Scammers are targeting job seekers in South Bend with offers of paid mobile advertising position.

Scam: Car Wrapping

Who Is It Targeting: Job Seekers South Bend Indiana

What Is It: Residents of South Bend, Indiana are reporting a scam in which they answer an ad on craigslist claiming that they will be paid to place a Rockstar Energy Drink ad on the their car.  Once the victim has agreed to be part of the mobile advertising campaign they will receive a check in the mail.  These specific scam checks look as though they are being written by the University of Chicago.  The victim is then instructed to take $400 out of the check for $1955 for their payment and send the rest back to the organization via wire.  The check then bounces because it is a fake check and the victim is out the $1555 that they have sent to the scammers.

What Are They After: Wired Direct Payment

How Can You Avoid It: If you see a job that is seemingly too good to be true, it probably is.  You should avoid it, especially if it is being offered online.  You should also never agree to cash a check and send back part of the deposited funds.  This is a sure sign of a scam.  If you have been a victim and sent the money back to the scammers, most likely you will not be able to recuperate your losses.  However, you should call the ITRC at 888.400.5530 to make sure you protect yourself from further risk.

The Office of Consumer Protection in West Virginia has issued an alert to consumers warning them of a scam involving phone calls from “tech support”.

Scam: Windows Tech Support

Who Is It Targeting: West Virginians

What Is It: The Office of Consumer Protection in West Virginia has issued an alert to consumers warning them of a scam involving phone calls from “tech support”.  Individuals are receiving phone calls from scammers claiming to be “tech support” technicians working for Microsoft.  The callers tell potential victims that their computer has reported problems to Microsoft and that they are calling to make repairs.  Once the victim gives the scammers access to their computer, the scammers download malware that will search the computer for such things as log-in credentials, saved banking information and other personal information which will allow the scammers to steal their identities. In some cases once the scammers have completed their search, they lock the computer and demand payment to unlock the computer. Even if the victim pays the ransom, they may or not gain access to their computer.

What Are They After: Personal Information Stored on Your Computer and Ransom

How Can You Avoid It: Microsoft, or any large computer company, will not call consumers unsolicited to provide tech support.  If you receive one of these calls, simply hang up. If you do give the scammers access to your computer and they ask for ransom, hang up and take your computer to a trusted computer repair shop.  If you have concerns, you can contact the West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808. If your information has been exposed contact the ITRC and speak with a victim advisor at 888.400.5530.

Fake charities are popping up requesting “donations” for victims of the tragedy in Lafayette.

Scam: Grand Theater Shooting

Who Is It Targeting: Anyone

What Is It: The Louisiana Attorney General has issued a warning about scams revolving around the recent shooting at the Grand Movie Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Individuals are receiving phone calls, emails and social media contacts from fake organizations asking for donations to help the families of the victims of the shooting. The organizations involved in these scams are not legitimate and funds donated will not reach the families or help the victims in any way.

What Are They After: Direct payments in the form of “Donations”

How Can You Avoid It: You should be very cautious about which organizations you donate to after a major tragedy. If you are contacted by an organization asking for donations, you should research them.  A quick Google search with the name of the organization with the word scam attached should provide you with information.  You may also look at their profile on Guidestar, a website dedicated to help consumers know about the non-profit organizations they support. While an organization’s lack of a profile on Guidestar does not mean they are fraudulent, it may mean that the organization is either new, or has not filed for non-profit status.  If you still have questions about an organization you can contact the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-351-4889 or go to the Attorney General’s website.

Residents of Maryland are being threatened with lawsuits and arrest via email and phone.

Scam: False Lawsuits

Who Is It Targeting: Residents in Maryland

What Is It: Individuals in Maryland are receiving phone calls and emails claiming that they are being sued and have a warrant out for their arrest.  The scammers claim that the individuals have broken laws in relation to federal banking regulations and are now being sued by “U.S. Legal Services”.  Scam victims have also been threatened with charges of check fraud and theft. Once the scammers have frightened their targets, they then offer to assist the targets avoid arrest for a fee.  The scammers even promise to provide a copy of the warrant once the target pays a fee to become their “client”.

What Are They After: Direct Payment

How Can You Avoid It: You will never receive an official email or a phone call informing you that there is a warrant out for your arrest.  If you receive an email of this sort you should delete it immediately.  If you receive a phone call related to this scam you should hang up.  The Maryland Judiciary is asking that if you are affected by the scam, you contact them at the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662 or at 888-743-0023.

Job seekers are being scammed while seeking employment as nannies.

Scam: Nanny Scam

Who Is It Targeting: Jobseekers

What Is It: Young individuals are reporting being targeted by scammers who are falsely advertising positions as nannies. The targets are responding to job ads posted on Craigslist looking for care providers.  Once the targets have contacted the posters of the ad, they are seemingly vetted for the position.  They are then told they have been hired, but need to have a background check.  The targets receive a check for $1000, which they are told to deposit I their account.  They are to keep $350 for initial payment and told to wire $650 to the “Environmental Protection Agency” for the completion of their background check.  The  check then bounces after the victim has wired the funds, leaving them without their $350 payment.  In addition, they are now responsible for the $650 wire transfer, which has not gone to the EPA, but to the scammers.  

What Are They After: Wired Funds

How Can You Avoid It: You should never have to pay to get a job.  If a company is going to legitimately hire you, they will pay for a background check, if it is necessary.  You should be especially careful when applying for jobs through sites like Craigslist and Backpage as they are not vetted and the actual sites have no liability for any wrongdoing.  Avoid any job offer which requires you to pay a fee to apply and if this required for the application, do not apply.

A scam is being reported which threatens consumers with a power shut off.

Scam: Power Shut Off

Who Is It Targeting: Tucson Electric Power Customers in Tucson, Arizona

What Is It: Individuals in the Tucson, Arizona region are receiving phone calls from people claiming to work for Tucson Electric Power. The callers inform the individual that they are either behind on their electricity bill or need to pay for an updated electric meter. They are told that if they do not make the payment within the next 24 hours, their electricity will be turned off. The callers demand that the individual pay the past due bill or fee for the new meter over the phone, using a pre-paid money card. It has also been reported that individuals may be receiving text messages claiming the above. These scammers are not at all associated with Tucson Electric Power and the calls / texts are a ploy to scare consumers into making false payments in a quick and untraceable manner.

What Are They After: Direct Payment

How Can You Avoid It: If individuals receive this phone call, they should simply hang up. If you receive a text message claiming the above, just delete it. If you are a customer of Tucson Electric Power and you have questions or concerns about your service, call them directly at (520) 623-7711.

There have been reports of a scam involving text messages regarding banking accounts.

Scam: Bank Text Message Scam

What Is It: Individuals are receiving text messages claiming to be from Wells Fargo stating that there is a problem with the recipient’s account and instructs them to call a phone number to resolve the problem.  Of course, there is no problem with the individual’s bank account and the phone number does not take the caller to Wells Fargo.

Scam artists are answering the calls and telling the potential victim that their account funds are limited because of a failed authentication.  The scammers state that they must authenticate the individual’s banking information.  To do so they will need the recipient’s bank account information, PIN number and Social Security Number.

What Are They After: Personal and Banking Information

How Can You Avoid It: A bank will NEVER ask for your personal information on a call that is initiated by the person contacting you.  Even though it seems as though the victim is the one making the call here, they are being instructed to do so by someone else.

If you receive this text message, simply delete it. If you receive something similar and are concerned, look at your bank card and call the phone number listed on the back of the card and speak with them about the issue. You can report phishing scams to Wells Fargo on their website.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here.

A scam has slowly made its way around the country and is hitting new areas now targeting college students.

Scam: Fake Police Loan Calls

Who Is It Targeting: College Students

What Is It: College students are receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be a police officer and that the student has past due student loans. The scam is a bit more sophisticated than some phone scams as the scammers have made it so that the caller ID that shows up when the scammers call is that of the local police station. This is not a new technique, but it is very effective in fooling consumers into thinking the phone call is legitimate. The college student is called by name and told that if they do not pay the past due balance on the student loan (which doesn’t exist in the first place), they will be arrested or lose current financial aid. If the victim does agree to pay the “fine” or “past due balance”, they are asked to do so by giving their credit card information over the phone and the credit card is then charged.

What Are They After: Direct Payment

How Can You Avoid It: While there is no way to avoid receiving the phone call in the first place, individuals can avoid dealing with it any further than that. The fact is that law enforcement will never call anyone and threaten to arrest them.  Therefore the moment that that threat is made, or the student is told there is a warrant for their arrest, the student should hang up. Furthermore, law enforcement is not going to call you to inform consumers about past due bills.  Bottom line, anyone who is targeted in this scam should hang up as soon as they realize it.  If they are still concerned, they can look up the non-emergency phone number for the police department which supposedly called them and explore the incident.

Travelers beware! There is a new scam making the rounds!

Scam: Discount Online Travel Sites

Who Is It Targeting: People Booking Hotels in Florida

What Is It: People looking for hotel rooms in the Florida area are being led to websites which are fake versions of real hotel websites. These websites offer the hotel’s rooms at incredibly low rates.  The website isn’t legitimate and is in no way affiliated with the real hotel. The traveler then books the deal and enters their credit card information.  The credit card is charged and the scammers take the money.  When the traveler shows up to the hotel, they have no reservation and the money is lost.

What Are They After: Credit Card Information

How Can You Avoid It: Check multiple travel sites for prices on the hotel for which you have found the deal. If the price on one site is significantly lower for the same hotel and the same room on one site than the others, this could mean it is a scam website.  While legitimate discount travel sites do exist, and can offer savings, consumers must check multiple sources to ensure the discount is legitimate. You can also call the hotel and ask them about the rate and the website.  While they are not aware of all special deals on their rates, they will be able to tell you if there have been cases of travelers using the scam websites. Lastly, a quick online search of third party verification sites, and review sites can provide information regarding what other consumers have experienced with specific sites.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued a scam alert for a scam involving gift cards.

While it is very popular to purchase, spend, and give others gift cards, the FBI would like to warn consumers of the potential for fraud. The online presence of the Secondary Gift Card Market has grown significantly in recent years. The Secondary Gift Card Market provides a venue for consumers to resell unwanted gift cards. However, criminal activity has been identified through sites facilitating such exchanges.

There are both online and in-store venues for reselling gift cards. Kiosks and pawn shops are an option for consumers who prefer to handle a transaction in person. Secondary Gift Card Market websites exist to exclusively buy and sell gift cards.

Some of the various types of gift card scams reported to the IC3 are as follows:

  • Victim sells a gift card on an auction site, receives payment for the sale, and sends the PIN associated with the gift card to the buyer, who disputes the charge after using the gift card.
  • Victim purchases an item on an auction site and is advised by the seller to purchase gift cards to pay for the transaction. After purchasing thousands of dollars in gift cards, the victim finds out the auction transaction is a scam.

A Secondary Gift Card Market site agrees to pay a victim for a discounted merchant gift card. The victim sends the code on the gift card, and the payment for the transaction was reversed. Thus, the buyer uses the gift card code to purchase an item and stops payment to the seller.

Consumers should beware of social media postings that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially sites offering deals too good to be true, such as a free $500 gift card. Some fraudulent offers may pose as Holiday promotions or contests. The fraudulent postings often look as if a friend shared the link. Oftentimes, these scams lead to online surveys designed to steal personal information. Never provide your personal information to an unknown party or untrustworthy website.

Tips to Prevent Gift Card Fraud:
Consumers can take several steps to protect themselves when buying and selling gift cards in the Secondary Gift Card Market, as listed below:

  • Check Secondary Gift Card Market website reviews and only buy from or sell to reputable dealers.
  • Check the gift card balance before and after purchasing the card to verify the correct balance on the card.
  • The re-seller of a gift card is responsible for ensuring the correct balance is on the gift card, not the merchant whose name is on the gift card.
  • When selling a gift card through an online marketplace, do not provide the buyer with the card’s PIN until the transaction is complete. Online purchases can be made using the PIN without having the physical card.
  • When purchasing gift cards online, be leery of auction sites selling gift cards at a discount or in bulk.
  • When purchasing gift cards in a store, examine the protective scratch-off area on the back of the card for any evidence of tampering.

If you believe you have been a victim of a gift card scam, you may file a complaint, providing all relevant information, with the IC3 at