Category Archives: SCAMS

“These common scams have something in common: gift cards” – AARP

gift card scam III

AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons) reminds everyone: “In 2020 alone, American consumers lost at least $124 million to scammers asking to be paid in gift cards.* And no wonder—gift cards are commonplace, untraceable, and can easily be converted to cash. You can avoid many scams if you keep this in mind: requests to pay with gift cards are a sign of fraud. (*FTC Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020)”

Payment by gift card? It’s a scam!

“Who’s Making All Those Scam Calls?” – The New York Times

“Every year, tens of millions of Americans collectively lose billions of dollars to scam callers. Where does the other end of the line lead?

One afternoon in December 2019, Kathleen Langer, an elderly grandmother who lives by herself in Crossville, Tenn., got a phone call from a person who said he worked in the refund department of her computer manufacturer. The reason for the call, he explained, was to process a refund the company owed Langer for antivirus and anti-hacking protection that had been sold to her and was now being discontinued. Langer, who has a warm and kind voice, couldn’t remember purchasing the plan in question, but at her age, she didn’t quite trust her memory. She had no reason to doubt the caller, who spoke with an Indian accent and said his name was Roger.

“He asked her to turn on her computer and led her through a series of steps so that he could access it remotely. When Langer asked why this was necessary, he said he needed to remove his company’s software from her machine. Because the protection was being terminated, he told her, leaving the software on the computer would cause it to crash.

“After he gained access to her desktop, using the program TeamViewer, the caller asked Langer to log into her bank to accept the refund, $399, which he was going to transfer into her account. ‘Because of a technical issue with our system, we won’t be able to refund your money on your credit card or mail you a check,’ he said. Langer made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to log in. She didn’t do online banking too often and couldn’t remember her user name.

“Frustrated, the caller opened her bank’s internet banking registration form on her computer screen, created a new user name and password for her and asked her to fill out the required details — including her address, Social Security number and birth date. When she typed this last part in, the caller noticed she had turned 80 just weeks earlier and wished her a belated happy birthday. ‘Thank you!’ she replied.

“After submitting the form, he tried to log into Langer’s account but failed, because Langer’s bank — like most banks — activates a newly created user ID only after verifying it by speaking to the customer who has requested it. The caller asked Langer if she could go to her bank to resolve the issue. ‘How far is the bank from your house?’ he asked.”

Click here to continue reading this long read at The New York Times.  Now you can listen to the article with an audio recording at the Website; it’s a 36 minute recording.

“Beware of Robocalls, Texts and Emails Promising COVID-19 Cures or Stimulus Payments” – AARP

“Coronavirus scams spreading as fraudsters follow the headlines”

covid scam

by John Waggoner and Andy Markowitz

“Coronavirus scams are spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself. As of Jan. 12, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had logged more than 324,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus payments, 69 percent of them involving fraud or identity theft. Victims have reported losing $307 million, with a median loss of $305.

Fraudsters are using the full suite of scam tools — phishing emails and texts, bogus social media posts, robocalls, impostor schemes and more — and closely following the headlines, adapting their messages and tactics as new medical and economic issues arise.

For example, with the government granting emergency authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccines, federal and state agencies are warning of a flood of vaccine scams, with phony websites and email campaigns promising easy and early access to coronavirus shots. Authorities also anticipate a fresh wave of stimulus scams with Congress approving new rounds of relief payments, enhanced unemployment benefits and small business loans.

Here are some coronavirus scams scams to look out for. Click to keep reading this article.

“As scams against senior citizens increase in Pennsylvania, state forms task force to help” – Reading Eagle

scams reading eagle

by Mike Urban

“Brian Long is 77 and knows his age makes him a target for the increasing number of scammers who try to steal from senior citizens.

“They see the elderly as easy prey, he said, and are ruthless enough to come after them.

“Long has learned enough about financial abuse of the elderly that he not only recognizes emails, phone calls and text messages from people attempting to rip him off, but also leads seminars about these crimes on behalf of Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon LINK, an agency that helps the aging and disabled.

“Despite his attempts to help people avoid being victimized, Long has repeatedly heard from seniors who still fell prey to financial schemes, evidence of how devious those scammers can be, he said.

“Long and others who work with the elderly in Berks hope a new state task force can help protect seniors, improve reporting mechanisms and cut down on those crimes by coordinating efforts between agencies.”

re scams


Resources for seniors

If you’re a victim, call your local police department or your bank if you notice something wrong with your accounts.

Those with general questions about crimes against seniors can call the Berks County Area Office on Aging at 610-478-6500 or the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources at 800-753-8827.

Pennsylvania also has a statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-490-8505.

Register for one or more of these upcoming FREE Link Webinars

regioster for webinars

graying rainbow2

Register in advance for this webinar: :https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DGFShOoiT6iamQAo-JRpBg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Elections Webinar

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IyQOx6qASqaT_uS5KPHN5Q

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

romance scams

Register in advance for this MORNING SESSION webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9WkGQvWURjGTInR2hU2jqA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Register in advance for this EVENING SESSION webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5pSJjWHhSoKv6ndWU2H0lg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


See all the upcoming Webinars here: https://berkslancasterlebanonlink.org/webinars-2/

Cryptocurrency blackmail scam alert” – Federal

scam

by Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

The email suddenly appears in your inbox. Someone is writing to say that they have access to your cell phone or your computer. And they’re about to make your sensitive videos, pictures, or compromising information public. Pay them money (a ransom), they say, using a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, and they won’t expose the truth.

Have you gotten one of these emails? If so, you’re not alone. The email is a part of a cryptocurrency blackmail scam that’s been popping up for a while. But last month, the FTC saw another uptick in the number of reports of this scam.

We’ve said it before, but it’s always worth repeating. The person behind these emails is a scammer. Don’t pay him. He’s using threats, intimidation, and high pressure tactics to trick you out of your money. And while the scammer may say that he knows about an alleged affair, a video, or something else that could embarrass you if it was made public, it’s all fake. In fact, it’s also a criminal extortion attempt. Which is why it’s really important that you report this type of scam to the FBI, right away. And once you do, remember to tell the FTC, too, at ftc.gov/complaint.

SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission

“Protect yourself from coronavirus SCAMS & FRAUDS”

scam protection

 

Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus

 

“Grandma: I’m in the hospital, sick, please wire money right away.” “Grandpa: I’m stuck overseas, please send money.” Grandparent scams can take a new twist – and a new sense of urgency – in these days of Coronavirus. Here’s what to keep in mind.

“In grandparent scams, scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, calling or sending messages urging you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. They pull at your heartstrings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. In these days of Coronavirus concerns, their lies can be particularly compelling. But we all need to save our money for the real family emergencies.

“So, how can we avoid grandparent scams or family emergency scams? If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild, other family member or friend desperate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t send cash, gift cards, or money transfers– once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!

“For more information, read Family Emergency Scams. And if you get a scam call, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.|

SOURCE: news release

 

 

Department of Banking and Securities Warns of COVID-19-Related Investment Schemes

dept of banking logo

April 1, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) is warning investors of an anticipated surge in fraudulent investment schemes.

“As is so often the case during times of emergency, scammers will be looking to profit from the misfortune of others by targeting investors and capitalizing on concerns related to the securities market,” said Acting Secretary Richard Vague. “The narrative of the investment scheme may change, but the underlying scam remains the same.”

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the department is a member, anticipates fraudulent investment schemes will rise as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

In particular, NASAA and the department warn investors to be on the lookout for investments specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19, such as:

* Falsely purporting to raise capital for companies manufacturing surgical masks and gowns; producing ventilators and medical equipment; or manufacturing vaccines or other miracle cures.
* Taking advantage of concerns with securities market volatility to promote “safe” investments with “guaranteed returns” including investments tied to gold and other commodities; oil and gas; and real estate.
* Touting “get rick quick” schemes with quickly earned returns to be used for rent, utilities, and other expenses.
* Targeting retirees and senior citizens, falsely claiming they can quickly and safely recoup any losses to their retirement portfolios.

Retail investors must remain vigilant and protect themselves from schemes such as these tied to COVID-19 and recent economic developments:

* Investigate Before You Invest. Before spending any time and money on a financial service, product, or company, investigate before you invest. Investors can visit the DoBS website.

* Avoid Phishing Scams. Scam emails are made to sound and look real. Never open an attachment or link from an unsolicited email and never share financial or sensitive information without independently verifying the request.

* Too Good to Be True. The old adage is accurate: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask questions about the investment and evaluate the risks. Any legitimate investment involves and degree of risk, and anyone unwilling to provide clear and detailed information about an investment is a red flag.

* Beware of Economic Relief Schemes. With news that the federal government will be sending checks to the public as part of an economic stimulus effort, scammers will no doubt increase efforts to steal your money. Do NOT give your personal information to anyone purporting to be from the government in relation to receiving a stimulus check. Likewise, anyone asking you to prepay taxes or fees on the money, or pay any type of charge, in order to receive the money is likely trying to defraud you.

For more detailed information related to schemes to watch and tips for protecting yourself, the department has developed a guide for investors.

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19  guidefor the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 information and guidance for financial Institutions and consumers from DoBS.

Anyone can contact DoBS at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-722-2657 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.

SOURCE: news release


Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too.

Here’s a warning from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information.

Tips for seniors about Social Security

tips for seniors

We’re sharing the above information with readers of this site because of an email from s reader; thank you, JV.

” Here is a situation that is about to take place for seniors. Next week the Social Security direct deposits come out. Hundreds of single and coupled seniors  month after month go to the bank and get some cash to have at the house; many of them have a few hundred dollars to be able to grocery shop, get meds, get gas, go out to eat and many of them at this point have little or no cash left from March …

“SO prepare to understand that this large group of people WILL be going out to the bank to replenish their funds and many go into the bank meaning the spread of this deadly virus will jump greatly.”

stop the spread


Also, be aware: There are so many Social Security scammers and spammers operating in this coronavirus pandemic enviroment. Heed this message from the Social Security Administration, click on the link below:

What should I do if I get a call claiming there’s a problem with my Social Security number or account?