Scam of the day – March 26, 2023 – Major Data Breach Threatens Children
A recent data breach at iDTech a coding camp for children that provides on-campus as well as online tech and coding courses has resulted in the hacker offering approximately a million records including names, dates of birth, email addresses and more of hundreds of thousands of children who attended the camp for sale on the Dark Web. Making the matter worse is that as of today, iDTech has still not yet officially notified the parents about the data breach. Fortunately, the parents have been notified through the site Have I been Pwned (not a misprint, there is no “a”) of the data breach. According to a study last year by Javelin Strategy & Research more than 1.25 million children became victims of identity theft last year and the true number is probably much greater because in many instances child identity theft is not discovered until the child reaches age 18. Identity thieves 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 the teenager might first apply for a car loan or financial aid for college.
Scam of the day – March 25, 2023 – Increased Danger From Scammers Using AI
When I first started Scamicide more than ten years ago, “things aren’t as bad as you think… they are far worse” was prominently featured toward the top of the first page of the blog and unfortunately, that statement appears to be true evidenced by the increased use by scammers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help them create more convincing and effective scams. ChatGPT, Microsoft’s popular artificial intelligence chatbot can generate articles, essays, stories and more in response to simple text prompts. It also can create more sophisticated and effective spear phishing emails that are more likely to convince an unwary targeted victim to either provide personal information that can lead to identity theft, click on a link and download dangerous malware or fall for a scam. Phishing emails that have originated overseas in countries where English is not the primary language often could easily be recognized by their lack of proper grammar, syntax or spelling, however with AI those problems are solved for the scammer and their phishing emails will now be more difficult to recognize.
Scam of the day – March 24, 2023 – Getting Scammed Through Your Smart TV
Smart TVs are terrific. Unlike old television sets that were not connected to the internet, smart TVs are connected to the internet which means that you can stream movies from Netflix and other streaming services, play video games and access a wide variety of apps. They do have a downside in that they often are gathering information about you and invading your privacy, but that is a topic for another column at another time. Today, I want to warn you about recent reports of people trying to log in to their streaming service only to find a pop-up that tells them that there is a problem with either your television or your streaming subscription. The pop-up provides either a phone number or a website to use to remedy the problem. The problem is, however, that your smart TV has been hacked and the message is coming from a scammer. If you call the number or go to the website provided you will reach a customer service representative who asks for a small activation fee by credit card, debit card or gift card. Anytime you are asked for a payment by way of a gift card, you know it is a scam and if you provide your credit card or debit card information, the scammer will quickly proceed to run up charges.
Scam of the day – March 23, 2023 – New AOL Phishing Scam
Millions of people still use AOL. One reason for this is that you get greater email privacy when compared to some other email carriers. Due to its popularity, scammers and identity thieves often send out phishing emails that appear to come from AOL, such as the one reproduced below that was sent to me by a Scamicide reader. If you click on the link in the email one of two things can occur and both are bad. Either you will end up providing personal information to an identity thief or you will, merely by clicking on the link, download dangerous malware such as ransomware on to your phone, computer or other device.
Scam of the day – March 22, 2023 – Shark Tank Endorsement Scam
ABC’s “Shark Tank” is a popular reality show where entrepreneurs present their ideas for a wide variety of products to five successful “sharks” of industry who have been successful entrepreneurs themselves. In the show the contestants vie to get the “sharks” to invest in their companies and products. Of course, anything popular with the public is popular with scammers so it is not surprising that scams have recently been turning up where scammers are attempting to lure people into buying their phony products by providing fake Shark Tank celebrity testimonials complete with doctored photos and videos. Unfortunately, it is all a scam.
Scam of the day – March 21, 2023 – Police Phone Call Scam
Recently the Knoxville Tennessee Police Department issued a warning about an increase in phone scams in which the caller poses as a law enforcement officer who tells the targeted victim of the scam that there is a warrant for his arrest, but that if they immediately pay a fine by a gift card or Zelle the warrant will be dismissed While this warning was from the Knoxville Police, this scam has been widely reported around the country. This scam may fool some people because the Caller ID of the targeted victim indicates that the call has come from the police. Regular readers of Scamicide know that Caller ID can easily be manipulated by a technique called “spoofing” to make the call appear to come from whatever number the scammer desires.
Scam of the day – March 20, 2023 – FTC Settles Claim Against Company Selling Bogus Covid-19 Products
While the instances of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections are nowhere near their levels during the height of the pandemic, the virus is still with us and still poses a public health threat. Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies are marketing bogus COVID cures and treatments that are totally ineffective. In the last couple of years I have reported on the efforts of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop scammers from preying on the fears of people by selling them worthless or even harmful phony cures and treatments. Recently the FTC sued a multi level marketing company doTERRA International, LLC for its fraudulent claims that its essential oils and dietary supplements could cure, treat or prevent COVID-19. The company and its high level distributors have agreed to settle the case and will be paying a financial penalty and cease making their unfounded claims.
Scam of the day – March 19, 2023 – Adobe and Microsoft Issue Critical Software Updates
Adobe has just issued new security updates for a number of its popular software programs. It is always important to update all of the software you use with the latest security updates and patches as soon as they are available. Numerous hacks and data breaches could have been avoided if individuals as well as companies installed security updates when they became available. Hackers take advantage of the fact that many of us procrastinate installing security software to our great detriment. The major data breach at Equifax that affected 147 million people involved a security flaw in Apache software for which a patch had already been issued months earlier, but Equifax had not yet installed.
Scam of the day – March 18, 2023 – Critical Vulnerability Discovered in Android Phones and More Devices
Google security researches recently discovered eighteen significant vulnerabilities in Samsung computer chips used in dozens of Android phones, wearables and cars. Four of these vulnerabilities in particular would allow a hacker to hack someone’s phone and steal all of the sensitive information in the phone without any interaction with the targeted victim. All the hacker would need to know is the targeted victim’s cell phone number.
Scam of the day – March 17, 2023 – Tap and Glue ATM Scam
Clever scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists have recently come up with a new way to steal money from your bank account through ATMs. The scam starts when you go to insert your card into the slot at an ATM, but are unable to do so which is obviously puzzling. Fortunately for you there is a helpful stranger also at the ATM who tells you that he had the same problem, but was able to access the ATM by using the tap function that allows your card to use a radio wave to access your account without having to insert your card into the card reader. Unfortunately, you later find out that not only did you access your account, but so did the helpful stranger who had earlier plugged the ATM card slot with glue to make it unusable and then used your account to withdraw money because whenever you use the tap feature, the account remains open for more transactions unless you log out. Many people don’t think of this and merely take their card and their money and leave.
Scam of the day – March 16, 2023 – The Danger of Pirated Oscar Winning Movies
As I have told you many times, scammers constantly take advantage of whatever is of interest to the public and turn it into a scam. The recent Academy Awards brought a lot of attention movies such as best picture winning “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and Avatar: The Way of Water.” Every year there are movie piracy websites that appear to offer free access to pirated downloads of these movies. This year the number of such sites increased by 20%. Attempting to stream an illegal version of a movie is not only illegal and unethical, but it could also lead to your being scammed out of money. Many of these scam websites and malicious files require you to take a survey in order to see the free, pirated version of the movie. These surveys may ask for personal information including credit card information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft. In other instances the phishing websites and malicious files will automatically download malware on to your phone or computer.
Scam of the day – March 15, 2023 – Refunds Being Sent to Investment Strategy Scammers’ Victims
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently settled its lawsuit against Raging Bull. Raging Bull tricked people into paying for their bogus investment strategies and recommendations and then locked their victims into costly subscription plans that were very difficult to cancel. Raging Bull falsely claimed that its strategies and recommendations would consistently beat the stock market, all of which was false. As a part of the settlement, Raging Bull paid 2.4 million dollars to the FTC which is refunding the money by PayPal to victims of the scam. For more information about the refund program go to the “FTC Scam Refunds” section in the middle of the opening page of http://www.scamicide.com.
Scam of the day – March 14, 2023 – March Madness Scams
March Madness starts today and many people in the United States are following intently the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. While many of these people are sports fans, merely enjoying the competition, many others bet on the games, largely through office pools where you register online to pick your brackets and win prizes. In addition, there are companies such as Yahoo Sports, ESPN and others that sponsor competitions for prizes. Many of the office pools are done through ESPN, CBS or others that allow groups to set up office pools. Generally, your participation in an office pool begins with an email containing a link for you to click on to in order to register and participate in the competition. Unfortunately, identity thieves and scammers are sending out phishing emails that appear to be legitimate offers to join your company’s March Madness competition, but the links take you to phony, but legitimate appearing websites that ask you to input personal information used to make you a victim of identity theft. In other instances, merely by clicking on the link contained in the email you will download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can cause major problems.
Scam of the day – March 13, 2023- Is the American Community Survey a Scam?
Many people are receiving letters, phone calls and even visits from people representing that they are with the United States Census Bureau taking a survey known as the American Community Survey. While it is true that the official United States Census is only done once every ten years, the Census Bureau does a limited survey of 3.5 million randomly selected people in all of the states as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico each year. So how can you tell if you are being contacted and solicited for information by a legitimate census worker or by a scammer merely using the American Community Survey as a ruse to gather personal information from you in order to make you a victim of identity theft? First of all, the real American Community Survey does not ask for your Social Security number or credit card information. If you are asked for that information, it is a scam.
Scam of the Day – March 12, 2023 – Nine Million AT&T Customers Victims of Data Breach
AT&T recently notified nine million of its customers that some of their personal information was exposed when a marketing partner of AT&T was hacked in January. While the data breach did not include credit card information, Social Security numbers or account passwords, it did include customers names account numbers, cell phone numbers and email addresses, all of which can be used to target victims of the data breach with spear phishing emails or smishing text messages intended to lure them into identity theft or other scams.
Scam of the day – March 11, 2023 – Hackers Targeting Gamers
Video games are extremely popular, particularly with teenagers and even younger children and, of course, as I always say, anything popular with people is popular with scammers. In this case scammers are targeting gamers as a way of getting at their parents’ computers, laptops and phones as well as their parents’ employers as well.
Scam of the day – March 10, 2023 – Car Sale Scams on eBay
Just as about everything else we do today has migrated online so has buying a used car, however, buying a used car, which is always an activity ripe for scams, is particularly susceptible to scams when you are buying a used car online. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider buying a used car online, but it does mean that you have to take precautions to make sure you are not scammed. One of the first things to check out when you buy a car on eBay or any other online listing site is whether or not the car actually exists and is owned by the person trying to sell it to you. Scammers often take pictures from real online listings of used cars and put them into phony online ads. A good way to determine if a listing has been merely copied is to do a reverse image search on Google which will show you if the same car keeps turning up in ads as being available in many different places around the country.
Scam of the day – March 9, 2023 – FTC Releases its Top Scams of 2022
Every year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases its list of the biggest scams of the year. 2022 was a banner year for scammers with victims reporting losing 8.8 billion dollars to scams which is a whopping 2.6 billion dollars more than in 2021 and the true amount of money lost to scammers is probably much higher because many people, particularly the elderly, often out of embarrassment, fail to report being scammed. The most common scam was imposter scams followed by online shopping scams, lottery scams, investment scams, and job opportunity scams.
Scam of the day – March 8, 2023 – Gift Card Scams Getting Worse
According to the FTC, the number of gift card scams and the money lost to these scams has increased every year since 2018. Scammers are big fans of gift cards because they are easy to purchase, easy to send to the scammer and impossible to trace to the scammer. It is not even necessary for the scammer to be in possession of the actual gift card to use it. Sending the gift card numbers or taking a picture on your phone and transmitting it to the scammer is sufficient for the scammer to use the gift card to buy things that can then be sold and converted into cash. In many instances the scams involved scammers posing as large companies or government agencies such as the IRS demanding payments. It is important to remember that no legitimate company and no government agencies asks for or accepts gift cards as a payment method so anytime you are asked for a payment by gift card, you can be confident it is a scam.
Scam of the day – March 7, 2023 – USPS Change of Address Scam
I have warned you a number of times in the past about the danger of identity theft that occurs when criminals steal your mail from your mailbox. Among the dangers of mail theft are criminals gathering personal information contained in your mail to set up accounts in your name or getting your credit card bill and using the information in your bill to access your credit card. However, sometimes the criminals don’t even have to steal your mail, they can get the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver your mail directly to the criminal by submitting a change of address form with the post office on your behalf either in person or online that results in your mail being sent directly to the criminal.
Scam of the day – March 6, 2023 – FTC Sues Robocall Scammer
Recently the FTC sued Stratics Networks, Inc., Netlatitude, Inc. and others in an effort to stop them from using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and ringless voicemail services to deliver millions of bogus debt service robocalls. Ringless voicemail services go directly to a consumer’s voicemail without even the phone ringing. The VoIP and ringless voicemail messages are sent through a computer rather than by phone and can be easily done in huge numbers.
Scam of the day – March 5, 2023 – Ohio Couple Victim of Puppy Scam
Scams involving sales of non-existent puppies had already increased dramatically in the last few years, but really took off during the Coronavirus pandemic when many people were looking for the emotional support of a loving dog. However, even with the Coronavirus pandemic waning, people are still falling victims to scams involving the sale online of non-existent puppies. Recently an Ohio couple paid $4,000 to scammers to purchase two puppies that never were delivered. People buy dogs or other pets online and, although they think they are taking proper precautions, they often end up getting nothing in return for the money that they wire to the scammer who may have a website or some other way of marketing their non-existent pets with photographs and false information.
Scam of the day – March 4, 2023 – Police Warn About Virtual Kidnapping Scam
I have been warning you about phony kidnapping scams, also known as virtual kidnapping, for ten years and according to the FBI, the scam is increasing in frequency. Generally, the scam starts with a telephone call informing the person answering the phone that a child or other relative has been kidnapped and if the person receiving the call does not respond by wiring money right away, the relative will be killed. As with so many scams, we are often our own worst enemy and this scam is no exception. In many instances, the scammers gather personal information about the intended scam victims from information that the intended victims or members of their families post on social media. Armed with personal information gathered from social media, a scammer can describe the supposed kidnapped victim or provide personal information that would make it appear that indeed they actually do have the person in their custody.
Scam of the day – March 3, 3023 – Clever New PayPal Invoice Scam
Sometimes it is important to remember that scam artists are the only criminals we refer to as artists and in the case of a PayPal invoice scam presently circulating, their art is impressive – criminal, but impressive nevertheless. I have warned you numerous times about scams in which you receive a phony invoice that appears to come from a company you do business, but if you look at the email from which it is sent, you will see that the email was sent from someone who has no relation to the company it purports to be. However, in this new scam, you get a phony invoice that not only appears to come from PayPal, but actually does come from PayPal and a link in the email to “View and Pay Invoice” that actually would take you to PayPal and an active invoice. The email has a phone number for you to call if you have a question about the invoice and if you do call the phone number, a scammer will promptly answer the phone where you will be advised to download a remote administration tool that gives the scammer access to your computer purportedly to help find the problem, but in actuality what you will have done is give the scammer access to your computer and all of the passwords to all of your accounts.
Scam of the day – March 2, 2023 – New Social Security Scam
Recently a savvy Scamicide reader received an official appearing notice through an attachment to an email that appeared to come from the Attorney General of Texas although the purported letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was on the letterhead and carried the logo of the Social Security Administration. In somewhat stilted language the letter informed the recipient of the letter that his Social Security number would be suspended because his Social Security had been used for criminal purposes including money laundering. The letter provides a telephone number that it says is that of the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration to call to resolve the matter. The notice is a phishing email designed to trick the targeted victim into calling the phony phone number whereupon they will be asked for their Social Security number thereby turning it over to an identity thief.
Scam of the day – March 1, 2023 – What Do Recent Ransomware Attacks at U.S. Marshals Service and Dole Food Company Mean to You?
In the last few days, we have learned of successful major ransomware attacks at the U.S. Marshals Service and Dole Food Company. Ransomware attacks in which the targeted victims data is stolen and encrypted in a manner that the victim cannot access is done primarily for profit. If the victim pays a ransom, the criminal provides a key to decrypt the data. The data stolen from the Marshals Service would enable the criminals to identify Marshals Service employees as well as people under investigation while the data stolen from Dole resulted in the stopping of deliveries of Dole products. These attacks along with data breaches in which sensitive information is stolen from companies, government agencies and other institutions are increasing at an alarming level which creates a problem for all of us because regardless of how careful you are as to protecting your personal information, you are always at risk of having your information compromised by a data breach or ransomware attack at a government agency, company or other institution with lax security.
Scam of the day – February 28, 2023 – Dead People are Becoming Victims of Identity Theft
Not even the dead are immune from identity theft and this particular type of identity theft is now on the rise. Until new regulations were enacted in 2014 scammers merely checked out the latest obituaries and then went to a free totally available data bank called the Death Master File maintained by the Social Security Administration. Using the Death Master File, the scammer was readily able to obtain the deceased person’s Social Security number which would then be used along with the information gained from the obituary to establish credit, make purchases or take out loans in the name of the deceased person. Since 2014 regulations have greatly limited the access to the Death Master File, but identity theft from the dead remains a serious problem because it is still easy for criminals to obtain Social Security numbers of dead people. Income tax identity theft using the Social Security numbers of dead people is a popular scam with income tax identity thieves because the IRS may not be alerted that the victim of the identity theft has died and is not filing an income tax return. Income tax identity theft from the dead can severely complicate the estate settlement process and threaten the deceased’s assets.
Scam of the day – February 27, 2023 – Sextortion Scams Increasing
In December, the FBI issued a new warning about sextortion and more recently a similar warning was issued by the Greenwich, Connecticut police department. Generally sextortion scams begin with an email in which you are told that your computer and web cam have been hacked and that the scammers have video of you watching porn online. In the email, the scammer threatens to send the videos to people on his contact list unless you pay a ransom in Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency.
Scam of the day – February 26, 2023 – Mystery Shopper Scams Continue to Claim Victims
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.
Scam of the day – February 25, 2023 – Pig Butchering Getting Worse
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 FBI has issued a warning about a new trend in romance scams in which the scammer tells his victim that he or she 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. This scam originated in China in 2019 and is called sha zhu pan or pig butchering in English. The name is derived from the practice of luring in victims, “fattening them up” by convincing them to continually “invest” more money and then stealing all of the money.
Scam of the day – February 24, 2023 – New Twist on Lottery Scam
Lottery scams are among the most common scams and although these scams take many different forms, they all have in common that you have won a lottery you never even entered (quite a feat) and that you must now pay money for either taxes or administrative fees in order to claim your prize which never comes. While it is true that lottery winnings are subject to income tax, no legitimate lottery collects tax money from winners. They either deduct the taxes from your winnings or turn all of the money over to you and it is your responsibility to pay the taxes. Also, no legitimate lottery charges administrative fees of any kind for you to claim your prize as well.
Most lottery scammers contact their targeted victims by phone, email or text message posing as a legitimate lottery, such as Powerball to tell people that they have won their phony prize. Recently, however, some lottery scammers are spoofing the phone number of legitimate law offices and contacting their targeted victims posing as lawyers calling to inform the targeted victim that he or she has just won a phony lottery. Of course, the next step is the asking by the “lawyers” for the necessary taxes or fees to be paid in order to receive the prize that never comes.
Scam of the day – February 23, 2023 – Citizens Bank Phishing Email
Today’s Scam of the day is a phishing email that appears to come from Citizens Bank. It makes for compelling reading, but it is a scam. Phishing emails, by which scammers and identity thieves attempt to lure you into either clicking on links contained within the email which will 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. As always, they lure you by making it appear that there is an emergency that requires your immediate attention or else dire consequences will occur.
Scam of the day – February 22, 2023 – My Social Security Account
I have been warning you about scams related to Social Security benefits for many years. In one Social Security related scam, the scammers call their targeted victim on the phone posing as employees of the Social Security Administration and tell their intended victims that their Social Security numbers have been suspended due to the number being used by criminals for fraudulent purposes. They then ask you to confirm personal information including your Social Security number in order to correct the problem and to enable lifting of the suspension of the victims’ Social Security numbers as well as to avoid arrest. This is a scam intended to lure people into providing personal information including their Social Security number which will then be used for purposes of identity theft.
Scam of the day – February 21, 2023 – Binary Option Scams
Binary options are, at their essence, a bet on whether the price of a particular index or asset will rise or fall above or below a specific price. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulate binary options platforms and trading. In the past both of these agencies issued an alert in which they warned people that some online trading platforms for binary options trading fail to comply with federal regulations https://www.sec.gov/files/ia_binary.pdf In many instances the sales of binary options have been done without complying with registration requirements and with fraudulent promotional advertising and improper disclosures.
Scam of the day – February 20, 2023 – Amazon Phishing Email
Amazon’s incredible popularity has not escaped scammers who tie many scams to Amazon including the phishing email copied below that can prompt the theft of personal information leading to identity theft from unwary victims. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Amazon based scams increased 500% in the last year I have warned you many times over the years about scammers who send various types of phishing emails which purport to be from Amazon attempting to lure you into either clicking on links which can download malware, such as ransomware or providing personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.
Scam of the day – February 19, 2023 – Copy of Your Deed Scam
Having an actual copy of your deed is not very important once it has been recorded in the local Registry of Deeds, however it is still a good record to keep. However, obtaining a copy of your deed on your own from your local Registry of Deeds is both simple and rarely costs more than a few dollars at the most. The problem with this particular scam is that technically, it may be legal in the sense that they are offering to obtain a copy of your deed for you for a fee and there is nothing illegal about that. However, the emails and letters you receive offering this service are usually confusing and misleading which is why I consider them to be a scam.
Scam of the day – February 18, 2023 – Watch Out for Pop-Up Ads
Pop-up advertisements that appear on your phone, computer or other device are considered by many people to be merely a nuisance, but they can also, in some circumstances, present a serious threat to your well being. While often the pop-up ads may be legitimate advertisements, they also can lure you into clicking on links and being directed to websites that either convince you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft or, in a worst case scenario, merely by either clicking on the link or being redirected to another website, you may unwittingly download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can steal from your phone or computer sensitive personal information that can be used to access your bank account or make you a victim of identity theft in other ways.
Scam of the day – February 17, 2023 – Facebook Marketplace Zelle Scam
Facebook Marketplace is a popular and convenient place for people to buy and sell things so, of course, scammers are drawn to it. Scams on Facebook Marketplace increased 184% last year. A new scam turning up on Facebook Marketplace starts when you list an item for more than a few hundred dollars. Shortly thereafter you are contacted by a scammer posing as a legitimate buyer who wants you to use Zelle, Venmo or any other P2P Service to pay you for the item. Peer to Peer Payment Payment Services (P2P) such a Zelle are used by many people to quickly and conveniently send money electronically from your credit card or bank account. Sending money through Zelle only requires you to enter the recipient’s phone number or email address.
Scam of the day – February 16, 2023 – Critical Apple Security Updates
It is always important to update all of the software you use with the latest security updates and patches as soon as they are available. Numerous hacks and data breaches could have been avoided if individuals as well as companies installed security updates as soon as they became available. Hackers take advantage of the fact that many of us procrastinate installing security software to our great detriment. The major data breach at Equifax that affected 148 million people involved a security flaw in Apache software for which a patch had already been issued months earlier, but Equifax had not yet installed at the time of the data breach. Apple has released security updates to address vulnerabilities in multiple products. An attacker could exploit some of these vulnerabilities to take control of an affected device.
Scam of the day – February 15, 2023 – Geek Squad Renewal Scam
. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently warned that lately scammers have been sending phishing emails that appear to be Geek Squad invoices. These emails look like a legitimate email from Geek Squad, although the grammar in many of these emails is not particularly good which is one of many indications that it was a scam. These types of phishing emails are intended to lure you into contacting the scammers where you will be prompted to provide information that will lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft.
Scam of the day – February 13, 2023 – FTC Sending Refunds to Victims of MoneyGram Scams
A common theme in many scams, including phony lottery scams and the infamous grandparent scam, is that the scammers will require the victim to wire money or use gift cards rather than use a credit card or a check. Once money has been wired or gift card information provided, it is all but impossible to trace or stop payment. In response to this problem, the Federal Trade Commission investigated both Western Union and MoneyGram and settled claims brought against them in 2017 and 2009 respectively. According to the terms of both settlements, the companies agreed to make substantial changes in how they did business in order to reduce the amount of scammers using their services. While Western Union is apparently adhering to the terms of its settlement, the FTC determined that MoneyGram was not implementing the fraud prevention standards agreed upon and consequently, the FTC brought new charges against MoneyGram which were settled in 2018. Among the terms of the new settlement was a payment by MoneyGram of funds to the FTC to be returned to people who were victimized by scammers through MoneyGram between 2013 and 2017. Now four years later, the FTC is refunding 115.8 million dollars to the almost 40,000 victims of MoneyGram scams.
Scam of the day – February 12, 2023 – Publishers Clearing House Scammer Indicted
Two days ago, Alrick Anthony Gardner was indicted on charges alleging he operated a sweepstakes scam that stole millions of dollars from unsuspecting elderly victims. According to the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, Gardner and others working with him called their targeted victims telling them that they had won a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, but that in order to receive their winnings they needed to pay fees and taxes. In an effort to make their scam look legitimate, the scammers mailed the victims fake documents including a counterfeit “winning notification” letter that appeared to come from Publishers Clearing House along with a phony letter that appeared to come from the IRS informing the victims of the need to pay taxes on their winnings to the scammers.
Scam of the day – February 11, 2023 – Watch Out For Earthquake Charity Scams
Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are common occurrences. Recently parts of Syria and Turkey have been suffered devastating earthquakes causing incredible damage and tremendous loss of life. 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.
Scam of the day – February 9, 2023 – Watch Out For Valentine’s Day Scams
Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. This is a very important day to many people including scammers and identity thieves who always manage to find an opportunity in whatever is current or popular to scam you out of your money. There are many Valentine’s day scams, but the most prevalent are phony florists, online dating scams, phony Valentine’s day electronic greeting cards and delivery scams.
Scam of the day – February 8, 2023 – Investment Advice Company Paying 1.7 Million Dollars as Penalty for Deceiving Customers
The Federal Trade Commission recently settled its lawsuit against investment advice company WealthPress and its owners, Roger Scott and Conor Lynch for using deceptive and misleading claims to induce consumers to purchase their bogus investment advising services. WealthPress represented that their recommendations were based on a proprietary system that guaranteed success when, in fact, most of their customers lost money after paying as much as thousands of dollars to sign up for WealthPress’ recommendations.
Scam of the day – February 7, 2023 – Super Bowl Betting Scams
Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles is only a few days away and it is estimated that this game could have the largest amount of Super Bowl best in history with estimates of as much as a billion dollars expected to be bet on the outcome of the game. Until 2019, Nevada was the only state with legalized sports betting, but now thirty-six states have legalized sports gambling Of course, however, anything attracting that much public interest has also attracted interest from scammers around the world who have set up bogus online betting websites that may appear legitimate, but end up stealing your money and not paying anything to “winners” using their websites.
Scam of the day – February 6, 2023 – Homograph Attacks: Something Else to Worry About
Chances are you haven’t heard of the term, “homograph attack,” but it refers to a cyberthreat that can easily result in your becoming a victim of identity theft or a scam victim. Homograph attacks have been around since the early 2000s, but have increased dramatically since 2020 when the federal government first warned about them. The attack starts with an email from what appears to be a legitimate source such as your bank informing you of an emergency requiring you to either click on a link or provide personal information. Savvy people will always be skeptical whenever asked to click on a link that could contain malware or provide personal information that could lead to identity theft and the first thing we are all trained to do is to look at the email address of the sender. If the email address of the sender has no relation to the supposed sender, you can be confident that it is a scam. Often this is the case because scammers often use botnets of hacked computers of innocent people to send out their phishing emails. However, in the case of homograph attacks, the phony email address of the sender appears amazingly similar to the real address of the company or government agency the scammers is posing as
Scam of the day – February 5, 2023 – QR Code Scams Getting Worse
Quick Response codes or QR codes have been around since 1994, but they have become much more popular in recent years and can be commonly found on parking meters, in restaurants and in advertising. When you can a QR code with your phone, it will take you to a website. Unfortunately as the popularity of QR codes has increased with the public, its popularity has also increased with scammers who are setting up phony QR codes to lure you to their bogus website where they solicit personal information used for identity theft or persuade you to make a payment with a credit card or even in some instances, merely by scanning the phony QR code, you will download harmful malware such as ransomware or even malware that will enable the scammer to take over your email account.