Thought of the week: Why is it so hard to get accurate information about Covid19? At the FTC the philosophy is that given good information people overall make good decisions. They will do OK.
Virus shutdown fuels pet scams (My BBB study on pet scams here)
Tip of the week: Online shopping, counterfeits and fraud. With so many stores closed people are increasingly shopping online for common goods. But a large part of those are actually counterfeit. In fact, over half the goods sold on Amazon are by “third party sellers” that ship directly to victims and not from Amazon; usually from China. Huge numbers of complaints to the FTC and BBB are from people who shopped online, paid with a credit card, and never received anything at all. So make sure goods you receive are authentic, and call your credit card company and dispute the charge if they are counterfeit or never arrive. And see my BBB study on counterfeit goods fraud
Prediction: Bankruptcy! We are almost certainly coming up on a flood of individuals and businesses that can’t pay rent, mortgages, credit card bills, etc. So expect a large wave of people in financial distress. And the scammers will be out there to take advantage. Watch for scam debt collectors, mortgage, student loan and credit card debt and other financial relief frauds.
BBB studies: They can all be found here. There are links below to several topic areas, and there are also studies on puppy fraud, tech support fraud, romance fraud money mules, and rental fraud
full report here
Hackers stole Facebook information on 267 million people; database for sale on dark web for $600; researchers set up site to check if yours stolen
Your rights if you’ve canceled an airline flight because of the virus
BBB releases update two years after study on free trial offer/subscription trap study; Visa and MasterCard adopt new policies; more FTC lawsuits
VISA announces new policies to fight free trial offers scams: “Specifically, cardholders will benefit from receiving the following — via email or text — from the seller they initiated a trial or introductory offer subscription with:
- immediate confirmation of the terms of the agreement
- proactive notification of any future payments at the end of the trial period
- instructions on how to initiate a cancellation”
FTC tips on stimulus check fraud
- Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
- The IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment, or to ask you for your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number. Anyone who does is a scammer phishing for your information.
- You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money.
- The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. That’s a fake check scam.
Read full report here
Please send us press releases! The Fraud Report wants to keep everyone up to date on fraud issues. The media attention now is all about virus issues, so they may not report arrests or prosecutions. Send them along and we’ll include them here.
FTC releases data on international scams reported to econsumer.gov, fraud reporting site that shares complaints with 35 countries
- Can take complaints in many languages
- 2019 received 40,432 complaints
- Losses of $151.3 million
- Top complaints about products sold online, goods paid for but never received goods
Germany has to end small business loans because criminal gangs set up dozens of fake web sites to apply and get government money
Tip of the week: Counterfeit goods. With so many people shopping online right now there is an increasing danger of buying goods that are counterfeit, including of course things like masks and cleansers. Be extra careful with third party sellers on Amazon. Check out 1 star reviews, where people often report that goods are not what they claim to be. And call to get a full refund on your credit card if you’re ripped off. Here is the BBB study on counterfeits.
Full report here
Volunteer group identifies scam sites for masks and protective gear sold online but never delivered
- Perhaps the largest category of virus complaints we’re seeing now are scammers taking money for masks and protective gear and not delivering them
- Scam.directory has located over 300 such sites operating around the world
- This is by a volunteer group that also operates petscams.com
- Most scams are operated by the same gangs in Cameroon that run puppy frauds; here is BBB study on pets
- Many of the sites are registered in the U.S.
- They don’t just rip off individuals.Here is an article on a Greek pharmacy losing their money
Scam email by a BEC scammer
A contact just got an email he thought came from a friend. It reads:
Thank you XXX. I should have called you to explain further but still can’t access my mobile phone. I need you to kindly purchase 5pcs x $100 of either eBay or Target or Amazon gift cards which totals $500 as donation for the purchase of preventive items from Corona Disease (COVID 19) due to the vulnerability of Veterans at Hospice & Palliative Care .I will be liable for reimbursement.
You can purchase them online as (e-gift card) or at any Kohl’s, CVS, Kwik, Macy’s, Walmart, or Walgreen’s Store. Due to the time frame of the pledge, I will be glad if you get them early enough today.
E-mail me immediately you buy them for instructions how to get them across. Let me know if a check will be fine for reimbursement. Thank you.
Tip of the week: Scams continue and will go after big money from the government There is no reason at all to think that scams are down right now; in fact I suspect they are up with so many people at home. The courts have limited their schedules, so there may be fewer prosecutions, and the news media is currently covering very little that is not virus related. But if anything scammers are surely redoubling their efforts.
After previous disasters I’ve seen price gouging, bogus charities, and other scams during and immediately after they happen, but the really big losses come later with crooked/incompetent contractors or people inappropriately getting insurance or government benefits. For example, we saw Nigerian scammers defrauding FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. So get ready to deal with scammers looking for money from stimulus checks, business loans, and other assistance. There lie the big bucks.
Full report here
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
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
$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
Read the full Report
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
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
BBB releases 2020 Risk Report; big jump in
National Consumers League list top 10 scams of 2019; internet merchandise sales #1
Read the full report