You’ve all seen unwanted e-mails arrive in your inbox promising thousands of dollars you weren’t expecting, a trust fund from the family member you didn’t know you had and the job opportunity you didn’t know you were looking for. This morning a co-worker received a spam e-mail unlike any I’ve ever seen before, so I thought I would share it with the blogosphere in hopes no one will fall for a scam like this one. In the e-mail below the woman claims to be dying from cancer and wants to give YOU a $9.8M charity donation. WOW! It must be your lucky day… ummm, I don’t think so!
My name is Mrs. Maria Pierre. I am 63 years old. I am a dying woman who has decided to donate what I have to you for charity/ motherless babies/less privileged in the world. I was diagnosed for cancer for about 2 years ago. I have been touched by God to donate from what I have inherited from my late husband to you for good work of God. I have asked God to forgive me and believe he has because he is a merciful God. I will be going in for an operation next week.
I got your contact from a business directory and picked you randomly for this project. I decided to donate the sum of US$9.8 Million dollars to you for the good work of God. I know this may come as a surprise to you as you do not know me at all but I have prayed over this and out of all the contacts I was able to get from the internet, the holy spirit has directed me to donate these funds to you. I do not want to take credit for any of these as life is vanity. We came to this world empty and will surely return back to the lord empty. I have lived my life in sin and have prayed to God to forgive my sins. At the moment I cannot take any telephone calls right now due to the fact that my relatives (That have squandered the funds I gave them for this purpose before) are around me and my health status also.
If you will accept this offer, I will be very grateful. My family lawyer will make take care of the legal procedure to complete the transfer of the funds to you. I want you to reply me with your full name, address and telephone number so that I can give it to my lawyer. Once I receive your response, I will also give you my lawyers contact details for you to open communication with him. All I ask of you is to make sure that you use this money for the work of God and service to humanity. I know I don’t know you but I have been directed to do this by God. I wish you all the best and may the good God bless you abundantly as you work toward this humanitarian mission.
Lastly, I want you to pray for me regarding my health, because I have come to find out that wealth acquisition without God in one’s life is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die, says the Lord: keep fit and I will give you the crown of life. I believe we serve the same God and that we are all going back to him when we die. May the Grace of our Lord, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more, Amen. You can reply directly to my email firstname.lastname@example.org
Your sister in the lord
Mrs. Maria Pierre
While I hate to think that my co-worker is passing up an easy $9.8M, I truly believe this is a scam waiting to happen. So make sure you turn on your spam filters and tweak your junk e-mail settings, so e-mails like this one won’t make their way to your inbox.
As the unemployment rate climbs, job seekers are cautioned as scammers have taken to posting bogus employment opportunities on line. “The goal of most employment scams is to get the victim to give away personal information making themselves vulnerable to identity theft or to pay upfront fees. While it can be exciting to be contacted for a job interview, job seekers should take a step back and look closely at all the details before responding”, said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President.
There is a case in New York where scammers actually posted a job on Craigslist for employment at The Better Business Bureau (BBB)! A local job seeker received an email from the bogus BBB telling her that she was selected for a job interview. The email went on to say that “employees are paid via direct deposit” and directed her to click a link to sign up for their preferred banking institution – at no additional cost. Luckily, she didn’t fall for it.
The BBB offers the following tips when finding a job through online searches:
Exercise Caution. When using social networking sites like Facebook and online employment sites such as Craigslist, be sure to check the actual Web site of the company posting the position to verify it actually exists. If you don’t see it on their site, chances are it’s a scam.
Guard Your Resume. Some job seekers have uploaded their resume online but remember to make sure you only upload it for a legitimate purpose and company. Resumes often contain personal information, ripe for identity theft thieves.
Start with Trust. Many scams use names that are similar to reputable companies to trick job seekers. BBB recommends that job seekers check out the company first at bbb.org and to apply through the actual company site whenever possible.
Never Pay Upfront Fees. No legitimate job offer will require out of pocket expenses from a potential employee for background checks, credit reports or administrative fees before an interview.
Protect Personal Information. Job seekers should never provide their social security number or birth date until they have verified the position is legitimate. Additionally, job seekers should never provide bank account information for direct deposit setup until they have officially been hired.
Be Careful of the “Perfect Offer.” Job seekers should be cautious of any posting advertising extremely high pay for short hours or minimal required experience. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Avoid Work-at-Home Offers. Most jobs that imply you can work from home or rake in cash are a ploy to trap you into giving away your credit card information, cashing fake checks, or paying for training that should be free. Job seekers should understand employees working from home generally go through the traditional in-person interviews and hiring process and often have prior experience in what they are doing, work for a salary, or have spent time and money developing the market for their work.
Report Fraud. If you find a job scam or internet fraud, including Craigslist scams, report it to the BBB or file a complaint with them here. You can also contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at 800.251.3221 or go to www.ic3.gov.
For more information on finding a job and to check the reliability of any company, visit bbb.org.
Being a secret shopper sounds like a quick and fun way to earn a little extra money on the side. However, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that some marketer’s promises are not all they’re cracked up to be. There are some secret shopper scams out there that if you’re not careful, instead of making money, you’ll be paying money. Here are just two common secret shopper scams I’ve heard about-
You receive a check via FedEx made payable to you. It’s from a company who supposedly wants you to “hire” you as a secret shopper. You’ll think the check is up-front shopping money because, according to the instructions, you are to deposit the check and use the exact amount of funds to shop. You’ll find out later that the check was fraudulent and you will be responsible for paying the bank back.
You’re “hired” to evaluate a money transfer service. You’ll receive a check that you are to deposit and then wire a specified amount of money via Western Union or MoneyGram to a third party. Again, you’ll find out later that the check was fraudulent and you will be responsible for paying the bank back.
Calling the bank to verify the check is a good idea, but don’t count solely on that being the determining factor of you depositing the check. The issuer of the check could have a valid account, but no money to back the funds. Even if they do, the funds may not be there by the time YOUR check is deposited.
As you can see, the checks look real. They are for large sums of money. They can be very tempting.
There was one lady who was sent “shopping money” because she’d inquired online how to become a secret shopper. She’d asked that more information on how to become a great secret shopper be mailed to her house. Instead, she started to receive checks made payable to her…..
Bottom line here….NEVER deposit a check from someone you don’t know!
For more information on secret shopper scams, check out the FTC’s website by clicking here. For more information on how to become a legitimate secret shopper, click here.
When consumers search for a moving company they are usually motivated to choose one moving company over another because of price, location of the company or how quickly the company can get the move completed. According to the American Moving & Storage Association based out of Alexandria, VA there are a few other things you should look for before trusting a moving company with your precious belongings:
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA’s website, www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company’s rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America. Having at least a satisfactory BBB rating is one of seven screenings AMSA relies on when authorizing its interstate mover members to display the ProMover logo, the sign of a quality, professional mover which has pledged to abide by the organization’s Code of Ethics.
Get at least three written in-home estimates.No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm price online or over the phone. Also keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer which can cost you more in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
Consider getting full value protection.It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.
Here are some links that might be helpful to you before you make your next move.
Buying a used car can be a very stressful time for many people. Oftentimes consumers will search the internet before purchasing a vehicle in hopes of getting a better deal online. Craig’s List and Ebay have become very popular websites for car dealers to place advertisements for used vehicles.
Earlier today the VA Dept of Motor Vechicles announced the arrest of a Newport News man who was selling motor vehicles on Craig’s List without a salesperson’s license. In response to the situation DMV released a number of steps consumers should take prior to buying used cars:
• Ask the seller to provide the title for the vehicle; not providing the title could indicate the vehicle has liens against it.
• Make sure the title is in the name of the individual who is selling the car. Ask to see the seller’s driver’s license for verification.
• Ask to see the vehicle registration card or paper from DMV and check to see that the vehicle description and plate number match the car you plan to purchase.
• Create a written contract including sale price, car condition and method of payment, after a price for the vehicle is agreed upon.
• Get the contract notarized while both parties sign it.
• Never pay for a vehicle or vehicle down-payment with cash.
• Verify that the person who signs the contract is the actual owner of the car by comparing the owner’s name on the title to the seller’s identification.
Consumers should always check the reputation of the seller and look for customer reviews about the seller. Also, remember you should never give the seller your street address and test drives should always be arranged in a public place during daylight hours.
For a complete list of used car buying tips, click here to visit the DMV website
Hotel guests down south are being scammed and the scam could be headed our way!
According to the Better Business Bureau of East Texas, hotel guests are being called, usually in the middle of the night, by scammers who obtain their credit card information over the phone. The scammers tell the guest that they are a hotel employee who needs to verify their information, including their credit card number, because the hotel’s computer system has crashed. Guests have fallen for this scam because they say the callers are very convincing. The caller will even go so far as to offer a discount on the room for the inconvenience!
It is not known where the call originates from. The scam artist could be a guest at the hotel or they could be calling from outside of the hotel.
With the upcoming three day weekend (for some!) and summer travel upon us, please be vigilante during any hotel stay. If someone who claims to be a hotel employee calls you in the middle of the night asking for credit card information, do not give it to them. Hang up, go back to sleep, and handle any billing discrepancies at the front desk the next morning! If they convince you that it’s urgent, hang up and call the hotel operator.
The summer season is always busy, but it’s a tough time to feed the hungry.
That’s why the young leaders group “Downtown 100″ wants your help with its food drive.
Members set up collection bins in various businesses and buildings in downtown Norfolk- including the World Trade Center, Dominion Enterprises, and Sun Trust.
The “Downtown Has A Heart Food Drive Contest” benefits the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.
It runs until next Friday, the 17th. Drop off your non-perishibles and help local needy families and see which building can collect the most food!
Drop-off locations are:
BB&T, 500 E. Main Street Bank of America, 1 Commercial Place Dominion Tower, 999 Waterside Drive Main Street Tower, 300 E. Main Street RBC Bank, 555 E. Main Street 150 West Main Building, 150 W. Main Street Town Point Center, 150 Boush Street World Trade Center, 101 W. Main Street WVEC, 613 Woodis Avenue Wells Fargo, 440 Monticello Avenue Dominion Enterprises, 150 Granby Street DNC Building, 201 Granby Street
We receive calls and emails everyday from people who have received letters and phone calls from someone who claims the person has won an international lottery, that there is money waiting for them in a foreign bank account from a relative who recently passed away or that they have won the grand prize at a local department store. More often than not, these letters and phone calls are the work of a con artist who is trying to scam consumers out of their hard earned money.
How the scam works: Once the would-be prize winner deposits the “check” into their bank account, they are asked to withdraw a portion of the money and send it back to the con artist. Once the money is withdrawn, the check doesn’t clear the bank. The bank account is then emptied in an effort to cover the withdraw.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) occasionally sends out tips consumers should look for so they don’t get scammed. Recently the BBB released a list of tips consumers can use to determine if a check is counterfeit.
1. Edges. Legit checks generally have at least one perforated or rough edge.
2. Bank logo. There should be a logo and it shouldn’t be faded.
3. Bank address. A bank wouldn’t use just a post office box.
4. Check number. There should be a check number in the upper right hand corner and it should match the check in the MICR line. The MICR line is at the bottom of the check and has the bank routing number and the check number.
5. Amount. It’s usually less than $5,000 so that the bank sends the “check” through in a few days. Larger checks have a longer holding time.
6. Paper. Fake checks are usually printed on lighter paper and could feel slippery.
7. Signature. Does the signature look digitized? Are there numerous up and down strokes? It could indicate the signature was printed from a scanned original or was forged.
8. MICR line. Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) numbers are read by specialized checking-sorts machines. The ink should look and feel dull, not shiny.
9. Routing numbers. You can verify these numbers by going to Federal Reserve Financial Services. There should be nine numbers and they identify what bank issued the check.
One thing to keep in mind, if you cash a counterfeit check, you are responsible for the money drawn from that deposit. Remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
I recently received a copy of a counterfeit check from a viewer. Here’s a scan of the check:
While this check has the logo, the routing number and the check number, if you take a look at the address for the bank listed, this check breaks Rule #3. Also, did you notice the “VOID” watermark that showed up in the scanned image… sneaky, huh???
Next week the Commonwealth will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the vanity license plate. Introduced in 1981, the plates were first called CommuniPlates. Back then, Virginians were offered from two to six letters and/or numbers to express themselves. Then in 1988, the number of characters increased from six to seven. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports that today more than a million plates in Virginia are personalized. That’s 13 percent of the total plate registrations.
If you’re like me and love taking a guess when you see a vanity plate, you already know that some plates are harder than others to decipher…and for me, some are just down right difficult! What are some personalized plates you’ve seen and what did you read them as? I’m curious to see if others read it the same as you!