8 more scams that tricksters use to steal from you
Welcome to this week's edition of Scamlines, the service that delivers the latest scam headlines from around the world. This week's scams underline the scammers' favorite trick -- pretending to be on the side of good versus evil.
A con that cropped up twice in the past few days seeks victims' help in supposedly catching a criminal when its real aim is to relieve them of their money. We also have two tragic tales from England that demonstrate just how painful scamming can be for its victims.
We've uncovered 8 scams -- some of them new and others variations of well-used tricks -- that could turn up in your home town tomorrow.
1. "Help us" scam # 1 -- The bank embezzler
The scam: A cunning new trick. In Bradenton, FL, a phone caller claiming to be a detective or bank examiner tells his intended victim that a teller is suspected of embezzling. The victim is asked to withdraw a large sum of money from the bank's ATM and then pass it to the teller in the bank's parking lot.
The notes supposedly are marked, so that the teller can be caught red-handed and the victim is assured his money will then be returned to his bank account. The handover takes place; neither the money nor the "teller" is ever seen again.
The solution: Never accept someone's word that they are officials or police, especially over the phone. Always make a check call to the bank, police or other organization to confirm the details. Oh, and never hand over your money to a person you don't know in a parking lot! 😉
2. "Help us" scam # 2 -- Just give us your number
The scam: In Chico, CA, a scammer pretending to be a police officer tells his victim their identity has been stolen but that the culprits have been caught. Next, the victim gets a fax or letter on a Chico Police letterhead, requesting their Social Security number, so it can be checked against the one the captured criminals allegedly have been using. The whole thing is a scam aimed at stealing the victim's real Social Security number.
The solution: This one sounds convincing but is easily foiled. If you are ever asked to provide your Social Security number, look the supposed requesting organization up in the phone book and call them to check. Also, don't give out your Social Security number unless you are absolutely positive you know who you are giving it to and that it's necessary. When it is necessary, whenever possible, ask them to tell you what they have and you'll confirm it.
3. ID thief offers ID theft insurance!
The scam: A caller tries to sell an Idaho Falls, ID, resident an insurance policy -- against identity theft! Then, of course, the scammer not only wants the victim to pay the insurance premium immediately but also requests all of the potential victim's credit card numbers, Social Security number and other personal financial details for "security purposes."
The solution: The resident didn't fall for the scam. She repeatedly asked the caller for information about the identity of the insurance company, which was not forthcoming, and the scammer hung up. Never give out personal financial details over the phone to someone you don't know, unless you initiated the call to a known organization.
4. TGTBT scam of the week
The scam: Desperate fans of country pop band Rascal Flatts in Portland, OR, scour classified ads for tickets for a sold-out concert and think they've struck lucky. An advertiser says has a few tickets which he is prepared to sell at $50 a time -- a bargain price. The tickets are fakes and the fans are turned away from the concert venue.
The solution: This is one for our TGTBT collection -- Too Good To Be True. If it sounds TGTBT then it probably is. Forged tickets for concerts and sporting events are big business. Unless you know the seller or there is some way of confirming the authenticity of tickets before you hand over your money, don't buy them. You can read more about online ticket scams like this in Snippet #2 here.
5. Poster hoaxers strike
The scam: Oregon seems to be hogging the headlines this week. In various parts of the state, scammers claim to be inspectors from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (OBLI). Visiting local businesses, they ask to see posters that are legally required to be displayed -- covering things like minimum wages. When the victim firm says it doesn't have the posters, the scammer offers to sell copies to them.
The solution: The scammers had fake IDs, which could dupe anyone. The key here is never to part with money until you've confirmed the identity of your visitor. In this case, a call to OBLI would have shown that the posters are available free of charge from BOLI.
6. Phishing on Skype
The scam: Users of the Internet phone service Skype get an email asking them to update their account and billing details by clicking a link that contains a genuine-looking Skype address. It takes victims to a "Skype" page that asks them not only to log on, with their passwords, but also to pay by credit card or PayPal for additional Skype services.
Solution: This is a "double whammy", aiming to get money and phishing the victims' personal financial details in a single hit. The visible link in the email concealed a hidden address for a phony site in China. Never click a link in an email; if you're suspicious and want to visit the site, always find the organization's real Internet address and manually key it in to check out the claims.
Read more about phishing scams here.
7. Painful scam # 1 -- A lottery record contender
The scam: We've written about lottery scams many times but the latest victim, in North East England, may be a contender for a world record after handing over his life savings of $200,000 to scammers.
The 76-year-old victim initially sends off checks for a few hundred dollars to pay for "admin charges" so he can supposedly collect his lottery winnings. When the scammers realize they have him hooked, they send demands for increasingly large amounts until they clean him out.
The solution: Never pay a penny to anyone for a lottery prize. Genuine lotteries don't work that way; they never request money.
8. Painful scam #2 -- Broke, so he broke a leg
The scam: Desperate for money, a man in Plymouth, England, hatches a plan to sue a local organization for a wall collapse he claims has injured his girlfriend. Trouble is, she wasn't injured. So he plies her with alcohol and then breaks her leg by stamping on it. Foolishly -- from his point of view -- he recorded the incident on his cell phone, which police found during an unconnected raid on his home. He's now in jail.
Scammers can be cunning, brutal or both. They'll stop at nothing to get their hands on money or personal details. But you can help defeat them by getting to know their tricks and alerting friends and family to Scambusters. The more people are in the know, the fewer successful scammers there'll be.