Scam of the day – April 14, 2023 – Critical Microsoft and 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 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 Apple and Microsoft issued multiple security updates which you should download as soon as possible.
Scam of the day – April 13, 2023 – Camp Lejeune Claim Scams
It seems like every time you turn on your television there is an advertisement by lawyers seeking to represent victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During the 1950s water sources at the Marine base became contaminated with numerous chemicals that could cause a wide variety of health problems. It has been estimated that as many as hundreds of thousands of people may have been made ill due to the chemical exposure.. Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in 2022 which provides for compensation to victims of the polluted water. To qualify for benefits, victims must have spent a minimum of thirty days at camp Lejeune from August 1953 to December 1987 and must file a claim through the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit. The federal government will either then offer a settlement or deny the claim. If a claim is denied or the settlement offer isn’t acceptable, the claimant can then file a lawsuit. For more detailed information about the program and applying for benefits, go to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/ Unfortunately, as you can expect scammers are already contacting people in regard to Camp Lejeune claims. The claims process is complicated and I would advise people to use an experienced, VA accredited lawyer. Scammers are posing as lawyers and contacting people through phone calls, emails or social media. Be wary of any lawyer who asks for an upfront fee and promises a large settlement or judgment.
Scam of the day – April 12, 2023 – Watch Out for Scammers Posing as Turbo Tax
With the due date for filing you federal income tax return rapidly approaching, many people are filing their taxes at this time with almost 94% of individual income tax returns being filed electronically. TurboTax is a popular online tax preparation service and so identity thieves will take advantage of that popularity and call people posing as TurboTax employees informing the targeted victim that his or her electronically filed income tax return has been rejected by the IRS. The identity thief then attempts to lure you into providing personal information including your Social Security number that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.
Scam of the day – April 11, 2023 – Free Credit Score Scam
However, it is important to note that your free credit report will not provide you with your credit score. Many people are receiving emails with offers to provide a free copy of your credit score. Unfortunately, as with any other email or text message that requires you to provide personal information such as your Social Security number which is required to obtain your credit report or credit score, you cannot be sure that the offer is legitimate. In some instances, companies offering to provide “free” credit reports or scores are actually signing you up for a continuing service that you may not either desire or need. These sites generally ask for your credit card number, but tell you that they only need the credit card number for verification purposes. Of course, that it is a lie. If you were getting something free, you would not need to provide a credit card number. They are getting your number to use it to charge you monthly fees for services that you may not have thought you ordered. Even worse however, are scams in which the company offering to provide you with your free credit score is actually just scamming you in order to get your Social Security number which they will use to make you a victim of identity theft.
Scam of the day – April 10, 2023 – FTC Sending Refunds to Victims of Work at Home Scammers
In the Scam of the day for January 20, 2018 I first told you that the FTC was mailing thousands of checks totaling 2.2 million dollars to the victims of a telemarketing scam through which the scammers promised substantial income to people who paid for their work-at-home Internet business coaching services. The scammers used various names to perpetrate their scams including Professional Learning Institute, Pinnacle Learning Institute, Advantage Education and Discover Education. Now the FTC is sending its fourth round of refunds to victims of the scam in which the scammers charged large upfront fees for their worthless services related to purportedly helping their victims set up online businesses. For more information about this scam you can go to the middle of the first page of the Scamicide website and click on the tab entitled “FTC Scam Refunds.”
Scam of the day – April 9, 2023 – FTC Takes Action Against Extended Car Warranty Scammers
The FTC prosecuted three companies recently scamming people with phony, expensive extended car warranties and obtained court judgments against all three. One of the companies, American Vehicle Protection Corporation (AVP) lied to consumers, telling them that AVP was affiliated with the automobile manufacturers and further lied about the protection provided by their expensive policies. Making matters worse, they also marketed their worthless products through telemarketing calls to people who were registered on the Do Not Call List.
Scam of the day – April 8, 2023 – FTC Sending Additional Refunds to Victims of Herbalife Pyramid Scheme
In the Scam of the day for January 14, 2017 I first told you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had settled its claims against the multilevel marketing company Herbalife which sells nutritional supplements. The FTC claimed that Herbalife was an illegal pyramid scheme where affiliates’ earnings were tied primarily to signing up more affiliates rather than to selling products. Sometimes a legitimate multilevel marketing business may look quite similar to an illegitimate pyramid scheme, which is one of the reasons that so many people fall prey to these scams. For every legitimate multilevel marketing company, such as Mary Kay and Amway, there are many that are just scams. In a legitimate multilevel marketing company, investors make money by selling products to the public and by recruiting new salespeople. In a pyramid scheme the source of profits is based primarily on the recruiting of new members or salespeople.
Scam of the day – April 7, 2023 – Electronic Tax Filing Company Hacked
Approximately 90% of taxpayers file their federal income tax returns electronically. Electronic filing is easy and generally secure. However, it has just been discovered that eFile.com an electronic e-filing software service authorized by the IRS was hacked and malicious malware inserted into the site. Someone using eFile would see a legitimate appearing browser update notice indicating that you needed to click on a download button to update your browser in order to access the site. If you clicked on the button you would download malware that could full access to your computer.
Scam of the day – April 6, 2023 – IRS Warning About Income Tax Scams on Social Media
Federal Income Tax returns are due for most people on April 18th this year although California storm victims have until May 15th to file their federal income tax returns. The IRS is warning people about scams popping up on social media that already have gotten numerous people into trouble. It should go without saying, but social media is definitely not a place to go for reliable tax advice. According to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, “The IRS continue to see a lot of inaccurate information that could get well meaning taxpayers in trouble. People should remember that there is no secret way to fill out a form and simply get a larger refund that they aren’t entitled to. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Two of the scams to which Commissioner Werfel is referring are Form 8944 fraud and Form W-2 fraud. In regard to Form 8944 fraud, posts on social media are advising people to file a Form 8944 Hardship waiver Request in order to get a refund even if you owe income taxes. In regard to W-2 fraud, social media posts are telling people to use tax software to create a phony Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement making up a large phony income, a large phony withholding and a phony company in order to get a substantial unearned refund.
Scam of the day – April 5, 2023 – Vacation Rental Scams,
It is only early April, but already people are looking into renting a summer vacation home. Renting vacation homes rather than going to hotels has been increasingly popular in recent years. There are many excellent websites such as VRBO and Homeaway that offer wonderful vacation homes. Many people will also go to Craigslist and other similar sites. These websites can be easy and efficient ways to find a great vacation home. Unfortunately, they are also a great way for scam artists to steal money from unwary people looking for a vacation home. The scam usually starts with a listing that looks quite legitimate and there is a good reason for that. The listing is often a real on-line listing that has been copied by the scammer who merely puts in his or her name and contact information. The price is usually very low which attracts a lot of potential renters. The potential renters are sometimes told that the owner is out of the country and that there are many people interested in the property so if the tenant wants to be considered for renting it, the tenant has to wire money to the landlord somewhere outside of the country. As I have warned you many times, wiring money is a scammer’s first choice because it is all but impossible to retrieve once you have found out that you have been scammed. Too often, unwary potential tenants wire the money and never hear anything further from the scam landlord. And as for the money, it is gone forever.
Scam of the day – April 4, 2023 – Romance Scammer Sentenced to Prison
In the Scam of the day for March 5, 2021 I first told you about the arrest of Kofi Osei in Massachusetts who was charged with using romance scams to steal $535,000 from a woman in California and two women in Florida. He used fake names and after gaining their trust concocted wild stories to justify his asking for funds. He told his first victim that he was working on an oil rig in Dubai that was involved in an explosion and needed money for a lawyer. He told his second victim that he was involved in an accident in France and was arrested and needed money for legal assistance. He told his third victim that he was working on an oil rig in Texas and there was a problem with his company’s bank account and he needed money to pay for drilling equipment. Now two years later, he has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay more than 4 million dollars in restitution.
Scam of the day – April 3, 2023 – Millions Affected by Major Data Breach
TMX Finance and its subsidiary companies TitleMax, TitleBucks and InstaLoan recently notified 4,822,580 of its customers that large amounts of their personal information was exposed in a data breach that lasted from February 3rd to February 14th. This particular data breach is extremely serious because the information stolen included names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, financial account information, phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses and more of its customers. TitleMax is a private lender with 1,100 stores throughout the country.
Scam of the day – April 2, 2023 – Watch Out for Scams Related to the Nashville Shooting
Human tragedies such as the murders of six people at a school in Nashville, Tennessee bring out the best charitable impulses of many people, but unfortunately, they also bring out the worst impulses in scammers who use tragedies such as this to solicit contributions to phony charities and GoFundMe campaigns.
Scam of the day – April 1, 2023 – SIM Swapping is No April Fools Joke
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. Recently Zena Elisa Dounson and Andrew Percy Trujillo were convicted of SIM Swapping charges. Dounson and Trujillo used the SIM swaps to manipulate the dual factor authentication used by their victims to access their victims’ cryptocurrency wallets.
Scam of the day – March 31, 2023 – Critical Apple 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 – March 30, 2023 – AI Voice Cloning Makes Grandparent Scam Worse
Through the use of readily available AI voice cloning technology, a scammer can obtain a recording of the grandchild’s voice from YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or anywhere else the grandchild might post a video with audio and use that audio to create a call to the grandparent that sounds exactly like that of the grandchild and all it takes is AI voice-generating software and as little as 30 seconds worth of the grandchild’s audio. Recently, Ruth Card of Regina, Saskatchewan was swindled out of 3,000 Canadian dollars by a scammer who used AI voice cloning technology to make a call to Mrs. Card that appeared to come from her grandson, Brandon in which it sounded like Brandon was in jail and needed the money immediately for bail.
Scam of the day – March 29, 2023 – Why You Should Shred Personal Documents
Recently in Minnesota, Cassie Cullen was arrested and charged with crimes related to her alleged stealing documents by “dumpster diving” and using those documents to facilitate identity theft. Much of your trash may be an identity thief’s treasure because of the personal information contained on those documents which can be leveraged by a criminal to make you a victim of identity theft. The best thing you can do to prevent the documents you are throwing out in the trash becoming a gift to identity thieves is to shred documents with sensitive personal information.
Scam of the day – March 28, 2023 – Facebook Phishing Scam
A Scamicide reader recently received the phishing email reproduced below which had as the message line “Your F acebook Account is Temporary Blocked (Critical Login Attemp) Please Verification is NEEDED.” This is typical of phishing emails that they attempt to make it appear that there is an emergency that requires your immediate attention. Unfortunately, if you click on the links provided in the email one of two things can happen and they both are bad. Either you will be taken to a legitimate appearing website where you will be lured into providing personal information that can lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft or, even worse, merely by clicking on the link, you will download dangerous malware such as keystroke logging malware or ransomware.
Scam of the day- March 27, 2023 – Phony Government Grant Scams
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is warning the public about an increase of phony grant scams. Recently there have been an increase in scams involving scammers convincing their victims that they are eligible for large government grants if they merely pay a processing fee. The federal government does not charge fees for applying for grants. Additionally, the scammers perpetrating this scam also often ask for personal information such as your birth date and Social Security number which they use to make you a victim of identity theft.
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.