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:
- Family/friend emergency (grandparent scams);
- Sweepstakes/Lottery Prizes (Jamaican lottery frauds); and
- 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of a “trusted contact” for clients over 65 and to place a temporary hold on funds if it appears that they are being withdrawn for financial exploitation, including fraud.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 Online. Take 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
Here is a very good video of a Romance scam victim released by AARP California.
- Law Firms enticing target for ransomware
- New report from Trend Micro says number of Ransomware “families” increases over 700% in 2016, and tracks increases in Business Email Compromise fraud
- Ransomware hits Pennsylvania State Senate Democrats
Ontario man sentenced for running fake cancer charity – twice
Canada calls on Israel to shut down binary option frauds; estimates that those frauds fleece victims worldwide of $10 billion per year
- Two Romanians arrested and charged with ATM skimming in Malta
- ATM skimming in Canada at record low; attributed to use of chips in cards
- Three arrested for ATM skimming in Dover, Pennsylvania
- Five Romanians arrested for ATM skimming in York County, Pennsylvania
- Sextortion gangs blackmail 30 teenagers a day in the UK; article tracks much of it to Ivory Coast
- UK newspaper travels to Morocco; says a town near Casablanca, Morocco, has incredible 3,000 blackmailers in a population of 90,000 and almost all 360 arrests in the country last year for such crimes were made there.
- Mother and daughter from Missouri hired by Nigerians to travel to other countries and get documents signed. But they were jailed in South Korea because they were unknowingly collecting money for inheritance frauds.
- Australian couple arrested for acting as money mules and assisting individuals from Cameroon in a pet scam
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
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
- IRS agent who pleaded guilty to filing bogus tax returns is allegedly romance scam victim; sent over $150,000 to Nigeria
- Man pleads guilty in West Virginia to filing bogus tax returns
- Milwaukee man indicted for using info from Mexican immigrants to file bogus tax returns
- Two brothers and sister convicted of filing bogus tax returns in Eastern District of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Filed over 20 returns and received $940,000
- New Jersey man pleads guilty to bogus tax returns; got $170,000
- Former Social Security employees and and two others indicted in Eastern District of New York (Queens). Stole consumer info from SSA and used it to file bogus tax returns.
- Tax Preparer in Allentown, PA pleads guilty to stealing identities of Puerto Ricans and receiving $4.3 million in bogus tax refunds