Now, however the Office of the Inspector General for Social Security is warning about a new scam where Social Security customer service representatives receive AI powered chatbot calls that appear to come from a Social Security beneficiary asking for a change in the bank account where the monthly check is deposited.
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 in 2018 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.
Scam of the day – September 25, 2023 – Senator Blumenthal Spearheading Efforts Against phony PACs and Charities
Election season will soon be coming to a close and Political Action Committees (PACs) are busy raising money to funnel to candidates and organizations trying to influence legislation. Unfortunately, for the last ten years scammers have been setting up phony PACs that promise to use your money on behalf of your favored candidate or cause, but instead keep the money for their own use. Often the scammers use telemarketing to contact their victims.
Curiosity killed the cat and it can also invade your computer and result in a scammer getting access to your computer through malware such as a keystroke logging program that can read and steal all of the information stored on your computer, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers and passwords. It can lead to you becoming a victim of identity theft. It also can lead to data breaches at companies where you work. What scammers and identity thieves have been doing recently is leaving USB flash drives at bars where employees of a company they wish to hack go after work as well as the parking lots of companies that they wish to hack, hoping that people who work at the targeted company will see the USB flash drives and then curious about what is on them, put them into their computers at work and, without thinking, download the malicious software.
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 JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Ace Hardware is a large, popular hardware store and like many stores has a loyalty program called Ace Rewards. Ace recently sent out a warning to its Ace Rewards members that scammers, posing as Ace Hardware are sending emails to Ace Reward members offering a prize for completing a survey. In order to receive your prize, you are required to pay a small fee to cover shipping and handling. The scammers are also sending emails in which they direct the targeted victim to a fake website that appears to be that of Ace Hardware. Unfortunately, if you take the survey and provide your credit card or debit card to pay for the shipping and handling of your prize, the only thing you will receive will be excessive charges on your credit or debit card. If you to the phony website, you may end up unwittingly downloading malware or providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.
Scam of the day – September 20, 2023 – Move Over Mavis, Here Comes Kristine with Another Lottery Scam
I have been writing about scams related to Mavis Wanczyk for six years. 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.
Investment scams have always been with us, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, they reached 3.8 billion dollars of losses last year which was double the amount of the previous year.
Receiving a telephone call from a debt collector is not a pleasant experience. Being hounded by someone attempting to collect a debt you do not owe constitutes fraud. In recent years the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against a number of these Phantom debt collection agencies. These scammers used false claims and threats to compel people to pay debts which were largely either non-existent or which the defendants had no authority to collect. They also violated federal law by illegally failing to provide proper notices and disclaimers also required by federal law.
Scam of the day – September 17, 2023 – Doctors, Nurses and Other Medical Personnel Targeted by Scammers
Most new scams are merely variations of older scam and today’s Scam of the day is one of those. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning doctors, nurses and other medical personnel of a scam in which the targeted victim receives a phone call from the scammer posing as a deputy sheriff who informs the targeted victim that he or she has missed a court date where he or she was supposed to testify as an expert witness. The scammer goes on to tell the targeted victim that he or she will be arrested unless they pay a fine by gift cards. Of course, anytime you are asked to make a payment by way of a gift card, you can be confident it is a scam. Gift cards are a favorite method of payment for scammers because they are impossible to trace.
We have all seen Facebook postings urging us to click that we “like” them. Sometimes it is an emotional appeal to show support for a sick child. Sometimes it is to show support for a political message. Sometimes these appeals are legitimate, but unfortunately sometimes they are not. Often they are done to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that value the popularity measured by likes and shares which then appear on the Facebook pages of more people. Although the original content liked or shared may appear sincere or entertaining, the scammers who use this technique, which is called “farming,” then are able to change the content to something entirely different from what was originally shared or liked. This can be done for purposes of sending advertising or gathering marketing information, but, at its worst, it can be used to send malware infected content that can steal personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
I have written often about phony student loan debt relief companies and with good reason. More than forty-two million Americans have student loans with an outstanding balance of more than 1.4 trillion dollars so it is no surprise that scammers are focusing their attention on these students and former students through scams that falsely promise to provide debt relief. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that President Biden’s program for student loan forgiveness was unconstitutional. Interest on student loans began accruing again on September 1st and repayments are scheduled to resume in October, leaving many people scrambling as to what to do about their student loans.
For many years Bed, Bath & Beyond was a popular housewares and specialty items store. I always enjoyed shopping there and if you ever shopped there you may remember their receipts with ream upon ream of coupons. In any event, the company came upon hard times and declared bankruptcy earlier this year and closed all of their physical locations. However, the company, which was bought by Overstock.com continues to operate as an online store and therein lies the scam. Effective scams often have a kernel of truth to lure you in. In this case, people are aware that Bed, Bath & Beyond went bankrupt so they are susceptible to postings on Facebook and other social media that appear to be from Bed, Bath & Beyond offering tremendous online bargains in their going out of business sale. If you click on the posts, they take you to a website that appears to be that of Bed, Bath & Beyond. However, if you purchase anything from the counterfeit site, you don’t get anything in return.
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 some 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.
Then the fun begins (for the scammer). You next receive an email that purports to have been sent by Zelle indicating that the buyer paid you through a Zelle “business account” and that you need to upgrade your personal Zelle account to a business account in order to receive the payment from the scammer posing as the buyer. You are then told that in order to upgrade your account, the amount sent to you needs to be increased by $300. The scammer then tells you that he or she will gladly send you an additional $300 through Zelle in order to enable the transaction if you merely refund the excess payment to them through Zelle. Of course, soon after refunding the $300, which was never paid by the scammer to begin with, the scam victim realizes he or she has just been scammed out of $300.
Shopping on Amazon, has been popular for a long time, but particularly during the continuing pandemic shopping on Amazon has increased dramatically and with so many people shopping on Amazon, scammers are using Amazon as the basis for a variety of scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Amazon based scams have 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.
Recently Detectives in Washoe County, Nevada disclosed that they learned of a local resident who had been contacted electronically and by phone by a scammer posing as law enforcement who told the targeted scam victim that his bank account had been linked to criminal activity and that in order to stop the crime, the scam victim had to withdraw the $15,000 he had in his account and deposit it into a designated cryptocurrency account through a Bitcoin ATM. Fortunately, while the fearful scam victim complied with the directions of the scammers, he also recognized that it was a scam immediately thereafter and promptly notified the police who were able to recover the funds from the Bitcoin ATM. Washoe County detectives indicated that other country residents have been less fortunate, losing more than $500,000 to this scam already this year.
Credit repair scams are very common as scammers take advantage of people with debt problems and promise to fix their credit and clear their credit reports of adverse information for up front fees. I have been warning you about these scams for eleven years. Recently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entered into a settlement with the companies operating the largest credit repair operations in the country including Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com. The CFPB alleged that these companies violated a range of violations including demanding illegal advance fees for credit repair services. According to the terms of the settlement, which still must be approved by a judge, these companies are banned from telemarketing their credit repair services and imposes a 2.7 billion dollar judgment against the defendants.
As you can well expect, many scams are perpetrated through social media. One current scam appearing on social media uses a fake endorsement of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to scam people who think they are getting free upscale cookware, but instead become a scam victim. Posts like the one shown below promise a free set of HexClad cookware in return for merely paying $9.95 for shipping and handling. The particular scam ad shown below appears to be a story from Fox News, but it is fake. Anyone responding to the posts which have appeared on Facebook and elsewhere are taken to a website where they need to provide their credit card number to cover the $9.95 shipping and handling cost, however, anyone providing their credit card number will soon find that there card gets charged for much more than $9.95 and they never receive any cookware or anything other than a lesson in being scammed.
As if we all didn’t have enough to worry about, recently there has been an increase in malicious browser extensions which when downloaded can lead to your being scammed out of money or becoming a victim of identity theft. Browsers, like Google Chrome allow you to efficiently search the Web, but while they can be very helpful, people often want to supplement their functionality by adding a browser extension. A browser extension customizes your browser to your own personal needs through such useful functions as encrypting email, storing passwords and blocking ads (which I use). Some extensions are actually made available through the browser you use, but many others come from third party developers. In order to be operate, extensions generally need you to grant permission to access your browsing activities and therein comes the problem.
A Subscriber Identity Module, more commonly known as a SIM card, is an integrated circuit that stores information used to authenticate subscribers on mobile devices, such as a cell phone. The SIM card is able to be transferred between different devices, and often is, when people update into a newer cell phone. SIM Swapping is the name for the crime where someone convinces your phone carrier to transfer your SIM card to a phone controlled by the criminal. As more and more financial transactions, such as online banking, are now done through cell phones, identity thieves with access to their victims’ SIM cards are increasingly becoming able to intercept security codes sent by text messages for online banking as part of dual factor authentication and thereby providing the identity thief with the opportunity to empty their victims’ bank accounts and cause other financial havoc.
But, as I always say, things aren’t as bad as you think, they are far worse. A few days ago the electric and gas utility company Eversource disclosed that 1.8 million of its customers were affected by a data breach in which their names, addresses, contact information and more were compromised. Even worse, 11,000 of its customers involved in Eversource’s solar incentive program also had their Social Security numbers compromised.
Summer is gone and back to school shopping is in high gear for many parents and students. Much of back to school shopping, like other shopping, is done online and people are constantly looking for bargains from trusted companies such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Scammers are constantly setting up phony retail websites. Some of these phony websites are for totally made up companies that you have never heard of, but which are offering tremendous discounts on popular goods while other phony websites are counterfeit websites of legitimate online retailers. Unfortunately, it is very easy for scammers to construct phony websites with legitimate appearing logos of companies you trust. Recently the cybersecurity software company Trend Micro announced that it had found more than 205,000 phony websites touting back to school sales.
Hurricane Idalia has left Florida, Georgia and South Carolina with severe flooding and wind damage and now that the storm is gone the hard work starts for the victims of the storm. Natural disasters bring out the best in people who want to donate to charities to help the victims. Unfortunately natural disasters such as Hurricane Idalia also bring out the worst in scammers who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of the storms, these scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses. Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you. The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email, social media or text message you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.
The FBI recently issued a warning about scammers infecting malware in mobile beta testing apps. Everyone uses a multitude of apps, but before they are formally made available, it is common for legitimate developers to make a limited number of the apps available for what is called beta-testing to help determine flaws and make improvements in the final version of the app before the app is made generally available in places like Google Play, the App Store or the Microsoft Store. Scammers take advantage of this situation to offer apps they create with intentionally injected malware. One aspect of beta testing apps that works to the advantage of scammers is that unlike the final version of apps offered at the usual app stores, beta tested apps are not subject to mobile operating systems’ review processes so they have not been screened before being offered thereby making it easier to disguise their malware.
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. In 2020 Andres Pukke was convicted in regard to this scam. As a result the FTC was paid funds by Pukke and his co-defendants to be refunded to victims of the scam and now finally checks are being sent to victims of the scam.
Scam of the day – August 30, 2023 – FBI Warns About Bogus Companies Claiming Ability to Recover Funds Lost in Cryptocurrency Scams
In recent years, I have written many times about the myriad of cryptocurrency scams that have cost people billions of dollars. According to the FBI, Americans lost more than 2.5 billion dollars to cryptocurrency investment scams. In some instances, law enforcement has been able to recover some of those lost funds, but in many other instances, the money is lost forever. Sensing an opportunity, according to the FBI, scammers, posing as representatives of companies that falsely claim to be able to recover funds lost to cryptocurrency scams, are luring in victims through social media, messaging platforms or advertisements. Often the scammers claim affiliation with law enforcement, federal agencies or legitimate legal services providers, but it is all a lie. In return for an up-front payment, the scammers claim they can recover all of the funds lost to a cryptocurrency scam. Of course, this is a lie and anyone who pays the fee loses that money.
In a new scam, scammers posing as local humane societies or animal control officers are calling pet owners who have lost pets telling them that they have found the pet and ask for an immediate payment over the phone in order to retrieve their lost pet. Recently, the Idaho Humane Society issued a specific warning about this scam, however, it is occurring all over the country. Often pet owners who have lost their pets will post posters with photos and information about the lost pet which the scammers use to harvest information they can use to make their call appear legitimate. Additionally, through a technique called “spoofing” it is a simple matter for the scammer to manipulate your Caller ID so that the call appears to have come from your local humane society or animal control officer.
Scam of the day – August 28, 2023 – Two Nigerians Charged with Operating a Global Sextortion Ring Extradited to United States
Two weeks ago Nigerians Samuel Ogoshi and Samson Ogoshi were extradited from Nigeria to Michigan to face charges of operating a global sextortion ring. Samuel Ogoshi is also charged with sexual exploitation of a minor resulting in death. These charges are related to the death of 17 year old Jordan DeMay who committed suicide after being a victim of sextortion allegedly perpetrated by Samuel Ogoshi.
Quizzes on Facebook and other social media are very popular, but they can be exploited by identity thieves. A good example of this was the “10 Concerts, but there is one act that I haven’t seen live. Which is it?” Facebook quiz. While this may appear harmless, the information you provide may tell more about you than is safe to make public. It may provide information about your approximate age and preferences in music which can then be used by a scammer to send you a spear phishing email tailored to appeal to your particular interests that you may trust and click on a link contained in the email that contains either keystroke logging malware that can be used to steal your identity or ransomware.
I first told you about “brushing” in August of 2020 after many people in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom reported receiving unordered packages of seeds sent from China. A wide variety of conspiracy theories quickly surfaced to explain what was happening, but the truth was that it was an example of a scam called “brushing.” Brushing is the name for using false orders for products to boost the prominence of an online vendor. Vendors pay brushers to make large orders of their product and ship them to strangers to make the sales appear to be legitimate. The brushers follow up on these purchases by posting glowing reviews of the vendor’s product. This combination of increased sales volume and positive reviews will, in turn, result in the increased prominence of the vendor in online marketplaces and result in increased sales. Brushing is illegal in the United States and China, however, it is quite commonly used by Chinese companies. Now we are seeing a resurgence of this scam with people receiving a wide variety of inexpensive products that they never ordered.
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...
Scam of the day – August 24, 2023 – FTC Refunding Millions to Victims of Student Loan Debt Relief Scam
In 2018 I first told you about the FTC suing American Financial Benefits Center, Financial Benefits Center, AmeriTech Financial and Brandon Demond Frere for illegal student loan debt relief practices. Specifically, these defendants charged illegal up-front $800 fees and additional excessive fees falsely claiming that they could permanently reduce the monthly debt payments to a fixed low amount or even total loan forgiveness. In 2020 Frere and his companies settled the civil charges with the FTC. Pursuant to the settlement Frere is banned from providing debt relief services. Frere has already in July of 2020 been sentenced to 42 months in prison on criminal charges related to his debt relief scams. Now three years later, the FTC is sending refunds to thousands of the victims of this scam. Most people will receive a check from the FTC. Others, for whom the FTC doesn’t have an address will receive a PayPal payment. For more information about the refund program go to the middle of the first page of the Scamicide website and click on the icon for “FTC Refunds.”
With the pandemic behind us the demand for travel has resulted in a large increase in people either applying for passports or renewing their passports. Unfortunately, the federal government has not been processing these applications very efficiently with routine passport applications taking up to 13 weeks and even people paying the extra $60 for expedited processing taking up to 9 weeks. Capitalizing on the frustration many would-be travelers are facing, scammers are setting up websites that appear to be either a government website or a website for a company that promises to speed up your application. In both cases, people using these websites end up paying for passports they never receive or providing information that leads to their identity being stolen.
LinkedIn is a very popular business and employment social media account so it is not surprising that it is often targeted by scammers as anything popular with many people will be popular with scammers. In fact last year LinkedIn was the most abused brand used in phishing emails. Recently, however, there has been a surge in LinkedIn accounts being hacked and taken over by scammers. The motivation behind these hacks is not entirely clear, but in the past hacked LinkedIn accounts have been used through socially engineered spear phishing attacks against co-workers and companies of the LInkedIn account holder who is apt to trust emails or messages sent from a trusted source.
A major problem is that many popular websites use outdated servers that make them vulnerable to malware and data breaches. Another problem comes from many websites including content from third parties such as companies that provide advertising. Malvertising is the name for malware infected advertising that can turn up on legitimate websites and can be downloaded on to your computer or phone by either clicking on links in the advertising or even, in some cases, by merely going to the website where the tainted advertising appears even if you never click on the ad.
Phishing emails are perhaps the most common way people are scammed or become victims of identity theft. Phishing emails appear to come from a legitimate company with which you may do business and lure you into clicking on malware infected links or provide personal information that leads to your becoming a victim of identity theft. The particular phishing email shown below which was sent to me by a savvy Scamicide reader is very sophisticated, having a legitimate appearing DIRECTV logo. The grammar and punctuation are good and even the email address of the sender looks like it is a legitimate email address of DIRECTV although it is not.. Often a telltale sign that the email is a part of a scam is that the email address of the sender has absolutely nothing to do with the real company, but is the email address of a hacked email account made a part of a botnet.
Today’s Scam of the day is about a phishing email that appears to come from Google and informs you that your electronic device is infected with a virus and attempts to lure you into clicking on a link that purports to help you remove the virus. The email makes for compelling reading and carries the Google logo, but it is a scam. As for the logo, it is a very simple matter to counterfeit a logo in an email. 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.
Recently the United States Marshals Service for the Middle District of Georgia issued a warning that scammers posing as U.S. Marshals are calling people and threatening to arrest them for violating federal law unless they make a payment. In order to appear legitimate, some of these scammers provide badge numbers and names of actual U.S. Marshals. A big indication that this is a scam is that they offer to take payments by bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, gift cards or wire transfers to resolve the phony charges. The U.S. Marshals office does not demand payments by phone and never asks for payment by bitcoin, gift cards or wire transfers.
Remote access scams are increasing and when a scammer posing as your bank lures you into providing remote access to your bank account, the result can be disastrous. In one instance, the scam started with a phone call from a scammer posing as an employee of Avast, a popular security software company. The scammer told his victim that the company could not continue to provide services to him and that they would be refunding him $500. The scammers then told him that they had mistakenly refunded thousands of dollars into his account and therefore needed to get remote access to his bank account in order to withdraw the excess amount “mistakenly” sent to him. The victim fell for the scam and provided them remote access to his account whereupon they emptied his account. By the time the victim realized he had been scammed and reported it to his bank, the money had been already withdrawn from both his bank and the bank to which the scammers had the funds in his account transferred.
The FBI recently issued a warning about scammers posing as NFT developers in order to perpetrate cryptocurrency theft. NFT stands for Non-Fungible Tokens which are assets that have been tokenized on a blockchain to make them unique. Many NFTs involve digital art and collectibles such as trading cards and art and while the popularity of NFTs has somewhat waned in the last couple of years, NFTs still are looked upon by some people as valuable investments. The FBI has found that scammers are both hacking the social media accounts of NFT developers or creating cloned social media accounts that appear to be those of legitimate NFT developers on which they promote the sale of valuable, “limited supply” NFTs. The scammers then lure their victims into connecting their cryptocurrency wallets to cryptocurrency wallets of the scammers in order to purchase the NFTs. Victims falling for the scam who connect their cryptocurrency wallets to the cryptocurrency wallets of the scammers end up having their cryptocurrency wallets emptied.
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 in 2018 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. Recently both Adobe and Microsoft issued multiple security updates which you should download as soon as possible.
Recently the accounting firm Ernst & Young disclosed that it had suffered a data breach affecting 30,210 customers of Bank of America for whom Ernst & Young had been doing accounting. The personal information stolen was quite extensive and included names, addresses credit card numbers, account information and Social Security numbers which, in the wrong hands, can readily lead to identity theft. The data breach at Ernst & Young, however was not a result of their computers being hacked directly by cybercriminals, but rather was done by exploiting a vulnerability found in MOVEit software used by the Ernst & Young as well as 620 other organizations including American Airlines, TD Ameritrade, Johns Hopkins University and other users of the same software who can be assumed to also have suffered data breaches affecting an estimated 40 million people. This brings back memories of the 2020 SolarWinds supply chain security breach. SolarWinds is a company that provides system management software to 30,000 companies and government agencies. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in its software that, in turn, led to data breaches at thousands of governmental and private entities.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Celsius Network LLC for cryptocurrency related scams. According to the FTC, Celsius lured people through YouTube videos and Twitter (can’t get used to X) that falsely claimed its cryptocurrency investments were safer than a savings bank account and were guaranteed to earn high interest at no risk. All of these representations, according to the FTC were lies and ultimately, Celsius, which the FTC says improperly used their investments for their own business expenses went bankrupt resulting in huge losses for their investors.
Now the FTC, Sate of Arkansas and BINT have settled the lawsuit resulting in BINT being required to pay $450,000 in refunds to its victims. In addition, BINT is permanently banned from the business of multi-level marketing.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are common occurrences. Recently Maui in Hawaii has suffered devastating wildfires that have destroyed property and taken lives. 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.
By now everyone is aware that a single winning ticket for the 1.48 billion dollar MegaMillions jackpot was sold in Florida. However, merely because the lottery drawing has been completed, does not mean that scams related to the drawing have ended. Year after year, lottery scams are one of the most common and profitable scams for scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists. What is now happening is that people are being contacted by emails, text messages and informed by the scammers that although they did not win the top prize, they did win one of the lesser prizes which can be as much as a million dollars. The only catch is that you need to prepay administrative fees or income taxes on your winnings before your prize will be sent to you.
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 phishing email that appears to come from MyChart. MyChart is an online platform that allows you to communicate with your health care provider about a wide range of matters including scheduling appointments and reviewing your prescriptions. MyChart and other online medical platforms became even more popular during the pandemic.