Scams from tricksters who find different ways of gaining your trust
Today we begin with a really low scam from people whose homes are in foreclosure. We also have a couple new variations of long-practiced scams and news of how a group of would-be money savers were tricked into paying a fortune for groceries and a supposedly free refrigerator.
Plus, we've the story of the Florida snake-charmers who spray their "snowbird" victims then rob them.
1. Renters evicted from foreclosed homes
The scam: In California, most recently in San Leandro, house owners with nothing to lose -- they're facing foreclosure -- rent out their homes but pocket the rental payments.
The tenant only finds out either when power supplies are cut by the utility companies or the sheriff arrives to evict them. By then, the owner is nowhere to be found.
This is just one of several types of foreclosure-related scams. Read more here.
The solution: We have tons of sympathy for people whose homes are being foreclosed but not for those who play dirty tricks like this, no matter how desperate they are.
If you're renting a home, you can check foreclosure lists online. Most listing companies offer an initial free period of access. Or you can get a realtor to check it for you.
2. Firms asked to bail out "arrested" employees
The scam: In Bay County, FL, scammers posing either as law enforcement officers or bail bondsmen, call local businesses claiming an employee has been arrested.
The firms are asked to post bail that needs to be wired as cash -- but of course the story is totally untrue.
The solution: There are lots of scams like this -- the recent spate of so-called grandparent scams for instance, where a person gets a call from a supposed grandchild saying he or she is in trouble and needs money urgently.
Claims like these should always be verified independently with local law enforcement.
3. ...but this repayment is the real thing
The scam: Unlike the case above, scam victims in Omaha, NE, learn they may get some or all of their money back from a food company that ripped them off.
They signed up for a grocery delivery contract that promised them cut prices and a free refrigerator but they ended up paying high prices for both the food and fridge -- in the latter case $4,000 for a $750 appliance.
A court orders the firm to repay the money, fines them and bans them from running this type of business.
The solution: The obligation to buy the fridge and pay whatever the company charged for groceries was in the small print. They got away with people not reading before signing for 7 years, before getting caught. Enough said.
6. Let us spray: snake catchers turn venomous
The scam: In Pasadena, FL, scammers pose as snake-catchers, offering to check out the homes of elderly residents. They use a spray supposedly to get rid of snakes but "accidentally" spray the victim.
While one of them helps him or her clean up, the other cleans out the owner's valuables.
The solution: Police say snake- and pest-control scammers particularly prey on "snowbirds" visiting Florida for the winter and who are unfamiliar with their tricks. Don't let people into your home without independently checking them out.
Ask for a phone number and a license/bonding registration number. That should be enough to scare off crooks. If it doesn't, tell them to come back when you've checked them out.
You've got to hand it to them, some of these scammers are clever, original thinkers. They know what it takes to win your trust. But we know what they're up to. And as soon as we do -- we let you know!