Scam Alert

Another day, another scam letter

February 20th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We tell you stories like this one on a regular basis, but it’s good to have a reminder every once in a while.

One day last week I took a call from a viewer who received a letter in the mail along with a check stating she won a foreign lottery. When she called she said she knew the check was fake and someone was trying to scam her. She wanted us to get the word out so other viewers wouldn’t fall for the scam. She sent me the letter and I promised her I would post it. Below I’ve scanned the letter, the check and the envelope and highlighted some of the signs that prove this is a scam

First comes the envelope: The first thing I notice about this envelope is it is postmarked in Canada.

The second thing I notice is there is no return address, so it’s not traceable (sneaky scammers!)

Next comes the prize letter: Did you notice the return address on the prize letter is from the United Kingdom? So now, you have a return address on the envelope (above) from Canada and a return address on the letter from the UK (hmmm).

Also the letter states the recipient has won a Mega Lottery in the UK. Did you recently travel to the UK and while you were there enter a lottery? Chances are NO!

The third thing I noticed is that they want you to keep your winnings confidential until your claim has been processed. WHY?!?!?!? Are they trying to keep you quiet so someone doesn’t warn you that it’s a scam and tell you to throw the letter away? (YEP!)

Finally, the check: As with the envelope and the letter above, check the address on the check. This check is written off of a bank account in FL. (So now you have a return address in Canada, one in the UK and one in FL? Okay!)

Then look at the return address: Certified Manufacturing, Inc.  A quick Google search tells me the business is a woman-owned small business in Holt, FL that is “an industry leader in electronics manufacturing and laser wire marking for the military and aerospace industries.” (http://www.certifiedmanufacturing.com) C’mon now, do you really think they have time to get involved in a Mega Lottery in the UK? (Umm, no!)

Here’s what you can do. If you receive a letter/check like this one look for the signs. Usually they are very evident and just take a few minutes to figure out. If the letter comes through the mail, you can file a complaint with the Mail Fraud Department . Also if any portion of the mailing is postmarked from Canada, you can contact Phone Busters, the Canadian anti-fraud department and file a complaint with them. Lastly, remember if it seems to good to be true… it is. Now throw the letter away and never look back!


BBB issues scam warning

December 7th, 2011 at 12:24 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) released information today about a malicious email circulating the country and warns businesses and consumers not to open the email.

The agency says the email appears to come from a Better Business Bureau employee about a recently filed complaint with the organization. The email tells the recipient that they must review the matter and advise the organization of their position on the complaint. The recipient is directed to a link which the email claims will take the reader to the BBB website, in fact the link takes the recipient to a 3rd party website. The email contains a dangerous attachment regarding the complaint itself. The agency strongly advises people to not open the email because the attachment and the link are both considered malicious and can put a virus on your computer.

The organization says the email did not originate from the BBB. It is important to note the Better Business Bureau does not send complaints as attachments via email.

Should a consumer or business owner receive the e-mail, the BBB asks that you disregard the email and report any information received to the BBB Scam Portal and then delete the e-mail. It is also suggested that if you click the link, you should immediately do a virus scan on your computer.


Tax Scam Alert

October 11th, 2011 at 3:01 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We’re hearing of a tax scam in Suffolk where victims (mainly senior citizens) are being told that they are entitled to a rebate of up to $4000. The victim is told to get the last three year’s worth of 1099 statements from Social Security. Using the statements, the scam artist prepares three years worth of tax returns for a fee, reporting false information generating a bogus refund. We’ve been told the filing fee is around $25 per tax year. In many cases, the IRS will catch mistakes and not mail the bogus refund amount. If the bogus refund is mailed and the IRS discovers the discrepancies later, the taxpayer if forced to pay the money back…interest and penalties included.   

In the meantime, the scam artist has earned the filing fee(s) and can no longer be found.

The victim is not only out of the money they’ve spent on “filing fees”, but have also become candidates for identity theft.

 Please warn your loved ones about this scam. It is so easy to become enticed by this so called easy money.


You’ve got (e-mail) spam!

July 19th, 2011 at 12:50 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

This morning a viewer sent us a copy of an e-mail they received in reference to their Cox account being disabled. The e-mail went a little something like this:

Mon 7/18/2011

4:06 PM

We are deleting all unused COX.NET email accounts to create more

space for new accounts for this year.

To prevent your account from being closed, you will have to update it

below so that we will know that it’s a present used account.

CONFIRM YOUR EMAIL IDENTITY BELOW

 Email Username:………. …..

EMAIL Password:…………….

Date of Birth:……………..

Country or Territory:……….

 Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.

Thank you for using COX.NET

According to Cox Communications website, “any email you receive that requests personal user information via email is likely to be some form of fraudulent email. Customers should never provide username and password information via email to anyone. Cox will never ask a user to verify account information via email.”

Also, the fine folks at Cox suggest a list of things to look out for and a handy lists of dos and don’ts:

Be on the look out for:

  • Email that requires you to act quickly in order to avoid some negative consequences, such as account termination.
  • Embedded links in email that take you to a site that may appear to be your service provider or bank. Examine the logo and other trademarks to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Forms on these web sites that ask for personal information
  • Spelling errors; these are typical of fake sites and are used to avoid being detected by spam filtering devices.

Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do not click on links in unsolicited emails.
  • Delete suspected fake email promptly
  • Protect your personal information at all times
  • Change your passwords frequently.

As always, don’t forget to enable your spam filters and double check your junk e-mail settings.

*Information obtained from Cox Communications corporate website.


It’s your lucky day!

July 18th, 2011 at 11:20 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

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!

Hi Dear,

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  maria.pierre@thesecuremailer.com

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.


Searching for a job online?

July 14th, 2011 at 12:09 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

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.

Share this secret shopping scam

July 12th, 2011 at 10:37 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

 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.


Hotel Scam Alert

June 28th, 2011 at 1:46 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

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.


Counterfeit checks: What you should look out for!

May 20th, 2011 at 11:56 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

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!

**Source: BBB of Southern Colorado and Sid Kirchheimer author of “Scam Proof Your Life”**

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???


Gamers hacked: What you need to know to protect yourself

April 28th, 2011 at 8:32 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

If you’re a gamer you’ve probably heard about the recent debacle at Sony Corporation. The company says its Playstation network was hacked into sometime between April 17 and April 19 forcing officials to shutdown the network while an investigation is launched. Tuesday, Sony announced more bad news saying it is possible 77 million users’ credit card accounts may have been compromised.

 In light of the recent situation, the Better Business Bureau has released steps Playstation user should take to ensure their privacy:

  •  Monitor your credit reports and credit card accounts
  • Be aware of email, telephone and postal scams that ask for personal information

 Sony lists the following statement on their blog:

“Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking.”

Please remember, U.S. residents are entitled (under U.S. law) to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228. At no charge, U.S. residents can have the credit bureaus place a “fraud alert” on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name.

Here are the names and contact information for the three major credit bureaus:

Experian: 888-397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

*Source: – Sony Playstation blog / www.bbb.org