Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – November 13, 2019 – Apple Phishing Email

Phishing emails, by which scammers and identity thieves attempt to lure you into either clicking on links contained within the email which download malware or trick you into providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft, are nothing new.   They are a staple of identity thieves and scammers and with good reason because they work.

It was just about three weeks ago that I told you about an  Apple phishing email which was one of the worst examples of an effective phishing email, however, today’s Apple phishing email is even worse.  The subject line of the email reads:” [Important] – Your Apple ID (******************@aol.com ) was used to sign in to іСlοud ref##EV712C,”  There is an attachment to the email for you to download, but there is absolutely nothing written in the email itself.  The email is sent from an address that has no relation to Apple and there is no salutation with the name or account number of the person receiving the email.

TIPS

Obviously if you do not have an account with Apple you know that this is a phishing scam, but even if you do have an account with Apple, as I indicated above there are many indications that this is not a legitimate email from Apple, but instead is a phishing email. Legitimate companies would refer to your specific account number in the email.  They also would specifically direct the email to you by your name.  This email is addressed to the generic customer.

As with all phishing emails, two things can happen if you download the attachment.  Either you will be sent to a legitimate looking, but phony webpage where you will be prompted to input personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or, even worse, merely by downloading the attachment or in other cases, clicking on a link contained in the phishing email, you may download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of your personal information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  If you receive an email like this and think it may possibly be legitimate, merely contact Apple customer service where you can confirm that it is a scam.  Here is a link to Apple customer service.  https://www.apple.com/contact/

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Scam of the day – November 12, 2019 – New Netflix Phishing Scam

The popularity of Netflix makes it a preferred subject for phishing emails which appear to come from Netflix. In these phishing emails you are told you need to update your credit card information or asked for other personal information.  I have written about a number of these phishing emails in past Scams of the day.  The Better Business Bureau recently issued a warning about a new Neflix phishing scam which starts when you receive an email carrying the easily counterfeited Netlfix logo.  The email reads, “Hi, we could not authorize your payment for the next billing cycle of your subscription therefore we’ve suspended your membership.”   The email contains a link that reads “restart membership” where are you are asked for your Netflix username and password.  In other versions of the scam, you are told that your account is on hold because Netflix is “having some trouble with your current billing information.” You are then instructed to click on a link in order to update your account and credit card or debit card payment information. This is a scam. If you click on the link you may unwittingly download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can result in your becoming a victim of identity theft. Alternatively, if you provide the requested credit card information, you have just turned your credit card over to an identity thief who will quickly run up charges on the card.

TIPS

As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  You can never be truly sure when you receive an email seeking personal information such as your credit card number whether or not the email is a scam.  The risk of clicking on a link or providing the requested information is just too high. Instead, if you think that the email might be legitimate, you should contact the company at a telephone number that you know is legitimate and find out whether or not the email was a scam.

Some indications that this new Netflix phishing email is phony is the address from which it is sent is not a Netflix email address and the lack of your name or account number appearing anywhere in the email.

As for Netflix in particular, it will never ask in an email for any of your personal information so anytime you get an email purportedly from Netflix asking for your credit card number, Social Security number or any other personal information, it is a scam.  Here is a link to Netflix’s security page for information about staying secure in regard to your Netflix account. https://help.netflix.com/en/node/13243

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Scam of the day – November 11, 2019 – Secret Sister Scam Returns

What is old, is new again. According to numerous reports around the country, the Secret Sister scam is back. I first reported to you about this scam in 2015. It seems harmless enough when you see it come up in your email or on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter where it has increasingly been found lately.  It is often titled the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and it generally provides you with a list of six people.  You are told to send a gift worth at least ten dollars to the first person on the list, remove that person’s name from the list, move the second person on the list to the first position, add your name to the end of the list and then send the list to six of your friends.  In theory, you will receive thirty-six gifts for your small contribution of ten dollars.

So where is the harm?

First of all, it is a blatantly illegal chain letter and violates Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1302.  In addition, like all chain letters, ultimately, it is destined to fail because it is a pyramid scheme where ultimately we run out of people on the planet.  In this particular version of the illegal chain letter, you are required to provide personal information that can lead you to become more vulnerable to scams and identity theft schemes.

TIPS

Avoid all chain letters regardless of the guise under which you receive them.  They are illegal.  In addition, although in some instances this particular chain letter is turning up on Facebook pages, it is a violation of your Facebook terms of agreement, so you potentially face the loss of your Facebook account if you participate in the scheme.

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Scam of the day – November 10, 2019 – Veterans Scams

Tomorrow we will celebrate Veterans’ Day, a day we set aside to honor those who have served our country and to whom all Americans owe a debt of gratitude.  However, for scam artists, Veterans’ Day is just another opportunity to take advantage of the best intentions of people and steal their money.   Last week, the Senate Committee on Aging held hearings in which they inquired about scams targeting veterans and members of the military.  One witness testified at the hearing that veterans are twice as likely to be scammed than the general population.

Among the scams targeting all of us at this time of year are phony telephone calls that purport to be from various veterans’ organizations or charities seeking donations when, in fact, many of these calls will be from scammers seeking to steal money under false pretenses.

Another scam related to Veterans’ Day involves veterans receiving telephone calls purporting to be from the Veterans’ Administration asking for personal information necessary to verify or update the information of the VA.  Of course, the call is not from the VA and the request for personal information is merely to gather that type of information in order to make the veteran a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Even if you are on the federal Do Not Call List, which is a good thing to be on if you wish to avoid telemarketers, you are legally able to be called by charities.  The problem is that whenever you receive a call purporting to be from a charity, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you are being contacted by a legitimate charity.  You also cannot know, without doing some research, whether the particular veterans’ charity that may be contacting you is legitimate or not.   As I often advise you, never give personal information such as credit card information to anyone over the phone if you have not made the call.  If you are considering a gift to a particular charity, first check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org to make sure that the charity is legitimate and then get the address from charitynavigator.org for the charity, if it is legitimate,  so that if you wish to make a gift, you can make it directly to the charity.

As for calls that you may receive purporting to be from the VA or any other governmental agency requesting information, you should never provide information over the phone to anyone because, as I indicated above, you can never be sure if the caller is who he or she says they are.  In this case, you should contact the particular agency at a telephone number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the request for personal information was legitimate or not.  Most of the time, the call will turn out to be a scam.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – November 9, 2019 – FTC Sues Alleging Illegal Pyramid Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued multi-level marketer Neora LLC, formerly known as Nerium International, LLC alleging that the company operated an illegal pyramid scheme.  Additionally, the FTC is alleging that Nerium deceptively and falsely promoted “EHT” supplements as an antidote to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)  as well as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.  Nerium would sell these worthless EHT supplements as well as other supplements and skin creams through multi-level marketing, however, rather than a legitimate multi-level marketing company such as Amway, the FTC alleges that Nerium operated as an illegal pyramid scheme through which its distributors made money by recruiting new distributors rather than through selling products which is the hallmark of an illegal pyramid scheme.  As Andrew Smith the FTC’s Director of Consumer Protection said, “Participants in legitimate multi-level marketing companies earn money based on actual sales to real customers rather than recruitment.  But pyramid schemes depend on recruitment of new participants to pay out to existing participants, meaning that the vast majority of participants will ultimately lose money.”  According to the FTC, Nerium lied to its distributors about the money they could earn when the truth was that the majority of its distributors would actually lose money.

Sometimes a legitimate multilevel marketing business may look quite similar to an illegitimate pyramid scheme, which is one of the reasons that so many people fall prey to these scams.  For every legitimate multilevel marketing company, such as Mary Kay and Amway, there are many that are just scams.  In a legitimate multilevel marketing company, investors make money by selling products to the public and by recruiting new salespeople.  In a pyramid scheme the source of profits is based primarily on the recruiting of new members or salespeople.

TIPS

Anyone who is considering investing in what is represented to be a multilevel marketing business should always investigate the company and the terms of investment carefully before investing any money.  In addition, you should also check out the company with the FTC and your state’s attorney general to make sure that the company is legitimate before investing any money.  Here is a link to information from the FTC that you should consider before investing in a multilevel marketing business.  http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multilevel-marketing

As for supplements that purport to enhance your brain, the truth is that there are no pills or quick fixes that can dramatically increase your brain power or memory.  You should always be wary of products being  sold that promise to dramatically improve your memory, increase your brain’s efficiency or cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and CTE.  Never buy any such product without doing research as to the effectiveness of the product and consulting with your own physician.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – November 8, 2019 – New American Express Phishing Email

Today’s Scam of the day is about a phishing email that purports to be from American Express. It was brought to my attention by a Scamicide reader who received it and frankly it is one of the most convincing phishing emails that I have seen in a long time. The graphics, grammar and overall appearance of the email is excellent. As always, the purpose of a phishing email is to lure you into clicking on links contained within the email or providing personal information. If you click on the links, you end up downloading malware and if you provide the requested information, it ends up being used to make you a victim of identity theft. This particular email indicates that unauthorized activity was detected on your American Express card and that you must review your account activity by clicking on a link in the email.  Don’t do it!  If you do you will provide your account information to an identity thief.  The phishing email is reproduced below.  The email also came with an American Express logo that appeared legitimate, however, such a logo is easy to counterfeit.  One sign that this is a scam is that the email salutation is “Dear Customer” instead of using your name.  Other indications that this is a scam are that the email does not indicate your account number and finally, the email address from which it was sent is not an email address of American Express.

Dear Customer,

 

Account Snapshot Icon

We use administrative technical and physical security measures to protect your personal information. These measures include computer safeguard and secured files and facilities. We take reasonable steps to securely destroy or permanently re-identify personal information. We reviewed your account and suspected that your Account might have been accessed by an unauthorized party.

 Please log on to your account to review your recent account activity.

Verify Your Recent Activity

 

Thank you for your Card Membership,a

American Express Customer Care

If you’d like to stop receiving this alert, simply click here.

Was this e-mail helpful? Please click here

to give us your feedback.

PRIVACY STATEMENT | UPDATE YOUR EMAIL

Your account information is included above to help you recognize this as a customer care e-mail from American Express. To learn more about e-mail security or report a suspicious e-mail, please visit us at americanexpress.com/phishing. We kindly ask you not to reply to this e-mail but instead contact us via Customer Care.© 2019 American Express. All rights reserved. AGNEUALE0005003

TIPS
Never click on links or download attachments in emails or text messages unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate. If you receive an email such as this and you have the slightest thought that it might be legitimate, you should call the 800 number on the back of your credit card to confirm that this is a scam. Finally, be careful if you do make the call to your credit card company because in some instances, enterprising scammers will purchase phone numbers that are only a digit off from those of legitimate credit card companies or banks in an effort to snare people who may mistakenly misdial the number when trying to contact their credit card company or bank.

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Scam of the day – November 7, 2019 – Another Real Estate Seminar Scam

It was just about three weeks ago that I told you about he Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection suing Zurixx, LLC, a company that puts on real estate seminars in which attendees were supposedly told how to make large amounts of money buying houses, quickly updating them and then reselling them at a substantial profit, a technique referred to commonly as “flipping.”  The FTC alleged that Zurixx’s seminars are a scam.  They start with a “free” seminar that really is merely a sales presentation for its three-day workshops that cost $1,997 despite Zuixx’s representations that you would learn everything you needed to know to profitably flip houses from the “free seminar.”  In fact, according to the FTC, even the three day workshops act as a beginner course and people enrolling in the course are lured into paying as much as $41,297 for more detailed products and services.

Now the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection have sued Nudge, LLC and companies affiliated with it for a similar scam involving seminars that purported to teach people how to flip houses for “amazing profits” to use Nudge’s words.  In their free seminars, Nudge promised to teach the secrets to making huge profits by flipping houses, however, according to the FTC, the seminars were merely intended to lure people into paying $1,100 to attend an additional three-day workshop where they were told they would receive information about a system to use to earn lucrative profits flipping houses.  The three-day seminar, however, did not provide that information and was really just another attempt to lure people into paying as much as $40,000 for what Nudge called “advanced training.”

TIPS

Always be wary of seminars that offer get rich quick schemes that indicate that little effort or investment by you is required.  Do your research with the FTC and your state’s attorney general to see if there have been complaints against any company that puts on such seminars.  As for flipping specifically, it is important to remember that the people you see doing this on television shows are experienced contractors and designers who do this full time and have done so for years.  Flipping is not a simple job for part-timers.  Additionally, the celebrity flippers you see on television also often get special prices for labor and materials by suppliers in return for the publicity they receive on the television shows.  You won’t get those breaks.

When considering attending seminars such as those put on by Nudge, you should be wary of representations that you can earn tremendous amounts of money regardless of your experience or training.  Also watch out for representations that the program being touted is a “sure thing” and one that you can easily do working part-time.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

 

Scam of the day – November 6, 2019 – Real Estate Email Scam

I have been reporting to you about this particular scam preying upon home buyers for three years.  Earlier this summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a warning about the scam and its dramatic increase.  This week there were reports about the scam causing a real estate purchaser in Ballinger, Texas to wire $175,000 to a scammer. The scam targets people involved in the purchase and sales of residential real estate. The scam begins with the hacking into the email accounts of any of the various people involved in the sale.  This can be either the buyer, seller, lawyers, title company, real estate agent or  mortgage banker.  Unfortunately, hacking into email accounts is a relatively easy thing for a skilled identity thief to do.  The hackers then monitor the communications regarding the progress of the sale of a particular piece of real estate and when the time is right,  generally posing as one of the lawyers, title company or bank mortgage officer, the scammer will email the buyer, telling him or her that funds necessary to complete the sale need to be wired to the phony lawyer’s, title company’s or banker’s account provided in the email.  Everything appears normal so unsuspecting buyers too often are wiring the money to the cyberthieves who then launder the money by moving the funds from account to account to make it difficult to trace the funds. According to the CFPB these scams have increased 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2017 causing losses of almost a billion dollars in 2017.

TIPS

Even if you are not involved in buying or selling a home, it is always a good idea to protect your email account from being hacked.  This means having a strong password and security question.  You can find information about how to pick strong passwords and security questions here in the Scamicide archives as well as in my book “Identity Theft Alert.”  Maintain good anti-virus and anti-malware software on all of your electronic devices including your computer as well as your smartphone and keep your security software up to date with the latest security patches as soon as they are made available.  Don’t click on links in emails or text messages that may contain malware that can steal your personal information from your electronic devices.

Don’t use public WiFi for any financial or business purposes.  Use a virtual private network to encrypt your data when using your electronic devices in public.  Never provide personal information in response to an email regardless of how legitimate it may appear until you have independently confirmed that the email is legitimate.  Finally, whenever you are asked through an email or text message to wire funds as a part of a real estate or other business transaction, don’t do so until you have confirmed that the request and the account to which you are being asked to wire the funds are legitimate.  Appearances can be deceiving so always confirm.  It may seem a bit paranoid, but remember, even paranoids have enemies.

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Scam of the day – November 5, 2019 – Mavis Wanczyk Twitter Scam

Many people may not remember the name of Mavis L. Wanczyk, but she was the lucky winner of a 758 million dollar Powerball drawing in 2017. Not long after she claimed her prize, a scam started appearing in which many people received an email with the message line referring to the Mavis L. Wanczyk Cash Grant. The email indicated that you were chosen to receive a large cash grant from Mavis L. Wanczyk. All the lucky strangers receiving the emails had to do was provide personal information in order to qualify for the grant. In addition, phony social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were also set up in Ms. Wanczyk’s name through which people were contacted with the same phony offer of free money informing them that in order to qualify for the grant they merely needed to provide personal information.

Now the scam appears to be resurfacing in large numbers as evidenced by the many emails I am receiving from Scamicide readers complaining of this scam.   The scam has now migrated from emails to Twitter as shown by the tween reproduced below.  Of course, the new tweet and all of the previous emails and social media messages  purportedly from Mavis Wanczyk are scams. No one is offering you money for nothing (nor for you Dire Straits fans, “chicks for free”). Providing personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account information in order to direct the wiring of funds merely results in your becoming a victim of identity theft and/or your bank account being looted.

Here is a copy of the tweet presently being circulated.

“wanczyk_L_Mavis
88 Tweets

Follow
wanczyk_L_Mavis
@_wanczyk_mavis
I’m Mrs. Mavis Wanczyk, the winner of $758 Million in Mega Millions Jackpot, I’m donating $10k to $50k to everyone in need, Dm me if you want to get win
Phoenix, AZyoutube.com/watch?v=7kWnqv…Joined January 2018
Not followed by anyone you’re following”

TIPS

It is difficult to win a lottery you have entered. It is impossible to win one that you have never entered and neither lottery winners, nor anyone else is sending out messages through the Internet offering free money to anyone who responds with personal information. Never give out personal information that can make you vulnerable to identity theft unless you have absolutely verified that the party requesting the personal information is legitimate and has a legitimate need for the information.  Also never pay anything to a lottery claiming you owe fees in order to claim your prize.  This is a telltale sign of a scam.

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Scam of the day – November 4, 2019 – California Wildfire Charity Scams

Natural disasters, such as the dozens of wildfires that have forced hundreds of thousands of people in California to flee their homes bring out the best in people who want to donate to charities to help the victims. Unfortunately natural disasters also bring out the worst in scammers who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of the storms, these scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses. Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you. The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.

Other scams that will occur involve identity thieves posing as Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) employees and insurance company representatives in order to take personal information from storm victims to turn them into victims of identity theft. There will also be phony contractors looking to steal the money of victims for repair work that never gets done or is done in a shoddy fashion.

TIPS

Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message. Before you give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam. You can also see how much of the money that the charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs.  Charity Navigator has a listing of specific charities that it has vetted that are good choices for anyone wishing to help the victims of the California wildfires.  Among those charities is the 2019 California Wildfires Recovery Fund established by the highly rated Center for Disaster Philanthropy.  Here is a link to California Wildfire charities approved by Charity Navigator. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7574

Never give out personal information to anyone of whom you are not absolutely positive as to their identity. Federal and state agencies  working in disaster relief will not ask for fees in order to be eligible for assistance and neither will insurance companies. Also beware of people who pass themselves off as insurance adjusters promising to get you more money. Insurance adjusters are licensed in each state and you should check out any person claiming to be an adjuster before hiring them. Make sure they are who they say they are and that there are not numerous complaints against them. Never give personal information to anyone passing themselves off as a FEMA or other emergency aid agency employee regardless of how good their identification card looks. ID cards can be forged. Rather, call FEMA or any other agency that they purport to represent and confirm whether or not they are legitimate. The same goes for a representative of your insurance agency. Call your insurance company to confirm the identity of the person purporting to represent the insurance company.

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