Fake Car Auction Buyer Scam

August 13th, 2013

In recent years, it isn’t uncommon to hear about people getting swindled when trying to sell their car via online auction through websites like eBay. In fact, according to the FTC, the most frequently reported type of internet fraud occurs on auction sites. It is imperative to remember that if you are selling or plan to sell your car that you make sure to carefully research the buyer and his buying history beforehand. Never ship or hand over your vehicle until payment has been received. Even if you’re waiting for an online payment to clear, for example, make sure it does before transferring ownership. Also, be sure to never take personal checks or allow buyers to pay the car off over time. Chances are the check will bounce or the buyer will never end up paying you. If you follow these simple instructions, your car-selling experience should go smoothly and you won’t get swindled.

Video Game Tester Scam

August 6th, 2013

You’re perusing through online job postings when you come across an ad from a company looking for new game testers. The title reads “Video game tester”, which is something that will definitely catch your attention.Not only would you get to do what you love, but you’d get paid to do it too! The ad promises between $70-$150 an hour. Not only would you test, but you’d also get to try out games before they are even released! Talk about the perfect dream job! All you need to do is fork over a one-time fee and you’ll be getting paid to game! You send them payment and you never hear from them again. Congratulations, you’ve just been duped.

Thankfully, now you know to be wary of these types of offers. While it is true that there are gaming companies out there that have the budget for game testers, the payment is usually minimal, and these companies will never ask for money upfront. It also helps to do a bit of research on the company so you know if it’s the real deal, or simply too good to be true. Research, caution, and asking questions are the three things that will prevent you from getting scammed.

The Fake Front Desk Scam

August 1st, 2013

It’s 3 am, you’re sleeping in a hotel, and the phone rings in your room. You’re disoriented and groggy so you might not question the caller when he says he’s calling from the front desk. He or she will claim that there has been some kind of computer glitch, and that you’ll need to verify the credit card that they have on file.

What you don’t know, is that the person calling really isn’t from the front desk. They’re a scam artist phishing for your credit card information so that they can run up all types of crazy charges before you even wake up in the morning.

Always remember that a hotel will almost never ask for your credit card information in the middle of your stay unless there is an issue with the card that you have provided them with. They will also never call you at some ungodly hour either. If you ever do receive a call like that, it is always important to question the person that is asking for your personal information. Even then, we suggest not giving your credit card information over the phone. Simply go to the front desk and handle the situation face to face. Doing this can definitely help avoid getting scammed in the future.

Jury Duty Scam: Don’t Fall For It

July 3rd, 2013

So the scam is simple. The will phone ring, you answer, and the caller then will identify himself as a court officer. He will claim that you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. You, in turn, will state that you received no such notice. In order to clear up the whole mess, the caller will say s/he needs some additional information for “verification purposes”. This may include your birth date, social security number, and possibly even a credit card number.

Jury scams have been around for a long time, but have recently seen resurgence. As a rule, it’s important to remember that court officers will never ask for any of your confidential information over the phone. If anything, they generally correspond with potential jurors via mail.

This scam is effective due to its bold simplicity. When people are faced with the unexpected threat of arrest, they are caught off guard and may be quick to divulge sensitive information in order to defuse the situation.

Always remember to never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call. If you ever encounter a scam such as this, you should hang up the phone immediately.

Spoofed Wi-Fi Hot Spot Scam

June 25th, 2013

Are you having a frozen beverage poolside? That’s fine by us — but you might want to avoid any pineapples in your drink. In hacker-speak, a “pineapple” is any device that creates a fake wi-fi hotspot that gives off the appearance of a legitimate one. Scammers will give the name of the hotspot a similar or identical name to a hotel or coffee shop’s real hotspot and wait for people to log on. Once that happens, anything the unsuspecting user does, can easily be viewed by the scammer. This includes bank accounts and other sensitive information.

The use of these “pineapples” has been on the rise thanks in part to the ever-increasing use of wireless and mobile devices. Not only that, but our vulnerability has risen since we conduct more of our financial transactions over the web than ever before. Not only that, but capped wireless data plans also force many of us to to switch to wi-fi whenever an open network is available. The bottomline is, if you’re on the road and looking for free Internet access, you could severely be at risk.

Some cyber criminals even ingeniously set up hotspots with fake name and fake login prompts, giving the criminal the victim’s name and password right off the bat. And since many of us reuse our passwords, that sort of information could be the key to accessing all sorts of other sensitive information.

You basically have two options when it comes to protecting yourself against these criminals. The first option is increasing your data plan in order to meet your needs. This is easily determined by looking at your monthly statement and determining how much data you use. Sure this might be a more expensive option, but it sure beats getting hacked. And your second option is pretty simple…don’t connect to suspicious wi-fi hotspots!

Online Casino Scams

June 10th, 2013

Every month, Americans spend a small fortune playing online games such as poker, blackjack, roulette and other casino games. While there are no federal laws against them, (although they are illegal in some states) many banks and credit card companies are effectively preventing the transfer of money directly to online gaming sites. In addition to that, many states even forbid the operation of gaming sites based within their jurisdiction.

Because of this, many people end up channeling their money through third-party companies and play on casino sites that are based outside of the country, which is incredibly risky. It’s true that some of these operations are perfectly legit and reliable. But there are others are nothing but a front for stealing money or confidential information. They might use all types of methods to draw you in, including free bonus plays or good winning odds (which are usually fabricated).

In order to avoid these types of scam sites, we recommend you do a thorough internet search of any gambling site you’re thinking of using.  However, beware because some phony sites actually have other sites carrying bogus recommendations for them or even dressed up as anti-scam web pages. Even if an online site checks out to be legitimate, always read the fine print and the terms and conditions carefully. Many of these sites will conceal limits on winnings so it’s important to know exactly the type of online casino website you’re dealing with.

Online Pharmacy Scams

June 6th, 2013

You may ask yourself whether or not buying drugs online without a prescription is legal. The answer is definitely not. There is no grey area about it. According to the FDA, it is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to sell prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Even if you do have a prescription, it’s important to be wary of fraudulent online pharmaceuticals. These internet pharmacies do not abide by state licensing requirements and standards which means that often times the origin of the prescription drug people receive may be unknown. This in turn increases the likelihood of consumers receiving counterfeit, tainted, and diluted pharmaceuticals. Most of the fraudulent online pharmacy cases that have been investigated by law enforcement involve the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

The way this scam works is simple. In order to purchase prescription drugs from these illegitimate sites, a simple questionnaire is completed by the customer. Sometimes and a doctor’s consultation fee is also required. Generally, there are no examinations, lab tests, follow-ups, or medical records. These internet pharmacies often attract doctors with troubled work histories including financial problems, substance abuse problems, and even possible legal issues.

In addition to quackery, fraudulent online pharmacies also incorporate numerous other crimes and potentially dangerous health considerations. The scheme often starts with SPAM email circulation sent to potential customers offering a variety of different drugs without a prescription. Customers are sometimes then required to submit private information and even fees for membership to the pharmacy. As a result, this may turn into the last contact they have with the company and victims are duped and unable to recover their membership fees. They are also faced with the fear of possible identity theft from the spam email phishing scheme. Other additional crimes being committed by these online pharmacies may include copyright infringement, falsification of doctor approval, malware/intrusion, money laundering, false advertising, sale of non-FDA approved drugs, and violations of the Can Spam Act.

You may be asking yourself why are there so many online pharmacies. The answer is that they are very profitable for the scam artists who have no medical background and will never meet their customers. There is also an incredibly lucrative demand for such a service. Many victims don’t even realize they’ve been subjected to a variety of crimes and health risks. Analysis of the pharmaceuticals purchased from these online pharmacies have revealed that the potency and efficacy of these items could vary tremendously, with some of the drugs containing no active ingredients at all. The best advice we can give you is to avoid these online pharmacies at all cost. Not only do the goods they provide not meet FDA approval, but they can also be detrimental to you health.

Oil and Gas Scams: Don’t Let Fossil Fuels Be Your Downfall!

June 6th, 2013

Due to the massive fluctuations in the price of oil and gas in recent years, there have been a rash number of scams to try and get people to invest in fake oil and gas companies. There have also be fraudulent offerings of investments tied to natural gas, wind and solar energy, as well as new energy-efficient technologies. Often times these scam artists may approach investors via e-mails and phone calls providing them with false reports of an “up-and-coming” opportunity to become involved in an oil and gas limited partnership. They will try to make things sound more legitimate but telling them that large oil and gas companies have also already invested in this venture. They may even provide legitimate-looking website and glossy brochures and research. Promotional materials may also be used and may include falsified reports about actual drill locations and production estimates.

It is imperative that you fully investigate any business venture and ask plenty of questions before investing any of your money. You should be wary of terms like “expert geologist reports”, and claims of “tremendous discoveries in the ground near wells/drill sites.” These oil and gas company “drilling locations” often times do not even exist. Once you hand over your money to one of these scam artists you will never see of hear from them ever again. Remember, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Roommate Scams: Don’t Get Conned Out Of a Place to Live

April 9th, 2013

So here’s a scenario. You’re looking for a room to rent. You see an ad for a room that sounds perfect. The “landlord” of the apartment asks you to send a deposit and the first months’ rent straight away. You haven’t seen the room but it sounds great − and you really need to find somewhere. The so-called ‘landlord’ disappears with your money. And you still have nowhere to live. This time of scam, also known as a renter’s scam, not only works with fake landlords, but fake roomates as well.

Roomate scams are a bit different. The internet has made it very easy to advertise and look for an apartment, but it’s important to be wary because apartment-finding websites are fertile ground for scammers. There’s always a chance that the ad you end up responding to was made by a scammer. Sometimes though it’s the other way around. You place an ad to rent out your apartment and a scammer ends up responding. They’ll sound really interested in moving in. But, for some reason, they can’t come round for a viewing. They then will send you money for rent and a bond – via check or bank transfer. You’ll end up getting more than what you asked for. After that the scammer asks for a partial refund and tell you to forward the money to another party. After you’ve refunded the money, you’ll find out that the original payment they gave you is invalid and that the check has bounced or the transaction has been reversed. It’s a simple yet tricky scam and we see it all the time.

How to protect yourself from rent scammers:

  • Always be wary of people wanting to rent a room without seeing it first. Even if they claim to be overseas. Nobody rents a room without seeing it first.
  • Never send any money to someone before you’ve seen the room. You need to make sure your money is going into safe hands.
  • Be careful who you share your personal information with. Scammers can and will use your personal information to commit fraud under your name.
  • Never send personal, credit card or online account details via email.
  • Report any attempted fraud or suspicious emails to the aparment-seeking website the scammer is using. Many websites have a link for reporting this.
  • If you’ve received money from a suspicious source contact your bank immediately.

Malicious Links In Social Media Scam

March 28th, 2013

Social media is truly a fantastic way to share funny videos, pictures, memes, enjoyable songs and more. But be careful. What may seem like fun can potentially cause you serious problems down the line. Social media scammers frequently use catchy headlines to trick you into clicking on, and sharing, apps and links. You’ll see apps that say things like “see what your friends think of you” or “who’s been visiting your Facebook page?”. These are just some classic examples.

Prior to downloading the app you’re asked to provide your Twitter or Facebook log-in details. You fill them in, and presto! Scammers now have total control over your social media account. There are other types of malicious links that can even launch spyware directly onto your computer. Spyware essentially gives scammers complete access to personal details such as log-ins and address books stored within your computer. Once they’re inside your computer, they can target your friends with more malicious links. They even have the ability to spam your social media page with fake ads in an attempt to trick people with additional scams.

The moral of the story is to beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You’ll see them everywhere but you have to remember that you never know where they’re going to lead you since you’re clicking on a shortened link. You can avoid this headache and hassle if you take security precautions ahead of time, such as using antivirus and anti-spyware protection software. Also, another even simpler way to avoid getting scammed is to just not click on any shady links, allowing you to be able to surf the web in confidence.