Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – January 14, 2021 – Publishers Clearing House Scams Continue

Publishers Clearing House, the sponsor of some of the most popular legitimate lotteries in the country no longer limits its contests to one or two a year, but has numerous lotteries each month. Recently there has been an increase in reports of scammers calling people on the telephone and telling them that they have won one of the Publishers Clearing House lotteries, but that they have to pay fees or taxes before being able to claim their prize.  In addition there are reports of targeted victims receiving phony notifications by regular mail that they have won a Publishers Clearing House lottery, but that again they must pay fees or taxes before being able to receive their prize.  Recently, a friend and Scamicide reader told me that his parents received a call purportedly from the Publishers Clearing House telling them that they had won 4 million dollars and a Mercedes Benz automobile in the color of their choice.  The scammer, posing as a Publishers Clearing House employee swore them to secrecy and specifically told them not to tell their children or anyone else about their win.  He also told them that they needed to send $1,000 in cash or Walmart Gift Cards by mail to a woman in New Jersey.  Most likely the woman in New Jersey was not even aware of the scam, but either was someone recruited for a work-at-home job in which she would forward mail or was a victim of a romance scam in which the scammer pretending to be romantically involved with her would ask her to send him the envelope with the funds.

It is hard to win any lottery. It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered and yet scam artists have found that it is extremely lucrative to scam people by convincing them that they have won various lotteries. With so many people entered into the Publishers Clearing House lotteries, it is easier for scammers to convince people that they have won.

Most lottery scams involve the victim being told that they need to pay taxes or administrative fees directly to the lottery sponsor; however no legitimate lottery requires you to do so.  As with many effective scams, the pitch of the scammer seems legitimate. Income taxes are due on lottery winnings, but with legitimate lotteries they are either deducted from the lottery winnings before you receive your prize or you are responsible for paying the taxes directly to the IRS. No legitimate lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS from lottery winners.  Other times, the scammer tell the “winners” that in order to collect their prizes, they need to pay administrative fees. Often, the victims are told to send the fees back to the scammer by prepaid gift cards or Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Prepaid cards are a favorite of scammers because they are the equivalent of sending cash. They are impossible to stop or trace. Again, no legitimate lottery requires you to pay administrative fees in order to claim your prize.

TIPS

Fortunately, there is an easy way to know, when you are contacted by Publishers Clearing House by phone, email or text message informing you that you have won one of its major multi-million dollar prizes, whether you have been contacted by the real Publishers Clearing House. Publishers Clearing House only contacts major prize winners in person or by regular mail.  They do not contact winners by phone, email or text message so if you do receive a notification of your winning one of their major multi-million dollar prizes by those means of communication you know it is a scam. Even if the Caller ID on your phone indicates the call is actually from Publishers Clearing House, it is very easy for a scammer to use a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear that the call is coming from Publishers Clearing House rather than the scammer who is really making the call. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  In addition, no winners of the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes are ever required to make a payment of any kind to claim their prize so if you are told that you have won, but are required to make any kind of payment before you can claim your prize, you can be sure that it is a scam.  As for other lotteries, remember, you can’t win a lottery you haven’t entered and no legitimate lottery asks you to pay them administrative fees or taxes.

Also, as I often tell you, it is always a red flag that you are involved with a scam when you are asked to pay for anything with gift cards.  Gift cards are a favorite method of payment for scammers because they are easy to convert into cash and impossible to trace.

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 – January 13, 2021 – Smishing Attacks Increasing

Although the name may not be as familiar as “phishing” which is the name for emails that lure you into clicking on malware infected links or providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft, “smishing” is the name given to text messages that lure you into clicking on links or providing personal information in response to a text message from what appears to be a trusted source, such as a company with which you do business.  Smishing scams are increasing in frequency over the last few months with many smishing text messages appearing to come from Amazon, USPS, Federal Express, Cash App, Netflix and others. Like phishing emails, the purpose of a smishing text message is to either lure you into providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or to click on a link in the text message that will download dangerous malware.

TIPS

Among the topics of smishing text messages are free prizes, gift cards or coupons, credit card offers, student loan assistance, suspicious activity on an account of yours, or a need to update your payment information with a company with which you do business.  As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  You can never be truly sure when you receive a text message 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 text message might be legitimate, you should contact the company at a telephone number that you know is legitimate and find out whether or not the text message was a scam.

In the case of the email informing you of the need to claim a gift, it is obviously a scam because although the text message includes your name, there is no information about what the gift is or why you are receiving it.  Curiosity killed the cat.  Don’t let it lead to your being scammed or becoming a victim of identity theft.

As for Netflix which has been used as a hook in many recent smishing scams, the real Netflix will never ask in an email or text message for any of your personal information so anytime you get an email or text message 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

Here is a link to information about how to filter and block messages on your iPhone: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201229

Here is a link to information about how to block phones on your Android phone: https://support.google.com/phoneapp/answer/6325463

Here is a link that provides informatin about services provided by your cell phone carrier to block calls and text messages: https://fightingrobocalls.ctia.org/#section-05-resources

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 – January 12, 2021 – Nursing Homes Wrongfully Taking Stimulus Payments

Last May I told you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had issued an alert informing people that some nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the country had been requiring their residents who are on Medicaid to turn over their CARES Act stimulus checks to the nursing home or assisted living facility.  These facilities argued that these payments were countable resources under Medicaid rules and  had to be applied toward the cost of the resident’s nursing home or assisted living services. This is categorically false.  As the FTC has indicated, the stimulus checks are considered as tax credits which are not countable resources under Medicaid rules.  Now with the second round of stimulus payments being made by the federal government we are again seeing nursing homes and assisted living facilities seeking to take those funds from their residents.

TIPS

If a family member of yours is a Medicaid recipient in a nursing home or assisted living facility and has had his or her check taken by the facility you should demand that the funds be returned.  If the facility resists returning the money, contact your state Attorney General for assistance.  They are ready to help.  Here is a link to how you contact your state’s attorney general. https://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php

As for other scams related to your stimulus payment, be aware that scammers are still quite active in using the stimulus payments as a basis for many scams.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Whenever you are contacted on the phone, by email or text message, you cannot be sure who is really contacting you.  Even if your Caller ID indicates the call is from a legitimate federal agency such as the Treasury Department, it is easy for a scammer to “spoof” that number and make it appear on your Caller ID as if the call is legitimate when it is not.   Neither the IRS, the Treasury Department or any other federal agency will be contacting you by phone, email or text message about the stimulus checks.  Anyone contacting you by phone, email or text message indicating that he or she is a federal employee is a scammer.   Also, if you are going to use the Get My Payment portal  to check on the status of your payment, make sure that you are using the correct portal.  Scammers are adept at constructing websites that look identical to the Get My Payment portal in order to steal your personal information and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

Another good indication that you are being contacted by a scammer in regard to your stimulus payment is that the official name of the payment is your Economic Impact Payment.  Any communication purporting to be from the federal government that refers to the payment by any other name is an obvious 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 – January 11, 2021 – Another Coronavirus Grant Scam

The second round of stimulus payments referred to officially as Economic Impact Payments started being sent to eligible individuals on December 30, 2020.   The payments are being sent by direct deposit to bank accounts, mailed paper checks and mailed debit cards pursuant to the recently passed Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 which provides payments of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child under the age of 16.  If you had adjusted gross income on your 2019 federal income tax return and up to $150,000 for married couples filing jointly you get the full amount of the second payments.  People with income above those amounts get reduced payments. Individuals with adjusted gross income of $87,000 and couples with adjusted gross income of $274,000 are not eligible to receive stimulus payments. Any child who can be claimed as a dependent by their parents even if their parents do not claim them as a dependent on their income tax return will not be receiving a payment and college students who are 23 years of age or younger at the end of 2020 who don’t pay at least half of their own expenses also do not qualify for a payment.

Congress set a deadline of January 15, 2021 for the IRS to send out the second stimulus payments.  As with the first stimulus payments, the payments will come either by a direct deposit into the bank account you used on your federal income tax form or by a debit card or by a paper check.  Again, I will provide more details on these payments in future Scams of the day.  If you don’t receive a payment by one of these three methods soon after January 15th you will be able to claim the amount of your stimulus payment as a “recovery rebate” on your 2020 federal income tax return.

Scammers are taking advantage of confusion as to how the new stimulus payments program works to scam people by emails such as the one reproduced below which was sent to me by a Scamicide reader that appear to offer a more substantial payment than provided for by the real stimulus program.  However, the email reproduced below is a scam.  If you click on the link (which has been disarmed) to “Review Now” or  “Click here to unsuscribe” you will end up either downloading dangerous malware or being lured into providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

ALERT: $6,345 NOW APPROVED


In 2021, legislation has been approved that will provide $6,345* per person in the form of economic financial assistance.

It is important to note that you do not need to repay these funds. That said, you must act quickly to claim your aid.
Review Now

415WOhioSt|ChicagoIL|60654
Click here to unsubscribe

 

TIPS

Neither the IRS, the Treasury Department or any other federal agency will be contacting you by phone, email or text message about the stimulus checks.  Anyone contacting you by phone, email or text message indicating that he or she is a federal employee is a scammer.  For information about the stimulus check payments you can trust, you can go to the IRS’ website page dealing with these payments which is regularly updated with new information.  Here is a link to that website .https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments

Indications that this email is a scam are numerous and start with the email address from which it was sent which was an address that had nothing to do with the federal government.  Often phishing emails will carry the logo of companies with which you do business and the better crafted ones appear quite legitimate, however, logos are easy to counterfeit and if the email from which it is being sent is obviously not connected to the purported sender company, you can be sure it is a scam.  Often the email addresses used to send out these phishing email in vast numbers are email addresses of people whose email accounts have been hacked and made a part of a bot net of computers used to send out large numbers of these phishing emails without the victim of the hack even knowing his or her email account is being used in that manner.

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 – January 10, 2021 – American Express Phishing Email

Today’s Scam of the day is about a phishing email  I received that purports to be from American Express. The graphics, grammar and overall appearance of the email is not very convincing and the lettering is quite odd.. In addition, it does not even carry the American Express logo, which is a simple thing to counterfeit.   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 information is required to be verified, but doesn’t even attempt to provide a reason as to why.  You are instructed to click on a link in the email.  Don’t do it!  If you do you will provide your account information to an identity thief.  Some 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, but most likely that of someone whose email address was hacked and made a part of a botnet. Here is the phishing email.

I have disarmed the link in the original phishing email, but if you hovered your mouse over “CONFIRM ACCOUNT” in the actual phishing email, you would see that the link would not take you to an American Express related website.

 

Amᥱrіⅽaᥒ Eхpreѕs Customеr Cаre Support
fϲϲraCUEo3

ѕtevenjjwеⅰsⅿan yо∪r action rᥱqᥙired iⅿmᥱdⅰɑteⅼy

Ⲩour accouᥒt rᥱq∪ⅰreⅾ ∨erifying some іnformatiⲟnѕ.
Transсations ⅿay be ⅼimited оn ỿour аccount.
Plᥱase cliсk tһᥱ button bеⅼоwɑnd folloᴡ ɑ few ᴠerificatіoᥒ steps.
CONFIRM ACCOUNT
Aⅿeriсaᥒ Εⲭⲣrᥱsѕ Customᥱr Care
All uѕers of our onⅼine servicеs are ѕubjᥱct to our Ꮲrivaⅽу Ѕtɑteⅿᥱnt and аɡrᥱe tഠ be boᥙᥒd by the Terms of Servіcᥱ. Рⅼᥱaѕᥱ review.

© 2020 Americaᥒ Εxpress. Αlⅼ rⅰghts reѕᥱrved

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.

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/

As we start the new year, I have a favor to ask of Scamicide readers.  Please urge at least one of your friends and family to subscribe to Scamicide.com.  There is no cost and it is easy to do.   Scamicide subscribers get the very latest important information about scams, identity theft and cybersecurity which can go a long way toward keeping you safe from these threats.  The more people we can help, the better.  Best wishes for a safe and healthy new year.

Scam of the day – January 9, 2021 – Unclaimed Property Scams

A Scamicide reader recently forwarded to me an email that informed her that unclaimed money from a source not indicated was being held on her behalf and she needed to respond to the email in order to claim the money.  This particular email was a total scam, however, you may receive a “legitimate” email or letter informing you that there are billions of dollars of unclaimed or abandoned money being held by the states and federal government and that some of that money is yours.  For a fee, the person or company contacting you will assist you in locating that property and claiming it for you.  In some instances, the letter or email may appear to come from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators which is a legitimate organization, but not one that initiates communications to individuals whose funds they are holding.

The truth is that various state and federal agencies are indeed holding more than 24 billion dollars of unclaimed money that is waiting to be retrieved by the rightful owners.  State laws require financial institutions, such as banks, to turn over money from inactive accounts.   Among the assets held by these agencies are savings and checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividend checks, certificates of deposit and utility security deposits.  However, you don’t need the help of these companies contacting you offering their assistance in order to retrieve your unclaimed assets.

The “legitimate” companies that may contact you  offering to assist you in getting back your missing money do not have any specific information as to what you are owed because of privacy regulations that prohibit them from obtaining that information.

TIP

The best place to find a helping hand to assist you in locating and getting back your abandoned property is at the end of your own arm.  Go to the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators at www.unclaimed.org where you can link on to the website for your own state’s agency that deals with abandoned property and take the steps necessary to claim your abandoned property at no cost to you.  Other useful websites for locating money that you may be owed include www.irs.gov, the website for the IRS where you can find tax refund money you may be owed and www.pbgc.gov, the website of the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, a federal agency that holds unclaimed pension funds.  Finally, the federal government  has a very convenient website with links to your state’s unclaimed property office, the Department of Labor where you can find if you are owed back wages from your employer and pensions from former employers, VA Life Insurance information, tax refunds, matured but uncashed savings bonds and more.  Here is the link to that website. https://www.usa.gov/unclaimed-money?utm_campaign

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/

As we start the new year, I have a favor to ask of Scamicide readers.  Please urge at least one of your friends and family to subscribe to Scamicide.com.  There is no cost and it is easy to do.   Scamicide subscribers get the very latest important information about scams, identity theft and cybersecurity which can go a long way toward keeping you safe from these threats.  The more people we can help, the better.  Best wishes for a safe and healthy new year.

Scam of the day – January 8, 2021 – Chase 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 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. Reproduced below is a copy of a new phishing email presently circulating that appears to come from Chase Bank.

Chase is a popular target for this type of phishing email because it is one of the largest banks in the United States.  Like so many phishing emails, this one attempts to lure you into responding by making you think there is an emergency to which you must respond. As phishing emails go, this one is pretty good.  It looks legitimate and the version appearing in your email comes with a legitimate appearing Chase logo.   As so often is the case with these type of phishing emails, it does not contain your account number in the email nor is it personally addressed to the receiver of the email, but merely uses your email address.  This particular phishing email was provided by a loyal Scamicide reader.

Here is a copy of the Chase phishing email presently being circulated.

 

 

Chase Logo

Your ACH transfer was accepted and is currently being processed.
Here are your details:
Amount withdraw: $257.14
Transfer Date: 11/14/2020
Transfer to Account: *******4386$257.14 is will be debited from your account in the next 2 to 3 business days.Please login and visit the Secure Message Center to see additional details about your withdrawl. You can access your secure messages by signing into the Chase Mobile® app or chase.com.You can cancel this transaction immediately if you do not recognized it before your money is debited
ABOUT THIS MESSAGE:
This service email gives you updates and information about your Chase relationship.This email was sent from an unmonitored mailbox, go to chase.com/Customerservice for options on how to contact us.Your privacy is important to us. See our online Security Center to learn how to protect your information.Chase Privacy Operations, PO Box 659752, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9752.JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC

© 2020 JPMorgan Chase & Co.

TIPS

There are a number of indications that this is not a legitimate email from Chase, but instead is a phishing email. Most notably, the email address from which this phishing email was sent has no relation to Chase.  Most likely it is part of a botnet of infected zombie computers used by scammers to send out such phishing emails.  It is also important to note that although the email contained a legitimate appearing Chase logo, such logos are very easy to counterfeit.  As with all phishing emails, two things can happen if you click on the links provided.  Either you will be sent to a legitimate looking, but phony website 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 clicking on the link, 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 call the customer service number where you can confirm that it is a scam, but make sure that you dial the telephone number correctly because scammers have been known to buy phone numbers that are just a digit off of the legitimate numbers for financial companies, such as Chase to trap you if you make a mistake in dialing the real number.  Alternatively you can go to http://www.chase.com to check on your account.

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 – January 7, 2021 – Coronavirus Grant Scam

The email copied below was sent to us by a Scamicide reader.  This scam is a variation on the Nigerian email scam about which I most recently wrote a few days ago in that it involves you being eligible to receive a tremendous amount of money without any real reason.  In this case, the email refers to the non-existent COVID 19 Economic Relief Fund Grants to make it appear legitimate, but hopefully discerning people receiving such an email will recognize the myriad of red flags that indicate that this is a scam.  Like other similar scams, the scammers hook their victims with promises of large sums of money without having to pay anything to get the large lump sum, but when the scam victims make contact with the scammers they end up repeatedly having to make payments to cover a wide variety of costs related to receiving their funds.  Of course, the victims of the scam end up paying repeatedly without ever getting anything in return.

BBVA Bank
Address: 2001 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77019, USA
Tel: +1-713-510-9915Working Hours:Monday – Friday 8AM–6PM
Saturday – Sunday ClosedREF: BBVAUSA/GOV/RF/GRANT/5M/050920Dear Client,You have a payment of Five Million USD ($5.000.000) with us at BBVA Bank – River Oaks; # 2001 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77019, USA

Your name and email address was submitted to our bank by your State Government as one of the Government recipients to receive the aforementioned COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund /Grants.

Please email this office with a copy of your ID card (Passport or Driving License), your full address, your profession, and your phone number to enable us to process the transfer of your fund before the bank closes today as instructed by your State Government.

Sincerely,

Reba GRAHAM (Mrs.)
Director, Account Management Division BBVA USA
e-Mail: director@usbbva.us

TIPS

While the scammers get an A for effort in tying the scam to Coronavirus relief which is on everyone’s mind, they get an F for just about everything else in this scam email.  Indications that it is a scam are numerous and start with the email address from which it was sent which was an address that had nothing to do with BBVA Bank.  Often phishing emails will carry the logo of companies with which you do business and the better crafted ones appear quite legitimate, however, logos are easy to counterfeit and if the email from which it is being sent is obviously not connected to the purported sender company, you can be sure it is a scam.  Often the email addresses used to send out these phsihing email in vast numbers are email addresses of people whose email accounts have been hacked and made a part of a bot net of computers used to send out large numbers of these phishing emails without the victim of the hack even knowing his or her email account is being used in that manner.

Other indications that this is a scam include the salutation which reads “Dear Client” rather than using your name, the size of the amount of the grant for which you never applied that you are told you will be receiving, and the reference to a non-existent state program without even indicating what state the email refers to.  It is also important to note that legitimate grant programs do not charge anything to apply.  Whenever you receive an email such as this, the best thing to do is to merely chuckle and delete it.

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 – January 6, 2021 – SEC Warning People About Coronavirus Related Investment Scams

Investment scams have always been with us, but the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the number of investment scams through scams involving companies and promotors claiming to have effective products that can prevent, detect or cure the Coronavirus.  The  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended trading of dozens of companies making false claims related to Coronavirus related products and services as well as bringing fraud charges against a number of companies, most recently against Decisions Diagnostic Corp and its CEO alleging that the company falsely claimed it had developed a break-through technology quick blood test for the Coronavirus.

You can use this link to see all of the enforcment actions and trading suspensions brought by the SEC. https://www.sec.gov/sec-coronavirus-covid-19-response

Many of these investment scams are promoted on social media, emails and unsolicited phone calls.  Often the investment scams are operated as pump and dump schemes.  Pump and dump scams have been with us for hundreds of years, however recently they have evolved to keep pace with today’s technology.   A Pump and dump scheme is most often done with low priced stocks referred to as “penny stocks.” The scammers buy low priced stocks and then artificially inflate the price of the stocks by using text messages, faxes, Internet chat rooms and other means of communication posing as people with inside information that indicates that a stock is about to rise.  This prompts victims of the scam to buy the stock and temporarily inflate the value of the stock.  Meanwhile, the scammers sell their stock when the stock price gets bumped up and are long gone when the stock deflates and reverts back to its true value.

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

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.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. Additionally, investing with someone merely because you trust them because you have heard them on the radio or television is dangerous.  Having the same person advise the investment and control the investment is a common thread among Ponzi schemers because it enables them to falsify documents to make the investment look profitable. Generally, for additional security it is desirable to have a separate broker-dealer act as custodian for investments chosen by an investment adviser.

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 – January 5, 2021 – FTC Settles Charges Against Belize Real Estate Scammers

In November 12, 2018’s Scam of the day I first told you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had started a legal action against Andris Pukke and five other defendants in regard to a massive real estate scam allegedly masterminded by Pukke, a previously convicted scammer. Pukke sold undeveloped lots in the Central American country of Belize that he represented were to be a part of a luxury development. The development used several different names including Sanctuary Belize, Sanctuary Bay and The Reserve. Victims of the scam were lured in by advertisements on Fox News and Bloomberg News as well as through infomercials. The ads were riddled with false representations including the claim that all of the money obtained through the lot sales went back into the development. The lots sold for between $150,000 and $500,000 and all in all, victims of the scams lost more than 100 million dollars making this the biggest overseas real estate scam ever investigated by the FTC. The FTC initially obtained a temporary restraining order shutting down the scam while the case proceeded in court.  Now the FTC has settled its claims against some of the defendants and judgments were entered against other defendants including Andris Pukke who did not settle with the FTC.  Under the terms of the settlements the defendants will be foreiting illegally obtained funds that will be used to repay victims of the scam.  As further details become available as to the refund program, I will let you know.

TIPS
It is always important to remember that merely because an advertisement appears in legitimate media does not mean that the company sponsoring the advertisement is legitimate. No one should ever buy real estate without the assistance of a lawyer and you should be particularly wary and careful when considering purchasing real estate in a foreign country.  Always do your due diligence and investigate any such investment thorooughly before investing.  In addition, you should also look into the people offering the investment to you.  Anyone investigating Andris Pukke would have learned that he had already been convicted of previous scam activities.

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/

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