Tag Archives: scams

‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

Hackers might not take a break from trying to find ways to steal your information and money, but it turns out they do follow seasonal trends. According to a report by Kaspersky Lab, in October, phishing attempts on social networks were down 10%, and they saw an increase in attacks on financial institutions or banks and on online shops. They say that’s an expected trend through the holiday season, based on data from last year.

Summer time bring attacks on kids

During the summer months and holidays, hackers target kids who are out of school and likely don’t know better than to click bad links on social networks. Kids are also more likely to over share private information online, making them a prime target for scammers. Most of the younger generation hasn’t yet learned to be skeptical of deals that are too good, and that can get them into serious trouble. Once school starts again, the phishing attempts via email slow down, while the hackers move toward more promising targets.

Holiday shopping online makes a tempting target for hackers

When the holiday season rolls around, Continue reading ‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

People make more online purchases than usual during the holiday season, giving scammers increased opportunities to steal their money and information. Here are some of the sneakiest holiday scams that we’ve heard about and how to avoid them:

1.) Phony Gift Cards

If you want to buy gift cards for friends or family, the safest way to do it is to purchase them in-store. Scammers will sell them online from legitimate-looking websites or third-party sites at “discounts” or with special promotions. After you buy them, they’ll cancel the card and keep your money.

2.) Fake Public WiFi

While doing your holiday traveling, you may use free public WiFi connections to browse the web. But scammers can set up a fake WiFi connection that closely resembles a free public connection. To avoid having important information stolen, never make sensitive transactions when you’re using public WiFi.

3.) Name-a-Star Offer Continue reading 5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Tips for avoiding Sandy scams by so-called repairman and contractors

Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars worth of damage. If you’re one of the unfortunate homeowners to be affected, you need to be careful when looking for someone to rebuild or repair your home. There are a lot of corrupt contractors looking to make a quick buck by scamming those affected by the hurricane. This can make a bad situation even worse. Let’s take a closer look at what to look out for when hiring a contractor and how to find the best contractor for the job.

What to Look Out For

First of all, you want to make sure a contractor is licensed and has experience. This doesn’t guarantee that the contractor won’t rip you off, but it will give scammers pause when you ask to see credentials. You also want to watch out for contractors that ask for a complete upfront payment. A legitimate contractor will not do this. You may be asked to pay 10-25% of the total up front, but never 100-percent. Scammers are also very likely to point out damage that needs immediate attention. Don’t let this fool you. The contractor is only trying to get your money. Always get more than several opinions when getting work done. You should also be wary of contractors offering prices well below other estimates you’ve received. Remember, if it sounds too good be to be true, it probably is. Last, but not least, understand how long projects will take and how much they will cost. If a contractor says he can replace the roof in less than one day for $500, run! (And we don’t mean straight into the contractors arms)

What to Look for in a Contractor

Chances are the contractors in your area are in high-demand, especially if the damage in your area was severe. This means you may have to wait up to a week or longer to get estimates, but you should get several before moving forward. A good contractor will be able to look at your home and give you a list of work that needs to be done along with a price rundown and a final estimate. A good contractor should also be able to provide a good list of references. However, you need to do more research to find out if you’re making the best decision. Ask for referrals from friends and family who have had work done in the past and search websites that review local contractors.

The damage from a hurricane can be devastating. Unfortunately, scammers can make the experience much worse. If you’ve experienced damage to your home, make sure you make an informed decision before hiring a contractor.

FBI Warns Of Superstorm Sandy Donation Scams

Father saves son from Hurricane Sandy.Hurricane Sandy absolutely ravaged the east coast, but there are scammers out there that are hoping to ravage your bank account. While donating to the cleanup and recovery efforts is certainly a good thing, the government is warning people to watch out for scams. If you want to help the recovery efforts, there are legitimate ways to do so.  Find out how to avoid Sandy-related scams and how you can help Sandy victims without getting caught in a “storm” of theft, fraud and hoaxes.

What to Watch Out For

There are a number of scams being sent through email. If you receive an unsolicited email asking for donations to help the victim of hurricane Sandy, there’s a good chance it isn’t real. These emails have been arriving from people claiming to be victims and even from those claiming to be elected officials. Scammers are also using social networking sites to lure in those that want to help those in need. If you live close to an affected area, you may even be approached on the street or at your home. Be wary of those asking for cash donations and never give out personal or financial information.

How to Help Continue reading FBI Warns Of Superstorm Sandy Donation Scams

Investigator Alert: Microsoft email and telephone hoaxes resurface

It’s an “oldie” but apparently it is still a “goody” as the Microsoft technical support hoax resurfaces in an effort to trick Microsoft customers into releasing private, personal and credit card information.

There are several different methods used to gain your trust and your information.  But all of them are fakes and frauds.   Here are a few that Microsoft wants to make sure that their customers know about:

  1. Microsoft does not call customers to fix your computer.
  2. You have not won a Microsoft lottery.
  3. Credit card information is not required to verify your Microsoft account.
  4. Unsolicited email messages containing so called security updates do not come from Microsoft.
Official notifications regarding your security can be found on the Microsoft website.  But that’s not all.  There are currently 14 different updates planned to occur this week, several which are labeled “critical.”  These updates are designed to patch “holes” in the security of popular programs like Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer.  Internet Explorer will soon be updated every month instead of every other month. Security professionals seem to like this idea, “It looks like IE will be the story every month now,” said Storms, who noted there seems to be no shortage of IE vulnerabilities. “I don’t think they’re proving a point, that they’re patching just because they said they can every month, but because they have to.”
IT professionals will be happy to hear of patches to Exchange and SQL Server, “Those are two of the three things that are most important to IT in enterprises,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. “Thank goodness SharePoint’s not included. But Microsoft is hitting two out of three in just one month.”
If all else fails when it comes to fighting hackers, Microsoft may take the “if you can’t beat them hire them” attitude that they have had in the past.  After all if they are good enough to get into the system, then they are good enough to protect it.
Have you encountered any of these types of scams here is where Microsoft would  like for you to report it.

 

The Real Deal: PayPal Phishing Scam

Do you ever check you “spam” mail box before deleting it?   I do, if nothing else it’s good for a laugh as I am promised long lasting sexual experiences and beautiful brides from Russia, not to mention the millions of dollars I’ll receive just for helping some poor soul out with a money laundering scheme where there really is no money to be laundered.   I also find some things that never should have made their way in there, so it’s nice to know there is a place where I can check in and judge for myself.

Yesterday I found a message which appeared to be from PayPal.  And, wow it was GOOD!  This was quite possibly the most well done phishing scam message I have ever gotten.   It includes the images from PayPal, the mailing address, the correct grammar and punctuation and even the correct domain name.  It warned me of an impending problem with my account and that I needed to log in to resolve it, while providing a helpful link to use.

I didn’t panic, but I did wonder.   First, why DID this go to my Spam mailbox?  Other PayPal notices came to this email address and I receive them.   Did the email service detect something that I didn’t?  Next, I realized that, I never receive official PayPal notices at this email account. It’s a secondary one set up for things like ebay purchases and sales.  While I may receive notice of a payment, I never receive official statements about my account. Those all go to my primary email address.

I thought, what’s one more day. If there is something wrong with the account, I can fix it tomorrow.  But in the meantime I’m going to report this to PayPal and tell them why.  I sent the message to spoof@paypal.com (I have the address saved in my address book but you can also get questions answered online).

Today here’s my response:

Hello xxxx xxxxx,

Thanks for forwarding that suspicious-looking email. You’re right – it
was a phishing attempt, and we’re working on stopping the fraud. By
reporting the problem, you’ve made a difference!

Identity thieves try to trick you into revealing your password or other
personal information through phishing emails and fake websites. To learn
more about online safety, click “Security Center” on any PayPal webpage.

Every email counts. When you forward suspicious-looking emails to
spoof@paypal.com, you help keep yourself and others safe from identity
theft.

Your account security is very important to us, so we appreciate your
extra effort.

Thanks,

PayPal

This email is sent to you by the contracting entity to your User
Agreement, either PayPal Ince, PayPal Pte. Ltd or PayPal (Europe) S.à
r.l. & Cie, S.C.A. Société en Commandite par Actions, Registered Office:
5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg RCS Luxembourg B 118
349.

So if it looks suspicious it probably is.  It doesn’t hurt to think about your emails before you click that link, open that image or pass it along.   I caught it this time.  Hopefully by being aware of what’s out there I will catch any attempts at a phishing scam again.

FBI releases “The State of Financial Crimes” report

The FBI has recently released its “State of Financial Crimes” report in which the FBI focuses on advising the public about the status of financial crimes investigations on corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, health care fraud, financial institution fraud, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, mass marketing fraud, and money laundering.

You can download the report in full or view it online here.

Key sections of the report include the following: Continue reading FBI releases “The State of Financial Crimes” report

No, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving Facebook users a free iPhone and iPad

Let’s talk about the importance of a Spam mail box in your email.  Today I’m doing my weekly spam check, before I empty my spam mail folder and I find this wonderfully, well written email from WoW! the CEO of Facebook!  Did I really get an email from him?  No, but at first glance it’s actually a pretty good spam copy.

But let’s talk about how you can know it’s a fake.  First I hovered over the email name which said Mark Zuckerberg. But by hovering over it I found an email account that was XXXX@hotmail.com.  I’m sure that account has already been closed, but I’m definitely not letting them know they found someone by replying.

Next, this email actually is pretty well written, without many of the common “tells” that let you know it is a fake message, like small errors in spelling, syntax or punctuation.   But if you look closely you will see many errors, they just aren’t glaringly obvious. I’ve highlighted them for you.

Lastly, the email address that this message came to isn’t associated with my Facebook account, so how would they have gotten it and why not use my name if it’s a personalized invitation to claim my prize?

The hope is that you will see some keywords like Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, iPad and iPhone, that will really get your attention and Continue reading No, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving Facebook users a free iPhone and iPad

Age does matter: Largest Medicare fraud case goes ‘easy’ on elderly

Approximately 18 months ago one of the biggest Medicare instances of medicare fraud was uncovered and over 94 people were arrested in Miami, Houston, Baton Rouge, Brooklyn and Detroit.  A grand total of $251 million was stolen from the medicare system in a series of incidents that included not completing medical testing or diagnostics that were billed,  home health care,  making false claims for treatment, medical equipment, physical therapy,  and other “goods and services” there were either never provided or were unnecessary.

(Talk about above and beyond reasonable and necessary charges).

Those arrested included senior citizens, doctors, and other medical care professionals.   Senior patiencts were offered a “kick back” of  $50-$100 for their assistance in this scheme where “suspects in Miami alone are accused of submitting $103 million in false claims, the Miami Herald reports. “This is like a game of whack a mole,” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told the paper. “The numbers are off the charts.”

How did the other cities and suspects “add” up?

According to ABC News:

  • In Baton Rouge, 31 defendants were charged for various schemes allegedly involving fraudulent claims for durable medical goods (such as wheelchairs) totaling approximately $32 million.
  • In Brooklyn, 22 defendants were charged for their alleged participation in schemes to submit fraudulent claims totaling approximately $78 million.
  • In Detroit, 11 defendants were charged for their alleged roles in schemes to submit $35 million.
  • In Houston, four defendants were also charged for their alleged roles in a $3 million

According to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services these

“arrests are a powerful warning to those who would try to defraud taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius.  “These arrests illustrate close cooperation between the Medicare program that identified these fraudsters and the law enforcement officials who acted swiftly to cut them off.  And our efforts to stop criminals don’t end here because the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to prevent Medicare fraud before it is committed – better protecting seniors and the integrity of the Medicare program for generations to come.”

However, it seems that some defendant’s may be getting off “easy” as a deal is reached in the Brooklyn cases.  The New York Daily News reports, that 6 of the accused have reached a “deal.”  According the the Daily News “the indictment will be dismissed in 18 months if the defendants agree not to accept any more Medicare kickbacks and pay unspecified restitution. They do not have to admit wrongdoing before a judge.”

One defendant, at 76 years old passes away last summer due to natural causes.

This agreement is reached after one defendant appeared in the courtroom pushing a walked, and another at 84 years old didn’t appear because she couldn’t get a ride to the court.

Defense attorney John Kaley says. “We appreciate what we think is the government’s fair assessment of the case and it’s a just resolution.”

What do you think?  Should age and health issues be taken into consideration in a criminal trial?  Or should each of the defendants have to either plead guilty as three clinic operators (in the Brooklyn cases) or gone to trial, as two doctors in the Brooklyn case did?

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Sources:

US Department of Health and Human Services 

CBS News 

PBS 

ABC News 

 

 

 

 

Don’t let ‘Season’s Greetings’ become ‘Season’s Stealings’

Tis the season to be jolly, but your holiday joy may not be so merry and bright should you run across any of these popular holidays horror stories, from fraud to computer viruses.

Avoid seeing red after starting your holiday season shopping on Black Friday. Before you head out to the stores make sure you clean out your wallet.  Yes, that’s right.  Take only the credit or debit card that you plan on using and your Driver’s License.   It only takes a minute to lift your wallet or purse from your shopping cart or back pocket and the more you have in there, the more you have to loose.

Make a list and check it twice. Store your credit cards and other financial information in a safe place.  Make copies of those cards that you are carrying with you and be sure to attach contact information to your copies.   This way if something does go wrong, you have all the information you need to start making it right.

Don’t be snowed under by requests for your information. Whether it is a pretending to be a non-profit agency or a “seller” of the latest and greatest tech gadgets that everyone must have, don’t supply your credit or debit card, checking or savings information over the phone or over the Internet.  Identity thieves and credit card fraudster know what you want this holiday season, and they want it too.  They just want you to pay for it.

Wrap up those receipts. Continue reading Don’t let ‘Season’s Greetings’ become ‘Season’s Stealings’