JUST IN —  Western Union settles with US government and agrees to pay $586 million.  See the press release here.

Want to know how many fraud complaints the Better Business Bureau has for your area?  The BBB’s scamtracker site will show you fraud complaints in your town or neighborhood – and what they are about.  You can also file a complaint on the site.

FTC shuts down large Craigslist rental fraud

Many people looking for a house to rent or buy go to Craigslist.  Craigslist provides a great free service – but the crooks are using the site as well to rip people off.  The FTC has just shut down Credit Bureau Center.  This company advertised attractive rentals by posting pictures of great places at good prices.   Addresses were not provided in the ad. Those interested in renting could only contact the company by email.  The company responded by email, telling victims that in order to see the property they had to go to a website, get a “free” credit report, and bring it along to the walkthrough.

But those who obtained the credit report were not told that by putting in their credit card number and other personal information, such as a social security number, they were really signing up with a credit monitoring service – and would be charged $29.95 every month until they could make the charges stop.  The FTC says that this company billed victims for more than $6 million.

There was no walkthrough. The rental properties either did not exist or the Defendants had no right to rent them.  The fraud was all about conning people into providing their credit card numbers.

The FTC’s court brief said between it and the BBB there were over 500 consumer complaints.

This is not the only case involving fake houses offered for sale on craigslist.  Last fall there were news reports of a search warrant being served in Santa Barbara, CA.  A study was released a year or so ago doing an in depth look at Craigslist rental frauds.

FTC settles two cases against companies that made billions of illegal robocalls

These companies made robocalls for extended auto warranties and home security systems.    Both are permanently banned from placing recorded phone calls.

“Operation Avalanche” takes out huge worldwide computer support network used by ransomware frauds.   Read a brief summary of this important effort here.

Major increase in ransomware fraud

This fraud has traditionally been directed to businesses, but now is even going to cell phones.  The frauds get malware on your phone or computer, lock up and encrypt all the files, and charge a ransom to unlock it.

Pass it on from FTC has new video.   The FTC has found that educating older people on fraud so that they can help their friends and families is a great way to get the word out.

 Nigerians arrested in India say there are lots of other illegal immigrants doing fraud from India

Walmart warns of secret shopper scams using fake copies of its checks

For more info on mystery shopper scams see the December 15 post on this topic at bakerfraudreport.com

US Embassy in Bahamas warns of grandparent scams

Not surprisingly, people receiving calls supposedly from grandchildren in trouble after a trip outside the U.S. sometimes call the local embassies to see what can be done to help.

Utah sextortion suicide

Mother of a Utah sextortion victim that sent money to the Philippines and committed suicide speaks out.  And there is a warning about this fraud by Utah police.  Learn more about this fraud at bakerfraudreport.com.

Nigerian Law Enforcement, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, arrests three on bogus craigslist purchases.

Jamaica

New arrests in Jamaica

Jury finds Rochester NY man guilty of actions as money mule  The man was arrested earlier for acting as a money mule: receiving money from elderly victims and sending part of the funds to Jamaica.  Here is the press release of the arrest.

Jamaican law enforcement arrests six more people for lottery fraud

Teenage girl arrested in Jamaica for lottery fraud

Romance scams

RCMP in Vancouver investigates romance fraud that rips off elderly woman for $100,000