Scam of the day – September 26, 2015 – Employment recruiter scams

Searching for a job is much easier today with all of the resources of the Internet, however, unfortunately, it is also easier for scammers to search for victims posing as employment recruiters using the resources of the Internet.  The phony recruiters often reach out to people on social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Many people provide personal information to these scammers who then use that information to make the job seeker a victim of identity theft.  Often the scammers will copy the logo of legitimate companies so that their emails may look legitimate.

TIPS

As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  You can never be sure when you receive an email, text message or communication by way of social media who is really contacting you.  For this reason, you should never provide personal information to a recruiter unless you have absolutely confirmed they are legitimate.  You can do this by contacting the HR department of the real company they may only be pretending to represent.   Real job postings can also be found on the websites of legitimate companies so if someone claims to be recruiting for a company that does not list such a job as being offered by the company on its website, you can expect that the recruiter is a scammer or identity thief.

Scam of the day – September 24, 2014 – Money flipping scam

An old scam with a new twist is appearing lately on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist and Instagram where an advertisement promises you that through a simple money flipping scheme that takes advantage of quirks in the monetary system, your investment of, for example $100 can quickly be turned into $1,000 by “flipping” and leveraging the money.  In case you need further convincing, the ads often have photographs of happy investors and testimonials about how easy it is.  This is the same type of ploy used by Charles Ponzi, the Godfather of today’s scammers including the infamous Bernie Madoff.  How the scheme works is that all you have to do is to purchase a prepaid debit card and put, for example $100 on the card.  You then provide your card number and PIN from the card to the scammer who promptly steals your money and is never heard from again.  Money lost through prepaid debit cards is impossible to recover which is why they are a payment method of choice of scam artists.

TIPS

Of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is and this money flipping scam is no exception to this rule.  Another important rule in investing is to never invest in anything that you do not totally understand.  Anyone researching this scam would soon learn that it is nothing more than an impossible investment scam.  Finally, always be skeptical if anyone wants you to pay with a prepaid debit card.  Sometimes the arrangement may indeed be legitimate, but it should always put you on guard.

Scam of the day – June 23, 2013 – SEC issues new pump-and-dump warning

Many scams are old and have been with us for many years.  In fact, the origin of the Nigerian email letter of today is found in a scam that began in the 1500s called the Spanish Prisoner Scam.  Many of these old scams have evolved and changed over the years, but unfortunately are still effective ways for scam artists to steal money from unwary victims.  Recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a warning about one of the scams that is having a resurgence.  The scam is called the Pump and Dump scheme and it works when you are told about a great opportunity to invest in a company that is a microcap company or penny stock company.  Often the communication providin the information about the company purports to be from an “insider.”   Sometimes, the information appears to be intended for another insider, but it somehow is directed to you.  The information will lead you to believe that the company, for various reasons, is about to have a huge surge in the value of its stock so it is important for you to act quickly and buy up shares.  Unfortunately, this is a scam.  The people providing the information lure their victims into buying up the shares of the company which causes a temporary increase in the value of the stock.  However, it is at this point that the scammers sell their shares, knowing that they have artificially inflated the value of the stock by luring many people to buy it.  The scammers make a big profit, but everyone else is left holding stock that drops dramatically in price soon thereafter when it becomes apparent that the sudden surge in the price of the stock was caused by the scammers luring people into buying the stock with fales promises and representations.

TIPS

Years ago, the communication urging you to take advantage of this great opportunity came by way of a fax, but the fax has been replaced as the primary method for spreading this fraud by email, online chat rooms and social media such as Facebook or Twitter.  Whenever you receive such a communication touting a stock opportunity such as this you should immediately be skeptical.  If indeed they are touting that they have inside information, such information, if accurate would most likely run afoul of SEC rules and regulations.  You should also be skeptical as to why you are being so lucky to receive such an offer.  Ultimately, you should never invest in anything that you don’t understand and you should never invest in something that you have not researched thoroughly.  Merely because someone represents that they have critical information about a potential investment is no reason to trust them.  The pump and dump scam is particularly effective with penny stocks or small companies with small capitalization so you should be particularly wary if you receive an offer involving such companies.

If you wish to report a securities fraud or have a question about the legality of investments you can contact the SEC at http://www.sec.gov/complaint/select.shtml

Scam of the day – November 19, 2012 – Holiday shopping scams part 1

Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may be for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by scammers who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them.  Today’s scam of the day will be the first of many that I will be doing that deal with holiday shopping scams.  I received an email today showing me how I could get iPad 2s and iPhones at 90% discounts by clicking on links and ordering them online.  If I had clicked on the links, all I would have succeeded in doing would have been paying electronically for goods that I never would have received.  Meanwhile, by clicking on the links, I also would have run the risk of unknowingly downloading keystroke logging malware that could have stolen all of the information from my computer, such as my Social Security number, credit card number and other financial data and made me a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered.  Never click on links in emails, tweets or text messages unless you are sure the communications are legitimate and it is hard to do so without calling the legitimate company because even if it truly appears to be coming from a legitimate person or entity, their email, twitter, or smart phone may have been hacked into and the communication you receive is from a scammer.  Only deal with companies that you know are legitimate and confirm that you are actually on a website that you know is legitmate because phony websites can look quite good.

Scam of the day – November 10, 2012 – Latest Twitter hacking

A common technique used by scammers and identity thieves is to send you an email or text message purporting to be from companies with which many people do business, such as large national banks, Facebook, Twitter or Ebay telling you that there has been a security breach of your account and that it is necessary for you to take particular steps to protect your data and your account.  The email or text then requires you to provide confirming personal information, which then is used by the identity thief to make you a victim of identity theft or requires you to click on a link to take you to a page where you will be assisted in protecting your account when in actuality what you do by clicking on the link is download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information on your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.  However, a similar email that many Twitter users are receiving is actually legitimate, however, there is more to the story.  The legitimate email from Twitter reads “Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter.  We’ve reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account.”  The email then instructs people as to how they can change their passwords to the password they now wish to use.  The number of Twitter users receiving the email actually is more than the number of Twitter users that were actually in danger of having their accounts hijacked, but Twitter affirmatively decided to err on the side of caution and change more account passwords than might have been necessary and it is hard to criticize that decision although it is possible that the broad resetting of passwords may also have represented a mere mistake by Twitter in determining what accounts were in jeopardy.  But there is another scam of which you should be aware.  Knowing that the word is getting out that the email from Twitter is legitimate, scammers will be emailing and texting their phony versions of this email representing themselves as Twitter. In the scammers emails they will be either asking for personal information or directing you to link to a page to reset your password that will download that keystroke logging malware program I warned you about.  Don’t provide such information and don’t click on any links unless you are sure they are legitimate.

TIPS

The real email from Twitter does contain a link to go to change your password, namely https://twitter.com.  However, you are better protected by not clicking on the link, but typing the real address directly into your address line.  The real email from Twitter does not ask for personal information. If you are asked for personal information, the email you got is from a scammer.   Also check out the address from which you your email is coming and if it isn’t the real email address of twitter as indicated above, don’t trust it.  Don’t even trust an email from an address that contains the word “twitter” in it because that may be from a scammer who just used the name in the phony address.

Scam of the day – October 7, 2012 – Hulk Hogan sex tape scams

Celebrity sex tapes are nothing new.  From Pamela Anderson to Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian and others, the public’s thirst for sex tapes sometimes made without and almost always distributed without the knowledge of the celebrity is always great.  The latest of the sex tapes to hit the Internet is a sex tape that apparently was done surreptitiously of former WWE wrestling champion Hulk Hogan who is shown in a thirty minute tape having sex with a woman who has been identified by some as the ex-wife of Hogan’s best friend.  A number of legitimate websites are showing a one minute portion of the tape, but you can probably expect soon that the full thirty minute tape will be appearing on the Internet.  But beware.  Scammers, as they have done with other celebrity nude shots or sex tapes,  most recently with the topless shots of Kate, the Duchess of Windsor will be sending out emails, Facebook messages and tweets that lure you to phony websites that when you click on the link necessary to watch the tape will download dangerous keystroke logging malware on your computer that can steal your information and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Never trust links that come in emails, tweets or Facebook messages.  Even if they come from friends who you trust, you must remember my motto, “trust me you can’t trust anyone.”  Your friends may have had their email account, Twitter account or Facebook account hacked into by an identity thief and the message that you are getting may be from the identity thief, not your friend.  And that message may well contain keystroke logging malware.  In addition, even if your real friends pass on a link, they may be unwittingly passing on a link that they do not realize will cause you to become a victim of identity theft.  The best course of action, if you are intent upon seeing the video is to go only to websites that you know are legitimate.

Scam of the day – August 11, 2012 – Latest Twitter scam

Recently there have been a large number of tweets from scammers that indicate that if you click on the link contained in the tweet you will see a photograph of yourself.  Unfortunately, if you click on the tweet, you don’t get a photograph of yourself, but you do download a Blackhole Exploit Kit that can do any number of malicious things to you and your computer.  It has key stroke logging capabilities so it can read the information on your computer and get access to your credit card numbers and other personal information that may be on your computer.  It also can take over your computer and turn it into a zombie computer as part of a botnet by which the scammers use your computer to send out their scam emails.

TIPS

Never click on a link unless you are positive it is from a reliable source.  Even if it appears to be from one of your friends, their account may have been hacked into and the link may have been sent by a scammer.  Always call your friend first to confirm that the message was from him or her and even then you should exercise caution because he or she may be passing on malware that he or she is not aware he or she has downloaded.  In this particular scam, many of the scamming tweets are coming from Cuba or Russia so if the link ends in “.ru” or “.cu” you should be particularly wary.