Posts Tagged: ‘Scam’

Scam of the day – July 22, 2014 – Malaysian Airliner Flight MH 17 scams

July 22, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

With the world’s attention focused on the recent  shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 over the Ukraine, it was inevitable that identity thieves and scammers would soon be exploiting this event toward their own criminal goals and that is just what is already happening.  There are a variety of scams that have sprung up that are using the shooting down of the airplane as a hook to scam members of the public.  One scam involves phony charities that are asking for donations for the benefit of the victims of the missile attack only to steal all of the donations.  Another scam involves emails, text messages or communications on social media, such as Facebook that promise startling video of the event.  One message reads “Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine.  Watch here the video of Crash.”  If your curiosity gets the better of you and you click on the link to view the video, you may unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of your personal information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

You should never give to a charity until you  have confirmed that it is legitimate.  Go to www.charitynavigator.org where you can not only find out whether or not the charity is legitimate, but also how much of your donation goes toward charitable purposes and how much goes to administrative costs and salaries.

As I always warn you, you should never click on any link in any email, text message, social media or other communication unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate.  In this case, the particular language that I reported above that is used to lure people to download malware is written in broken English and could be an indication that the source is a foreign scammer or identity thief.  If you must search for such video, stay with legitimate new sources such as CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or other sources that can be trusted.

Scam of the day – July 9, 2014 – Spoofing scam

July 9, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Spoofing is a funny sounding word, but there is nothing funny about spoofing, which is the name for the scam tactic used by scammers by which they are able to fool your caller ID such that when you receive a call, it appears to come from a legitimate company, governmental agency, such as the IRS or even your own telephone number.  Sometimes the spoofed calls are automated robocalls in which you are asked for financial information in order to assist you in obtaining a lower interest on your credit card or some tempting ruse.  Other times there will actually be someone on the line purporting to be from a legitimate company or governmental agency.  Using either the carrot or stick approach, they either try to instill fear in you in order to lure you into providing personal information in order to avoid a problem with your bank, the IRS or some other entity or they use the carrot and try to entice you to provide your personal information in order to receive a prize or some other financial benefit.  In all cases you risk identity theft when you provide personal information by phone in response to any telephone call you receive.

TIPS

There are some basic precepts to remember to help protect you from being scammed by spoofed calls.  First, remember that your caller ID is not fool proof.  You cannot trust your caller ID to accurately inform you as to who is really calling you.  Second, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or phone calls so if you receive such a communication, you can be sure that it is a scam.  Third, robocalls are illegal except from charities or politicians so whenever you receive a robocall that purports to be from a company or governmental agency, you can be sure it is a scam.  You should never provide personal information to anyone over the phone whom you have not called.  If you ever receive a communication requesting personal information and you think it might possibly be legitimate, merely hang up and call the entity back at a number that you know is accurate and even then do not provide personal information unless there is a real need for it.

Scam of the day – June 6, 2014 – Secret shopper scam

June 6, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Although there is nothing new about secret shopper scams or mystery shopper scams as they are sometimes called, they are scams that are still constantly finding new victims.  I picked today to make this the Scam of the day because I received a scam secret shopper email that I am reproducing below:

Secret Shopper

A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE

Secret Shopper®

Secret Shopper® is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers and merchandisers. Its fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to survey. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience. After you sign up, you will have access to training materials on our site.

You will write a report about the customer services of the outlet we would give you to evaluate.
The report will be sent back to us via Email, you will have to use the following pointers to prepare your report :

How long it took you to get services.
Ambiance/Outlook of the Shop/Outlet
Smartness of the attendant
Customer service professionalism
Reaction of personnel under pressure
Information that you think would be helpful
Your comments and impressions.

Kindly send us your You can Apply for a job with us now. Email us your

First Name:

Last Name:

House No./Street:

City:

State:

Zip Code:

Phone:

Mobile Phone:

Email:

Alternate Email:

And we would get back to you ASAP with further details on the program

Sincerely,
Recruiting Department,
Secret Shopper®

The mystery shopper scam is a tried and true scam that scammers still use to steal their victims’ money because the scam still works.   The scam begins when you are contacted by mail or email, such as the one featured above purportedly by a company asking you if you want a job as a mystery shopper who will be paid to shop at their store and then report on the shopping experience to assist in market research and improving customer relations.  The pitch sounds legitimate and often the emails and letters appear to be legitimate although it is easy to counterfeit a company’s logo and stationary.  Once you agree to be a mystery shopper, you are sent a certified bank check for an amount such as $5,000 which you are asked to deposit in your checking account and use the money to make purchases that you are allowed to keep.  You are then instructed to send the remaining funds back to the company.  Some victims, believing they were being careful deposited the check and thinking that they were being exceedingly careful, waited a few days for the check to clear.   They then wire the funds, as requested back to the company only to learn a few days later that the certified check sent to them was a counterfeit and their bank had only given them provisional credit for the check into their account.  Once the check is found to be a fake, the provisional credit is removed from the victim’s account and the victim has lost the money that he or she wired to the scammer.

TIP

One reason why this scam works so well is that there really are mystery shopping jobs although the actual number is quite few and they do not go looking for you.  If you want to find out if a mystery shopping company is legitimate, you can contact the Mystery Shopping Providers Association which is a trade organization of legitimate mystery shopping companies.  Their website is www.mysteryshop.org.  Other indications that you are involved with a scam is when you receive a check for more than what is owed you and you are asked to wire the difference back to the sender.  This is the basis of many scams.  Whenever you receive a check, wait for you bank to tell you that the check has fully cleared before you consider the funds as actually being in your account.  Don’t rely on provisional credit and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest.  That is always a scam.  Also be wary whenever you are asked to wire funds because this is a common theme in many scams because it is difficult to trace and impossible to stop.

 

Scam of the day – May 31, 2014 – AOL customer support scam

May 31, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Millions of people still use AOL and so scammers and identity thieves will often send out phishing emails that appear to come from AOL, such as the one reproduced below.  The logo and format of this particular email that is presently circulating is a good counterfeit, however, the repeated faulty grammar is a strong indication that this is a scam.  Like many similar scams, this one works by luring you into clicking on a link in the email in order to resolve an emergency.  However, if you click on the link, one of two things will happen.  You either will be prompted to provide information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or by clicking on the link you will unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  This particular email appears to be signed by Bud Rosenthal, who actually is an AOL officer, however, the email address from which it is sent is that of a student at a university whose email has been hijacked and made a part of a botnet of zombie computers used to send out the scam emails.  Here is how the email appears.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK:

 

 

AOL
Due to the recent signed in of your Account from an unknown location, you are advice toClick here to confirm the validity of your  AOL® Online Account.Thanks once again for choosing our service.

Bud Rosenthal
Bud Rosenthal, AOL Membership Group CEO

Privacy Policy | Customer Support
©2014 AOL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 TIPS

There are numerous reasons not to trust this email.  The email address from which it was sent has no relation to AOL.  It is not addressed to you personally.  It contains faulty grammar.  It is an obvious phishing email and its only purpose is to lure you into either providing personal information or downloading malware.  As I have warned you many times, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that the email is legitimate.  In this case, if you even had a slight thought that it might be legitimate, all you would have to do is to call the real AOL to learn that this was a phishing scam.

Scam of the day – May 14, 2014 – Latest security updates from Department of Homeland Security

May 13, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Constant updating of the software we all use with the latest security patches and updates is a critical part of avoiding scams and identity theft threats.  Whenever new security updates and patches are issued, we provide access to these so that you can update your software to provide better security on your computers, smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices.  Updating your software with the latest security patches and updates as soon as possible is important because identity thieves and scammers are always finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in the software that we all use.  Delay in updating your software could lead to disastrous results.  However, it is also important to be sure that you are downloading legitimate patches and updates rather than being tricked by an identity thief or scammer into downloading malware under the guise of downloading a security patch or update.  That is why we provide links to the necessary patches and updates as provided by the Department of Homeland Security.  Today’s updates provide important security updates to many important programs that we all use including updates to Google Chrome.

TIPS

Here is the link to the latest security updates as issued by the Department of Homeland Security: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/bulletins/SB14-132

Scam of the day – May 4, 2014 – Precious metals scams

May 4, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Congressional hearings last week highlighted the problem of scam artists  fraudulently selling gold and other precious metals to people, many of them elderly.  Often these scams start with a telemarketing call to the victim in which he or she is told “inside” information about an upcoming rise in the prices for gold, silver or other precious metals.  The victims are then goaded into buying the metals at an inflated price and then must often pay additional commission and storage fees that result in the victims losing thousands of dollars.  Since 2001, it is estimated that precious metals fraud has cost consumers 300 million dollars.  Although the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Trade Commission both have jurisdiction in the advertising and sale of precious metals and have shut down some scammers, their record in protecting consumers from precious metal scams is lacking.

TIPS

No one should ever purchase an investment unless they fully understand the investment and no one should ever make an investment decision based solely on a telemarketing call.  Precious metals can be a part of a legitimate investment portfolio, however, this is a sophisticated investment that should only be done by people who are fully educated and informed not just about the investment itself, but also the brokers and others selling the particular investment.

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.