Scam Alert

Steer clear of those nasty Facebook scams

April 15th, 2011 at 1:57 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

You have to be a pretty savvy person to not fall for any of the scams and lately it seems these scam artists are getting smarter with their approach. Scams are everywhere we turn these days and most recently they seem to be taking over facebook pages, photo albums and through random posts on user’s walls.

According to Facebook an average of 500 million people have accounts on the popular social media website and people spend approximately 700 million minutes on facebook per month.

Mashable.com reports if you’ve clicked on a link and you find out it is a scam or spam consider yourself connected to the page and know that you’ve spammed all your friends. Here’s what you need to do. First, revoke the app’s access. In the top right corner of your Facebook profile page, click Account, then click Privacy Settings. In the bottom left corner of the next screen, click Apps and Websites. Then, you’ll see a list of the sites and apps that have access to your Facebook account. If you hover over that line you wish to remove, you’ll see a small pencil. Click the pencil, and you’ll have the option to entirely remove the app.

After removing the app, it’s time to do damage control. It’s probably a good idea to let your friends know you’ve been spammed. It might take a while to get the word out and you may see a long list on those you’ve spammed on your newsfeed. You can go ahead and delete all those.

In another case, if you believe you’ve been spammed and someone has hacked into your account. It’s best to notify your friends and change your access password.

Also, make sure you are connected to Facebook through a secure connection. You’ll know it’s a secure connection because in your address bar the address will begin with https) Be leery of apps and games that prompt you to disregard your secure connection.

As always, keep in mind, that if anything is too good to be true, it probably is.

Source: Mashable.com


Scam Alert!

April 14th, 2011 at 11:53 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

I heard of a scam going around and the way the scam was to occur sparked my interest. You see, normally the scam artist will contact you and tell you that you’ve won a lottery worth an outrageous amount of money. But in order for you to claim your prize, you need to wire some money somewhere. The scam artist will tell you how much money to wire and where to send it. They will tell you that the money you wired will be “refunded” within your winnings. You are to call them once you have wired the money so they can tell you the next step in claiming your winnings. Well, there is no next step. You’ve just wired the money to their account and have let them know that it is there. Scam complete.

Mr. David Washington, the scam artist this morning, told me that I’d won a BMW complete with one year’s prepaid insurance courtesy of Geico. But he was different because he didn’t tell me to wire money to claim my prize. He asked that I go to Walmart and purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card in the amount of $250. This was different because the Green Dot card is a prepaid, reloadable card that can be used like cash at several different retailers and for on-line purchases. I wasn’t “sending” anyone any money. At best, I would have a card loaded with $250 that I could spend almost anywhere. Now, here is the scam: Once I purchased the card, I was supposed to call Mr. David Washington back and give him the number listed on the back of the Green Dot card. Voila!! Instant cash for Mr. David Washington! Once you give the number listed on the back of the GreenDot card number out to anyone, you give access to the funds available on the card. Pretty sneaky huh?

This is from Green Dot MoneyPak’s website:

Here at Green Dot, we care about our customers and your hard-earned money, therefore, we want to remind you that the MoneyPak works just like cash. Fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to get your money. Would you give your cash or gift card to a stranger? Don’t give them your MoneyPak number either! Giving your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know or a merchant that is not an approved partner puts you at risk of losing your money. The best way to protect yourself from being a fraud victim is to be aware of scams. Guard your MoneyPak Number like cash! Transactions cannot be reversed, so only give the number to approved MoneyPak partners. Green Dot is not responsible for the quality or non-receipt of any goods or services.

10 is On Your Side with the following advice to guard against scams:

- Remember if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

- Never wire or send money to secure winnings. 

- Never allow yourself to be rushed into a decision.  Scammers often try to rush decisions by limiting the offer time.  Always try to sleep on decisions or ask a friend about it.

- Always get agreements in writing

- If it seems suspicious, it probably is.  Notify the police.

Remember, EVERYONE IS A TARGET and you just have to be smarter than the scammer.

If you feel that you have fallen victim to a scam, 10 On Your Side recommends you immediately contact your local law enforcement and file a claim, file a complaint with The Better Business Bureau (BBB), and finally, spread the word about the scam.


You’ve been warned! 2011 Tax Scams

April 11th, 2011 at 1:48 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

The IRS has released what they are calling 2011′s Dirty Dozen tax scams. A spokesperson for the IRS warns these scams may look tempting, but they will end up hurting people who fall for them. In many cases taxpayers must repay all taxes due, plus interest and penalties. In the end, the IRS may be the only ones “making a buck” if you fall for these scams. Here’s the complete list of this year’s tax scams to watch out for:

Hiding Income Offshore

The IRS aggressively pursues taxpayers involved in abusive offshore transactions as well as the promoters, professionals and others who facilitate or enable these schemes. Taxpayers have tried to avoid or evade U.S. income tax by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or through the use of nominee entities. Taxpayers also evade taxes by using offshore debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or insurance plans.

 Identity Theft and Phishing

Identity theft occurs when someone uses an unsuspecting individual’s name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without permission to commit fraud or other crimes. And when it comes to taxes, a criminal with someone else’s personal information can file a fraudulent tax return and collect a refund.

Phishing is one tactic used by scam artists to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal or financial information online. Phishing involves the use of phony e-mail or websites — even social media. A scammer may pose as an institution such as the IRS. IRS impersonation schemes flourish during tax season. Spyware, which can be loaded onto an unsuspecting taxpayer’s computer by opening an e-mail attachment or clicking on a link, is another tool identity thieves use to steal personal information.

 Return Preparer Fraud

While most return preparers are professionals who provide honest and excellent service to their clients, some make basic errors or engage in fraud and other illegal activities.

Dishonest return preparers can cause big trouble for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. These fraudsters derive benefit by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds, charging inflated fees for return preparation services and attracting new clients by making false promises. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Federal courts have issued hundreds of injunctions ordering individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has pending complaints against dozens of others.

 Filing False or Misleading Forms

Phony information returns, such as a Form 1099 Original Issue Discount (OID), which claims false withholding credits, are usually used to legitimize erroneous refund claims. One version of the scheme is based on the bogus theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for its citizens and that taxpayers can gain access to funds in those accounts by issuing 1099-OID forms to their creditors, including the IRS.

 Frivolous Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage people to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law or IRS guidance.

 Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions

Abuse includes arrangements to improperly shield income or assets from taxation and attempts by donors to maintain control over donated assets or income from donated property. The IRS also continues to investigate various schemes involving the donation of non-cash assets including situations where several organizations claim the full value for both the receipt and distribution of the same non-cash contribution. Often these donations are highly overvalued or the organization receiving the donation promises that the donor can repurchase the items later at a price set by the donor.

 Abusive Retirement Plans

The IRS is looking for transactions that taxpayers use to avoid the limits on contributions to IRAs, as well as transactions that are not properly reported as early distributions. Taxpayers should be wary of advisers who encourage them to shift appreciated assets at less than fair market value into IRAs or companies owned by their IRAs to circumvent annual contribution limits.

Disguised Corporate Ownership

Corporations and other entities are formed and operated in certain states for the purpose of disguising the ownership of the business or financial activity by means such as improperly using a third party to request an employer identification number.

 Zero Wages

Filing a phony wage-or-income-related informational return to replace a legitimate information return has been used as an illegal method to lower the amount of taxes owed. Taxpayers should resist any temptation to participate in any of the variations of this scheme. Filings of this type of return may result in a $5,000 penalty.

 Misuse of Trusts

Some highly questionable transactions promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the tax benefits promised and are used primarily as a means to avoid income tax liability and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

 Fuel Tax Credit Scams

Some taxpayers, such as farmers who use fuel for off-highway business purposes, may be eligible for the fuel tax credit. But other individuals are claiming the tax credit for nontaxable uses of fuel when their occupations or income levels make the claim unreasonable. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is considered a frivolous tax claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

 How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity

Suspected tax fraud can be reported to the IRS using Form 3949-A, Information Referral. The completed form or a letter detailing the alleged fraudulent activity should be addressed to the Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. The mailing should include specific information about who is being reported, the activity being reported, how the activity became known, when the alleged violation took place, the amount of money involved and any other information that might be helpful in an investigation. The identity of the person filing the report can be kept confidential.

Whistleblowers also may provide allegations of fraud to the IRS and may be eligible for a reward by filing Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information, and following the procedures outlined in Notice 2008-4, Claims Submitted to the IRS Whistleblower Office under Section 7623.


North Carolina lottery players beware…

March 7th, 2011 at 5:05 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We received  a news release today from the North Carolina Attorney General about a scam e-mail circulating that claims to be from the “Winning Notification Team” at the NC Lottery. The e-mail says there is a prize of $200,000 and all you have to do to claim the money is contact a claims agent and provide some personal information.

The Attorney General’s office warns there is no “Winning Notification Team” at the NC Education Lottery and the real lottery will never notify winners by e-mails or ask for personal information in exchange for the prize.

If you are in the State of North Carolina and spot a sweepstakes or lottery scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov. You can also get tips on lotteries and sweepstakes, and learn more ways to keep your money and information safe. Also, don’t forget to contact 10 On Your Side to make us aware of the scam.

 


Post Flood: Contractor Scam

November 18th, 2009 at 11:03 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

Below is an email that I received from the Board of Contractors in Richmond :   Important information I wanted to pass as many are in the clean-up process and may being hiring a contractor.

Check out more information on post storm scams on wavy.com

Nor’easter Damage Raises Risk of Fraud

Board for Contractors Warns Consumers: Beware of Unlicensed Contractors

Richmond – The need for repairs following flooding and high winds can make consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous contractors and repairmen who may exploit the situation. In response to property damage from the recent Nor’easter, the Virginia Board for Contractors cautions the public to be wary of unlicensed contractors and home repair scam artists after the storm.

        “After severe weather, homeowners trying to make repairs can be vulnerable to con artists,” warns agency spokesperson Mary Broz-Vaughan. “Consumers can protect themselves by checking for a valid contractor’s license and insisting on a detailed written contract.”

        Virginia law requires a state license – not just a local business license – for most contracting work or bids over $1,000. Consumers have very little recourse against unlicensed contractors. The Board for Contractors offers a free consumer guide,  What You Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor, available for download at www.dpor.virginia.gov.

Before hiring a contractor, consumers should observe the following “Top Ten Tips:”

  •  
    1. Hire only licensed contractors.
    2. Check for a valid contractor license at www.dpor.virginia.gov or (804) 367-8511.
    3. Get three references and review past work.
    4. Get at least three bids.
    5. Insist on a written contract and do not sign anything until you understand the terms.
    6. Pay 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever amount is less.
    7. Do not let payments get ahead of the work. Keep records of all payments.
    8. Do not make final payment until you are satisfied with the job.
    9. Do not pay cash.
    10. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project (change orders, warranties, etc.).

SCAM SIGNALS:

  •  
    •  
      • High-pressure or scare tactics (“offer good today only”)
      • Over-friendly sales pitches
      • “Material left-over”
      • Escalating prices              
      • Deals that sound too good to be true 

###

 

 


Helpful tips on how to prevent scams from the VBPD!

July 2nd, 2009 at 3:34 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

According to a recent report from FOX NEWS, there are nine very prevelant scams targeting unsuspecting victims. Here are a list of scams that you should watch out for:

1. Asian Invasion: The “Asian Extortion Scam” targets business owners, mostly of Asian decent, with death threats and other violence. Scammers pluck personal information about their targets from online searches and use the sensitive data to make victims feel vulnerable. The extortionists, who appear to be calling from outside the U.S., generally demand between $10,000 and $30,000 — though the FBI says there have been no reports of actual violence stemming from the schemes.

2. Mystery Shopping Scam: Some companies pay “mystery shoppers” to act as sample customers and test out the service at stores, banks and restaurants. But scammers are now targeting stay-at-home moms with “opportunities” to be defrauded of thousands of dollars. Victims receive a letter in the mail from a company offering about $400 for shopping at a few stores, along with a check for thousands of dollars to fund the purchases. The victim deposits the check into their back account, stops by a few stores and is then asked to wire about $2,000 back to the company. But when the original check bounces, victims are out the $2,000 they wired back — plus all the money they spent to go shopping.

3. Hit Man Scam: In the Hit Man e-mail scheme, scammers send letters claiming that the boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse of the recipient has arranged for their death. “It would say something like, ‘Your boyfriend paid $30,000 to have you killed, but if you pay me $15,000 it won’t happen,’” Kolko told FOXNews.com. Another version says a loved one will be kidnapped unless an advance ransom is paid out immediately, naming specific relatives (information found courtesy of — you guessed it — more online searches). Kolko said some recipients feel anxious when the sender names their loved ones, which can make them more apt to believe the threat is authentic.

4. Million Dollar Scam: If you’re offered a shot on the “Oprah Millionaire Contest Show,” you’re not going to be the lucky winner of $1 million — you’re the target of a new scam. In order to participate, recipients of the scam e-mail must first send their contact information and are required to buy airfare and a ticket to the show in advance. Victims are later asked to fill out questionnaires seeking detailed personal information, which can put them at risk for identity theft. Other scammers have been mailing counterfeit checks with a letter that claims recipients they have won the “Oprah Show Summer Sweepstakes” — a contest that ended in 2006.

5. Grandparents Scam: “Hi grandma, it’s your favorite grandson,” says a scammer on the line. “Tommy, is that you?” “Yes, grandma, it’s Tommy. Listen, my wallet was just stolen and I’ve lost all of my money. Do you think you could send me some to make it through the end of the month?” Unsuspecting victims, momentarily confused or suffering from hearing loss, go along with the story and wire money out — up to $15,000 in the case of one giving grandmother who thought she was sending $15,000 to help cover an auto accident, according to the Better Business Bureau.

6. Military Wheels: People posing as U.S. troops have been posting to classifieds Web sites offering cars on the cheap that they have to sell quickly before being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. The scams typically claim there is a third-party protection program to ensure a safe transaction, but when payments are sent to the “secure” service, victims either don’t receive the car, or get stolen vehicles or ones with a salvaged title.

7. Jury Scam: Victims of the Jury Scam get an e-mail containing a fake subpoena ordering recipients to testify before a grand jury, complete with seemingly genuine details like your name, a case number and court seal. But the e-mails contain malware that can ruin a computer. Another version of the scam involves a phone call in which the caller claims to be a jury coordinator and intimidates victims into revealing personal information. Once the caller gets a victim’s Social Security Number and birth date, it’s all over.

8. Border Bust: Spam claiming to be from a former assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says a foreign diplomat has been stopped with a consignment of thousands or even millions of dollars, which was found to be an inheritance for the recipient. Victims who get drawn in receive more e-mails claiming it is a crime to carry the consignment into the U.S., and demands personal information and a $250 fee to prove the recipient was not involved in a terrorist act. If they fail to do so, the spammers tell their victims they are proving they intended to smuggle the money into the U.S., which is a federal offense. Victims never receive a dime but will continue to get e-mails demanding more money for fees in connection with getting their “inheritance.”

9. FBI Scams: The FBI says there have been “tons of complaints” about e-mails from people claiming to be FBI agents. Some appear to be from the Internet Crime Complaint Center and say the recipient has extorted money and must refund the money or face prosecution. Others, from the non-existent Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division, inform recipients that they are the beneficiary of millions in inheritance. To claim the money, recipients must supply their full name, address and bank account number. Scammers even incorporate the names of top FBI executives into their e-mails by reading authentic FBI press releases, lending an air of credibility.

After seeing this recent report from FOX NEWS, Virginia Beach Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit sent us a few tips on the best way to prevent these scams:

* Remember if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

* Always verify information and opportunities.

* Never wire or send money to secure winnings. 

* Never allow yourself to be rushed into a decision.  Scammers often try to rush decisions by limiting the offer time.  Always try to sleep on decisions or ask a friend about it.

* Always get agreements in writing.

* Only deal with reputable companies. 

* Verify people collecting money for charities.

* Never pay cash.  Get a receipt.

* If it seems suspicious, it probably is.  Notify the police.

* Be careful when dealing over the internet, especially when the person is located in another country.  It is best to make payments in person while you take receipt of the item you are purchasing.

Remember, EVERYONE IS A TARGET and you just have to be smarter than the scammer. If you have any questions regarding something that you believe is a scam, please don’t hesitate contact us here at 10 On Your Side or your local police department.

Jamie Shackelford – jamie.shackelford@wavy.com

10 On Your Side Producer


Perfect example of an e-mail you should delete!

June 25th, 2009 at 3:08 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We get phone calls all the time about scams that people receive through the mail, e-mail, telephone, etc. I received this e-mail today and wanted to share it with our viewers. This is a prime example of an e-mail that you should delete!!!

Hello,
Sorry I didn’t inform you about my travel to UK for a Program, am presently in London. I am stranded here because the hotel where i lodged was burgled and i was affected. I would like you to assist me urgently with a soft loan of $1900 to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home. I would appreciate whatever you can afford.May God bless you.

 Here is my information:
Name/ Dick Rose
 Address: 2-24 Kensington High St
Zip code: W8 4PT
State: London
Country: England
 
Please email me the Western Union Money Transfer details as soon as you send the money. I will pay you back as soon as i am back . I wait to read from you soon.

Regards,
Dick Rose

If you have received a letter/e-mail and you think it might be a scam, but aren’t sure, feel free to call us here at 10 On Your Side and we’ll help you figure it out.

Jamie Shackelford

10 On Your Side Producer

jamie.shackelford@wavy.com


10 On Your Side: Credit Card scam warning!

June 17th, 2009 at 4:43 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

After receiving my 3rd e-mail of the day on the same topic, and receiving the phone call myself, I decided I should write a blog about the newest scam that is hitting the telephone lines…

In many cases the number is coming up on the Caller ID as an unknown number. When you answer the phone, there is an automated recording that says that your credit card account has been compromised and that you need to enter your card number, expiration date, etc. in order to reactivate your account. Luckily, all of the people that have contacted me have been smart and have entered either all 0′s (zeros) or all 1′s (ones) when the recording asks for their card number. Once they enter the number, the system congratulates them for successfully reactivating their card.

Thankfully most people know that this is a scam, however, I’m writing this for all of those people who may not realize that it’s a scam. PLEASE BE WARNED AND PLEASE DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. This is all a ploy to gain access to your credit card number.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this scam or any others. I can be reached at jamie.shackelford@wavy.com


Swine Flu Probably Won’t Kill You But…

May 5th, 2009 at 11:54 am by under Health, Scam Alert

Worries over swine flu and swine flu scams may be more hazardous to your health than the actual virus.

When you work yourself into a panic about something and get all stressed out its not good for your immune system.  That can actually put you at greater risk for swine flu and any other virus floating around out there.  So my advice is “chill out”.

Remember what doctors have said about prevention.  Good hand washing is your best protection.

Also, know the symptoms : congestion, cough, fever, muscle aches and being really tired  (regular flu symptoms).  If you experience them call your doctor.  There are medications (antivirals) that can help lessen the symptoms and duration of the flu.

Next, beware of scammers.  Wouldn’t you know it people are trying to take advantage of others fears over swine flu too.    If a message pops in your inbox just delete it.

Most of these emails will direct you to an online pharmacy.   You should know there is no swine flu vaccination so don’t buy one.   You also don’t want to buy the antivirals (Tamiflu and Relenza) because  Doctors say you’re only protected while taking them – so how do you know when to stop?   if you take them too much they’ll lose their effectiveness.     Viruses get smart, change and can morph so  the medicine won’t work at all  (that’s the same reason docs have stopped prescribing so many antibiotics).

Oh, and one other thing when you buy online without a proper prescription from an unknown company you never know what you’re gonna get.  How can you be sure what you’re taking?

Remember the regular seasonal flu kills more than 36,000 a year. Keep it in perspective and you’ll feel a lot better.


New twist on the Nigerian Letter Scam

April 29th, 2009 at 4:59 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

IC3 or the Internet Crime Complaint Center, is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This week, the IC3 released a statement regarding a new twist on a well-known Nigerian letter scam. We all know those letters, the ones we receive in our inboxes from a stranger who tells you that you are the closest next of kin to some foreign diplomat from Nigeria and that you are entitled to oddles and oddles of money! Hopefully by now, all of you know that you should delete those and if you don’t know that, hopefully you will now.

So according to the IC3, here’s what’s happening: The scam artists are using online guest books from obituary websites to identify and locate their targets. Basically they use the last name of the person who signed the guest book as the surname for their “client”.  Just as in the letters, the fraudster says that they are trying to locate the next of kin for the “client” who has been deceased for years. The would-be victim is then asked to transfer a large sum of money in exchange for a percentage of the “client’s” will.

To ensure that you don’t fall victim to one of these scams, please remember to always delete unsolicited e-mail and never respond to emails or letters that mention foreign or overseas accounts. If you happen to receive one of these e-mails, please file a complaint with IC3 at www.ic3.gov and as always, if there’s something 10 On Your Side can help you with, please contact me at jamie.shackelford@wavy.com

Jamie Shackelford

10 On Your Side Producer