Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – September 25, 2021 – Census Scams

The United States Census Bureau conducts a national census every ten years.  The Census is very important and is required by the Constitution.  Census data is used to determine the numbers of members for each state in the House of Representatives which also affects the Electoral College.  The Census Bureau contacts Americans in a variety of ways including phone calls, letters and even Census Bureau workers who will come to your home.  As a part of the census, you are asked for much personal information, which makes the census a perfect vehicle for identity thieves to pose as census workers in an effort to lure you into providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  A key thing to remember is that the real Census Bureau will never ask you for your Social Security number, bank account numbers or credit card numbers.  Anyone posing as a census worker who asks for that information is an identity thief.

However, the Census Bureau also conducts each year more than a hundred surveys of households and businesses.  Random people are receiving letters, phone calls and even visits from people representing that they are with the United States Census Bureau taking one of these surveys including the American Community Survey.   Here is a link to a list of the surveys being done by the Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/surveyhelp/list-of-surveys.html

TIPS

The United States Census Bureau suggests that people go to their website for information about how to confirm when you are contacted by mail, phone or in person whether you are being contacted by a legitimate representative of the United States Census Bureau  https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/surveyhelp/verify-a-survey.html#person however, personally, I don’t think their advice is up to the task and their advice also requires too much effort.  The better way to deal with providing your census information is to provide your information online directly to the census bureau through its website of http://www.census.gov

The real Census Bureau will call people on the phone who have not completed the census form mailed to them.   Unfortunately, whenever you are contacted by phone you can never be sure who is really contacting you.  By using a technique called “spoofing” a scammer can make his or her call appear on your Caller ID as if the call is coming from the census bureau when it is actually coming from a scammer.  I still believe that the safest way to complete the census form is online at http://www.census.gov.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address where it states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – September 24, 2021 – Jury Duty Scams Continue to be a Problem

I have been warning you about the jury duty scam for nine years, but it continues to snare many unwary victims. This scam 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. The FBI warning noted that often now the scammers will use a technique called “spoofing” to make the call appear on your Caller ID as if it is coming from a legitimate law enforcement agency or court.  In some instances of the scam you are asked to confirm your identity by providing your Social Security number which will then be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Recently the scam has evolved to where people are also being contacted by text messages or emails from scammers posing as a representative of the local court system.

TIPS

Initial contacts from 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. Of course anyone calling you and telling you that you can pay your fine to them over the phone using your credit card or a prepaid debit cash card is a scammer.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address where it states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – September 23, 2021 – New Trend in Romance Scams

I have been warning you about romance scams for many years.  Unfortunately, the number of romance scams have increased dramatically during the Coronavirus pandemic.  According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Americans lost more money to romance scams last year than to any other scam and the situation is getting more serious.    In the first seven months of 2021, the FBI reported receiving 1,300 romance scam complaints that cost the victims  approximately $133,400,000 and these numbers are most likely understated because many victims do not report falling for these scams. Romance scams generally follow a familiar pattern with the scammers  establishing relationships with people, generally women, online through various legitimate dating websites and social media using fake names, locations and images.  The scammers often pose as Americans working abroad or in the military serving abroad.  In many cases, the scammers steal the identity and photo of a real person serving in the military.

Now the FBI is warning us about a new trend in romance scams in which the scammer tells his victim that he has inside knowledge about cryptocurrency investing and directs the victim to a phony website that purports to be a legitimate cryptocurrency trading site.  Not long after “investing” in the cryptocurrencies provided, the victim soon finds that there is no investment and that she or he has lost all of the invested money.

TIPS

There are various red flags to help you identify romance scams.  I describe many of them in detail in my book “The Truth About Avoiding Scams.” The most important thing to remember is to always be skeptical of anyone who falls in love with you quickly online without ever meeting you and early into the relationship who then asks you to send money to assist them with a wide range of phony emergencies.

Here are a few other things to look for to help identify an online romance scam.  Often their profile picture is stolen from a modeling website on the Internet.  If the picture looks too professional and the person looks too much like a model, you should be wary. You also can check on the legitimacy of photographs by seeing if they have been used elsewhere by doing a reverse image search using Google or websites such as tineye.com.  Particular phrases, such as “Remember the distance or color does not matter, but love matters a lot in life” is a phrase that turns up in many romance scam emails.  Also be on the lookout for bad spelling and grammar as many of the romance scammers claim to be Americans, but are actually foreigners lying about where they are and who they are.  Of course you should be particularly concerned if someone falls in love with you almost immediately.  Often they will ask you to use a webcam, but will not use one themselves.  This is another red flag.  One thing you may want to do is ask them to take a picture of themselves holding up a sign with their name on it.  In addition, ask for a number of pictures because generally when the scammers are stealing pictures of models from websites, they do not have many photographs. Ask for the picture to be at a particular place that you designate to further test them.  If you meet someone through a dating website, be particularly wary if they ask you to leave the dating service and go “offline.”

You also should be particularly wary of online relationships with people in the military because while many real military personnel do use social media and dating websites, they are a favorite disguise for scammers.

It is also important to remember that you should never  invest in something that you do not completely understand.  This was a mistake that many of Bernie Madoff’s victims made. Cryptocurrency scams quite often involve complicated language and investment terms that is purposefully unclear in an effort to confuse potential investors from understanding the real facts. You also may want to check out the SEC’s investor education website at www.investor.gov.  Scammers can be very convincing and it may sound like there is a great opportunity for someone to make some money, but you must be careful that the person making money is not the scam artist taking yours.

In addition, as always, if the investment sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 22, 2021 – Coupon Counterfeiter Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

Everyone loves coupons and like many things in our lives, coupons which used to be found commonly in newspapers and magazines have migrated online.  In 2020 the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about phony coupons appearing on social media.  Among the companies affected by these phony coupons were Bath and Body Works, Costco, Aldi, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s. As I have warned you many times in the past, Facebook has become a hotbed for phony online coupons. The phony coupons looks quite legitimate which means nothing because it is very easy to copy the company logos and make the coupons appear to be genuine. The way that many phony coupon scams work is that in order to qualify for the coupon, you must complete a survey in which you are required to provide much personal information that is used to make you a victim of identity theft. In other versions of the scam, the scammer actually asks for your credit card numbers. In yet another version of the scam you are required to buy many costly items in order to claim your “free” coupon. Many of the coupon scams also require you to forward the coupon to friends which make the phony coupons look more legitimate when they are received by your friends. Ultimately, in all of these scams, the coupons are worthless and you get nothing, but the opportunity to become a victim of identity theft.

However, coupon scams can also involve counterfeit coupons which are sold by counterfeiters on social media, which is what Lori Ann Talens did for three years ending in May of 2020.  Using Facebook and other social media she would sell her phony coupons to online groups of coupon fans.  In particular she sold millions of dollars of phony, counterfeit coupons that appeared to be for Kimberly -Clark paper products, Proctor & Gamble household goods as well as other home supply companies.  Last week Talens was sentenced to twelve years in prison for her crimes.  Coincidentally, a new movie starring Kristen Bell will be released in theaters and through streaming services about coupon counterfeiters.  It is a comedy entitled “Queenpins.”

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If the coupon appears too good to be true, it usually is a scam. No company could cover the cost of giving away vast numbers of the coupons sold by Talens offering tremendous savings.  Facebook is a favorite venue for scammers perpetrating this type of scam because often unwary victims will unwittingly share the scam with their friends.  The best place to go to find out if a coupon is legitimate is to go to the company’s website to see what real coupons are being offered by the company.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was  cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address where it states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – September 21, 2021 – Work at Home Scams

Working at home sounds very appealing particularly during these days of the Coronavirus pandemic.  No commute and you get to work in your pajamas.   During the Coronavirus pandemic many of us have worked from home and the idea of working from home is very attractive to many people.

Years ago, stuffing envelopes was a common work at home scam. That scam has been updated by other scammers to offers of being paid to read emails, but it remains a scam.  The range of work at home scams is constantly changing and evolving, but the result is always the same – rarely are these work at home schemes legitimate nor do they provide any income except for the scammers who operate them.  Often the advertisements for these work at home scams appear in conventional media that have not checked out the legitimacy of the advertisements they run.  Merely because an ad may appear on a legitimate television show or publication does not mean that the ad can be trusted.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  A regular Scamicide reader recently sent the following text message she received regarding a work at home scam.

Here is the text message she received.  I have removed the link referred to in the text message.

“Hello this is Mr Adam Smith from Sure payroll, Would you be Interested to work at home As a Personal Assistant with your Personal Computer and a Printer and Earn $1250  Monthly working 2 to 3hrs daily from Monday-Friday… Kindly follow the link  for more Info!!!! !!!!!!  ”

Even more troubling, recently there has been an upsurge in a work at home scam that actually makes you an accomplice to a crime.  Your job is to receive goods, often electronics that have been shipped to you, inspect them and then reship them to an address provided to you by your new employer.  The problem is that these goods have been purchased with stolen credit cards and you have just become an accomplice to the crime when you ship them to someone else who will then sell them to turn the merchandise into cash.  The term scammers use to describe the people doing the reshipping is a “mule” and it can get you into a lot of trouble.  The companies offering this type of work may seem legitimate, but they are not.

TIP

As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Check out work at home scams with the big three – your local attorney general, the Better Business Bureau and the FTC.  And as always, you can Google the name of the particular company offering you the work at home program with the word “scam” next to it and see what turns up.  As for reshipping scams, they are always a scam and you should steer clear of them.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 20, 2021 – Phony U.S. Tech Support Invoice Scam

The phony invoice scam is a common scam popular with scammers because it is quite effective.  It starts when you receive an email that purports to be from a popular company with which many of us do business that indicates that you owe them a significant payment.   The scammers count on people being concerned that they are being wrongfully charged for a product they did not order.  You are provided a telephone number to call if you dispute the bill. If you call the number, you will be prompted to provide personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

The email copied below was recently sent to a Scamicide reader and appears to come from U.S. Tech Support, a legitimate tech support company.   As always, the purpose of a phishing email is to lure you into clicking on links contained within the email or providing personal information, in this case by phone if you call to dispute the phony bill . Often if you click on links in phishing emails, 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 phishing email provides a phone number to call if you wish to dispute the obviously phony invoice.  If you call the number in the phishing email you will be asked for personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

There are a number of red flags that indicate that this is a scam, most notably that the email was sent from an email address that appears to have nothing to do with U.S. Tech Support, but was most likely the email address of someone whose email had been hacked and made a part of a botnet used to send out these phony phishing emails while preserving the anonymity of the cybercriminal.

Here is a copy of the invoice being circulated.  I have deleted the name of the Scamicide reader to whom the email was sent.

Date : September 16 2021
Order No : FF-TMSY-rV-ionQ
Renewal Amount : $499.98
Dear XXXXXX,
First and foremost, we want to thank you for your continued investment with the US Tech Support. Without your loyalty and support, we would not be able to continuously provide our members with valuable benefits and actively develop our industry. Put simply, you make what we do possible.
It’s been a year since we first met you, and we’re looking forward to many more years! Did you know that your US Tech Support membership expires today?
Since your account is set to auto-renew, we will automatically process charge on September 16 2021. There is no action required from your end. This email is just to remind you about the payment charge.
Please don’t let your membership lapse! There are better options than paying an additional dollar to attend monthly events. In case you don’t want to continue with us then make sure you call us on 845 458 1207 before September 16 2021 to avoid any recurring payment. We hope that you’ll take this time to renew your membership and remain a part of our community.
The good news is, This year we have an extra incentive for you after renewal of your membership by September 17 2021. You do not need to take any action; we just wanted to let you know. Thanks for your continued support and have a great day.
Yours Sincerely,
US Tech Support
845 458 1207
1541 Ocean Ave #200,
Santa Monica,
CA 90401,
United States

TIPS

Once, I received a large invoice from a company with which I do business for goods I did not order, but rather than click on the link provided in the email, I went directly to the company’s website to question the invoice.  When the website came up, the first thing I saw was a large announcement that the invoice was a scam and that many people had received these phony invoices.  If you ever receive a phony invoice such as this and you think that it may possibly be true, don’t click on links or call phone numbers provided in the email.  Rather, contact the real company directly at a phone number or website that you know is legitimate where you can confirm that the phishing invoice was a scam.

Never click on links or download attachments in emails or text messages unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate and don’t call companies at telephone numbers that appear in the email such as this one.  Instead, if the email appears to come from a legitimate company, you can call them at a telephone number you confirm is legitimate .  Don’t call the number that appears in the email.  In the case of U.S. Tech Support, the real telephone number to call is 801-523-6766.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 19, 2021 – SEC Shuts Down Alleged Ponzi Scam

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently obtained a temporary restraining order shutting down an alleged Ponzi Scheme operated by Jason Dodd Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard.  Over the years Ponzi schemes have been used by many scammers to steal billions of dollars from unwitting victims who made the mistake of investing their money with such criminals.  Although Charles Ponzi was not the first to use the technique of paying off early investors with the investments of later investors in an effort to make a total sham look as if it is a profitable business, that dishonor should go to Sarah Howe who first used this scheme in the 1870s, it was Ponzi in 1920 who perfected the scam to steal millions of dollars from unwary investors in his scheme through which he told them that he was able to take advantage of fluctuating currency values to purchase international postal reply coupons at a discount and then sell them at face value in the United States.  Ponzi promised, and delivered to early investors, a 50% profit on investments within 45 days and a 100% profit within 90 days.  Of course, the entire scheme was a total fake, but eager investors blinded by their greed flocked to him to invest.  Eventually, as ultimately always happens in a Ponzi scheme, the scam was exposed and Ponzi went to prison.  However, the list of criminals still using this prototype of a scam continues to this day including such famous Ponzi scheme criminals as Allen Stanford, Tom Petters, Norman Hsu, Lou Pearlman and, of course, the biggest of them all, Bernie Madoff who swindled people out of more than 50 billion dollars using this time honored scheme.

According to the SEC, Jason Dodd Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard lied to investors, most of whom were their friends and family, that their investments would be used to trade foreign currencies and return tremendous profits.  However there were no profits.  In fact, for the last six years there were not even any investments although Bullard and Romero-Bullard provided phony monthly statements to their victims that indicated the venture was very profitable.  The truth is that the defendants used the money for their own personal benefit including paying for a horse racing stable they owned.

TIPS

So how do you protect yourself from falling prey to a Ponzi schemer?  There are a number of things you can do including always investigate the credentials of any investment adviser you are considering using.  You can check on individual investment advisers with the SEC, your own state’s securities regulators and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  However, that would not have protected you from being swindled by the likes of Allen Stanford or Bernie Madoff.  Also, you should never invest in anything that you do not totally understand.  Bernie Madoff actually had the gall to blame his victims for being scammed by him because he said that if any of them had researched what he had told them he was doing, they would have known that what he was doing was impossible.  In the case of Bullard and Romero-Bullard, investing in foreign currencies is a complicated and risky investment that should be avoided by unsophisticated investors.

Additionally, as I have warned you many times, you should be particularly careful to avoid affinity fraud which occurs when you trust someone who is “like you” or is a friend or family member.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.

Another important way to avoid a Ponzi schemer is to never use an investment adviser who is also the custodian of your funds. This is a recipe for disaster.  The role of an investment adviser or manager should be solely that of advising and making trades.  The custodian of the actual investments should be a separate broker-dealer regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and backed by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC). This was one of the problems with Bullard and Romero-Bullard who acted as investment advisers and custodians of the funds.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 18, 2021 – National Grid Warning Customers About Scam Calls

This particular scam is one about which I have warned you many times over the years, but it deserves another warning because it is still occurring throughout the country.  Recently, the electrical utility company National Grid published a warning about scammers posing as National Grid employees calling people and telling them that their electric bill is overdue and threaten to shut off their service unless they pay immediately using a prepaid debit card.  Some calls have even asked for the customer’s Social Security number.  This scam is not limited to New York and customers of National Grid but is going on everywhere.

National Grid issued the following statement, “National Grid does contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, but never demands direct payment through the use of a prepaid debit card and never accepts payment through thee cards.”

Anytime you receive a call regarding anything in response to which you are advised to make a payment by way of a prepaid debit card  or by wired funds you should be skeptical because these prepaid cards are a favorite method for scam artists to scam you out of your money.  This is because once the scammer has the card number, it is the same as cash and you cannot stop payment on the payment nor trace to whom the payment was made.  As for wired funds, they too are impossible to get back once the money is wired to the scammer.    The scammers making these calls can be quite intimidating and threatening.  Often your Caller ID may even indicate that the call is indeed from National Grid or your  particular utility company, but it is an easy thing for a scammer to “spoof” or make it appear that a call from them is coming from your utility company.  Consequently, you can never be sure when you receive a telephone call as to who is really calling you.

TIPS

Never make a payment to a utility company in response to a telephone call demanding immediate payments.   Also, remember that your Caller ID can be spoofed and therefore you cannot trust it if it indicates the call is from a legitimate company.  No utility will require immediate payment by way of a prepaid debit card or wired funds. If you are behind in your utility payments, call the utility company at a number that you know is accurate and discuss a payment plan with a legitimate representative of the utility company.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 17, 2021 – Cryptocurrency Scammer Convicted

Recently, Michael Ackerman was convicted in federal court of operating a cryptocurrency scam in which he and two partners scammed investors out of 30 million dollars by falsely claiming that his cryptocurrency investment fund would produce monthly returns of more than 15%.  Ackerman told his investor-victims that he had developed a unique algorithm that allowed him to invest and trade in cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and earn tremendous profits.  In particular, Ackerman targeted physicians as investors/victims who were contacted by one of his partners who is a physician.  The truth is that Ackerman never delivered on his claims, falsified records that he used to lure investors to make it appear that his fund was profitable when it was not, and stole much of the money invested to fund his own lavish lifestyle.  Ackerman, who is facing as much as twenty years in prison, will be sentenced on January 5, 2022.

TIPS

Before investing with anyone, you should investigate the person offering to sell you the investment with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Central Registration Depository.  This will tell you if the broker is licensed and if there have been disciplinary procedures against him or her.    You can also check with your own state’s securities regulation office for similar information.  Many investment advisers will not be required to register with the SEC, but are required to register with your individual state’s securities regulators.   You can find your state’s agency by going to the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association. https://www.nasaa.org/investor-education/how-to-check-your-broker-or-investment-adviser/ Many investment advisers will not be required to register with the SEC, but are required to register with your individual state securities regulators.  You should also check with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for information about the particular  investment adviser. https://www.finra.org/investors/protect-your-money/ask-and-check  If investors had looked into the history of Ackerman, they would have found that he had let lapse several important securities licenses.

It is also important to remember that you should never  invest in something that you do not completely understand.  This was a mistake that many of Bernie Madoff’s victims made as well as the clients of Michael Ackerman. Cryptocurrency scams quite often involve complicated language and investment terms that is purposefully unclear in an effort to confuse potential investors from understanding the real facts. You also may want to check out the SEC’s investor education website at www.investor.gov.  Scammers can be very convincing and it may sound like there is a great opportunity for someone to make some money, but you must be careful that the person making money is not the scam artist taking yours.

There are many different investment scams, but generally, people often become victims of investment scams when, such as here, they invest in things that they don’t understand, fall victim to affinity fraud by investing with someone merely because they share a similar background, which in this case was physicians, invest with someone who is both the broker and the custodian of the asset which enables the scammer to be able to control the investments and the records of the deposits or fail to investigate the investment advisor before investing.

In addition, as always, if the investment sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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 sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/

Scam of the day – September 16, 2021 – Child Identity Theft Getting Worse

This is the beginning of a school year and as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to be of concern to parents of school age children, another significant problem facing school children is one of which parents are generally not aware  Identity thieves will steal the identity of a child and then run up large debts using the credit of the child, who generally does not become aware that his or her identity has been stolen until he or she reaches older teen years when he or she might first apply for a car loan or financial aid for college. According to the cybersecurity company Emisosoft, 1,200 American schools from kindergartens to high schools were victims of data breaches or ransomware attacks resulting in huge amounts of personal information of school children including Social Security numbers being sold to identity thieves on the Dark Web, that part of the Internet where criminals buy and sell goods and services.

Identity theft of children’s identities is a huge national problem.  According to a study by the Carnegie Mellon CyLab, children are more than 51 times more likely to become a victim of identity theft than adults.  Children are also the most common victims of “synthetic identity theft.”  Many people are not familiar with the term “synthetic Identity theft,” but it poses a significant threat to many people particularly children.  Synthetic identity theft occurs when a criminal takes information from a variety of sources to create a new identity to take out loans, purchase goods and services, or fraudulently obtain credit cards.  Synthetic identity thieves combine real and fake information to form a new fictional person.  They may use your Social Security number and combine it with the name, address and phone number of someone else.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has said that synthetic identity theft is the fastest growing type of identity theft.  Children are the most common victims of synthetic identity theft and it is often many years before the problem is discovered.

In synthetic identity theft criminals then build the credit score of the synthetic identity by having people use the credit cards and make regular payments until the credit score of the new synthetic identity is high enough for the ultimate payoff, which is referred to as the “bust out.”  In the bust out phase, the identity thief uses the new synthetic identity to either make large purchases or take out big loans that are never paid back.  Some synthetic identity thieves will take years to build the synthetic identity theft credit score by making payments on cell phone accounts, car loans and more.

TIPS

Some telltale signs of synthetic identity theft include being contacted about an account that you never opened or a debt that you didn’t incur.  Also, look for aliases listed on your credit report that you do not use.  A dramatic lowering of your credit score coupled with a lack of negative information on your primary credit reports are further indications of synthetic identity theft.  The reason that your primary credit report will not show negative information due to synthetic identity theft is because when a criminal uses your Social Security number, but doesn’t use your name, the negative information caused by their actions does not appear on your regular credit report.  Instead, the information is added to a sub-file of your credit report which will, however, cause your credit score to drop tremendously.

If you do find out that you or your children have become a victim of synthetic identity theft, notify each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion of the crime and ask them to investigate and remove the false information from your sub-files.

Parents also should, as much as possible, try to limit the places that have their child’s Social Security number and become familiar with the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act which helps you protect the privacy of your child’s school records and enables you to opt out of information sharing by the school with third parties.  You also should freeze the credit reports of your children.

Here are the links to information about how to freeze your child’s credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/requesting-a-security-freeze-for-a-minor-childs-credit-report/

https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/identity-theft/freezing-your-childs-credit-report-faq/

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