Last week, a customer in Long Beach, New York, discovered a skimmer attached to the outside of a local ATM branch instead of on specific machines. We’ve talked a lot about being wary of any suspicious add-ons at the ATM, but in this case the criminals were collecting card info as people swiped to enter the building—although they still had pinhole cameras set up to record PINs next to each keypad.
Yesterday, as part of “Operation Loan Lies,” the FTC and 19 states filed 189 lawsuits, cease-and-desist orders, and other legal actions to shut down loan modification consultants who prey on desperate homeowners. The scammers offer to help solve foreclosure problems for a hefty fee; instead, they fail to modify the loan at all while collecting payments for their services, sometimes even encouraging homeowners to stop communicating with their lenders completely or to send payments to the consultants instead of the bank.
The Census is starting up again, and the Better Business Bureau wants to remind people to use reason and caution when answering the door. You’re required by law to answer Census questions, but scammers may pose as legit Census workers and take advantage of the situation. “Law enforcement in several states have issued warnings that scammers are already posing as Census Bureau employees and knocking on doors asking for donations and Social Security numbers.” Here’s how to identify a real U.S. Census worker.
When some lowlife tried to scam Andy the other day through his friend’s hijacked Gmail account, Andy tried to get him to use PayPal, and he came up with a great reason why. “It’s the fastest way to send money,” Andy told the scammer. “Once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any color printer and it’s real money!” Another reader was so amused by it that she decided to use it on her own Facebook scammer earlier today.
Freddie writes that his friend was tricked by a phishing email. All the warning signs were there to tip off his friend—an email saying he needed to click a link, a suspicious url, a page asking for his login info—but he clicked and entered the info anyway. Please do not be like Freddie’s friend, who is now probably on the phone with the real Wells Fargo trying to get his account number changed.
Our favorite congressman, Mike Doyle (D-PA), is also fed up with the robocalls telling him his car warranty is about to expire. For those keeping track, that’s two elected officials that these robocalllers have illegally called recently. If the internet doesn’t take them out first, hopefully our public servants will. Thanks, Kenneth!
Lock your doors, Queens residents! IDT zombies are on the prowl in your borough, and if they catch you they’ll try to eat your ConEd account and replace it with their more expensive offer. Jeff says there’s one outside his building right now, trying to buzz its way in.
Here we go again, scammers are using the recent headlines about the stimulus package to take advantage of people looking for a handout. Emails promising to help you qualify for a chunk of the new spending program in exchange for a small fee or some personal information are popping up in inboxes, according to the FTC.
37-year-old Nigerian scammer Paul Gabriel Amos convinced Citibank officials to wire him $27 million belonging to Ethiopia. Rather than go with the usual Nigerian nom de plumes like prince or will executor, Famous Amos pretended to be an official with the National Bank of Ethiopia. Amos forged “official-looking” documents that confirmed his status with the central bank and instructed Citibank to await faxes telling them where to send the country’s cash.
Idolina was targeted this morning by a U.S. National Bank scammer. As he was prattling on with his heavily-accented seesaw of threats and incentives, she Googled the bank. (And no, we’re not anti-anyone, but there’s something funny about a supposed U.S. National Bank and/or government representative who sounds like he’s currently calling you from a foreign country.) The third search result was our interview last October with Laurie Lucas, who faced a similar scam. Idolina writes, “I was reading it while I was on the phone with him.”
The BBB has given us a heads up about a new scam that targets holiday shoppers — pop-up internet electronics stores that only accept payments via wire transfer.
This is the time of year when scammers try to weasel nice people out of their cash by pretending to represent a charity. Don’t fall for it! When considering giving to a charity, take some time to do a little research. Here are few websites that will help you find a legit charity that will use your money for good — rather than evil. Or iPods.
Jennifer says National City Bank has contacted her fiance to inform him that the stop payment order he placed on a check is about to expire, and he’ll have to pay another $32 fee to renew it for six more months. She writes, “Have you heard of stop payment now only being ‘suspend payment for six months’? This seems to me to be extortion.” We’re going to come down on the side of the banks in this case—but because of the recurring nature of the fee, it might just be cheaper to close the account.
In the course of searching for a new place to live in Minneapolis, I found a great condo right in the area I was looking for, renting for $900/mo for a 1 bedroom which included electricity, gas, water, sewer, garbage, cable, and high speed internet! Sound too good to be true? You bet…it was a scam.
Last week, “This American Life” featured a 30-minute piece on people who scam the scammers—in this case, three guys who prey upon small-time Nigerian con men and try to trick them into placing themselves in mortal danger. “This American Life” tells how they almost got a guy to enter a Western Union office in Chad carrying an anti-Muslim/pro-Bush note that announces his intention to rob the place. Whether you think these stunts are funny probably depends on your level of empathy even for criminals, and whether you think the avengers ever fully succeed. But c’mon, getting someone in another country to hold up a sign that’s offensive in your language is pretty much always funny.