Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – July 23, 2021 – Indiana Attorney General Warns of Utility Phone Scam

Recently, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a warning about a dramatic increase in telephone scams involving scammers posing as utility company customer service representatives demanding immediate payments and threatening to turn off electrical power if a payment is not made immediately.  Scams involving utility bills for electric, water or gas services have long been popular with scammers. Some of these scammers are so blatant that they even have asked for payments to be delivered to a laundromat.

In one common utility scam, potential victims receive telephone calls purportedly from their utility company informing them of a special company promotion for which they are eligible.  They just need to provide some personal information.  This, of course leads to identity theft.

In another version of the scam, potential victims are called on the phone and told that their utility service will be terminated for non-payment unless they pay by credit card, debit card or gift cards.  A demand for payment by way of a gift card is a good sign that you are dealing with a scammer since legitimate utility companies never require payments or accept payments through git cards.

In a third version of this scam, potential victims receive an email that has a link to take them to their bill, but if you click on the link, you either download malware or are prompted to provide information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

You can never be sure when you get an email or a telephone call if it is really from a legitimate source.  Email addresses can be hacked to appear legitimate and even if you have Caller ID, a scammer can use a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear that the call is from a legitimate caller.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Never provide personal or financial information to anyone in response to a telephone call, text message or email until you have independently confirmed that the communication was legitimate.  In the case of a utility bill, merely call the number on the back of your bill and you will be able to confirm whether or not the communication was legitimate.  Also, never click on links unless you have confirmed that they are legitimate.  The risk is too great.  It is also important to remember that no legitimate utility company will require you to immediately pay your bill over the phone through a gift card.

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 – July 22, 2021 – Wildfire Charity Scams

As we have seen far too well during the Coronavirus pandemic, scammers are quite capable of taking whatever is happening in society and turning it into an opportunity to scam people.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are common occurrences and we are about to enter both hurricane and wildfire seasons.  Partially due to global warming, last year the United States experienced 22 major natural disasters that cost more than a billion dollars each.   Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes 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 these natural disasters, 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 signed up for the federal Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you by phone. The problem is that whenever you are get a phone call, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a fake charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Using a technique called spoofing, the scammers can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear that the call is coming from a legitimate charity when it is not. 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.

Presently there are 80 major wildfires burning in 13 Western states causing tremendous damage.  Scammers are already setting up phony charities to capitalize on the generosity of our fellow citizens.  If you wish to give to charities helping the people affected by these wildfires, it is important to make sure that you are giving to a legitimate charity.

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 http://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 legitimate charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs.  Here is a link to a specific page of Charitynavigator.org that deals with vetted charities helping victims of wildfires. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7574&search-box

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 click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – July 21, 2021 – FTC Refunding Money to Victims of ReJuvenation Pill Scam

In June of 2020 I told you that the makers of the bogus anti-aging supplement called ReJuvenation settled charges brought against them by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FTC is now sending full refunds to people who were scammed into buying this worthless anti-aging pill.  The makers of ReJuvenation deceptively advertised the pill as being able to cure a wide variety of age related conditions such as cell damage, heart attack damage, brain damage and deafness.  ReJuvenation advertised its products by mass mailings and emails.  It also sold the products on its websites: ReJuvenationAntiAging.com, JournalOfAntiAgingBreakthroughs.com and QuantumWellnessBotanialInstitute.com. The FTC has already sent checks to the victims who they are aware of, however, if you were a victim of this scam and have not received a check, you should call the refund administrator, Rust Consulting at 1-877-844-0319.  The deadline for filing a claim is August 31, 2021.

TIPS

For more information about this refund program go to the tab in the middle of the Scamicide home page entitled “FTC Scam Refunds.”  It is important to note that there is never a charge for obtaining a refund through the FTC or any of its refund administrators.  Anyone who asks for such a payment is just another scammer.

As for anti-aging products in general, the truth is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to remedying age related conditions and you should be wary of any product that promises to do so.  You should also be wary of any anti-aging product that is sold exclusively either over the Internet or through mail-order advertisements. The best course of action is to ask your physician about the effectiveness of a particular anti-aging product or program before you considering buying any such product.

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 – July 20, 2021 – Mystery Shopping Scams Continue

Although it has been nine months since I last wrote about mystery shopper scams, I have written many times over the last ten years about the mystery shopper scam because it continues to ensnare unwary victims. Unfortunately, these scams continue to be effective and are increasing in number so it is important to remind you about them again.   Mystery shoppers are people hired to shop at a particular store and report on the shopping experience for purposes of quality control. Unlike many scams, there actually are legitimate mystery shopper companies, but they never advertise or recruit through emails, text messages or letters.

The manner in which the scam generally works is that when you answer an advertisement, or respond to a letter, email or a text message to become a mystery shopper, you are sent a bank check. You  deposit the check into your own account and spend some of the money on the goods that you purchase which you are allowed to keep and also are directed to keep some of the balance of the check as payment for your services. You are instructed to return the remaining funds by a wire transfer. In a recent Walmart themed mystery shopper scam, the targeted victim was sent a legitimate appearing, but counterfeit check for $2,940 and told to keep $540 as payment and then go to the nearest Walmart and use the remainder of the check to buy six $400 Kroger gift cards and provide the numbers to the scammer.  The scam victim was then told to keep the gift cards for their next assignment although there never is another assignment and the scammers use the numbers on the Kroger gift cards to make purchases, making the actual cards worthless.  The victim of the scam loses the $2,400 used to purchase the gift cards from the victim’s own bank account when the check bounces.

I received the following text message last week attempting to lure me into a mystery shopper scam.  I disarmed the link. “We have a store evaluation job near you.  Pay is $400 per evaluation and additional benefit, to participate fill the form https:xxxxxxx.”

TIPS

One reason why this scam fools so many people is that there really are mystery shopping jobs although the actual number is quite few and they do not go looking for you. An indication 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 your 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 which is given after a few days, but which will be rescinded once a check bounces 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 or send gift cards because this is a common theme in many scams because it is difficult to trace and impossible to stop. Legitimate companies do not use gift cards as payments.

For more information about legitimate mystery shoppers, you can go to the website of the Mystery Shopping Professional Association https://www.mspa-americas.org/scam-alerts/

If you receive a mystery shopper scam solicitation or check through the mail you can report it to the United States Postal Service at
http://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_024.htm

You also can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which investigates these scams at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

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 – July 18, 2021 – Mavis Wanczyk Scams Continue

I have been writing about scams related to Mavis Wanczyk for four years but recently I have received many emails from Scamicide readers telling me about various new incarnations of a variety of scams that share the same hook which is that Mavis Wanczyk is giving money away to lucky people.  Many of you may not remember the name of Mavis 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 emails with the message line referring to the Mavis  Wanczyk Cash Grant. The email indicated that you were chosen to receive a large cash grant from Mavis  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.

Last year, I told you how the scams are also appearing in large numbers through various Instagram accounts and as fast as Instagram closes down one phony Mavis Wanczyk account, another pops up.  A Scamicide reader noted that one of the recent phony Instagram accounts purporting to be that of Mavis Wanczyk is maviswanczyk3gs.  Many of the versions of this scam now circulating promise $20,000  in return for payments to cover administrative costs.  In another creative version of the scam, the targeted victim is told that he or she would receive $20,000 delivered in person within 24 hours, but shortly thereafter receives a text message in which he is told that there is a delay because money is needed for gas and administrative costs to process the necessary paper work.  This text message was followed up by another text message in which the targeted victim is told that the person delivering the check was stopped by an FBI agent and that another fee had to be paid.  Why an FBI agent would be involved or require an additional payment is certainly unclear.

Another Scamicide reader reported a phony Mavis Wanczyk Twitter account of @MavisWa81674460 was being used telling potential victims that she was giving away $20,000 to the first 5,000 followers.  Again while it initially appeared as a gift, ultimately, you were required to make a payment in order to get your “gift.”

More recently a Scamicide reader received a text message from 501 -585-7088 purporting to be from Mavis Wanczyk telling the Scamicide reader that she was lucky enough to be getting a $15,000 gift from the ever so generous Mavis Wanczyk.  It is interesting to note that while the real Mavis Wanczyk lives in Western Massachusetts, the area code 501 is from Arkansas.

Here is the text message recently received by a Scamicide reader.

May be an image of text that says '9:43 10 People I'm Mrs Mavis Wanczyk, I'm donating 200 random individuals lhave voluntarily decided to donate the sum of 15,000 USD to you. To claim do preview this link https:// bit.ly/3vDwoeN @Pay A'

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.  No legitimate lottery requires the payment of a fee to collect your winnings or requires you to pay the lottery income taxes on the prize.  While income taxes are due on lottery winnings, those taxes are either deducted by the lottery sponsor before giving you your prize or the prize is given to you in full and you are responsible for the payment of any taxes.  No lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS.

Also, neither Mavis Wanczyk nor any other lottery winner is giving away money to strangers.

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 insert your email address where it indicates “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – July 17, 2021 – FTC Stops Maker of Bogus Covid 19 Treatment

While the Coronavirus pandemic has gotten considerably better in much of the United States and safe and effective vaccines are available, the pandemic still poses a significant health threat both here in the United States and around the world.  However, even though the absolute best thing you can do to protect your self from COVID 19 is to get one of the FDA approved vaccines (I got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine)  many people are still falling prey to unscrupulous scammers who are peddling phony cures and treatments for the Coronavirus.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that it had settled a lawsuit against Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc and Dr. Stephen Meis who marketed its Emergency -D-Virus plan as a treatment for COVID-19 through advertising on billboards, websites and social media, falsely claiming that it’s product would cause COVID-19 symptoms to disappear in two to four days.  In accordance with the terms of the settlement, the defendants will cease making unsupported health claims and provide refunds to scammed customers.

Daniel Kaufman, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection was particularly critical of Dr. Meis, saying “We rely on doctors to follow the scientific evidence when making claims about health products and conditions.  Helping to spread false and unproven claims about treating COVID and other diseases is that much worse when done by those in positions of trust.”

TIPS

As for healthcare products in general, you should be skeptical about any company that promises miraculous cures to illnesses and medical conditions.  The world is full of snake oil salesmen.  You should also be wary of any healthcare product that is sold exclusively either over the Internet or through mail-order advertisements. The best course of action is to ask your physician about the effectiveness of a particular product or program before you buy it.  As for the Coronavirus specifically, the best places to get reliable information are the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus, and the FDA https://www.fda.gov/patients/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-resources-patients or the Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/

Remember B.S. – Be skeptical.  Whenever there will be breakthroughs to treat, prevent or cure any disease, particularly COVID 19 you are going to hear about it through legitimate news sources first rather than through ads in emails, text messages or posts on social media.

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 click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – July 16, 2021 – FTC and State of Arkansas Accuse “Blessing Loom” of Being an Illegal Pyramid Scheme

Illegal pyramid schemes take many forms.  Year after year since 2015 I have warned you about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange, which keeps reappearing each year around the holidays.   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.  It starts when you are  provided  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 eventually we run out of people on the planet to maintain the scheme.  Now a scam similar to the Secret Sister Gift Exchange has reappeared.  It is the Blessing Loom and it first appeared in 2016, but has come back strong. and, particularly with so many people concerned about their finances due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is scamming more and more people desperate for cash. Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Arkansas sued the people behind the “Blessings in No Time” (BINT) investment program alleging that they operated an illegal pyramid scheme that stole tens of millions of dollars from unwary consumers.

According to the FTC, the defendants lured people into joining the program by falsely promising investment returns of as high as 800% which in and of itself should have been a red flag that you are dealing with a scam.  Some victims of this scam paid as much as $62,700 to participate in the program.  According to the FTC, BINT is a pyramid scheme where the so-called investment returns were merely derived from the payments made by other members of the program.  For every member who may have received a promised payout, eight additional members had to pay into the scheme.  Like all pyramid schemes, it was doomed to fail because ultimately, there aren’t enough people on the planet to keep it going.

TIPS

Like the Secret Sister Gift Exchange, BINT is nothing more than a repackaged chain letter.  You should avoid all chain letters regardless of the guise under which you receive them.  They are illegal and ultimately due to fail.  Even if you are an early “investor” in the program who received payments, those payments are generally “clawed back” by law enforcement when they crack down on th4e scam.

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 – July 15, 2021 – FBI Issues Warning About Phone Scam

Impostor scams have long been among the most lucrative for scammers.  While there are many variations of this scam, the most common variations have involved scammers calling their intended victims on the telephone posing as some governmental agency such as the, FBI, IRS or the Social Security Administration.  The scammer then, under a wide variety of pretenses, demands an immediate payment by gift cards, credit card or wired funds. Being asked to pay by gift cards is a definite indication that the call is a scam since no governmental agency requests or accepts payments by gift cards.   Alternatively, the scammer demands the victim supply the phony governmental agent with personal information such as your Social Security number which will then be used for identity theft purposes.

Recently the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office issued a warning about such a phone scam in which people are getting calls from scammers posing as FBI agents who tell the targeted victim that their identity was used in a money laundering and drug smuggling operation. They are then told that the only way to avoid prosecution is to pay the FBI agents over the phone through gift cards or credit cards.  In one instance a California man lost $45,500 to this scam.

TIPS

As I have often reminded you, through the simple technique of “spoofing” it is very easy for a scammer to manipulate your Caller ID to make a call coming to you appear legitimate when it is not.  Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID.  While new technology is making spoofing more difficult for domestic scammers, foreign callers are still able to readily spoof telephone numbers.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Even though your Caller ID may indicate that the call is coming from the FBI, the IRS or some other government agency the call is coming from a scammer.  It is important to note that the FBI never collects cash fines ordered by a court and it will not call or email you to demand a payment of threaten arrest.  Finally, the FBI will never ask for a payment by way of a gift card.

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 – July 14, 2021 – Phony Customer Service Telephone Number Scam

Clever scam artists are increasingly setting up phony websites that appear to be for customer service or tech support of many of the companies with which we do business.  Often they either purchase an ad to appear at the top of a search engine search or they manipulate the algorithms used by Google and other search engines to make their phony customer service number appear high on a search. They also purchase telephone numbers that are a single digit off of the legitimate phone numbers for many companies’ tech support or customer support in order to take advantage of common consumer misdials.  Compounding the problem is the fact that many companies, particularly social media companies, do not provide a customer service telephone number to call and speak to a real person about your problem.  They only provide online support.

Last year I told you about Dr. Melanye Maclin of Maryland who needed help with her Facebook account and obtained what she thought was the phone number for tech support for Facebook which she got from a posting on Facebook’s Help Community Chat board.  Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t have a tech support phone number.  The phony tech support number on the chat board was posted by a scammer.  When Dr. Maclin called the phony number, she was instructed by the scammer to enable remote access to her phone which Dr. Maclin did.  Unfortunately, this led to the scammers gaining access to her CashApp account through which the scammers stole $6,332.

TIPS

The best place to look for a telephone number for customer support or tech support is right on your bill or the legitimate website of the company.     Even when you do call legitimate tech support or customer service telephone numbers take extra care to make sure that you are dialing correctly and not calling a clever scammer who may have purchased a telephone number that is a digit off of the correct phone number in an attempt to ensnare people who may misdial the number.

Among the social media services that do not provide tech support by phone are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.  Here are links to tech support for those social media services:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/help/
Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/
Snapchat: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US
Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/

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.”

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