How Absolutely stupid do scammers think we are?


My sister forwarded the following email to me last night.

FW: Attn: This is to inform

you that we the fbi have a

warrant to arrest you if we

dont hear from you

immediately,this is the final

warning you are going to

receive from the fbi office do

you get me? I hope youre

understand how many times

this message has been sent to

you. We have warned you so

many times and you have

decided to ignore our e-mails

we have been instructed to get

you arrested immediately,

and today if you fail to

respond back to us with the

payment then, we will close

your bank account and jail

you and all your properties

will be confiscated by the

fbi.Robert Mueller, III FB I

Director

We both laughed at this one.  What you see above was the subject line and there was nothing in the body of the e-mail.  Spelling and grammar errors aside, FBI is always in capital letters.  If you get this in your e-mail, just ignore it.  It is a blatant attempt at fraud.

 

Don’t believe the hype!


Since I do market online in social networks, I see a lot of people sucked in by hype from questionable business opportunities.  The opportunity is just too good to be true.

Unfortunately for many who join these programs they end up getting burned.  The find themselves scammed out of hard earned money or become identity theft victims.  Most people do not take the time to look into these programs before jumping in with both feet.  And when they jump in they give out personal information that they should not be giving out.

You can avoid this if you simply take the time to look into it and think.  Before you sign up for things online, look for Red Flags.  Here are two simple Red Flags that should warn you to keep away.

Red Flag #1-Give your email address for more information

If the hype page asks you for an email address to find out what it is about, skip it.   The following information should be available to anyone going to a recruiting or affiliate page:

  • What the program is and any products services it provides
  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy

Make sure you read these pages.  The TOS often will hide small print that reveals a gotcha.  For example the hype page says you will get $25 just for signing up.  In the Terms of Service you find that it is actually 25 credits which they may call ‘Program’ dollars.  And these program dollars have no value beyond what the program creators say.

Red Flag #2 No Corporate information available

Every legitimate business is listed somewhere and you should be able to find information on the corporate HQ not just dozens of affiliate recruitment pages.  Three ways you can search:

  • Search Google with the program name and the keyyords Corporate Headquarters
  • Search Whois.net
  • Search Alexa.com

If you cannot find corporate information or that information is hidden treat it as a scam.

Don’t fall victim to scams a phishing schemes that can make you a victim of identity theft.

Your kids are targets too!


The family computer poses a risk not just to you, but to your kids too.  Identity theft, scams and God forbid, pedophiles are all risks that our children face every time they log on to a computer so it is important that we teach our kids online safety.

The Federal Trade Commission has been on the front lines of this fight with the Online-Onguard program for years now but it really wasn’t targeted toward kids safety.  There is a new program that the FTC has implemented in conjunction with Online-Onguard called NetCetera which focuses on educating our kids on online safety.

NetCetera is targeted toward adults to help them talk to the kids around them about Privacy, etiquette and safety  in an online world, not just computers but Cellphones.  It gives tips on explaining to kids what the risks are, how to identify them, how to avoid them and steps for kids to take when they think that they may be subjected to them.
Some of the topics covered:
Sexting
Cyberbullying
Privacy
Scams
NetCetera is available in a 56 page book including a glossary of internet terms and a listing of Resources to help parents teach kids about online safety.  If you are a parent or educator this is a must have tool in teaching our kids how to stay safe.  You can order NetCetera materials for free from the Federal Trade Commission.
But risks to our children are the same as risks to ourselves.  We can teach them to lower their risk but the risk never goes away.

Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Cyber Monday


So you made it through Black Friday, that madness is over for another year.  Now it’s time for the Cyber Monday madness.  Although you don’t have to worry about being in the middle of a beat down over a Barbie, Cyber Monday carries it’s own perils and pitfalls.

Cyber Monday has developed into the biggest online shopping day and scammers will be setting up traps for the unwary.  Online shoppers get caught every year in a multitude of scams from simple online Phishing schemes to flat out thefts.  So when you jump into the online shopping, be aware!  Some of the things to look out for:

 

Spoofing of retail websites

Spoofing is not new.  It has been around for a bit.  Have you ever gotten an e-mail from E-bay saying that you need to update your account?  That email probably had E-bay’s logo and may have even had an attached link that looked legitimate.  That is what spoofing is, imitating a reputable website.  When you go to this spoofed site and input your personal information, identity thieves now have everything that they need to steal your identity.

With online shopping it’s the same thing.  The thieves set up a site that looks like Sears and may even have Sears in the web address.  But it’s not Sears you are giving your information to, it’s an identity thief.

 

Sharing of unknown links

We all like to  share good deals right?  So it stands to reason that our friends would share great deals with us.  We also trust our friends so we don’t really think when we get that message on Facebook about the free computer our friend got as a part of a ‘Holiday promotion’.  Social networks get hacked.  That link that your friend shared with you is not from your friend at all.  It is from some scammer phishing for information.

 

The too good to be true deal

While Walmart may have been selling the next big thing dirt cheap and way under cost for a couple of hours on Black Friday,  they are making up their loss through all of the other sales that they are making.  You don’t walk into a store and see that as the regular price.  Finding items at unreasonably low prices should set off warning bells.  Yes you might just find a Rolex discounted 25% on a website.  But when it is being sold for a 10th of the price?  Can you say hot watch?

Things to be aware of

Like anything else staying safe while shopping online is mostly common sense.  Here are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Do not enter any of your information on unsecured websites.  Always check the address bar.  The page url should start with “HTTPS://”
  • Confirm website urls whenever possible.  If you plan to shop at a major retailer online, pick up the phone and call them to get the correct url.  Many scam sites will use the retailer domain name and then change the .com to .net or .org.
  • Be aware of the almost correct url.  Scammers will create a domain name close enough to seem legitimate.  For example if they want to spoof say Starbucks and Starbucks url is starbucks.com, the scammer may use starbuckscoffee.com
  • Before clicking on any link, hover your cursor over that link.  At the bottom of the screen it will show you the web address that you are actually going to.  If the link is cloaked, for example it shows http://www.shortlink.com/identifying code your safest bet is not to click it.   Legitimate retailers have no need or desire to hide themselves.

Be aware of Knockoffs

If it is a designer item or  hot brand name, the knockoffs are out there.  Everything from Sports Jerseys, to hand bags, to shoes to perfume have been copied.  So the odds are that cheap Louis Vuitton bag is nothing more than a cheap imitation.  Many companies sell admittedly fake imitations of the real things and they are marked as imitations or reproductions.

The only way you can be sure that you are actually ordering the real thing is to order it from and authorized retailer or the designer’s own website if they have one.  For example you can go to Louis Vuitton’s website look up the authorized retailer’s.  If that website is not an authorized retailer, they are not selling the real thing.

Be aware, use your common sense and research before you buy.  Protect your identity and avoid scams this holiday season.

 

Official fake ID’s? No it’s called counterfeiting


I got a message from a friend of mine this morning Dave Gilbert.  Dave is one of the founders of Kooiii Business Resources and very aware of scams since they do not allow them to be promoted on Kooii.  And when they say they don’t allow them they mean it, all identified scams are immediately removed and the scammers accounts are terminated.  This one popped up on the radar of the KBR Stay Safe Program which is their scam identification program.

Knowing that I am a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, he knew that I would love seeing this one and skyped me a message right away!

[5:19:57 AM] Dave Gilbert: We offer only original high-quality fake passports, driver’s licenses, identity cards, visas, birth certificates and other products for a number of countries like:

USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, etc.

To get the additional information and place the order just visit our website: (url removed)

If in some technical reasons you are unable to visit our website we are always happy to answer your questions on email addresses mentioned below.  (e-mail addresses removed)

So I did take a peek at the site and it is not only a scam but quite illegal in what it is providing.

This is so obvious that I hope no one would fall for it.  The entire site is one huge red flag.  The site is designed to first steal your money and second steal your identity.  You can in the US ‘purchase fake documents, Passport, Driver’s license and ID card for $1,500 and they will have all of the security features of the documents you would get from the official government sources.  Well that happens to be a little crime called counterfeiting, so any document that you purchased from them would be illegal.

Oh and the only way to make a payment is by some form of wire transfer.  That is another crime.  By the sites own admission they cannot accept credit cards or paypal because it is ‘difficult’ to secure these services.

And if Point A and Point B weren’t reason enough to open your eyes, they intend to disappear on January 1, 2012 when they will take down their website.

This is obviously criminals harvesting information and whatever funds they can collect before disappearing into the Twilight Zone.  Don’t fall for this.  Never give out your information to anyone.  But more importantly understand that all anyone needs here personal information and a photo and it doesn’t have to be their own personal information.  Just send off a $1,500 Moneygram  with their photo and your information and they not only have your information but they have  ‘documentation’ to back up their fake claim.

This is why it is so important to have something to address identity theft.  Who might be sending your personal information to this company right now?  LegalShield is a good way to protect yourself now before it it happens.

Would you really fall for this?


It’s always Phishing Season, only the bait changes.  And Somewhere out there is a Phisher who has decided to change the bait.  I recently received an email that is a blatant phishing scheme. I received the following notice from of all places, ‘The United States Postal Service’.

Sorry scammer, I know better!

TO: 1 recipient
CC: You + 23 More
Hello!

Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the
12th of November in time because the recipient’s address is erroneous.

Please print out the shipment label attached and collect the package at our
office.

United States Postal Service

I’m wondering how anyone could fall for something this blatant, but then again These Phishing schemes would not be so prevalent if no one was falling for them.

This one is so obvious.  Let me explain why.  Not only did they send this to me, they carbon copied it to 19 other people and I now have all of their email addresses just as they all have mine.  Not something that the post office would do.  In addition:

*When is the last time you stuck a letter in the mail with your email address printed on the outside of the envelope?  I don’t think USPS has mine because I have never included my email address on any shipping label.

*I think that there was a return address included on everything that I have mailed or shipped.  There is a reason for the return address; when something is undeliverable the post office returns it to the original sender.  So if they could not deliver something, they send it back to me.

How is it that 26 different people all have the same ‘shipping label?  We don’t that is where the phish bites the hook.  Yes there is something attached to this email for me to download, and it is not a USPS Shipping label.  It is a virus or worm that will infect my computer or a link to software that will give them access to my computer even if I am not on it.

Never respond to these emails and never click on any links or attachments included with them.  Delete them.  I have gotten the “Cannot deliver your package” e-mail numerous times from every shipping company in the US and they are all the same.  A phishing scheme meant to gain information from you.  Answering these emails or responding to them in any way other than deleting it, increases your risk of becoming the next identity theft statistic.

Identity theft is a major concern for all of us and our information can be accessed from numerous sources.  LegalShield can help before, during and after you become a victim.

He’s in the jailhouse now!


Have you ever opened an email from a trusted friend saying that they are stuck in a foreign country?  I get one of these emails at least once a week.  I think all of my friends are stuck or locked up somewhere.    I don’t have any friends left…not!  This is an old phishing/fraud scheme.  It refuses to die because people still fall for it.  It has also mutated over the years into another form that many people fall for.

It is a variation of the old standby, someone you know stuck in a foreign county and desperately needing your help.  You get an email stating that they have been robbed or mugged and now they need you to send them the money to get home.  Some people will fall for it but most of us tend to know when our friends are taking a trip to an exotic locale because they tell us.  If you were headed to Rome or the South of France for a week, you would be telling all your friends too!  Even if it was just to see a bit of envy on their face.

So it has mutated into a newer version, ‘The Prison Phone call’ scam.  The first time I ran into this scam, I laughed so hard I was almost in need of a box of Depends.  It was several years ago when I was working for the police department.

I answered the phone to hear a recorded message saying that an inmate had called from that number and that the number was to a correctional institution. I was given a number to call because the number they were calling from was part of a prison phone system that did not accept inbound calls.  Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?  Until you think for a moment.  The person who called from that number was not identified nor was the correctional institution.  Big red flags.

Who was it that called?  If I didn’t know who called who was I supposed to be calling them back about.  The other issue? What jail or prison did the call originate from?  The message was designed for one reason, to get people to dial the number.

Here’s the catch.  That number is not ringing where you think it is ringing.  It is ringing in a foreign country somewhere.  Even if it is a US area code, it has been forwarded to an out of country number.  You dial it and you pay.  This one still pops up and the Holidays are a perfect time for this and many more scams.  It’s a hectic time for most people, lots of people you know are traveling here and there and it is reasonable that things happen.

Keep two things in mind.  If you receive a call about someone being in jail any message you receive should should include the name of the correctional institute and the person who the call is from.

 

 

Tales of identity theft


Most of us think of identity theft as something new, a modern crime if you will but Identity Theft has been occurring as long as civilization has been around.  As a matter of fact you can find what is probably the first documented case of Identity theft in your bible in the book of Genesis.

Esau and Jacob

The Story of Esau and Jacob is probably the oldest case of identity theft ever recorded.  We learned about this one in Sunday School.  How Jacob and his mother conspired to steal Esau’s birthright by convincing the blind Issac that Jacob was his older son, Esau.

But examples can also be found in classic literature.  The Classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Man in the Iron Mask also gives us a tale of identity theft. The next time you read a book or watch a movie, pay very close attention.  You just might find that it is a tale of identity theft.

Yet another way an attorney can save your bacon!


I came across this nice little video available on the Federal Trade Commission Website.  It’s called “Fraud-An Inside Look”.  You can order the DVD For free from the FTC’s site.

It’s about 10 minutes long and a convicted scammer talks about fraud and how he runs a scam on his victims.

How does this tie in with an attorney?  One of the steps that the FTC advises to anyone looking for business opportunities is to investigate it thoroughly and as a part of your due diligence, consult with an attorney.  Many people lose money by getting involved with scams and having an attorney evaluate what you are considering before you join, can save you from that.

Attorneys are not just for crisis issues.  In many cases such as business opportunity scams, consulting with an attorney beforehand can avert the crisis.  And if you intend to start, invest in, own or join a business; an attorney can help you go about it the right way.