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Baker Fraud Report 4/2/20

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April 2, 2020
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As you’d imagine, scams or warning about possible scams related to virus issues have just exploded.  It is often hard to tell how many of these are wide- spread and organized fraud efforts. But complaints to BBB and law enforcement have gone up significantly, and patterns are emerging.  Scammers are continuing unabated.  Obviously this is a priority area right now for enforcers and other fraud fighters.
Because so many alerts and press reports right now are of doubtful assistance it would not be useful to have all of these included in the Fraud Report.  So I’ll try to include the most important and relevant news from around the world.
Coronavirus Police in Turkey arrest five, seize 1 million counterfeit masksUK’s Action Fraud says virus scam complaints went up 400% in March; explains scams they are seeingCanadian prime minister warns of scams exploiting emergency government benefitsSocial Security warns letters are going out, supposedly from SSA, threatening to suspend benefits; has victims call a number, often asks them to buy gift cardsFormer federal prosecutor says DOJ hasn’t taken financial fraud seriously; not prepared to deal with coronavirus scamsMichigan Attorney General sends cease and desist letter to company selling patch to prevent virusSouthern California district attorneys set up task forces, scam hotlines, to deal with virus fraudCrooks hijacking routers, redirecting web traffic to coronavirus scam sites; most common in the U.S., France, and German; use sites to infect readers with malware 
Two tips of the week: 1) Reports are that lots of complaints and problems are coming up from canceled travel and events with people looking for refunds, and 2) Those who address price gouging should know that with lots of scientific research demand for eggs the price of those is going up rapidly, and 3) My friend and former colleague at the FTC, John Singer, has developed a powerpoint on coronavirus scams he wants to share. Contact John at:
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Baker Fraud Report 3/26/20

March 26, 2020
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Thanks to everyone who keep things going while many us work from home.  Grocery stores, gas stations, power companies, truck drivers, police and everyone else, many of who don’t make that much money


Read the full issue here

Baker Fraud Report 3/19/20

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With corona virus, it seems to me that the scams fall into several categories; 1) selling products that don’t exist or don’t work, such as a coronavirus vaccine; 2) overcharging for goods in high demand, such as face masks or hand sanitizer; 3) phishing scams sending email supposedly from WHO or CDC; 4) just rolling in the virus scare to help further an existing scam.  For example, puppy scams are now using the virus to explain why the dog hasn’t arrived yet. And of course 5) bogus charities taking money supposedly to help.

FTC provides tips for online safety when working from home

Full Report here

Baker Fraud Report 3/12/20

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$153 million in refund checks going to 109,000 people from FTC/Justice Department settlement with Western Union

  • First distribution — $586 million judgment
  • Full payments to victims in US and abroad
  • More to follow
  • Details on the process here
  • NO ONE should pay money to get a refund here

India takes down tech support room running tech support scams against UK citizens after BBC story

BBC interview with tech support scammers in India

Swedish journalist works with insider to expose telemarketing sales room in Kiev, Ukraine

  • Target elderly with bitcoin investments
  • Sales in English, Russian, Italian and Spanish
  • Get remote access to victim computers and bank accounts
  • Thousands of victims in 50 countries

List of the 400 elder fraud cases recently announced by DOJ


Los Angeles:  41 months in prison for Canadian man who ran grandparent scam on older people; extradited to the US; three others in group already sentenced

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Baker Fraud Report March 5, 2020

March 5, 2020

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BBC: UK man hacks into surveillance cameras at call center in India; footage of scammers hitting UK tech support victims

Washington State Attorney General sues Timeshare Exit Team

Half of Canadian families have been victims of scams

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada

DOJ announces 400 elder fraud cases in the last year; launches elder fraud hotline to give individualized help; complaints to then go to IC3 or FTC

BBB releases 2020 Risk Report; big jump in cryptocurrency scams

National Consumers League list top 10 scams of 2019; internet merchandise sales #1

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Baker Fraud Report 2/27/20

February 27, 2020
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Next week is National Consumer Protection Week in the US
Nigerian TV: Extensive story on how Yahoo Boys operate; explains how they train one another; how they operate dating scams and fake checks scams; how they launder money; interviews with crooks
AARP releases new survey on imposter scams

  • Gov’t imposters, grandparent scams, romance scams, census
  • 47% have encountered one
  • 18% who lost money have had health or emotional distress problems; more of these by people under 50
  • 70% of the public is not familiar with census scams

 BBC: Interview with the volunteer who has helped thousands of romance fraud victims in Finland
Agari releases in depth study of BEC group Exaggerated Lion

  • Spread over Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana
  • Has BEC victims send physical checks instead of wire transfers
  • Uses romance fraud victims as mules to launder money

Canada’s Competition Bureau settles with ticket reseller StubHub over mandatory additional fees not disclosed until end of the process: collects $1.3 million fine

FBI says crooks took in $144 million from ransomware scams over the last seven years; most in bitcoin; this does not include recovery costs

Question of the Week:  Why is debt collection fraud way down? FTC complaints fell from 626,000 in 2017 to 135,000 in 2019.  The FTC has brought several cases against frauds collecting from people that really did not owe the debt – or at least not to the scammers.  Has that had a huge effect here? Or has something else happened that the Fraud Report has missed?  Curious minds want to know.

Full Report here

Baker Fraud Report 2/20/20

Baker Fraud Report 2/13/20

February 13, 2020
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The FTC saw a big spike in romance fraud complaints in 2019

  • 2017  16,940
  • 2018  22,284
  • 2019  38,851

Romance scam losses of $201 million reported to the FTC in 2019; up 40% from 2018
FBI releases 2019 report for Internet Crime Complaint Center

  • Losses of $3.5 billion reported
  • Largest losses by those over 60 years old
  • Many more complaints received from the UK than anywhere else outside the US
  • Romance scam losses of $475 million

A few trends from the FTC’s 2019 complaint data

  • Debt collection complaints fell: From 626K in 2017 to 135K in 2019
  • Identity theft complaints way up: 371K in 2017; 650K in 2019
  • Imposter scams are way up, but you knew that
  • Sweepstakes complaints down; 143K in 2017; 125K 2019 (is enforcement working here?)
  • Tech support complaints down: 154K in 2017; 108K 2019
  • Travel/vacations up; 17K 2019: 25K 2019

US indicts four members of Chinese military over hacking Equifax credit report information

New scam exploding in the UK: Those selling on eBay are getting emails supposedly from eBay saying that a payment has been made; sellers then ship; 3000 complaints in the last three months; over £1 million lost so far

Texas:  Nigerian gets more than eleven years prison for laundering BEC money; four others also sentenced

Southern District of Illinois:  Two executives at Florida tech support scam get eleven years and nine years prison

Read the full report here

Baker Fraud Report 2/6/20

Baker Fraud Report – News you can use

February 6, 2020

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National Consumers League warns of 250% jump in complaints about “sugar daddy” dating websites; scammers offer to pay off credit card debt and ask victim in return to buy gift cards. But don’t actually pay off credit card debt and victim on the hook for gift card cost

Scammers have now set up websites supposedly selling a coronavirus vaccine. If you send money they want more for shipping, taxes, bribes etc.  It is a total scam. They never send anything.

FTC releases 2019 Sentinel Data on fraud and identity theft

  • Numbers keep rising: 1.7 million fraud complaints
  • Losses reported: $1.9 billion, increase of $293 million
  • Most complaints overall about imposters, such as IRS, SSA, Romance scams
  • Data broken down by state and city
  • 33% of those losing money in their 20’s
  • Older consumer less victims but bigger losses
  • Next week in the BFR: a breakdown of fraud trends

Senate Aging Committee releases data in complaints they received in 2019; IRS impersonators tops the list

Do you need some consulting work or an expert witness? Let me know and let’s chat.

Read the full report here

Baker Fraud Report 1/30/20

Baker Fraud Report – News you can use

January 30, 2020

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DOJ sues to stop two US companies from handling robocalls coming from India; one TRO has been entered so far

  • Both were “gateway” carriers; allowed internet based calls to get access to the US phone system
  • Both knew about the problems with their clients
  • At least one seems to have done the same for Canada and Australia
  • Money paid by victims went to crook in the US, who made cash deposits at US banks to pay Defendants
  • Responsible for hundreds of millions of calls
    • Social Security Administration impersonator calls
    • IRS imposter calls
    • Immigration calls
    • Tech support
    • Advance fee loans
  • Court complaints linked at bottom of DOJ release
  • Map shows number of calls per state by Defendant Tollbooth

FTC announces top scams reported to them in 2019

  • Imposter scams were the biggest category; impersonating both businesses and government agencies
  • Most frequent imposter scam was social security; with 166,190 reports to FTC and median losses of $1500

Three men sentenced to prison for their role in a lottery fraud scheme based in Costa Rica that defrauded elderly of at least $11 million; impersonated FTC and other agencies in their calls

Atlanta, Georgia: Eight sentenced to prison for roles in India-based IRS and payday loan collection fraudPolice in Indonesia arrest three; infected e-commerce sites worldwide with malicious code to steal credit card numbers entered on them

Full report here