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Sextortion on the Rise


 One of the new kinds of cybercrime has resulted in a new word – Sextortion.  This term has come to cover two different kinds of online activity. It is not surprising that sexual predators or those trafficking in child porn sometimes obtain, or coerce people into providing, nude pictures or videos and use those for blackmail. A number of these have been prosecuted.  In fact, Nigerian police recently arrested two Canadian women, Kardashian look-alikes, who apparently had sex with wealthy Nigerian men, recorded the events, and then blackmailed them for money.

But this has also become a very widespread scheme run internationally by organized fraud gangs.  A group that deals with this fraud, scamsurvivors, says that it has helped over 15,000 people around the world who have become victims.   Though victims are often reluctant to go to law enforcement, UK officials say that the number of complaints that they receive have doubled in the last year, and they are aware of at least four suicides.  In addition, this scam has been targeting young members of the U.S. military.

Here is how it works

A young man (usually) meets a beautiful young woman online at a chat site or a dating site.  They communicate, perhaps texting and exchanging photos, and then she suggests that become friends on Facebook.  Before long they both use webcams such as Skype to perform sexually explicit acts.  The crooks tape record the session, and then demand money or they will send the video to the victim’s family and friends.  Sometimes victims are called by the woman’s “father” claiming the girl was underage, and that this was therefore child pornography that could be reported to the police and result in criminal charges against the guy.

Who is behind this?

The organized frauds appear to be operating primarily from the Philippines, Morocco, and the Ivory Coast. But of course the victim does not know that they are dealing with someone outside the country.

How do they contact victims?
It is sometimes dating sites, but they often reach victims through chat sites such as such as chatroulette or omegle.   The frauds also typically set up fake Facebook profiles, stealing pictures of women from porn sites or other places on the internet.  Then they scour Facebook for likely subjects.  From looking at a victim’s Facebook page they may have a good idea of their social status and thus how much money they have.  Some frauds also seem to be using Linkedin to contact potential victims.

Who are the women?

The “women” in these situations don’t really exist.  They are computer generated sexbots, though that is not apparent to the viewer.  Those running the frauds can easily control the actions of these bots, making them wave, toss their hair, or do other things.

Who are the victims?

The vast majority of victims are males between 15 and 25.  Some are young members of the military.  The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) reports that it received 300 sextortion reports over four years, but in 2016 they received more than 120.  It seems likely that this fraud is also targeting military members in other countries as well.  Here is a good article on the response to this scam by the US military.

How much do they want?

This varies depending on the fraudsters estimate of ability to pay, but initial demands seen to be about $500.  Of course anyone who pays will face demands for still more money.

What effect does this have on victims?

Like many frauds, victims suffer from more than the loss of money.  As noted, there are several reported suicides. In addition, victims who are Muslim or come from a family with strong religious beliefs may be especially worried.

How do victims pay? 

Most of the time the money is sent through Western Union or MoneyGram, though a few use Paypal.  Other payment methods are possible.

What if you don’t pay? 

In this fraud the gangs apparently do not actually follow up with their threats.  It is easier to just move on to new victims.

Similar tactics of recording sessions on webcams are also sometimes used by romance scammers, and those frauds have been known to actually post explicit videos.  But romance fraudsters tend to have a longer term interest in their victims and may know about their ability to pay or vulnerability to this type of blackmail.

What is law enforcement doing? 

International fraud is a real challenge for most law enforcement.  However, after a suicide in Scotland by a 17 year old victim UK police worked with Interpol to take action in the Philippines.  In 2014 police searched a number of large operations near Manila that were engaged in this fraud and arrested at least 55 people.  These fraud operations had victims in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the U.S.  U.S. service members were also victims.

The woman in charge of one operation was reportedly the owner of two different Western Union outlets that was used to receive the money from victims.  In an interesting twist, this enterprise was texting with potential victims and convincing the victims that they had a problem with their phones. The fraudsters sent them a “fix” to install on their phone which contained a Trojan virus.  This allowed the fraudsters to download all the victims’ contact information.  Armed with that information, the crooks apparently could even threaten to send the video to specific people such as their mother or father.

There is an excellent TV news report on this effort on Undercover Asia.  It runs about 45 minutes but is extremely well done and is fascinating.

I’ve seen no news on convictions in this case.  In the Philippines victims must file formal complaints, and many victims are, understandably, reluctant to come forward.

Law enforcement in the UK has also made a real attempt to educate the public about this fraud and encourage victims to come forward.

 What to do if you’re a victim.

DO NOT PAY!  I would recommend as a first step going to  They have a step by step guide for victims to go through, such as closing down all Facebook pages and cutting off all communications from the fraud.

COMPLAIN TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.   Even if  an agency can’t help with this particular instance,  the information you provide may help them stop the fraud and help protect other people from becoming victims.  Here is information on where and now to complain.



 Around the world, we are seeing a big increase in Sextortion frauds.  As it sounds, this is a combination of sex and extortion.  As you’d imagine, there are occasions when people have photos of themselves unclothed which end up in the hands of sexual predators which use them to demand money.  These are often prosecuted.   But separately there is a worldwide organized crime effort to extort money, with thousands of victims around the globe.

Here is how it works.

A young guy (usually) is contacted on facebook or a dating site by a gorgeous young woman.   After some back and forth, such as email or exchanges or racy photos,  she suggests that they communicate by Skype or another webcam, and things lead to them watching each other performing sex acts.   But what the victim does not know is that the video of him is being recorded.  Thus immediately after the victims if contacted and told that he must pay money or the video will be posted on the internet and shared with all of his friends and family.  Sometimes the scammer claims that the girl was a minor, meaning that this might consist of child pornography, and threatens to contact the police unless the victim pays.

How much of this is there?

We believe the vast majority of victims of this fraud do not file complaints, and thus accurate information on the extent this fraud does not exist.  But both the US military and the UK’s National Crime Agency report that complaints about this fraud have doubled in the last year.  The NCIS itself has received over 300 complaints about this fraud, more than 120 this year alone., which helps internet fraud victims, has received over 15,000 complaints from victims around the world. The US military has come to recognize that its young service members are being targeted.  It seems very likely that the same holds true for other the military in other countries as well.

Here is a good article explaining what the US military is confronting.

What effect does this have on victims?

This fraud does not result only in the loss of money.  It can cause serious emotional distress.  The National Crime Agency reports four suicides in the UK in the last year.  This may pose special problems for victims from strictly religious cultures, such as Muslims.  Note that Romance scams sometimes use the same tactics if victims stop sending money.  See the separate article on romance scam and how they work.

How much do victims lose and how do they pay?

I’ve seen losses range from $500 to $10,000.  If the frauds have access to the victim’s facebook page they may be able to estimate what victims can afford.  Most of the time victims make payments through Western Union or MoneyGram, though a few have paid through paypal.

Where are these scammers and what is being done about this?

There are apparently large organized groups conducting this fraud from the Philippines, Morocco, and the Ivory Coast.  But the victim may not even know where the fraud is actually located.  The organized frauds are difficult to locate and prosecute, though law enforcement in the Philippines, working with Europol, took action in 2014.  They busted several locations where this fraud was running and arrested 58 people.  Here is the press conference announcing the busts.  And this is another news report.

What to do if caught up in one of these?

  •  DO NOT PAY — They will not post your information online. And paying will result in demands for more money.
  •  Victims are understandably reluctant to go to the police, but reporting these is important so that law enforcement can understand how big a problem this is. In addition, reporting may provide information that helps prevent other people from being defrauded.   The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is also a good place to report these crimes.  Click here to report it.
  • For real help I recommend reaching out to This is a great organization, located in the UK, and it provides a step by step guide for those who have encountered this fraud.


Steve Baker

December 13, 2016

Baker Fraud Report, July 13, 2017

Baker Fraud Report – News you can use

 July 13, 2017

 AntiPhishing  Working Group (APWG) releases 2016 Report

Phishing emails are used to get user names, passwords, and other information, but can also be used to send viruses or other malware that triggers ransomware

  • Number of phishing attacks at an all time high in 2016;
  • At least 255,000 attacks worldwide
  • Attacks used 195,000 domain names; most ever
  • Number of domain names registered by frauds tripled from the previous year
  • 25% of phishing attacks targeted Chinese brands


Warnings and Education

 International Enforcement


Fake Check Fraud

Investment Fraud

Rental Fraud

Timeshare Resale Fraud

 Grandparent Fraud


Tech Support Fraud

Pet Fraud

IRS and Tax Scams

Two more Indian-Americans plead guilty

  • Impersonated US Customs and threatened deportations
  • Also impersonated IRS
  • Two received money from victims, kept part, and sent rest to India
  • Worked with coconspirators in Ahmedabad, India
  • News report on this in India

ATM Skimming

Romance Scam Fraud


 Jamaica Sweepstakes Fraud

 Just for fun….

 Blast from the past – historic US gas stations

 Add to the News! Have you seen a recent prosecution or other fraud information that others should know about?  Send it into the Baker Fraud Report at

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Baker Fraud Report – News you can use

 June 8, 2017

Wow!  Three Nigerians that had been extradited from South Africa sentenced after jury trial in Mississippi and get 115 years, 95 years, and 25 years

  • Used romance scam victims as mules to launder money, cash fake checks, and reship goods bought with stolen credit cards
  • Press in Nigeria here and in South Africa here

Fake celebrity endorsements being used for skin care products

Woman in Madison, WI becomes victim of fake check scam in car sale; sends funds to fraudster through MoneyGram

Woman in Harlem loses $2500 in fake check scam when looking for nanny job

Texas man arrested in Iowa; victim ripped off by government grant fraud; sent money through MoneyGram and police got surveillance video of scammer picking up money

 FTC data shows blacks are twice as likely to be fraud victims

Supreme Court upholds ability of companies to refill and sell toner for printers

National Consumer’s League warning about “bad credit” guaranteed loans; require advance fee but there is no loan made

FTC warns against binary option investments

US Embassy in Haiti works with local police; six arrested for impersonating immigration officials to demand money from potential immigrants and their families in the US

Nigerian celebrity singer arrested in the US for using stolen credit cards

MoneyGram saves student who was going to send $2000 for a job fraud

Vermont AG sues phony yellow pages company operating from Montreal

250 million windows computers worldwide are infected with Fireball malware – is yours?

  • Comes from a server in Beijing, China
  • Takes over PC and automatically clicks to open ads
  • Downloads automatically when other programs are downloaded
  • Program does show up as an installed program – here is how to remove it.

Tech Support Fraud

Tech Support frauds now claiming consumers are ransomware victims


 IRS and Tax Scams

Columbus, Ohio, man and California woman plead guilty to ID theft and filing bogus tax returns

 FTC and CFPB Updates

Other International Enforcement and News

Romance Scam Fraud


 Jamaica Sweepstakes Fraud

ATM Skimming

 Just for fun….

A window in time:  In 1906, BEFORE the earthquake, someone put a camera on a streetcar in San Francisco and filmed as it rolled through the city.


Add to the News! Have you seen a recent prosecution or other fraud information that others should know about?  Send it into the Baker Fraud Report at

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Baker Fraud Report, May 24, 2017

May 25, 2017

 Sorry, probably no report next week

 Consumer Tip of the Week: Have you heard of ringless Voicemail – yet?  New technology allows callers to leave a voicemail message on your cell phone  without your phone even ringing.  Obviously these could result in large numbers of voicemails that could clog our systems.   An industry group argued that because the phone doesn’t ring these “calls” do not violate laws like the Do Not Call list or laws against robocalls.  They have asked the FCC to rule that this technology is not covered by existing law.  A variety of consumer groups has also filed with the FCC opposing this proposal.

IRS and Tax Scams


FTC and CFPB Updates


 Jamaica Sweepstakes Fraud

 Other International Enforcement and News

 Just for fun….

 My favorite all-time music video.  Claymation at its best:  Sledgehammer

 Add to the News! Have you seen a recent prosecution or other fraud information that others should know about?  Send it into the Baker Fraud Report at

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Baker Fraud Report May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017


Tip of the week:  There are a whole set of scams that count on you misdialing a telephone number. Often the fraudsters get numbers that are just one digit or so off from commonly called numbers such as government agencies or major businesses. Those answering the phone let people think they have reached the people they are trying to call and then make an offer of a “free trial” for magazines or offer a gift card (after they get tons of information from you).  The FTC has just put out a warning that this is happening with calls to the Veteran’s Administration.  And don’t forget that you can google a phone number – even if spoofed others may have reported a fraud coming from that number.

Major Effort to Tackle Tech Support Frauds

FTC, federal and State partners announce collective efforts to attack Tech Support fraud

  • Four new FTC actions shutting down fraudulent companies
  • 2 settlements with companies previously sued by FTC
  • 18 State AG cases; 8 of them joint w/ FTC
  • Table of enforcement actions taken

Criminal Cases

Seven from Florida indicted by Southern District of Illinois for tech support

  • First criminal cases in US against those on the phone doing tech support
  • Defendants operated from Florida
  • Paid for pop up ads to get victims to call
  • Charged $650
  • Ripped off 40,000 people of more than $25 million
  • Victims in US, all Canadian provinces, the UK, and several other countries

Police in India arrest several men making deceptive tech support calls

South Carolina woman pleads guilty to acting as mule for tech support frauds from India; kept 10% of money she collected from victims

Three arrested in India for tech support fraud aimed at Danes and Germans

More information about tech support fraud here

New Academic Study of Tech Support Fraud Released

  • Study tracked the frauds use of pop up warnings to get victims to call
  • Found largest numbers of victims in US, followed by Australia and Canada
  • Average losses $290
  • No evidence frauds install malware or spyware themselves
  • Most payment by credit cards
  • 85% of IP addresses for the frauds are in India; 10% in US; 5% Costa Rica
  • Most of these operate on US servers
  • Slide presentation on study here

Virginia woman loses inheritance to fraud; used email pretending to be from her investment advisor to have her transfer money

Three from LA convicted by jury in loan modification fraud

  • Had done mass mailings to victims claiming could use federal programs to modify mortgages and save homes
  • But simply took the mortgage payments from victims and did nothing
  • Scammed hundreds of people
  • Took in at least $10 million
  • 12 other people have been previously convicted in this fraud


Ever wonder if those ingredients in diet pills or other supplements actually work?  The Defense Department has a new website —  —  where servicemembers (or the rest of us) can check them out.

New Medicare cards are coming soon – will not have social security numbers on them

IRS and Tax Scams

Indian national pleads guilty in Texas for role in IRS impersonator and Immigration impersonation fraud; he mainly collected victim money for the fraud

 FTC and CFPB Updates

FTC sends out refund checks to fraud that sent bogus invoices to over 150,000 small businesses

CFPB tries two cases in court; no rulings yet

Other International Enforcement and News

The Australian consumer protection agency just released its report on fraud complaints for 2016.

  • Reported losses $300 million
  • Complaints to agency up 47% from 2015
  • Largest losses were investment scams; $11.5 M lost to binary options frauds
  • romance scams #2; 1/3 of those victims met fraudster on social media
  • Seeing increased use of gift cards for payment
  • Increase in sextortion fraud
  • Greatest financial losses for those over 65
  • Total estimated losses by those filing complaints in Australia $3 billion

CIFA’s in the UK (a company that works with law enforcement, banks and retailers to share information about fraud and help prevent it) releases 2016 report

  • 12% increase in fraud overall in 2016
  • Increase in “mules” allowing crooks use of their bank accounts

Binary options investment company  raided, owner arrested, in Israel
Mexican citizen sentenced to prison by federal court in Puerto Rico; worked with others to steal identities in Puerto Rico and then sell them in the US

Brother and sister in Nigeria sentenced to prison for internet fraud against an American

 ATM Skimming

 Robocalls: 2.3 billion made in December 2016

 Romance Scam Fraud

UK man commits suicide after losing all his savings in a romance scam


Hospitals across England hit by ransomware

Ransomware hits Spain, including major phone company

FTC issues alert on how to protect from ransomware frauds

Is North Korea behind WannaCry ransomware?

Jamaica Sweepstakes Fraud

Judge in North Dakota rules that trial can go forward with first ten Jamaicans; other defendants still to be caught can be tried separately

Two Jamaican women arrested in Brooklyn; took in at least $600,000 from elderly victims; used dying victim’s credit card to buy designer shoes

Who is really calling me?  Canadian regulators explain Caller ID spoofing

 Just for fun….

 A charming Hawaiian version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow

 Add to the News! Have you seen a recent prosecution or other fraud information that others should know about?  Send it into the Baker Fraud Report at

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Baker Fraud Report May 10, 1017

Who are you going to call about a fraud?

From Study by FINRA and Stanford Center on Longevity




Consumer Tip of the Week:  Many people do not realize that they can dispute charges on their credit cards, a process called a charge back, especially if it was used in a deceptive sale.   Disputes can even be done on line, and consumers usually prevail.  And you have 540 days to do so.

Symantec Internet Security Report for 2017

  • Number of identities stolen in breaches doubled to 1.1 billion
  • One in every 131 emails have malware
  • 53% of all emails are spam
  • Ransomware generally hidden in emails that look like routine invoices or delivery notifications; attachments have malware in them
  • Ransom demands in ransomware went up from $294 to $1077
  • Tracked 463,000 ransomware attacks
  • Crooks using Internet of Things devices such as routers and security cameras for denial of service attacks
  • In first half of 2016 more than 400 businesses per day were targeted by Business Email Compromise fraud
  • FBI estimates more than $3 billion lost to BEC fraud in last three years; more than 22,000 victims
  • Most of the emails for BEC are coming from Nigeria

BBB  Issues alert on deception in free seminar invitations; particularly financial advice or house flipping services.

 Former compliance head for MoneyGram settles case against him for allowing fraud through the system; pays 250K fine

UK sees a 45% rise in crooks taking over victims bank accounts; use information about the victim to convince the bank they are actually talking to the account holder

Nigerian from Toronto that was extradited to Harrisburg, PA pleads guilty of defrauding $4.5 million.  He was the head of a group of Western Union and MoneyGram agents in Toronto that handled the money sent by fraud victims

Study says changes in brains of seniors could make them more vulnerable to fraud

Two men charged in Toronto for massive identity theft ring that took in over $10 million

Barclay’s Bank in the UK funds TV advertising campaign warning about online fraud

Facebook bans advertising for LuxStyle Beauty products

  • Australia and Danes issue warnings
  • Allege company gets victims to enter addresses early in order process, and then ships good even if people did not intend to place an order
  • And then hires people to collect “debts”
  • Under US law, if goods arrive and you didn’t order you don’t have to pay or return them

Student in Beirut commits suicide after sextortion fraud

 IRS and Tax Scams

Cuban pleads guilty in Little Rock, Arkansas; was part of a gang that was calling victims pretending to be IRS agents

 FTC and CFPB Updates

New FTC Website Helps Small Businesses Avoid Scams and Cyber Attacks

FTC information on Privacy Awareness Week May 8-12

 Romance Scam Fraud

Fake Checks

39 people indicted for cybercrime in New York; made more than $1 Million doing “card cracking

  • Used social media to find young people willing to make money by letting crooks use their bank accounts
  • The young people told to later claim their debit card was stolen
  • Crooks deposited counterfeit checks and withdrew funds before banks found out checks were fake.
  • Group was taking in $30,000 to $40,000 every week
  • Local gangs involved
  • FTC warning on card cracking frauds

 Two charged in Sioux Falls, Iowa, for using homeless men to cash counterfeit payroll checks

 Jamaica Sweepstakes Fraud

Brooklyn man sentenced to five years for working with Jamaicans on lottery fraud

Jamaican man arrested and charged for lottery fraud in Jamaica

 Just for fun….

 Great music video: Stand by Me around the world

 Add to the News! Have you seen a recent prosecution or other fraud information that others should know about?  Send it into the Baker Fraud Report at

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Baker Fraud Report — April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017

Scam tip of the week:  If you send money through Western Union or MoneyGram it does NOT have to be picked up at the address you specify. But both companies say they will now tell victims where the money was actually picked up.  Thus if victims and police move fast they may be able to find surveillance video of the person who gets the money.

Fake Lowe’s $50 coupon for Mother’s Day appearing on Facebook; gets victims to enter personal info to receive it; Reports that there are similar fraudulent coupons for other companies, such as Home Depot.

According to this article:  Indian Police Allege IRS, FBI, Other Law Enforcement Not Interested In Phone Scam Arrests


Frauds from India:  The DOJ indictment last October of of many fraudsters from India focused, of course, on IRS impersonators. But there are other frauds that that these defendants were operating from India. These include:

  1. IRS scam: India-based call centers impersonated U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officers and defrauded U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that they owed money to the IRS and would be arrested and fined if they did not pay their alleged back taxes immediately.
  2. USCIS scam: India-based call centers impersonated U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers and defrauded U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that they would be deported unless they paid a fine immediately for alleged issues with their USCIS paperwork.
  3. Payday loan scam: India-based call centers defrauded U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that the callers were loan officers and that the U.S. residents were eligible for a fictitious “payday loan” (small, short-term, unsecured loan in which repayment is generally linked to a borrower’s next paycheck or regular income payment, such as a social security check). The India-based callers directed the U.S. residents to pay an upfront “worthiness fee” to demonstrate an ability to repay the loan. The victims received nothing in return.


  1. Government grant scam: India-based call centers defrauded U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that they were eligible for a fictitious government grant. Callers directed the U.S. residents to pay an upfront IRS tax or processing fee. The victims received nothing in return.


Jamaican Sweepstakes Fraud


DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejects CFPB administrative subpoena to agency that accredits for profit schools

FTC settles case against envelope stuffing work at home scheme; alleges losses to victims at $1.2 million.

DC Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms District Court’s refusal to enforce CFPB subpoena

State AG’s intervene in CFPB case, ask that restitution that can’t be returned to victims be paid to NAAG instead of to the Treasury

FTC prevails in getting redress in telemarketing fraud selling magazines after case is appealed


Small Art Gallery in Okotoks, British Columbia, crippled by Ransomware

Tax Issues

Treasury Department audit of IRS refund filings to date

Woman who worked for the IRS in Atlanta indicted for stealing identities to file bogus tax returns

You can’t settle tax debts for “pennies on the dollars”: Confessions of a former employee

Warnings, trends, and Other Updates

Other Enforcement Actions

Just for fun….

One of my favorite music videos on Youtube.  It starts a bit slow, but it is worth watching.









BAKER FRAUD REPORT  — News you can use

April 6, 2017

UK releases financial fraud data for 2016

UK loses £2 million every day to financial fraud

Payment card fraud losses of £618 million

Losses on card not present totaled £432.3 million

Financial Fraud UK organized a campaign to raise awareness of fraud and scams.  It was called Take Five to Stop Fraud, and during a one day event held of March 16 some 6800 branch banks talked to customers about simple ways to protect against fraud.  What a great idea!


Consumer Tip of the Week

Did you know?  It is illegal to use telemarketing to sell Durable Medical Equipment, whether the calls are deceptive or not. 

Chicago man sentenced for telemarketing for unneeded durable medical equipment; got orders and received kickbacks from those providing the services

 Jamaica Lottery Fraud

Fake Checks


Education, Warnings and Resources



IRS warns of phishing scams that trick organizations into sending along W-2 forms to steal identities for filing bogus tax returns

IRS says: “Currently, a particularly dangerous email scam is circulating. Cybercriminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email, making it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources department, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES).”

Romance Fraud

ATM Skimming

 Just for fun….


Amazing holograph of a whale: Projectionholographique1.mp4



March 9, 2017

DOJ indicts 19 people in major international fraud investigation

  • Defendants mainly Hungarian
  • Offered nonexistent cars on web sites, took money wired to bank accounts as payment and sent it off to Europe. Got $4 million from 170 victims
  • Also used emails supposedly from CEO’s, ripped off companies in Germany, Spain, Finland and Portugal.
  • Charged with getting $10 million from six companies
  • Money from that fraud was wired to China, laundered, and then to others in Europe.
  • Police in nine countries assisted

BBB Releases First Annual Report for Fraud Complaints Made to Scam Tracker

As I’ve reported before, the Better Business Bureau has a relatively new program to capture complaints about fraud.  Those who file a complaint about a fraud with the BBB can also agree to talk to the news media and to share the complaint with law enforcement.  Scam Tracker complaints can be filed online here or by calling most local Bureaus. The Scam Tracker also has a useful feature that can graphically display all the fraud complaints filed by people in your area.  This really helps demonstrate just how widespread fraud really is.  Click here to see a map of your area or neighborhood and what frauds are being reported.

The BBB has just released a first ever report detailing the fraud complaints it received in 2016.  It includes some great features.  First, it breaks the frauds down into understandable categories and explains very nicely what is included. Second, it attempts to determine what age and sex is most often ripped off by each fraud.  It found that those 18-24 were overall most likely to be fraud victim, and those over 65 were the least likely to report a fraud.  However, the median actual dollar loss was highest for the over 65 group.  Third, they found that women were twice as likely to report a fraud as were men.  (But not that men are exposed to fraud less often).

The BBB calculated that the three most risky frauds for those over 65 were:

  1. Family/friend emergency (grandparent scams);
  2. Sweepstakes/Lottery Prizes (Jamaican lottery frauds); and
  3. Travel/Vacations (bogus ads to rent properties and timeshare resale fraud)

Read full article for BBB Top 10

SEC Adopts New Rule to Protect Seniors

The SEC just adopted a new Rule that permits investment advisors to obtain the name of a “trusted contact” for clients over 65 and to place a temporary hold on funds if it appears that they are being withdrawn for financial exploitation, including fraud.

Bogus IRS Agents calling the US and Canada

CTV, the Canadian news network, just ran a three part series on the fraud operation in Thane, India (just outside of Mumbai) that ripped off tens of thousands of people in the US and Canada.  They went to India and interviewed law enforcers and former employees.   The CTV piece even includes a copy of one of the scripts used in this fraud. It notes that despite the raid, and the current decrease in the number of complaints, other new operations doing the same thing have opened up.

New Study at University of Southern California on Dementia and Older Fraud Victims  The study found that being a fraud victim did not correspond with early dementia and that even for those with mild cognitive impairment there was not a clear link with diminished decision making.

Scammers impersonating the Canadian Revenue Agency call Ontario Provincial Police and threaten police over supposed taxes owed

New survey says 2/3 of seniors have been targets or victims of an online scam

New website for Seniors – Protect Seniors OnlineTake the online quiz

New program in the UK –  BBC says that in joint effort with police all bank tellers being trained to look for customers withdrawing money for frauds

 Romance Scams
Here is a very good video of a Romance scam victim released by AARP California.


Charity Fraud

Ontario man sentenced for running fake cancer charity – twice

Investment Fraud

Canada calls on Israel to shut down binary option frauds; estimates that those frauds fleece victims worldwide of $10 billion per year

ATM Fraud



Craigslist Rental Scams

There are thousands of complaints by people who saw homes or apartments for rent on Craigslist and paid deposits only to learn that the ad was faked and they have lost their money.

Two arrested for rental scams in Linden, NJ

Fake Checks

Sri Lankan couple arrested in Toronto for fake check fraud and ID theft

Nanny scam with fake checks in Cedar Rapids Iowa

Bogus Tax Returns — lots of recent prosecutions