by Barbara EJ Bennett | Chief Scambuster Larimer County Sheriff’s Office 970-498-5146
Halloween has passed, and the bad goblins (scammers) are still knocking on our doors wanting “treats.” Guess we will have to perch our “big bad witch” on our doors to scare them away!
In addition to all the other scams we have talked about, here are the ones to be especially alert for.
ONLINE JOB OFFERS
Be cautious when applying for an online job offer. You never know who is on the other end of the offer. If they want your bank account number to deposit your earnings directly, do not give your account number out. If they will not pay you by check, then it is a scam, and they just want your bank account number. Mystery shopping scams send you a cashier’s check to cash and purchase various gift cards at different stores and provide the company with the code on the back. Turns out the cashier’s check is bogus, and you lost your money.
With two humanitarian crises in progress right now, there are a lot of scammers setting up places for you to donate. Always check out the charity on BBB, Charity Navigator, or Candid. You can also google the charity followed by “scam,” “reviews,” and “complaints.” Also, check how much of your donation goes to paying the salaries of the charity to see how much actually gets to the intended people it is supposed to help. Go straight to the charity website to confirm the number of the charity. Never donate by cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money gift cards, or cash apps. These are the scammers’ method of payment since it is hard to trace. Be cautious about donating to crowdfunding sites.
ONLINE EVENT TICKET PURCHASES
Trying to buy tickets to a concert via text or social media? If you do not know the person you are buying from, chances are it is a scam. In a recent case, the scammer promised to provide the tickets to the buyer and asked for Zelle payment since she cannot figure out other methods like PayPal (which has buyer protection), so the buyer sends the payment, and never gets the ticket – and the scammer stops all communication. It is really best to either buy from someone you know and trust or buy through regular channels with a credit card or PayPal, which affords buyer protection. Use cash apps like Zelle or Venmo with trusted friends and trusted family only.
GEEK SQUAD/BEST BUY
A citizen tried to cancel his Geek Squad subscription and have them remove the virus protection as he purchased a new virus software. He called the number found on the Best Buy webpage under Questions and Answers. The person answering said someone would call him back to arrange a refund. When the gentleman called back, the citizen had to give him his banking number and birth date to get his refund. The scammer then made fraudulent charges on his credit card and put imaging software on his computer. The phone numbers on the Question and Answers Page on Best Buy were fraudulent, placed on the page by the scammer pretending to be the Geek Squad. We have alerted Best Buy to the illegitimate information on their website. If you need to contact Geek Squad, use the published number on the website, not under Q and A.
An email stating the person is from PayPal tells the citizen that $31,000 was mistakenly placed in his bank account by the caller and will be fired if he does not get the money returned. When the citizen checks his bank account, there is $31,000 in there. The citizen is then instructed to withdraw the $31,000 in cash and deposit it into an ATM with a QR code. He then discovered that the $31,000 appearing in his checking was actually fraudulently moved from one of his other accounts into the checking to appear that this PayPal representative had indeed deposited the money.
ALPINE BANK TEXT
Your account is on hold for security reasons. Click this link to restore access. This is a scam.
LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPERSONATORS
A law enforcement impersonator called and told the citizen he had missed an appointment for a DNA collection and had a warrant for his arrest with a bond of $15,000. Law enforcement never calls and asks for bond money.
FACEBOOK MESSAGE ASKING FOR HELP
A scammer sends you a Facebook message pretending to be a friend of yours asking you for money to get bonded out of jail. Always directly with your friend before you do anything. This is a scam.
US BANK CALL
The caller is from US Bank and sends her a code for her to read back to the caller. When she did, the call locked her out of her US Banking app, added a Zelle account, and withdrew $5,000 from her bank accounts. Banks will not call you and never provide anyone with any codes.
Here are some interesting facts about the origins of internet scams. According to Analytics Insight, the top ten internet scamming countries in 2023 are –
- South Africa
- United States
According to the Federal Trade Commission, adults over sixty have reported more than $1.6 billion in losses to scammers. This really represents a fraction of all the losses since the majority of fraud is never reported. FTC estimates that the loss could be as high as $48 billion. Some of the scams that seniors lose money to are investment scams, business impersonation, and tech support scams. Scammers reach out to seniors via phone, social media, and the Internet.
REMEMBER: If you are reacting to an email, phone call, text, or social media offering and feel fear, excitement, sense of urgency, curiosity, etc.– please do NOT act – it is a scam. If you were in rational thinking mode rather than an emotional reaction, you would see the red flags. Scammers want you to be compliant, so you will give them what they want. Always keep in mind – if it seems too good to be true – it is! Listen to your instincts. And if you are asked to pay by cryptocurrency (bitcoin, etc.), wire transfer, cash apps (Venmo, Zelle), or gift/money cards – it is definitely a SCAM!
Stay safe, and thank you to all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about. I appreciate hearing from you and getting the information on trending scams – and I am so happy to hear that you are recognizing a scam and are taking the appropriate measures!
Please share this information everywhere, and I am always willing to come to your group for a scam presentation.