Category Archives: SCAMS

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?

 

Fighting Fraud: Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors

fighting fraud

Click on the graphic to download the guide as a .pdf file.

Department of Aging warns seniors of genetic testing scam

pa aging logo

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Aging is warning Pennsylvania seniors, their families, and caregivers about a new scam targeting older adults. DNA testing has become extremely popular in the past few years for people looking to learn more about their family history and health, and scammers are now targeting Medicare beneficiaries with a fraudulent DNA testing service. These scammers offer “free” genetic testing, claiming it is covered through Medicare, as a means for the senior to avoid disease or to find the right medications. This is simply an effort to gain access to a senior’s personal Medicare information, which can lead to access to financial information and more.

“Unfortunately, scammers continue to develop ways to target seniors,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “It’s a major priority to circulate new scam tactics to the public as we discover them to help older adults and their loved ones be one step ahead of potentially being a victim of these criminals.”

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) suggests the following tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, or any other large event.
  • Always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number.
  • If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail, don’t accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender and keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.
  • Always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” may indicate questionable genetic testing.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 older adults is a victim of elder abuse, and according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, for every case of elder abuse reported, five go unreported. This reporting rate is even more troubling in financial abuse cases, which estimates that only one in 14 cases is reported.

If you or a loved one have already received a genetic testing cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about possible fraud, find and contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) here or call 1-877-808-2468.

Anyone can report elder abuse by calling the 24-hour statewide elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505, or by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging. Pennsylvania law protects those who report suspected abuse from retaliation and civil or criminal liability; all calls are free and confidential.

SOURCE: news release

 

US Senate Special Committee on Aging Webpage has huge aging resources links

senate aging

For information about aging topics click here or on the above graphic.

a flood of scam callers claim to be from Social Security

ss scam callers

The screen shot reflects some of the calls we received on the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources mobile phone yesterday afternoon. Note that the 800.804.8167 and the 210.405.6186 callers are repetitive ones. Both the numbers are scam callers purporting to be from “Social Security.”

In both cases, we let the calls go to voice mail, here’s what the messages sound like.

Remember, if you “you get a call from an unknown number. You answer only to find yourself on the receiving end of a threatening message saying your Social Security benefits will stop immediately unless you provide your personal information. It happens every day to thousands of Americans.  And it’s not Social Security calling.”

The Federal Trade Commission reminds everyone, “This is what a Social Security scam sounds like.”

“The United States of Elder Fraud – How Prevalent is Elder Financial Abuse in Each State?” – comparitech

USA-elder-fraud

by Paul Bischoff

“The vast majority of elder fraud cases in the US go unreported. Our research team set out to uncover the true cost of elder fraud in the US by analyzing and extrapolating data from government reports and registries.

“Comparitech estimates 5 million cases of elder fraud occur in the US annually resulting in $27.4 billion in losses.

“Elder fraud, also called elder financial abuse or elder financial exploitation, is defined as the misappropriation or abuse of financial control in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, resulting in harm to the elderly victim.

“More than 200,000 scams and financial abuse cases targeting the elderly are reported to authorities every year, and most experts agree that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our estimates show $1.17 billion in damages are reported to authorities, but the real figure likely dwarfs that amount when factoring in unreported elder fraud.

“To calculate the full scope of the problem, Comparitech aggregated data from multiple studies on elder fraud in every US state, including the number of reports to authorities and average loss per case. We then used those numbers to estimate the total number of cases and total damages in each state, adjusted for the proportion of unreported cases.”

Click here to read the report and read this article at comparitech in its entirety here.

“Genetic testing: the next big arena for fraud?” – STATNews

“If you can get a saliva swab and a Medicare number from an unsuspecting senior and falsify a doctor’s order, there’s an easy four-figure sum to be had.”

genetic fraudALEX HOGAN/STAT

by Bob Thomas

When technology or insurance coverage determinations evolve, so do the opportunities for mischief. That’s what my colleagues and I have been seeing in the genetic testing space.

“Genetic testing, whether it’s for ancestral research or assessing disease risk, is an extraordinary tool made possible by advances in science, computing capacity, and the sequencing of the human genome. What was inconceivable 25 years ago can now be accomplished with a saliva sample, some mostly automated laboratory tools, focused computing power, and specialized expertise in the identification of the genetic mutations. The cost of genetic testing for disease assessment can be as high as $10,000.

“With that kind of money in play, opportunists see an opening.”

Read this article in its entirety here; find out about the possibilities for fraud.

“Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?” – MarketPlace

aging and scams“Judy, 79, is a New Jersey woman who was defrauded out of nearly $200,000.”

by David Brancaccio

“Judy is 79 but reads as 15 years younger. She hops the high step into her mid-sized SUV, hits the button for public radio (not just for my sake) and expertly pilots through the streets of her seaside town.

“The plan is to visit one of the scenes of the crime, the gift card rack at a local Walmart.

“Department store gift cards are a favorite money transfer device of fraudsters. Over a two-week period, just after Thanksgiving 2017, Judy got caught in an elaborate scam that cost her close to $200,000. That is a fortune to most of us, and it was a fortune for Judy.

“Judy is a registered nurse, skilled in the operating room. Well into what most would consider their retirement years, she still does fill-in nursing work. She goes to exercise classes a few times a week.”

“‘I look back and I can’t imagine what I was thinking,’ Judy said.”

Click here to continue reading this MarketPlace article in its entirety.