/ inheritance file and found out that why you have notreceived your payment is because you have not fulfilled the obligations given to you in respect of your contract/ inheritance payment.  We wish to advise you to stop any communication with any body if youwish to receive your payment,, since we have decided to bring a solution to give you your cash Right now we have arranged your payment through our SWIFT CARD PAYMENT CENTRE from European Union, which isthe latest instruction from the new elected president Mr. Goodluck Jonathan (GCFR) Federal Republic of Nigeria.  This card center will send you an ATM card, which you will use to withdraw your money in any ATM machine in any part of the world, but the maximum is Ten Thousand United States Dollars ($10,000.00) per day. So if you like to receive your fund in this way, please let usknow and send the following information as listed below :

1. Full Name: ===

2. Phone and fax Number: ===

3. Address were you want them to send the ATM card to: =====

4. Your age and current occupation: ==========

We will forward your information to the Director of ATM CARD payment officers   Me Chief Dr. Joshua Omuya and the Executive GOVERNOR Dr. Lamido Sanusi   (Board Member) upon our receipt of the above information. Or you can call him. This is his direct phone Number:+234-8030-940-186 EMAIL:d.madubueze@yahoo.com.hk  Note that the ATM card payment center was mandated to issue out $8000.000,00 Eight Million US Dollars as your payment for this fiscalyear 2013 to you so bear with us.  We anticipate your total compliance to this message immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Mrs. Juliet A. Madubueze

(CBN Board  Member)

phone Number:+234-8030-940-186

EMAIL:d.madubueze@yahoo.com.hk”

TIPS

There are many telltale signs that this is a scam.  Nowhere in the email does my name every appear.  The email is purportedly written by Joshua Omoye, but signed by Juliet A. Madubueze.  It is clear that this is a spam email sent to a vast number of people.  In fact, the email address to which it is addressed is not even my email address, but it ended up in my email box.  Like many of you, I do not have relatives in Nigeria from whom I could inherit.  Don’t be blinded by greed.  Scam artists count on people to allow the promise of riches dim their skepticism.  When you get such an email, merely delete it.  Do not attempt to contact the sender in any fashion.  That will only alert the scammer that they have a real person to deal with.  Another telltale sign is merely the reference to Nigeria.  Nigeria is a hotbed for these types of scams.  I feel badly for legitimate companies from Nigeria who will find people in other countries skeptical whenever they are contacted by a Nigerian company, however, in order to avoid losing your money to a scam artist, you should never respond to emails from Nigeria.

 

Scam of the day – June 19, 2013 – Smishing gets worse

June 19, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Many of you may be unfamiliar with the term “smishing” which is described in detail in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age,” however, you are probably familiar with the term “phishing” which describes the scam by which identity thieves will trick you in an email that appears to come from a person, company or governmental agency to go by way of clicking on a link to a phony website that appears to be that of a legitimate company or governmental agency.  There you are either tricked into providing personal information that becomes used to make you a victim of identity theft or by merely clicking on the misleading link, you unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that reads and steals all of the personal information from your computer and proceeds to make you a victim of identity theft.  Smishing is the latest development in this scam.  Rather than coming to you by way of an email,  a smishing attack delivers the scam to you through a text message, which is technically a “short message service” (SMS) hence smishing.  Often the phony text message appears to be from your bank, telling you for whatever reason, you need to provide personal information.  You may be told that you need to provide the information due to a security breach at the bank or for any other reason that may appear legitimate.  However, it never is.  Instead you will either be pumped for personal information or unknowingly download the keystroke logging malware.

TIPS
Never respond directly to these text messages.  Don’t text “stop” or “no” as sometimes suggested.  Doing so only alerts the identity thieves that they have a real  and active smartphone number. Instead forward the text to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keyboard.  You can never be sure when you receive a text message asking for information if the sender is who he or she says he or she is and even if the message originates with a legitimate smartphone, you can’t be sure that the legitimate smartphone was not hacked into and the message you receive is from an identity thief.  If you ever have the slightest thought that the text message may be a legitimate message from your bank or any other entity with which you do business, you should contact the bank or other entity directly at a number that you know is correct to inquire about the text message.

Scam of the day – May 12, 2013 – Bank text message scam

May 12, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Everyone texts including scammers and identity thieves.  A recent text message scam that has resurfaced involves a text message from “Credit Card Services Alert” and it informs you that your debit card has been deactivated.  The text message provides you with a telephone number to contact.  If you respond by calling the number, you will reach an automated service informing you that you have reached the card activation center.  It then asks you for you credit card number, expiration date and security code.  Anyone providing this information is sure to become a victim of identity theft.  Your bank or credit card issuer will not contact you in regard to problems by a text message so if you do receive such a text message, you should immediately delete it.

TIPS

Whenever you receive a text message, email, letter or telephone call, you can never be sure of who is communicating with you.  If you have even the slightest thought that the message may be real, you should not respond to the text, email, or caller directly, but rather contact the bank or other organization that they pretend to represent at a telephone number that you know is accurate in order to inquire about the legitimacy of the communication, whereupon you will promptly be informed that it was a scam.  Remember, texts and email messages or phone calls can appear to come from legitimate companies, but that does not mean that it is not a fake.  I received a very real looking email message about a problem with my bank account, however, there was only one problem.  I didn’t have an account at that bank so I merely deleted the email.  You should too.

Scam of the day – May 7, 2013 – Ransomware update

May 7, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

I have previously warned you about this type of  scam on December 3, 2012, January 19, 2013 and as recently as March 26, 2013, but today’s update is because now it is personal.  When I went to turn on my computer today I was locked out and a Ransomware scam was facing me on my computer.  Ransomware scams occur when you find that you are unable to use your computer and you receive an email message or a notice on your screen, as I received, indicating that your use of your computer has been frozen due to illegal activity being detected on your computer.  A common variation of this scam being done now purports to be from the Department of Homeland Security and its National Cyber Security Division.  The version I got purported to be from the FBI.  Even scarier was the fact that it had control of my computer camera and a photograph of me appeared at the top of the phony notice.   In the notice I was told that I needed to pay a fine before my computer would be unfrozen and I would be able to have access to it again.  In fact, the freezing of my computer has not been done by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI or any other governmental agency.  It was done by a scammer who installed malware on my computer either through a tainted website, download or link that I had gone to  It is for this reason, that I am always reminding you never to click on links and download attachments unless you are absolutely positive that they are legitimate.  And even though I follow my own advice, somewhere I got caught.

TIPS

The best way to deal with ransomware is to avoid it in the first place.  Maintain a good firewall on your computer and install and maintain up-to-date security software.  Also, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  Even if the link or download is in an email or a Facebook posting that appears to come from a friend of yours, their account may have been hacked and the communication may be from a scammer.  Never pay a ransom to regain control of your computer.  There is no guarantee that the criminal who froze your computer will let you off the hook.  Rather, have a computer professional go through your computer to find the source of the problem and resolve it.  It is also important to remember that no legitimate agency will freeze your computer and make you pay a fine to unfreeze it.  In my case, my security software was not able to stop the malware from initially freezing my computer, but when, through the use of free software from Malwarebytes, I was unable to unfreeze my computer, I was able to do a security scan and find that my security software had stopped the keystroke logging malware that the scammer had attempted to download to my computer.  Had I not had such software, my computer’s information would have been at the mercy of the scammer.

If you are a victim of ransomware, here are a couple of free links that can help you.   The first  is a link to Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center with links and instructions for removing ransomware infections from your computer: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/shared/ransomware.aspx#recover.  The second is to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware which will detect and remove malware such as trojans and spyware.  This was what I used to get rid of the malware freezing my computer.  The link is www.malwarebytes.org.  It is free although there is also an updated version, which I use.

Scam of the day – May 3, 2013 – New gift card scam

May 3, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

The United States Postal Service has recently uncovered a new gift card scam involving gift cards.  Advertisements in legitimate newspapers and websites have been appearing promising a $500 gas gift card in return for a payment of only $79.95.  Unfortunately, when the victim sends his money for the card, they do not receive the promised gift card, but do receive instructions on how to operate the very scam of which they just became a victim and get others to send money and get nothing in return.

TIPS

Anything that appears to good to be true usually is.   Even if an advertisement appears in a legitimate newspaper or website, that does not mean that the advertisement is legitimate or that the newspaper or website has made any attempt to confirm that the advertisement is legitimate.  Another easy way to identify a potential scam is to Google the name of the person or company along with the word “scam” and see what comes up.  You can also check with your local District Attorney or your state Attorney General if you have doubts as to whether a particular offer might be a scam, but ultimately you should always be skeptical of getting something for far less than it is worth.

Scam of the day – May 2, 2013 – Craigslist scam update

May 2, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Often I will remind you about particular types of scams I have mentioned before because they continue to victimize many people.  Earlier this week a Pennsylvania man became a victim of a common Craigslist scam when he put an ad on Craigslist to sell a piece of furniture for $350.  He was contacted by someone who sent him a check for $1,350 and asked the seller to merely deposit the check, deduct the $350 and send the rest back to the buyer by way of a money order.  The check looked legitimate so the seller deposited it and sent the difference back to the buyer.  Unfortunately, the check was a forgery so the seller lost the money he sent to the scam artist posing as a buyer.  Often in these circumstances the check will appear to be a bank check or a certified check, but it is just a forgery.  Other times, the sellers will think they are being prudent by waiting a few days for the check to clear only to learn later that it can take weeks for a check to fully clear and the provisional credit that they are given by the bank after a few days does not mean that the check was not a forgery because once it is recognized as a forgery, the provisional credit is taken away by the bank and the victim is left with a reduced bank account.

TIPS

Whenever you are paid for something that you are selling by a check for more than the amount that is due and that payment comes with a request for you to send the difference back to the buyer, you should consider this a sign that this is a  scam.  Also, anytime you are paid by a check you should wait for the check to fully clear before turning over the sold goods.  Even if the check appears to be a bank check or a certified check, it may well be a forgery so you should contact your bank to make sure that the check has fully cleared before you consider the payment to have been made.  Regardless of the excuse that may be given to you as to the reason for payment by way of a check for more than what is owed, you should be suspicious.  Finally, always be wary when someone requires you to send payment by Western Union or wired from your bank because once those payments have been made, it is impossible to get the money back.