Timeshare resale frauds very common, rip off many older victims.  More than 9 million US families own timeshares that they don’t visit or don’t want to continue paying for.   Frauds call, claim that they have a buyer, ask for money for title searches, and disappear with the money.  Click here for more information on this fraud and how it works.

FTC settles with Mule that collected money from victims of IRS impersonators

The FTC announced this settlement with Joel Treuhalf and his company on February 15.  The FTC alleges that the defendant hired “runners” in Florida to pick up the money victims sent after being defrauded by IRS impersonators.  The runners went to Western Union and MoneyGram outlets to collect the money, kept 7% for themselves, and then deposited the rest into several different bank accounts.  The deposited money then made its way to India.  The FTC alleges that “In less than eight months, from July 2015 to February 2016, Defendants collected more than $1.5 million from approximately 3,000 consumers throughout the United States.”  Click here to read more about money mules.

 Can you hear me frauds: No evidence that this is actually happening

Over the last several weeks there have been many news reports asserting that there is a new fraud underway in which a person receives a phone call that asks “Can you hear me.”  When the person answering the phone says “Yes” the call ends.  This is then supposedly used to sign people up for things they don’t want and didn’t intend to buy.

But is this true? Is this happening?  Snopes.com has reported that they have been unable to verify that this is actually happening.  I have also talked to the Canadian Antifraud Centre, which handles mass marketing fraud complaints from all Canadian (and even American) consumers, and they tell me that they have seen absolutely no evidence that this is a real fraud tactic.

Do scam tape record victims?  Absolutely.  Telemarketing frauds, especially those that take payment by credit cards, routinely tape record a “verification” after they make a deceptive sale.  They use these recordings to challenge those who later realize that they have been defrauded and challenge the transaction with their credit card company.  Of course these verifications recordings do not include the deceptive claims.  The FTC has also seen companies that claim they have such recordings even when they do not.  Other frauds even doctor these tapes to make it appear that victims agreed to the charges when they really did not.   This tactic may stave off complaints by individual challenges, but I have never seen this work as a defense in an FTC

consumer fraud case.

New Australian Study on Relationship Between Age and Consumer Fraud Victimization

A new study on fraud and age was released by the Australian Institute of Criminology on November 28, 2016.  It covered fraud directed against victims in both Australia and New Zealand.  A few highlights:

  • For the most part the study found no link between being older and being a fraud victim
  • It did find that older people were more likely to be victims of tech support fraud
  • People 45-55 were most likely to be victims of romance scams
  • Older victims were more likely to be victims of fraud through calls on land lines
  • Younger people were more likely to be victims of text message frauds
  • Older people are likely to be more attractive targets for fraud because they have more accumulated savings and may have some impairment
  • Work at home scams were more likely to defraud victims earning less than $20,000 per year and are more likely to defraud older victims

Romance scams

This week we have seen dozens of warning about romance scams in media around the world.  The FBI has reported that this is the second largest dollar loss of the frauds they are seeing.   Of course it is great that there is a recognition worldwide that this is a large and very widespread fraud.   But many of the articles I’ve seen do not really understand just how this fraud works and how to check it out.   Click here for a full discussion of romance scams and how to detect them.

Police in Malaysia arrest 27 romance scammers.  The police worked with Singapore police.  The article asserts that ten of those arrested were Nigerians in Malaysia on student visas, and that victims were not only in Singapore but in the US as well.

Canadians lost 14.3M to romance scams in 2016

Chicago TV report on the 27 year prison sentence of Nigerian Olyinka Sunmola in the Southern District of  Illinois

Scotland Yard gets a romance scam complaint every three hours.  This article also notes that many of those running these frauds use prewritten sets of emails for these frauds. Thus it may be possible to determine if one of these is a fraud by simply doing an internet search of a paragraph with an unusual turn of phrase.  And of course it is always good to do an internet search of the picture used in the profile.  The Fraud Report on romance scams explains how to do such a search.

Online Sale of Opiods

This article asserts that companies that sell illegal opiod drugs online do so with domain names registered in the US – and that despite notice of this illegal activity some registrars refuse to shut down the web sites.  This is one of many areas where frauds employ web sites registered or hosted in the US.

Ransomware

Roxana IL police hit by ransomware

 

Fraudulent Prize Mailings

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced a consumer education campaign that involves printed placemats warning about prize mailings.  These are being distributed through meals on wheels, and are apparently available free and in bulk.  For more information on how these frauds work click here.

Jamaica

Money Mule in LA to plead guilty to federal charges for working with Jamaicans on lottery scams

Another Jamaican money mule sentenced in the Southern District of FL.

Shrink Wrap Frauds

Car shrink wrap fraud in India.   There are many many complaints by victims who are approached to “shrink wrap” their cars with advertisements for Red Bull, Monster Energy Drinks, or other companies and receive a monthly payment for doing so.  For younger victims the promised money could go a long way to helping with car payments.  Victims receive a counterfeit check, which they are told to deposit and then to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram to the company that will supposedly wrap their cars.  But the check is counterfeit, and by the time victims realize that this is the case they have lost the money they sent by wire.  This fraud is now showing up in other countries as well.   Here is the FTC warning on this fraud.

Why do people use check cashing outlets instead of banks?  

One professor went to work at a check cashing company to find out. Answer may surprise you.

Other News

Iowa woman details secret shopper scam.

Nigerian Man arrested in Guyana for fraud

Binary options investment fraud in Canada

Ohio liquor store owner sentenced to prison for cashing tax refund checks from bogus tax returns

 

Just for fun…

 

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 steve@bakerfraudreport.com

 

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