SHR
Barbara Bennett

Meet Barbara, LCSO's Chief ScamBuster

Who are you going to call if you get a call from someone wanting your hard earned money? Why, ScamBusters, that’s who.

All joking aside, over my last 13 years with LCSO, scams and frauds have become part of our everyday lives. My passion for being a huge pain in the ankle to criminals and scammers works well in my role as the coordinator of our Sheriff’s Auxiliary/Crime Prevention Unit. I love sharing ways that our citizens can become more in charge of their safety by knowing what is suspicious and what to do with that knowledge.

As scammers have become more sophisticated in targeting their prey and using human behavior techniques to make you think they are credible, we have to become more street smart and beat them at their own game. We do that by recognizing their tactics and learning how to build a safety wall around our personal information and finances. Knowledge is power - and it is easier to prevent scammers from taking advantage of our inherent trust in people than to try recovering after they have taken our hard earned money.

These criminal scammers can only be stopped by being aware that they are out there, understanding how they work, and being smarter than they are. This webpage has been established to provide information on what the scams are, how to recognize a scammer and how to be smarter than the scammer. If they can’t get our money - they have to give up. Let’s stop them in their tracks. Let’s all be ScamBusters!

Barbara EJ Bennett
970-682-0597
bennetbe@co.larimer.co.us
Coordinator - Sheriff's Auxiliary/Crime Prevention Unit
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

P.S. If your group would like a scam presentation, give us a call or email to set it up. We love spreading the word! Also, feel free to send out this link to friends and family!


 

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Amazon Prime Scam Alert

Overview

The scammer is targeting a wide audience to see who bites (phishing scam). Whether you get a phone call or an email, they want the same thing - your money and your credit card information. In the case of the caller sending you to a web page, it is very easy to assume it is legitimate - the logo is the same, the page layout looks authentic. In reality, it is the scammer’s web page and when you insert your personal information you are giving them access to your money, If they request you to download their app so they can fix your security flaw, they then ask you to log in to your banking or credit card site so they now have access to your funds.


Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

Especially during Covid, people depend on ordering items online so want to ensure they can still get prime delivery.

 

Resources

Report to Amazon Security and Privacy page. Also monitor your Amazon charges very closely and your other credit cards and banking information for any suspicious activity.

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Bitcoin Scam Alert

Overview

● Scammers have some favorite methods of collecting your money. Bitcoin or other crypto currencies that are said to be secure but once you exchange your currency for these currencies you cannot change it back. In addition, the scammer takes the money you have converted and they cannot be traced! Your money is gone.
● Cash apps - Venmo, Zelle, CashApp, etc. are great ways to transfer money directly out of your bank account to CLOSE FRIENDS, FAMILY AND TRUSTED BUSINESS. They are not safe for you to pay any stranger with any of these methods - you have no protection.
● Money or Gift cards - scammers love these - you give them the code on the back over the phone - they take the money and run. You have lost your money.

Target Audience

All ages - These are phishing scams.

Emotional Play

Fear of getting in trouble. Fear of losing your power. Fear of getting arrested.

Examples

● Your name and information has been used to launder money and transport
drugs.
● Your social security number has been used for nefarious activities.
● Missed jury duty - warrant for your arrest.
● You owe the IRS.
● Your energy bill is overdue - we are turning it off in the next 30 minutes if
you don’t pay with money or gift cards.
● Asking for a refund on a trip - but they tell you to pay via bitcoin a portion of
the fees/charges.

Resources

Report to law enforcement and file a fraud report.

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Business Scam Alert

Overview

The email looks legit - it’s from a high level manager in your firm. The email sender has the right name but the email account address looks strange. Maybe from their personal account? Your first thought is to proceed with the request but STOP! Go to the manager and ask in person if this email is legit. Chances are good that it is a scam.

 

Emotional Play

Following direction from your management.

 

Target Audience

Small to medium sized businesses.

 

Resources

After this business described the scam to us, they installed some additional software that enabled them to catch incoming email as a potential phishing scam. Definitely a good tip for businesses!

FBI Bulletin - https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2022/PSA220504

 

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Census scam alert

Overview

Scammers use the phone, email or texts to ask you to give them your personal information for the Census.  This is not how the Census is being handled and they are just trying to get your personal info.  The official Census has sent out a printed letter telling you where to go to fill in the census online.  They will send you a second letter as well.  They will never call you, text you or email you for this info.

 

Emotional Play

Wanting to "do my part" and be a good citizen.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Additional Resources

www.census.gov

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Charity scam alert

 

Overview

We all have our particular passions - maybe its animal welfare, supporting law enforcement or firefighters, fighting medical challenges, etc.  Scammers capitalize on these passions and use them to fraudulently take your money.  Usually it’s a call asking you to donate online via credit card. If  you request they send you info through the mail and you can send them a check, they indicate they can’t do that.  What they really want is your credit card or bank info.  If you want to support your charity of choice, go to their official website to donate safely - never on the phone.

 

Emotional Play

Love for a cause, supporting your passion, willingness to give to others.

 

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors are at particular risk because they are more trusting.

Additional Resources

United Way Guide to Charitable Giving

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Computer Scam Alert

 

Overview

Hearing all these warnings and alarms on your computer is certainly attention getting and very startling. That’s what the scammer wants. They don’t want you to turn off your computer because their scam pop-up’s will disappear and they can’t hook you. They want you to believe if you shut off your computer it will be devastating but the opposite is true. Just recently I had this happen to my computer twice in one week while I was doing research online. It startled me. I shut off my computer and restarted and all was fine. However, I got a call from someone that got the same alert and pop-ups and called the number. He was then told to go to Best Buy, purchase $2,000 in BB gift cards and give the caller the numbers on the phone. He did. The caller had already asked him to get on his computer – which he allowed. The scammer then downloaded banking and credit card info and got into the person’s bank accounts. In this case there is no way to get the money back. It is untraceable and the scammer has access to your banking and credit card.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of losing access to your computer.

 

Target Audience

All ages - the scammers don't know who's receiving their calls or pop-ups until you interact with them.

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Windows phone scam alert

 

Overview

You get a pop-up on your screen that locks it up.  It says you have a virus and you need to call a number to get it removed.  When you call, they want anywhere from $299 to $899 to fix your computer.  WAIT.  There is nothing wrong with your computer.  DO NOT call the number.  Just shut down your computer for a few minutes and when you turn it back on the pop-up will be gone.  

Or you get a phone call from “Microsoft” or “Windows” or “Apple” saying your computer has a virus and they need to get on your computer remotely to fix it.  They will charge you for this AND when you give them access they will download ALL your personal information such as credit cards, banking info, contacts, etc.  In the case of the phone call - hang up.  No one at these legitimate companies knows what is going on with your computer and would never call you to get access to your computer.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of losing access to your computer.

 

Target Audience

All ages - the scammers don't know who's receiving their calls or pop-ups until you interact with them.

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COVID-19 scam alert

 

Overview

The last few months have brought unprecedented challenges for each person across our world,  This virus has kept people in their homes, closed businesses and schools, and has permeated the news waves with constant fear of being exposed to this devastating virus.  There are no known preventative medicines, vaccines or therapies, yet  scammers have used this as an opportunity  to sell you tests, preventative medicines,PPE’s,  miracle cure therapies, or the opportunity to be the  first in line to get the vaccine.  This is all bogus. When any legitimate remedies are available, the CDC will let citizens know. They also have developed  malware emails - one  saying it’s from John Hopkins University with a map of COVID-19 patients.  JHU does have such a map but they don’t send it out.  The scammer is spoofing the return address as JHU and gives you a link to click to see the map.  If you click on the link, they deposit malware on your computer to download all your personal information (bank, credit cards, etc.) We need to be very skeptical during this unsettling time and not fall for these scams.

Emotional Play

Fear, wanting to stay informed, curiosity.

Target Audience

All ages.

Additional Resources

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

Centers for Disease Control

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Craig's list scam alert

Overview

When you post an ad on Craig’s list with a price determined for the item, the scammer will contact you with an offer of more than you are asking, but telling you the item will be picked up by someone else.  They will send you a check, could be a cashier’s check, and tell you to deposit the check in your bank, keep your asking price and give the overage to the person picking it up for transportation cost.  The bank may not discover the check is fraudulent for a few days so you will have already given the item and overage amount to the person picking up the item, then find out from your bank that the check is no good, you are out the item you were selling plus the overage cash.  Best way to avoid these scams is never do business with someone offering you more than you are asking, or indicates they are out of state and will send someone to pick up the item.

Emotional Play

Financial motivation.

Target Audience

All ages.

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Craig's List Rental Scam Alert

Overview

You see an ad on Craig’s List for a house or apartment for rent, a vacation home for rent, a mountain get away  --- sounds wonderful. They post pictures of the property.  They tell you they are out of the state or country so can’t show it to you.  Or that they are the property manager and are representing the owners. The price is really good.  They tell you many others want it so if you don’t get your deposit wired to them right away you will lose out.  No credit cards accepted.  Just wire them or use Cash app -- “wire transfer,” “money order,” “Western Union,” “Prepaid Visa,” and “Moneygram,” are all absolute red flag words. When you send money through these forms of payment, it is essentially impossible to get your money back. That’s why these forms of wire transfers are a scammer’s method of choice.  Except in some cases - the renter placing the ad is a scammer and doesn’t have the right to rent this out.  The real owner of the property doesn’t know what is going on until someone shows up on their doorstep to move in --- what a surprise for both of you. .  The owner is in the dark so they aren’t responsible for your loss.

Another case is where the scammer says s/he is the property manager and actually shows you the property. This is made possible by the property actually being on a legitimate property management website where you can “show yourself” property where you can register and get info to let yourself in to view the property.

The Craig's List scammer doesn’t have you fill in an application but you must get your deposit in right away via CashApp.

Emotional Play

Great offer (good location, good price), fear of missing out on the deal.

Target Audience

All ages.

Resources

Report to Craig's List, local law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FTC.

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Delivery scam alert

Overview

You may receive a text, email or phone call indicating there is a delivery scheduled.  This could be from FED-X, UPS, USPS or Amazon.  They may say that before the package can be delivered, you need to pay the shipping or the price of the item.  You may not even remember ordering anything.  Or they give you a link to click on to get more information.  Since spoofing a legitimate company logo is easy to do, you should not rely on the message being legitimate if its asking you to pay for shipping or the price of the item.  If legit, these charges have already been paid when you ordered the item.

Emotional Play

Curiosity, material and/or financial gain.

Target Audience

All ages.

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Restraint Scam Alert

EXAMPLES:

Distraint scam envelope

Distraint scam letter

Overview

This is an attempt to defraud you with an official looking letter.

Target Audience

All ages.

Emotional Play

Fear.

Resources

When in doubt, call the LCSO Crime Prevention Unit to discuss a suspicious letter.

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Door to door scam alert

Overview

Someone comes to your door and offers to check your roof for damage from the recent storm.  When they tell you about the damage, they offer you a great deal for them to fix it for you.  Pay them half (or full) upfront and they will do the work for you.  STOP!  Even if they have a sign on their truck indicating they are a contractor, it is very easy to get a magnetic sign saying any company name.  These scammers go door to door after a weather incident to see if they can con you into believing you have damage.  If you think you might, you should call a reputable company to come out and check your roof.  Most cases, there is no damage but the scammer just wants your money.

Emotional Play

Fear of damage to property.

Target Audience

All ages, seniors often targeted.

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EBay Scam Alert

Overview

Typically EBay sellers are legitimate sellers and when you order through EBay you have a purchase protection that comes with the purchase.  Some bad actors are posting something for sale on EBay and then when you order it they call you directly and give you a better deal on the item if you go around EBay.  This of course leaves you high and dry should the seller be a bad actor.  You not only give them your credit card number which they can use however they want, but you will not get your item and have no recourse through EBay.

Target Audience

All ages.

Emotional Play

We love a better deal! Save money.
 

Resources

Report to EBay, FTC, credit reporting companies.  Watch your credit transactions for any suspicious charges.

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Email scam alert

Overview

An email hits your inbox from a seemingly legitimate company.  Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, credit card  company, a bank, or a high ranking official from another country.  They might say there is a problem with your account and you need to click on the link they provide, or the high ranking official or other overseas person has a lot of money they would like to give you (you are deserving, they are dying and want to share their wealth, etc.). Company names are easy to spoof and the scammer really wants your credit card number or your banking information (so they can deposit millions in your account.)  Remember - never click on a link and if it sounds too good to be true (like a stranger wanting to give you millions of dollars) it is not true.

Emotional Play

Fear of fraudulent use of your accounts, or financial benefit.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

Examples and Additional Info

Emails can look very official from companies you might have done business with in the past.  Company logos can be easily copied as can information from a legitimate business’ website.  There are typically little red flags to alert you to possible suspicious activity, as shown on the examples.  The sender gives you a link, website, or phone number to call.  Links can provide the scammer with your personal information from your computer as well as a virus to your computer.  The phone number and website are the scammer's – not the official ones, so when you call you are speaking to the scammer’s call center

Email scam example 1

Email scam example 2

 

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Extortion scam alert

Overview

These emails are very disturbing, threatening, accusatory and disgusting.  The scammer has a password you may have used in the past or makes one up to bluff.  Tells you s/he has access to all our contacts, social media sites and websites.  If you don’t comply s/he will post disgusting things on all your sites and to your contacts about you using porn and other things.  They tell you they have access to all your internet usage and they know you are watching porn.  They also give you a timeframe to provide them their ransom (typically $2,000 in bit coins) or they will unleash their destruction on you.

Emotional Play

Fear, embarrassment.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

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Facebook Ad Scam Alert

Overview

Facebook and other social media sites typically have sponsored advertising on their sites. Some of these are legit and many are not. Export distributors represent many overseas companies and take orders for them. It may take months for your product to arrive - during Covid, overseas products will be sent by ship due to flight restrictions, which can then sit in customs for weeks after weeks of transit time. It could be 3 months before you get the product and the company will tell you it’s on the way. In many cases, the product you see on the ad is a really nice picture - but the product you receive is junk and not worth anywhere near what you paid. When you try to get a refund - they say you have to pay to return the product overseas and when they receive it they will refund. Or they say no refund just because you don’t like what they sent.

Emotional Play

Emotional purchase, unique product or discounted price.

Target Audience

All ages.

Resources

If you pay by PayPal, go through the escalation process if the company balks. If by credit card, dispute the charge and give your reasons. If you never receive the product, also report as fraud.

 

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Google Voice Authentication Scam

Overview

There are many different selling/buying sites such as marketplace, facebook, ebay and craig’s list.  Buyers will not have any reason to ask for your phone number when they are inquiring about the item you are posting for sale.  Scammers, however, will ask to get your phone number for verification to the potential buyer that you are legitimate.  Then they send you a google 6 digit code and ask them to give it to them for authentication that you are legit and then they will call you to set up a meeting time.  They will not call you because all they want is your phone number and the verification code so they can set up a phony google voice account to post fraudulent items for sale under your phone number.  In essence, they will use your phone number to scam other people.  

Emotional Play

You want to sell this item!

Target Audience

Anyone selling items on these sites.

Resources

You will have to go through a process to regain your phone number from the scammer.  Go to https://www.idtheftcenter.org/about-us/ for information on how to do this.  Also report to the FTC.  

 

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Grandparents scam alert

 

Overview

Using the very strong devotion to grandchildren, scammers will pretend to be your grandchild (Hi, grandma/pa - and you respond with “is that you Jimmy?”) They spin a tale about getting pulled over with dope in the car, running out of money, or other stories about being arrested.  They also will ask you not to tell their parents.  In some cases, they will even pass the phone over to the “police officer” so he can tell you what happened and how much the grandparents need to pay to get their grandchild released.  They also will stay on the line while you go to the bank or money card location to put the money on a card and provide the “officer” the code from the money card.  They won’t let you hang up because they don’t want you to call the parents and find out the grandchild is not in trouble.

 

Emotional Play

Love for grandchildren, protective, concern for their safety.

 

Target Audience

Seniors with grandchildren.

Additional Resources

Larimer County Office on Aging

 

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ID Theft scam

Overview

Once a fraudster gets your personal information, they can use it to access your finances, open credit card accounts in your name, and other nefarious acts with your info. Once you suspect you might be a target of ID theft, please take  immediate action (under Resources below) to ensure the fraudster cannot continue to have access to your accounts.

Target Audience

Anyone.

Emotional Play

Fear is the root. Threat of a virus on your computer, false charges of money.

Resources

  1. File a report and develop a recovery plan at https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/
  2. Place a free, one-year fraud alert by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two:
    • Experian.com/help 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
    • TransUnion.com/credit-help 888-909-8872
    • Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services 800-685-1111
  3. File a police report to your local law enforcement (in unincorporated Larimer County, report to 970-416-1985).
  4. Complete the online form on the FTC website or call 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible.
  5. Contact your bank and other businesses that fraud has occurred.
  6. Close out any accounts opened fraudulently.
  7. Change all your login and passwords.

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IRS scam alert

 

Overview

You owe the IRS back taxes!  Or so the caller says - either in person or by robocall.  Who wants to be guilty of that!  The problem with this is that the IRS never uses a phone call to let you know you owe back taxes,  They send you a letter through the US Post Office.  And they never ask you to pay through money cards or other sketchy methods.

Emotional Play

Fear of arrest, desire to be law abiding.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

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Law Enforcement Scam

Overview

A very official person calls you telling you his name is James XXXXX from XXXX law enforcement agency.  He tells you that your ID has been used in a drug trafficking operation and the federal attorney on the case needs you to pull out a large amount of funds for the federal attorney to hold until the case is resolved.   While the scammer is still on the phone (THEY ALWAYS STAY ON THE PHONE because if you hang up they have lost you!)  they send you to your bank to withdraw the funds in a cashier’s check.  If the teller asks why you need the large sum, the scammer tells you to say you are buying property with it.  They then tell you to go directly to the FedEx office and overnight it to them.  You are instructed NOT to say anything to anyone about this for at least 48 hours.  They also tell you that when the case is resolved they will return your money.  Why 48 hours?  Because your check will arrive in 24 hours, they will cash it and be gone before you tell anyone and find out its a scam.  Will they return the money?  Not a chance.  

Emotional Play

Fear of getting in trouble. Following directions from an authority figure (law enforcement officer).

Target Audience

More vulnerable and trusting population.

Resources

https://ftc.gov and local law enforcement crime prevention.  

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Sweepstakes scam alert

Overview

You have won!  Money!  Vacation!  Free lodging!  Sweepstake! Lottery!  WOW.  But guess what - you only have to pay a handling and shipping fee!  What a deal!  It’s like Christmas!  Oh wait - my Christmas presents don’t come with a shipping and handling fee.  These are just scammers trying to get money from you.  The old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true.”  If you won any of these prizes, it would be free.

 

Emotional Play

Excitement of getting a prize.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

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Medicare Scam Alert

Overview

Someone calls you (with an accent) and
wants to know if you got your brand new
medicare card yet. They let you know it's
totally free and they won’t ask you for any
money. If you say you haven’t received it
they will put their “supervisor” on the phone
who asks you if you have your medicare card
in front of you. They need some information
from your card (your red flag should be
waving at 100 mph by now) – what they are
trying to get is your personal info from your
card. The supervisor actually told me he
would wait until I got my card in front of me.
If you say you got it, they will want to verify
the info from the card. They may even
threaten you with canceling your medicare if
you don’t give them the information. They
are not sending you a new one, nor are they
from Medicare. New medicare cards were
automatically sent out when they replaced the
old cards with your social security number on
the cards to protect you from scammers. So
now the scammers have to get the new ID
number from you so they can scam you.

Target Audience

Anyone of Medicare age.

 

Emotional Play

Fear - "I need to get my new or updated Medicare card. I don't want to lose my Medicare!"

 

Resources

Just hang up. NEVER give out your personal information to anyone over the phone. These callers are from a call center off-shore. Real Medicare employees NEVER call you. If you have questions on Medicare - call their number directly at 800-633-4227.

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Online dating scam alert

Overview

These scammers prey on the human need for companionship.  They develop a nice profile and use one photo depicting a nice looking person (male or female) and place it on the various dating sites.  Sometimes you will notice awkward grammar when they start chatting with you.  They always have a reason for not meeting in person. They may say they are in the military and are going out of the country for a few months,  They may spend a month or two “courting”  you before they ask for money. They count on you being too embarrassed to report them when you figure out they are scammers.  Typically they are from overseas locations.

Emotional Play

Loneliness, romance, companionship, reluctance to report (embarrassment).

 

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors and grieving people most vulnerable.

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Law Enforcement Impersonation Scam

Overview

These scammers prey on the targets they feel are vulnerable and use law enforcement names to scare the target into paying in lieu of whatever the scammer is accusing the target of. This could be missing jury duty, warrants for arrest, or any other reason for the target to be afraid of being arrested - whether they broke the law or not. Most citizens are law abiding so are horrified to think that they have broken the law and might be arrested. 

Please remember - law enforcement does not call anyone to request money or payment for any type of activity over the phone. NEVER give funds or personal information over the phone. If you have questions about a call like this, call the crime prevention number (970-498-5159) to ask if the call is legitimate or not.

Emotional Play

Fear of being in trouble, protecting your good name.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

Additional Resources

Call your local law enforcement agency to verify any contact received by phone:

  • LCSO 970-416-1985
  • Fort Collins Police Services 970-221-6540
  • Loveland Police Department 970-667-2151
  • Estes Park Police Department 970-586-4000

 

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Robocall scam alert

Overview

You answer your phone or get a voice mail indicating your credit card, bank account have been used fraudulently and you must call back or hit a number on your keypad to speak to someone to help you.  They also indicate, if a sales call, that you can be taken off the call list by pressing a certain key.  The best way to deal with these calls is to not call back and do not press any number.  Just delete.

Emotional Play

Fear, they want you to act quickly without thinking.

Target Audience

All ages.

Examples

  • We need to speak to you about a warrant for your arrest

  • We need to speak to you about a person in your family missed court

  • We need to speak to you about fraudulent use of your credit card, or bank account

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Seeds Scam Alert

Overview

People have been receiving packages of seeds from China. They were never ordered - they just showed up. Or they receive some item that they never ordered. As much as we love planting things - be aware that these seeds could have bugs or other things we don’t want here in the US. Please use the process stated in the bulletin for taking care of these seeds. Don’t throw them away because they can still spread whatever they have. If you received some item you didn’t order - you do not have to return it. Nor do you have to pay for it.

Emotional Play

Free stuff. Curiosity (What will the seed sprout?).

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Resources

Watch your credit  card and bank statements for any transaction that you didn't make to ensure you are not getting billed for something you didn't order.

 

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Sex Offender Scam

Overview

These scammers prey on the targets they feel are vulnerable and use law enforcement names to scare the target into paying in lieu of whatever the scammer is accusing the target of. Sometimes they will target registered sex offenders due to the public record of their information. The scammer will tell the victim that they missed some administrative supervision requirement and will be arrested unless they pay money.

Please remember - law enforcement does not call anyone to request money or payment for any type of activity over the phone. NEVER give funds or personal information over the phone. If you have questions about a call like this, call the crime prevention number (970-498-5159) to ask if the call is legitimate or not.

Emotional Play

Fear of being in trouble, protecting your good name.

Target Audience

All ages.

Additional Resources

Call your local law enforcement agency to verify any contact received by phone:

  • LCSO 970-416-1985
  • Fort Collins Police Services 970-221-6540
  • Loveland Police Department 970-667-2151
  • Estes Park Police Department 970-586-4000

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Share My Winnings Scam Alert

Overview

There are many wonderful people in the world that are willing to share their fortune with others.  BUT there are more scammers who say they will share but need your personal information to do it.  You don’t know this person and even if you know you are special, this stranger isn’t really giving you this share of his winnings because he thinks you are special.  This really could be the name of the winner, and his picture might even be legit - but the person sending it and the link are not legit - they are just using his name and picture.  They want your personal info and maybe even a payment in order to process this.

Target Audience

Anyone with a cell phone.

Emotional Play

Free money / windfall / economic relief. "Wow, I can get caught up!"

Resources

Report the message to your cellular provider and delete it.

Example

I'm Mr. Manuel Franco, the Powerball winner of  768  Million in Powerball Millions Jackpot, click here to see my winning interview *https://www.youtuxe.com/watbh?v=sT--2y1G7zC0 I'm donating to 200 random individuals. If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball. I have spread most of my wealth over a number of charities and Organisations. I have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of  50,000 USD to you as one of the selected 200, to verify your winnings send a text to the agent in charge. Here is the number of the agent Donald Creed in charge (+13302577558), text him for confirmation and delivery of your winning.

*link changed to avoid someone clicking  on it.

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Social security scam alert

Overview

You receive a call or email alerting you to the fact that your social security number has been used in fraudulent activities and has been placed on hold.  They want you to contact them to provide your personal information and money since you could be arrested or have legal action taken against you.  This is a scam.

Target Audience

All ages, focused on people receiving Social Security benefits.

Resources

Social Security Fraud Hotline 1-800-269-0271

Example

Scammer message: Department of the Social Security Administration. The reason of this call is to inform you that your Social Security number has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity. If you do not contact us immediately, your account will be deactivated. For more information about this case file, press 1 or call immediately our department number XXX-XXX-XXXX.

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Stimulus check scam alert

Overview

The pandemic has created many emotions - fear, unrest, isolation, financial worries, helplessness and many other feelings that typically are not as strong or active as they are during this time.  Many people are depending on the recovery/stimulus check that was promised by the Federal Government.  Scammers saw a way to capitalize on this to offer a way to get your stimulus check faster by giving them your bank details.

Emotional Play

Financial worries, fear, frustration.

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors and those who do not use direct deposit most vulnerable.

Additional Resources

Internal Revenue Service

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Threatening Text Message Scam Alert

Overview

This threatening scam has been happening in other parts of the US but is now popping up in Northern Colorado.  Using public information, it attempts to make you think you have messed with someone related to the cartel and now you are being fined $2,500 or other amount.  If you don’t pay, they threaten to hurt your family and they include gory pictures of mutilated /murdered bodies to make sure you know they mean business.  They say they have researched you and know everything about you - but they really only have the public information.

Emotional Play

Fear

Target Audience

All Ages

Resources

Send any documentation to  LCSO - Barbara Bennett.  Do not respond,  Make a fraud report on ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

 

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Example

Threatening Text Message Scam Example
Trial scam alert

Overview

There is a TV ad, a phone call or an email offering you a fabulous product for free - just pay a small amount for  shipping/handling. You have 30 days to try it! Sounds great, right? Well, in the really small print, it says you must return the product within 30 day otherwise you will be billed for the full amount. In addition, you will be signed up for a monthly subscription for a product every month and you will be billed at full price. The full price of the product is quite expensive and the 30 day window starts when you order, not when you receive the product. It could take up to two weeks to receive the product. The company has your credit card so will bill you continuously.

Emotional Play

Hope that the product will help you look younger, the product will help you lose weight, help prevent you from getting sick, etc.  Embarrassment to report.

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Unemployment Scam Alert

 

Overview

This scam has really hit during the COVID 19 pandemic to take advantage of those that have not applied for unemployment benefits. The scammer has and is misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and date of birth. 

The unemployment payments usually are deposited to accounts the imposters control. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person’s account, instead. If this happens to you, the imposters may call, text, or email to try to get you to send some or all of the money to them. They may pretend to be your state unemployment agency and say the money was sent by mistake. This a money mule scam and  participating in one could cause you more difficulties.

ADDITIONAL INFO

If you have received a 1099 for unemployment you have not applied for, please ensure you follow the recommended action in the Unemployment Benefits Scam card to protect yourself.  In addition, the Colorado dept of Labor and Employment provides the following info:

If you have received a 1099-G document from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment but did not file a claim for unemployment benefits, you may be a victim of identity theft. Unfortunately, fraudsters steal or purchase private information from illicit data brokers and use that information to file fraudulent unemployment claims. While we have a sophisticated multi-factor program in place to flag suspected fraud, no system is perfect.

Here’s what you should do if you’ve received a 1099-G document from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment but did not file a claim for unemployment benefits:

  1. Report it using the Report Invalid 1099 formhttps://co.tfaforms.net/f/Report_Invalid_1099  

  2. For more info on the scam - https://cdle.colorado.gov/tax-form-1099-g    

  3. Contact the three consumer credit bureaus and put a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number (SSN). Credit Bureau Contact Info: Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 | Experian: 1-888-397-3742 | TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289  

For more information from the IRS, go to https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-offers-guidance-to-taxpayers-on-identity-theft-involving-unemployment-benefits

 

Emotional Play

Fear of negative impact.

Target Audience

Anyone who hasn't applied for emergency unemployment benefits.

 

Resources

Colorado Department of Labor - Report Fraud Here

Federal Trade Commission - Unemployment Benefits

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Unemployment Text Scam Alert

Overview

This is a variation of the Unemployment Benefits Scam, just using a different way of reaching you. Clicking on the link will allow the scammer to take your personal information and perhaps even drop a virus as a token of their appreciation.

Emotional Play

It must be official - I am curious if I didn't make an unemployment claim and if I did this must be important.

Target Audience

Anyone with a smartphone.

 

Resources

If you made an unemployment claim, go directly to the CDLE website and check on your claim. Never click links.

Colorado Department of Labor - Report Fraud Here

Federal Trade Commission - Unemployment Benefits

 

Examples

Scam Text Messages

Scam Text Messages

Scam Text Messages

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US Bank Reliacard Scam Alert

Overview

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment uses a debit Visa card (USBANK RELIA) to deposit unemployment benefits to those that apply for unemployment benefits. If you have NOT applied for unemployment, and receive this visa card, it possibly could be a scam.

Target Audience

Those that haven't applied for unemployment benefits. This is part of the Unemployment Benefits scam that has been going viral across the country. In some cases, a number of cards in different names could appear in your mailbox.

Resources

De-activate the card and monitor your credit cards and bank accounts for anything suspicious.

Also review the Unemployment Benefits Scam card for additional details.

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​​​​

Utility Bill Scam Alert

Overview

Scammers (bad actors) have used this phishing scam for quite awhile but during this time of Covid, it is especially alarming to many citizens that have had a tough time paying all their bills, including their electric bill. It is alarming to hear your electricity will be turned off within a few minutes so many are willing to do whatever they need to do to keep their power on. The scammer may also ask for payment in untraceable methods such as wire transfer, money cards, etc.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

Alarm, fear.
 

Resources

If you want to assure your bill is current, or if you are overdue, contact the phone number on your utility bill. NEVER give your payment on the phone to the caller.

 

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VISA Switch Scam Alert

Overview

A ring of scammers have been targeting grocery stores (and possibly other stores) to steal some unactivated Visa cards. They then carefully replace the legitimate barcode with their own barcode that goes to a Visa card the  scammer has.

When the buyer activates and pays for the card, instead of the funds being placed on the Visa card the buyer purchases, it goes directly to the scammer's Visa card. When the recipient tries to use the card, it shows that it hasn’t been activated. This ring has hit multiple grocery stores in our area. It is very difficult for the buyer to know if this is real or fake by just looking at the Visa card since the scammers are very careful about replacing the barcode and sealing the card back up.

Target Audience

Anyone purchasing a gift for someone.

Emotional Play

Purchasing a gift.

Resources

When purchasing these cards, try to pull one from toward the back. You can also look at the receipt and if the Visa card you purchased is a Happy Birthday card and the receipt says Get Well - that might indicate it is a fraudulent card. If you notice this, have the store check before you leave the store.

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Wildfire Damage Scam Alert

Overview

Sadly, when a disaster hits, scammers figure out how to capitalize on the tragedy to bilk you out of your money. It is up to you to be very alert to uninvited offers to fix your damage especially at a “great deal” and all you have to do is pay up front. Then they take your money and are gone.

Target Audience

All ages.

Emotional Play

We are emotionally drained, our home is damaged, and someone offers a great deal and they will give you the help you need.

 

Resources

Do your homework and if you need a contractor to help you - check out the reputable local contractors with a solid history and references and initiate the call yourself. Roving contractors looking for business is a huge red flag.

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​​​​

Will You Do Me a Favor Scam Alert

Overview

Somehow the scammer has access to your contacts and is pretending to be your real friend.  Real friends don’t ask you to buy gift cards even if they are out of town.  Nor do they ask you to peel off the silver and give them the access numbers.  Only scammers ask you to do that.  Keep in mind that even if your friend is out of town they can buy their own gift cards anywhere and not ask you. 

 

Emotional Play

We always want to help our friends.  We just have to know which are real friends and which are real scammers.

 

Target Audience

Anyone who uses email.

 

Resources

If you ever fall victim to something like this and lose money, please file a police report and monitor your banking and credit card information. 

 

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If you have fallen victim to a scammer, remember these 7 important steps:

  1. Do not communicate further with the scammer.  They are criminals and some are dangerous. Never offer to travel to meet them to claim your money or prize, pay them to receive your prize, exchange products from Craig’s list or give out your address and other personal information.
  2. Contact your bank immediately and ask them to monitor your account for unusual activity. Ask them if it is necessary for you to close out your current accounts and open new ones. You can also refer to our Identity Theft Prevention page for more information.
  3. Contact the fraud departments of one of the three major credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your account. They will pass the info to the other two. This will require credit agencies to contact you before opening any new accounts or making changes to your current accounts.  
    1. Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
    2. Experian - 1-800-525-6285
    3. Transunion - 1-800-680-7289
  4. File a Police Report with your local law enforcement if you have lost money to the scammer. Ask for a copy of the report to submit to your bank, credit agencies and other financial institutions for proof that a crime was committed. If you have not lost money but want to report the scam, call or email Barbara Bennett, 970-682-0597.
  5. File a fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission - www.ftc.gov and  www.identitytheft.gov
  6. Document and save all conversations you have with the scammers, whether by text, email or phone, and with your bank, the credit agencies, and law enforcement. Include the date and time of when you had a conversation, who you spoke with (person's name and extension number if applicable), the phone number you contacted and the information you provided.
  7. Monitor bank and credit card activities closely. Report any suspicious activity.

NEVER DO THESE:

Never - Click on a link from an unknown source

Never - Give any personal information over the phone

Never - Pay for anything via money or gift cards or wire transfers

Never - call the numbers provided by a scammer pretending to be a legitimate business - these calls go directly to the scammer.

Never - pay strangers via cash apps (Venmo, etc.)

Never - pay for something prior to seeing it (rentals through Craig’s List)

 

 

PLEASE familiarize yourself with the scams listed on this website so if you are contacted you will be aware that it is a scam!  Check back frequently since new scams are always added!

FAQs

  1. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Now that we are in the Christmas holiday season, we have to be vigilant about how busy the scammer elves are at figuring out ways to intercept your money.

    All of the previous scams in the newsletter still are active, but I want to spotlight some scams that are particularly concerning during our holiday buying season.

     

    1.       ON-LINE SHOPPING –

    ·Always use a secure network to do on-line shopping.  Free public networks are not secure and are open to scammers.

    ·If you see an item you would like to buy from social media sites, be very cautious.  Google the item to see if you can purchase it from a known retailer rather than a sponsored ad on social media.  Typically, you can find the same product at a better price from a  reputable retailer.

    ·If you shop on marketplace sites, never pay by cash apps, pre-paid gift cards or crypto.  Never pay before you see the product.

    ·Buying gift cards?  Inspect carefully to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with.  Is the pin number visible from the back of the card?  If so, it has been tampered with.

    ·If you receive a notice from a shipping or mailing firm saying you owe some money to get your package, it is a scam.

    ·If you are selling something on a social media or marketplace site – do not accept a cashier’s check for a larger amount than you asked for.  The check is bogus, and it is a scam.

    ·If someone wants to buy your item on Marketplace and wants to use Zelle to pay – buyer beware! Scammer will tell you here is a limit on your account so s/he can’t deposit funds.  Your account needs to be upgraded so your funds can be deposited.  Says Zelle said the buyer needed to deposit extra funds to upgrade your account.  The end result – scammer says he deposited more funds to upgrade your account, and you have to reimburse the funds to the scammer. 

    Zelle and other cash apps like Venmo should only be used with trusted friends and family.

     

    2.      MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT – scammers are calling pretending to be from Medicare.  They really just want your personal information.

    a.     Don’t trust the caller ID – scammers fake caller ID’s.

    b.     If they ask for your Medicare number, social security number, bank, or credit card – they are scammers.

    c.      Don’t rush to sign up – enrollment is open until Dec. 7.  Do your research.

    d.    Benefits cannot be taken from you if you don’t sign up for the caller’s plan.

    e.     No plan is “preferred by Medicare” so if the person says that – it is a scam.

     

    3.     EMAIL INVOICES/ORDERS/SURVEYS – scam examples

    a.     Xfinity support ticket – your account is missing some info – click here.  Or – please fill out this survey for a chance to win.

    b.     “Invoice from pay – pal” ---- you have been billed for $1,895 for your bitcoin purchase.  Click or call us if you think this is fraud. (the click and phone number are both frauds!)

    c.      “Please sign document” – review the payment, sign, and pay.

    d.    Wells Fargo – you have to verify your contact info to avoid any loss of service. Just click here or call this number – (direct line to scammer.)

    e.     “Billing – View on-line banking statement – please download attachment and follow instructions.

    f.       Invoice (from jen@onthejlo.com – sound suspicious?) thanks for you PayPal subscription!  If you wish to cancel  call immediately.

    g.     “Billing Desk Team” – order ubpdate without tax (actual subject line – not my typo) – payment for Norton. Contact support number if you didn’t buy this for 358.99.

    h.    Amazon – (from newlet.custumer@spaymzon4.com) – we have suspended your account because you provided inaccurate info or used your account in violation of our conditions.  Click here if in error. 

    i.       “Process Server” from “Rmlegal” calls you regarding your debt with Meta Bank.  They need to deliver legal papers to you.

    j.       UPS  (joannking15@gmail.com) – Congratulations – we have a surprise for you – just Click Here.  Or if you don’t want future emails just Click Here.

     

    4.     COMPUTER VIRUS SCAM VARIATION –

    a.     In most cases of this scam, you are asked to get gift or money cards and give the code to the caller so your computer can be fixed.  Another twist on this one is that the caller indicates you can get a rebate for the cost of the fix and directs you to another website.  You are to input $300 in the rebate line.  The caller gets upset and says the amount got changed to $30,000 in error and that they had deposited this amount to your account.   The scammer then walks you through the process of “returning” the $29,700 to the scammer after showing a spoofed copy of your bank account showing this $30,000 deposit. This trick is also used in other scams as well so beware of anyone saying you didn’t put the dot in the right place, or the computer switched the numbers.

     

    Scammers target every demographic, but our senior population are at a higher risk for many reasons.

    o   Seniors are more trusting of people, can be less tech savvy and typically might have more disposable income.  Many are lonely and are prime targets for scammers.

    o   Sadly, if one of our precious seniors do fall victim to a scam, they feel embarrassed, humiliated, “stupid”, and are afraid to tell family or friends or report it to law enforcement.  These feelings can lead to depression so please reach out to your seniors and share scam prevention information with them, help them sift through what could be a scam, encourage them to report it, and let them know they are not stupid – the scammers are just really good at manipulating us.  Seniors losing money to a scammer are not usually in a position to generate more funds, so prevention is a key tool for them (and everyone, really.) 

    I am always available to be a resource for anyone needing help with a possible scam or a scam that has been done. 

             

     

    Please remember these “Never do’s” –

     

    ·Never click on links or call the number

    ·Never give personal info over the phone

    ·Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc.  (Always use credit cards or PayPal for buyer protection)

    ·“Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook

    ·Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craig’s List/Marketplace or other venue

    ·Never accept an offer over what you are asking

     

    Stay safe and thank you to all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about.  I really appreciate hearing from you and getting the information on trending scams – and am so happy to hear that you are recognizing a scam and are taking the appropriate measures!

     

    https://www.larimer.org/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

     

    Enjoy this beautiful season of  Christmas and our journey into a new year.  From all of us at LCSO, CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS!

     

    Barb

  2. What a beautiful fall we are having!  Hope you all are well and enjoying every day!  I know you are not enjoying he various scammers we have falling from the trees!  Wish we could just rake them up and mulch them. 

    As you know, scammers can target any demographic – young, single, female, married, male, older and everything in between.  Senior adults, however, are a vulnerable target for scammers.  Why?  They are more trusting, less techy, and sometimes lonely.  Seniors might have more financial assets than young families.  There are many factors in this demographic being more vulnerable.  Whatever the reasons, all people that have lost money to scammers feel humiliated, violated, betrayed, victimized, embarrassed, cheated, shamed,  and feel stupid for falling for the scam.  Just know that these scammers are very well trained in manipulating their target into believing that they are trustworthy and very honest.  They know how to scam!  Because of these emotions, many seniors do not want to tell anyone they have been scammed and lost money.  They may internalize these feelings and it could lead to depression.  Please keep the communication lines open to seniors you know so that they have someone to help them through these emotions. Share scam information with them so they are more alert to some of the scammer’s ploys.  In addition,  I am always available to help anyone dealing with these scammers to get through the process and take the necessary steps to protect themselves going forward.   It truly takes a village. 

    Did you know that the administration estimates the Covid unemployment benefit loss due to fraudsters is about 19% - equaling about $80 billion across the nation?  This shows us how sophisticated these bad actors are and how vulnerable we all can be to fraudsters.

     

    Moving on - here’s what is on our scam radar ---

    #1 Police Officer/Deputy impersonation – these bad actors are really very active right now – calling you for missed jury duty, a warrant for your arrest, etc.  They may give you a real name from the police department or the sheriff’s office but know that law enforcement NEVER calls you and asks for money for any reason.  Nor will they ever ask you to pay with money/gift cards, wire transfer, cash apps, etc.   The number the impersonator used was 970-797-3481 (it has since been disconnected and another number is probably in use now).  The caller had a deep southern accent.  Be on the alert!

    #2 cleanupmycredit.com – one of our citizens misdialed the Experian number – using 1-800 instead of 1-888 and connected with a person that said it would take too long for her to unfreeze her account and that by purchasing their one-time credit protection plan for $396 rather than unfreezing her credit with Experian would be a better choice.  They did ask for personal information and would have gotten more personal info had the caller not suspected something fishy.  The company she spoke with was “cleanupmycredit.com” and had nothing to do with Experian.

    #3  service@paypal.com email – “Here’s your estimate” from their billing department for $600.  A button for ‘VIEW YOUR ESTIMATE’ wants you to click so you can see what they are billing you for.  (remember – never click on a link) – also with a note that your PayPal account may have been illegally accessed and they have deducted $600 from your account to cover cost of Vanilla Gift Cards.  Then they give you a number to call if you didn’t order these.  STOP!  Don’t click and don’t call.  This is a scam.

    #4 USPS package on hold for you – an email or text that looks legit from the USPS and want you to call the number or click on the link.   They  have a package for you that they couldn’t deliver but need your credit card to verify the package and redeliver.  Asking for your credit card to verify is a huge red flag that it is a scam!  Or they ask for a small amount of money to pay for re-delivery.  Since you can’t pay with cash over the phone, they want your credit card.  Bogus!

    #5  Facebook Marketplace scam – a citizen offered an item for sale on Marketplace for $380.  Someone contacted her to purchase the item and wanted to pay the buyer through Zelle.  Long story short – the buyer (scammer) indicated that the Zelle account needed to be changed to accept a payment of $380 and came up with an elaborate scheme to have the seller keep trading money back and forth.  This turned out to be a big scam and the seller lost a lot of money. If a potential buyer wishes to purchase your item, do not use Zelle or Venmo or any cash app with someone not a trusted friend or family.  Have them pay in cash when you exchange the item.

    #6  Check Fraud -  Scammers look for your mailbox raised flag indicating outgoing mail.  They look for checks, credit cards, gift cards.    If you are paying a bill by check and place it in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up – please don’t.  The scammer can wash the ink off with chemicals and fill the check in to someone else and put in a new amount.  If you are mailing any checks, gift cards, etc., please put them directly into an official mailbox or drop them off at the post office. 

    #7   Your personal info is for sale on the dark web email – you get an email warning you that your personal info is being sold on the dark web.  Please do NOT click on a link or call the number in this email.  It is trying to trick you into disclosing personal information to them.  Change your passwords on your email accounts to tighten your security.  If you have a “password manager” it will also help your security.  Check your credit reports for any suspicious activity.  Request a free credit report.  Consider putting a credit freeze on your credit cards to protect someone from opening new accounts in your name or a fraud alert to protect from a thief getting new credit in your name.

    #8  Publishers Clearing House (PCH) or other sweepstake winners -  Here is the process from PCH if you were to be a winner in one of their sweepstakes –

    At PCH winners of our major prize awards are notified live and in person by our famous Prize Patrol. Since PCH awards a steady range of prizes throughout the year, at our option we may notify winners of $10,000 or less via an overnight express carrier such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS Express Mail and occasionally via email. Major prize award and SuperPrize winners are not notified via email. Prizes are awarded within eight weeks of final winner selection.

    Only PCH is authorized to notify you of a win from a PCH giveaway. There are never any strings attached to winning a Publishers Clearing House prize. We do not ask for bank account information. There is no processing fee, tax or special handling charge required to win and our prizes are delivered free of charge to the winners. If you were contacted by someone claiming to represent Publishers Clearing House, or claiming to be a PCH employee and were asked to send or wire money, send a pre-paid gift card or a Green Dot MoneyPak card, or cash a check and send a portion back to them as payment for any reason to claim a Sweepstakes prize - STOP - You have not heard from the real Publishers Clearing House.                                                                                                          

    #9  Federal loan forgiveness program – Recently the administration announced a student loan forgiveness program for $10,000 or $20,000 for those with outstanding loans.  The application process for this is simple – and prime for scammers. All you must do is fill out your name, address, social security number and your income.  No proof required.  As I tried to research this process on the internet – it was obvious that it is not even clear which website is the legitimate one.  There are many other companies offering ways to apply for these, or other debt relief programs.  The online application is up and running but because of litigation,  the program is on hold until that clears up.  As this program moves forward, and the scams are in place, I will share more information as available.  In the meantime, be very cautious where you provide this information.  Do not give it out to any site other than the official website.

    #10  Hello?  Hello? I need to speak to XXXXXX phone call -  these are usually from a call center.  I received a call from 719-394-9946 asking to speak to Barbara Bennett – I asked what he wanted to speak with her about and he hung up.  When I called the number back the answering system indicated it was a Fundraising Center in Colorado Springs.  He probably wanted money for some cause – and pay over the phone.  Just hang up. 

     

    Please remember these “Never do’s” –

     

    ·Never click on links or call the number

    ·Never give personal info over the phone

    ·Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc.  (Always use credit cards or PayPal for buyer protection)

    ·“Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook

    ·Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craig’s List/Marketplace or other venue

    ·Never accept an offer over what you are asking

     

    Stay safe and thank you to all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about.  I really appreciate hearing from you and getting the information on trending scams – and am so happy to hear that you are recognizing a scam and are taking the appropriate measures!

     

    https://www.larimer.org/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

     

    Enjoy the beauty of our falling leaves – and keep hoping the scammers fall off the trees as well. 

     

    Barb

  3. As we move into a beautiful fall, I would love to share that we have totally
    obliterated scams and scammers. Wishful thinking. But the good news is
    that the more educated and wary we are, the less these (fill in your favorite
    word for scammers here) can win.


    Here are some of the ones we are seeing this month.
    1. Texts to your cell phone – inviting you to sign up for various promotions, surveys, and click their link for information. These fall into the “never click on a link or call a phone number”. From – info@mail-paypal-5x7x8x.com service@paypal.com - xxxxx is your OTP, do not make this request. Sign in and secure https .....etc. “Set up to Join the WalMart Appraisal -Customers to Earn 500 dols Weekly, Goto https xxxxxxxx use my referral code xxxxx”
    2. Always take your receipt from a purchase – even if its small. If they ask if you want a receipt – check it and take it with you. Leaving it could put you at risk for added charges you are unaware of being put on the charge.
    3. Student Loan debt relief – this new government plan will forgive some federal student loans and extends the pause program until the end of this year. Scammers may offer you a way to get in early, jump the line or guarantee eligibility. Not true! You do not have to do anything or pay anyone to sign up. This is just the scammers jumping on board with a new way to get your money.
    4. Email scams –

    “You got (1) package pending for delivery, Use your code to track and receive it. Click here please!
    Hurry up – the number of prizes to be won is limited – confirm now!
    -- Shows a cool picture from Lowes --
    From: chaase 125978xx25@usci416.org (please note the scammer’s spelling of Chase)
    We had a small change in our online banking policy ….. we disabled the Access to your
    Online Banking as it is a violation to your new policy.
    We need to re-verify your account ……..
    Click “Regain Access Now !”
    Email saying your personal information (social security number, date of birth, driver’s
    license) is being sold on the dark web.. (don’t click on a link or call the number in the
    email. It is probably the contact info for the scammer. If you have a credit monitoring
    service or a credit card that monitors the dark web – contact them directly with their
    website or phone number that you trust is real.) The FTC has received many reports of
    these emails being sent out.
    5. “Pay Yourself “ scam – this alert is taken from a Bank of America letter to their clients about potential scam with Zelle cash app.

    While Bank of America may send you a text to validate unusual activity, we will never contact you to request that you send money using Zelle® to anyone, including yourself, or to share a code to resolve fraud. If you receive a request like this, it is likely a scammer trying to trick you.
    Here are the details of the "pay yourself" scam
     You receive a text message that looks like a fraud alert from your bank about
    unusual activity. The text may look something like "Did you make a purchase of
    $100.00 at ABC merchant?".
     If you respond to the text, you have now engaged the scammer and will receive a
    call from a number that appears to be from a bank.
     They'll appear to be a representative from a bank and will offer to help stop the
    alleged fraud by asking you to send money to yourself with Zelle®.
     The scammer will ask you for a one-time code you just received from a bank.
     If you give them the code, they will use it to enroll their bank account with Zelle®
    using your email or phone number.
     The scammer now has the ability to receive your money into their account.
    6. Sweepstakes scam– Publisher’s Clearinghouse has another sweepstakes going – so be wary if you get a call saying you won something and all you must do is pay some taxes on our winnings or pay shipping and handling! (they might even say your Mercedes Benz that you won is on its way to your house!)
    Safe tips –
     Change your passwords frequently (there are password managers that will automatically create hard to guess passwords and keep them in memory for you)
     Shred mail or papers with your personal info
     Check your free Annual Credit Report for any accounts that you haven’t opened.
     Put a credit freeze on your credit cards so new accounts can’t be opened by others in your name

    Please remember these “Never do’s” –
     Never click on links or call the number
     Never give personal info over the phone
     Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc. (Always use credit cards or PayPal for buyer protection)
     “Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook
     Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craig’s List/Marketplace or other venue
     Never accept an offer over what you are asking

    Stay safe and thank you to all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about.
    https://www.larimer.org/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams
    Enjoy the beauty of our fall/fake spring weather right now!


    Barb

  4. I am in denial that summer is ending for 2022 and will probably stay in denial until the snow flies.  I d0 wish the scammers would take a very long vacation but they are unfortunately quite busy.

     

    Here are some of the ones we are seeing this month.

     

    #1 – Geek Squad, Amazon, and others billing you – watch for strange characters, poor grammar, and spelling - Example –

     

    GEËKSQUÂD  We would thank you for the completation of 12-months maintenance plan.

    We auto-renewed your plan and Charged $349.99 USD against your account.

    customer service

     

    or PayPal billing department has updated your invoice- you owe $1,000.

     

    Or “Customer Support (no-replybuy@wxlkensaja.com) sends an email saying an unauthorized party accessed your Amazon account.  They reversed this and cancelled all your orders.  You do have to re-enter your complete credit or debit card number and bank information to verify your account.  If you have any trouble, just contact us – Sincerely, Customer Support Amazon

     

    Please do not call the number or click on the link in these emails or letters.  These are the scammers contact info.

     

    #2 – IRS letter indicating you owe money from 2021 taxes due to your error.  Also provides a “last date to respond”.  If you know you do not owe, the best way to handle is to go to the IRS office in Northern Colorado or have your CPA check to let the IRS know that this could be someone fraudulently filing in your name. 

     

    #3 – Call from utility company – you have 30 minutes to pay your overdue bill before they arrive at your home to turn off your power.  Red flag – utility companies do not call, they do not give you 30 minutes to pay over the phone, and they never ask for payment via money/gift cards, Venmo, Zella or cryptocurrency (bitcoin, etc.).

     

    #4 - Visa Card Giveaway – email telling you to participate in their

    promotional campaign and you will receive (maybe) a $250 Visa card for gas.  In small print - *paid participation required.  All these offers, surveys, etc. are just trying to get your personal information or get you to buy something. 

     

    #5 – Free medical equipment – they say they are from Medicare, but they are not.  Medicare does not send out offers for free medical equipment.  Plus, the person you speak with want your Medicare number (remember – never give out your Medicare number, social security number, etc.)

     

    #6 - $25 for a year of bitcoin mining – while supplies last!  They request you join their club and pay $25 for the annual rental of a brand-new bitcoin mining rig.  The club will just take a 5% cut of all the bitcoin your rig mines.  If you are truly interested in the cryptocurrency arena – I suggest you do a lot of research before you get involved with it.  The reason scammers love cryptocurrency is that it is very secure – once you pay into it – it is very difficult to trace.

     

    #7 – Vacation homes/apartments for rent – never send in a deposit via cash apps!  Always see the property before paying.  If the person cannot show it or wants money via cash app, money/gift cards or cryptocurrency (bitcoin) it is probably a scam.

     

    #8 – Sports or concert tickets – if you purchase them on craig’s list or Facebook marketplace or other 3rd party sellers – buyer beware.  If you do not know and trust the party, you are buying them from – it is a scam.  Always purchase from an official box office retailer.

     

    #9 – Mary Kay, Tupperware, Color Street, etc. small home businesses – beware of someone wanting to send you a cashier’s check for some of your product to be mailed to her in another state.  It is quite a large order for items, and the cashier’s check is bogus!  If you deposit it in your bank and send the merchandise, you will then find out the cashier’s check is bogus.

     

    #10 – Law Enforcement, IRS, FBI, etc. impersonation to get you to pay over the phone.  This is always a scam.  Please do not fear you are in trouble – these are scammers trying to scare you into paying them. 

     

    #11 – PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE – is running a sweepstakes right now – beware of a caller saying you have won and just must pay shipping

     

    #12 – Strangers on the street stopping you to ask you to donate to help them go on a trip.

     

    #13 – Texts from various numbers to “Set up to join the Walmart Appraisal – Customers to earn 500 Dols weekly, Goto  xxxxxxxx link and use my referral number 1XX3A”  ---- please remember to never click on a link.  This is a scam, and they want your personal information. 

     

    Please remember these “Never do’s” –

     

    ·Never click on links or call the number

    ·Never give personal info over the phone

    ·Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc.  (Always use credit cards or PayPal for buyer protection)

    ·“Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook

    ·Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craig’s List/Marketplace or other venue

    ·Never accept an offer over what you are asking

     

    Stay safe and thank you to all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about.

     

    https://www.larimer.org/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

     

    Hope you enjoy the rest of this rather warm summer!

     

    Barb

  5. Hello all -
    I hope you are enjoying the summer - and the rain!  

    We have had a lot of reports of our citizens losing money to scams of all types - law enforcement impersonation, Craig's List, Marketplace, etc.  I am not even going to list all the scams that are reaping rewards with our money but I do want to give you some RED FLAGS that pertain to all scammers. 

    Scammers typically have used gift cards and money cards to get you to pay them - just give them the number on the back of the card.  In addition, now they are using crypto currency methods since they are untraceable once you have paid them. You can be 200% sure that it is a scam if anyone asks you to pay with:
    Money or gift cards
    Bitcoin
    Cash apps (Venmo, Zelle, etc.) unless they are your friend or family that you trust
    Crypto currency (including Bitcoin and other digital currency)
    Wire transfer
    Overpayment - they pay you more than you are asking with a fake cashier's check 
    Buyer says they have paid you in Venmo but you don't show it
    Please pass this onto anyone and everyone you know so they will be on high alert if they are ever asked to pay in any of these methods.  

    Stay safe!

    Barb
    Chief Scambuster

  6. The weather is beautiful – people are out and about again after Covid’s reign, and the scammers are blooming all over.  They get sneakier, we get smarter, and they keep coming after us.  We will keep our antennae’s up and stay wary to thwart them.

     

    Here is what is happening –

     

    Phishing scams – daily emails!  Requests to fill out surveys, bills for subscriptions you did not order, bills for large ticket items sent to a stranger in another state, security checks, and the list goes on.  

    Amazon sent out an email “Protecting yourself from scammers” – do not give personal info over the phone, never pay over the phone, be wary of false urgency, and on go through the amazon mobile app or website when you need help or want to make changes to your account.  This is good advice.

    Phone scams – We are still getting law enforcement impersonators trying to convince you to pay them over the phone, so you will not be arrested.  Just hang up.  Law enforcement NEVER asks for money by phone, asks to pay to get out of a warrant, or tries to scare you into paying them via prepaid money cards or cash apps. 

    Calls from Microsoft, Windows or Apple saying your computer has a virus – you are told to pay them (via money card again) -and give them access to your computer to fix it.  Just hang up.  If your computer has a pop up saying you have a virus – just turn off your computer for a few minutes and turn back on – pop up will be gone.

    Medicare impersonators – want you to confirm the number on your Medicare card so they can send you the new one.  Since social security numbers are no longer on the Medicare card, the scammer wants you to give them your number!  Just hang up.

    Law Enforcement, Social security, Dept of Justice, FBI impersonators – your social security number has been used nefariously – pay over the phone to get it cleared up (by prepaid card.) Or you have open warrants, and you must pay over the phone by money/gift card, bitcoin, or cash app.  Remember - These official agencies NEVER ask for money on the phone, never ask you to pay using these methods, and these are just scammers trying to scare you into paying them. 

    Bait and Switch – sponsored ads on social media (Facebook) – please be aware that some of these ads are from a US distributor of products from China.  The item takes forever to arrive and is a cheap version of what you ordered.  Be sure to use only credit card or PayPal when paying so you have buyer protection.  If you see something you would like to buy from one of these ads, check the website they are sending you to (sometimes they use a big brand logo to make you think you are ordering from Macy’s, Sketchers, etc. but it is not the name brand business) and always check local businesses or amazon to see if its available from a trusted business.

    Business – before choosing a business to work on your car or home, please check with the Better Business Bureau, online reviews, etc. to ensure the business is solid.  There have been recent incidents where someone used a local business to fix a car after an accident, the insurance company paid the business, and the car has not been fixed after 8 months.  We all want to support our local businesses, but we also need to be researching the business beforehand.  If you get a very low bid, be cautious – cheaper does not always pay.
     

    Are paper checks safe?  Any check can be “washed” with chemicals such as acetone, brake fluid or bleach.  The scammer can then fill in the amount and the recipient to cash your money at a store or deposit into the scammer’s account.   Here are a few tips about increasing the safety of using paper checks:

    ·      Do not leave a check in your mailbox for the mailperson to pick up (the scammer can pick it up before the mailman)

    ·      Do not leave your mail in your mailbox before retrieving it

    ·      High security checks (using anti-copy technology, holograms, heat detection, etc.) can be one step of security since some have special fraud layers that leave the paper discolored if chemicals or heat is applied.    Use a black gel pen even with these checks.

    ·      Use a black gel pen designed for security – it leaves tiny particles in the paper which are difficult to wash.

    ·      Consider other payment methods – automatic bill pay through your bank or credit card.

    Income Tax Fraud – If you receive a form from the IRS (typically in Austin, Tx where their fraud department is located) saying you owe money on 2021 taxes and it needs to be paid within three weeks, the letter is most likely legit – but someone has filed a tax return using your identity.  This scam is a real pain – trying to reach the IRS is challenging (to say the least), trying to follow all the things you need to do is also challenging.  The resolution for this is twofold – let the IRS know that someone fraudulently filed in your name and protecting your identity from further harm.  The best way to handle the IRS portion is to make an appointment with the local IRS office, or the one in Denver, and take your documentation to their office.  You might also set up an account and an ID.me to monitor and add security to your tax returns.  As for the identity theft portion, please see our website for the action we recommend to protect further harm. 

    Facebook/Messenger  -Do not respond/click to messages that seem to come from a friend but look like this with a link to click -

    ·      Seen this?

    ·      Is this you in the photo?

    ·      Guess who died

    ·      Check this out!

    Be wary of strangers replying to you after you comment on a post.  Some “trolls” are looking to engage you to get your personal information by requesting you to send them a friend request (strangely enough they may have one common friend of yours but do not think they are legit – your common friend may not know them) or pretend to be a well-known named person wanting you to think you have won something and to click on their Facebook page.  One example is this from “EllEN-D”GENERES” (her real name is Ellen DeGeneres) and uses a copy of a picture of DeGeneres).

    You have won!

    These scammers are still trying to get you to pay them for winning a sweepstake prize!   With 100% certainty I will tell you it is a scam! 
     

    Please remember these “Never do’s” –

    ·      Never click on links or call the number

    ·      Never give personal info over the phone

    ·      Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc.  (Always use credit cards or PayPal for buyer protection)

    ·      “Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook

    ·      Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craigs List/Marketplace or other venue

    ·      Never accept an offer over what you are asking


    Stay safe and keep sending me scams you are hearing about.

    https://www.larimer.org/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

    Hope you enjoy all the summer events that are happening!

    Barb

  7. Scambusters Newsletter #21 – APRIL/MAY 2022

                                                                              

    Time is flying by!  Must be the crazy wind.  Here are the new scams to be on the watch for over and above the others we have shared. 

     

    #1   Donations for Ukraine

    There are many fake websites supposedly helping the people of Ukraine.  Fake websites can lead to ID theft as well as your donations going to scammers.  The BBB and FBI suggest the following tips for donating –

    ·Does the charity have a presence in Ukraine?  If not, they might not be able to aid those needing it.

    ·Can we send food or clothing?  No, it is not practical due to logistics of delivering and dispersing.

    ·Does the charity meet the BBB standards for Charity accountability?

    ·Is the charity experienced in emergency relief?

    ·Crowdfunding?  There is no oversight to this.

    ·Does the charity make exaggerated claims – 100% will be spent on relief?  All charities have expenses, so this is not true.

    To check out charities, go to ----

    ·BBB     https://give.org

    ·Charity Navigator    https://www.charitynavigator.org

    ·Charity Watch    https://www.charitywatch.org

    ·Guide Star   https://www.guidestar.org

     

    #2   Get your receipt

    Anytime you purchase something, always get, and check your receipt for accuracy and ensure there is not a “cash out” amount for cash you did not request.  This scam has been happening in other states, but it could popup here so please be alert.

     

    #3   Law Enforcement impersonation

     We are still seeing a lot of reports of impersonation of the Sheriff’s office deputies asking you for money/gift cards, bitcoin, etc. to get out of a warrant for your arrest.  Please remember – you will never be asked for money by any legitimate law enforcement officer.

     

    #4   You have won!

    There have been some very “persistent” (I am trying to be nice here) callers telling you a Mercedes is on its way to your home and you have won tons of money.  Just pay shipping, handling, or maybe your taxes over the phone.  One person told the caller she did not have that much money, so he tried to lower the charge.  And did that several times.  With 100% certainty I will tell you it is a scam!  Please do not engage these idiots (OK I am not trying to be nice anymore) since they really want to keep you talking with them in the hopes you will pay something.  Just hang up – or better yet – let it go to voicemail and do not call them back.

    #5   We have billed you xxxx –

    There are still so many emails sent out from well-known businesses like McAfee, Amazon, Geek Squad, etc. thanking you for your subscription.  These are fake but they are still flooding your emails.  Just delete.

                                              

    Now for some good news on what the FBI and other agencies have done to some of these bad actors.

     

    ·COVID-19 Unemployment scammer hit 18 states with fraudulent unemployment claims.  This scammer, from Nigeria, was arrested at JFK in 2021 and has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated ID theft for using stolen identities to claim pandemic-related unemployment benefits.  He obtained the ID’s of over 20,000 Americans and submitted more than $2m in claims (received more than $600,000.)  He also attempted to defraud the Small Business Administration in trying to obtain the Economic Injury Disaster loans for small businesses impacted by Covid.  In addition, he submitted fraudulent claims back in 2017 with the Hurricane Harvey and Irma disasters.  At the time of his arrest, he was the Special Assistant to the Governor of Nigeria’s Ogun State.  He is still in custody and will be sentenced in August of this year.  Hooray for stopping this scammer!

     

    Once again, please remember some “Never do’s” –

     

    ·Never click on links or call the number

    ·Never give personal info over the phone

    ·Never pay by cash apps, bitcoin, money/gift cards, etc.  (Always use credit cards or PayPal)

    ·“Buyer beware” on sponsored ads in Facebook

    ·Never pay for something prior to receiving it on Craigs List

    ·Never accept an offer over what you are asking

     

    Stay safe and keep sending me scams you are hearing about.  I am attaching the newsletter in a flyer format that you can send out.

     

    https://www.larimer.gov/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

     

    Hope you enjoy this beautiful spring weather!

     

    Barb

  8. Happy spring - finally!  Our normal monthly newsletter will go out next week but I wanted to alert everyone to a scam that has popped up - targeting medical professionals, and possibly other professionals.  I will provide a bit of detail for this one so you are alert to how this scam is working.  PLEASE pass this along to everyone so they don't fall victim.
     
    In the last few days we have received multiple reports for this scam.  
     
    IMPERSONATION OF LARIMER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE DEPUTIES
    • Caller identifies himself as Sergeant XYZ  from LCSO
    • States you missed a court date and now have a warrant for your arrest and a second warrant for contempt of court totaling anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000.
    • You are under a gag order to not talk to anyone about this situation
    • You must come up with a password - give it to the caller, put your phone in your pocket so the clerks don't see it, buy the cards and give the password and codes on the back of the cards to the caller when you return to your car with the cards.  If the clerk asks why - tell them its for personal use.
    • You cannot "step foot" on any government property until you send the money they are requesting - if you do, you will be arrested and held for three days in jail
    • Directed to go to WalMart of Target to get a "voucher" (money/gift card) to pay the bonds and get released from the hold on not stepping foot on any government property
    • Once paid, you can to to the Sheriff's Office and compare the signature on the subpoena you had allegedly signed
    • If the signatures do not match, you will get your money back
    • Victim requests to speak to the sergeant's supervisor
    • "Lieutenant XYZ" identifies himself as his supervisor and confirms this is real.
    The scammer may use real names of deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, etc.  They may use jargon like "10:4" to make you think they are real officers.  They also give you what to say if the clerk asks why since the scammer knows businesses are getting wise and will ask customers if they are buying over a certain amount, or if they are still on the phone with the scammer.  The scammer also makes you afraid to go to law enforcement since you will be arrested on sight. They target people who are less likely to be familiar with warrants, have limited interaction with law enforcement, and possibly have their reputation damaged if they were arrested.  
     
    Scammers today are learning how to go around the barriers to get money!  PLEASE be very alert - law enforcement will NEVER ask you to pay for a warrant over the phone, with gift or money cards, or any other methods.  Nor will they call you to let you know you have a warrant - if you really did - they would just show up!  They don't make appointments for arrests!
     
    Please share - please be alert.  Our normal newsletter will be out next week but this was something I wanted to get out right away.  
     
    Stay safe -
    Barb
    Chief Scambuster 
  9. As we celebrate the “wearin’ o’ the green” this month, we still have to contend with those on the planet that try to get us to relinquish our hard-earned money.   Just for grins, I am attaching an interesting article from the Irish Times March 16, 2022, about a young Irish lad and how he handled a scammer.  I think you will find it interesting. 

    Over the last month, we have seen scammers attempt many different ruses – so in addition to all the other usual scams, here are the ones that popped up (not in priority order.)

    New alert!  The County Sheriffs of Colorado (CSOC) just warned of scammers calling for donations saying they are with the CSOC.  They are not!  CSOC never calls for donations.

    #1 Xcel Energy – your power will be turned off in 30 seconds unless you get money/gift cards/cash app (Zelle, Venmo, etc.)  to pay your overdue bill immediately.  Scam!

    #2 Student Loan Forgiveness – phone call telling you the loan forgiveness program is over and you must call them to start making your payments.  Scam!

    #3 Covid-19 test kits – offers to give you a Covid test in exchange for your Medicare number.  Never share personal information.

    #4 McAfee, Geek Squad, Amazon Prime, etc., subscription has been billed – they want you to click on a link or call their number.  They really haven’t charged you, but they want you to click or call. 

    #5 Facebook, Facebook Marketplace – order something from marketplace to be shipped to you – if you pay by cash app (Venmo, Zelle, etc.) you have no purchase protection if the seller is a scammer.  Aways pay by PayPal or with credit card.

    #6 Publisher’s Clearinghouse Winner – phone call telling you of your $5.5 million dollar win plus a 2022 Mercedes.  Ooops – you need to pay a luxury tax for the Mercedes that is on its way – just $1,800 needs to be paid immediately.  If it seems too good to be true – it is.

    #7 Fake Facebook – Your Facebook account has been hacked and someone is using it to scam others. 

    #8 Extortion – sharing pictures on snapchat or other social media sites that you don’t want everyone to see.  Then the recipient blackmails you – pay or they will share with everyone.  (They are bluffing – just want you to pay.)

    #9 Romance scams – every dating site, Facebook, Instagram, etc. has its share of scammers.  Be aware of the red flags that s/he is a scammer.  Never loan money to someone you haven’t met.  FYI – in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission, $541 million dollars was sent to romance scammers across social media. 

    #10 Facebook – stranger comments on one of your comments or posts.  They would like to be friends – they enjoy your posts, etc.  They appear to like your style and want you to accept them as a friend, then want you to give them your personal contact info.  Block and delete.  (I had a Brigadier General and a 4-star General try this on me –they weren’t generals – they were scammers!) They copy and paste the profiles and pictures of the real generals. 

    I think I have provided enough food for thought this time around.  Please remember not to click on a link, give any personal info out, never pay by cash app, and always be alert.  The scammers never stop their shenanigans.  And being the Irish lass that I am, I will close with one of my favorite Irish poems.  May all the scammers have a limp!

    Stay safe and keep sending me scams you are hearing about.

    Barb

  10. Happy Valentine’s Day!  

     

    Some of you have asked me to send this out as a newsletter so they can pass it on to others.  Going forward, I will use this format in my email but also attach it as a document so you can send it on.  Thanks for getting the word out!  Here are the latest since my last newsletter.  

     

    Paying for your services by check – if you offer services such as playing for weddings, parties, etc. and the person contracting your service pays with a check and asks you to pay the photographer or other musician out of the same check – SCAM!  The check will be bogus and if you deposit it and pay someone else – you will then find out the check is bogus. 

    1. Covid testing – do not give your social security or pass
    2. port number to get a Covid test.  Check with our health department website to find legitimate testing sites.
    3. Covid testing kits – if ordering online, pay with a credit card to protect you if you don’t receive the kit.  Check to see if the kit is FDA approved – check FDA’s list of authorized tests on their website before buying.
    4. Covid vaccine survey Moderna – You get a survey to take part in their rewards program.  Please remember – never click on a link!!!
    5. Will you do me a favor? – a “friend” from your contacts list emails you to do her a favor since she is out of town.  Please buy her a gift card, Apple card, etc. and give her the code.  She will pay you back when she returns.  SCAM!    
    6. Student Loans – caller says the loan deferral program is over and you need to call them to set up payments to continue paying for your student loan.  This is a scam.  Just hang up.
    7. Online puppy purchase scam – purchasing a dog or puppy from an online website can be sketchy.  In a recent case, someone was told to pay $820 for the pup but it had to be paid through Zelle (remember that this is a cash app that cannot be traced once you have paid and it comes directly out of your bank account.)  Then the buyer was asked to pay an additional $1200 for a shipping crate.  They then found out the website they were trying to buy the pup from was listed on a puppy scam website.
    8. Online ticket sales – be cautious when buying online tickets to games, concerts, etc. if you aren’t buying from a reputable seller.  Never pay with cash apps (Zelle, Venmo, etc.)  You can pay and never receive the ticket.
    9. ID theft – someone opens a credit card in your name and puts thousands of dollars on it.  Please check out the list below on how to protect yourself from this scam.
    10. PayPal email – your order for $xxx was made – if you didn’t make this purchase – call this number.  This is a variation of emails with copied company logo’s saying you made a purchase that you know you didn’t make.  They are phishing – don’t respond to the email or phone number – they will tell you to get money or gift cards and give them over the phone to have them clean up your fraudulent purchases.  Never call the phone or contact info on the phishing email.

     

    Good news from the Department of Justice – they are finding and charging some of these scammers – like a Cincinnati man charged with an online romance scam and laundering the proceeds to Ghana.  A Rhode Island man pled guilty to wire fraud by fraudulently applying for Covid unemployment benefits.  A New Jersey man was just sentenced to 46 months in prison for money laundering of funds from romance and other scams to Nigeria. 

     

    ID THEFT –

    If you see accounts you don’t recognize on your credit report, strange transactions on your credit card or bank card or the IRS lets you know they received more than one tax return from you --- these are red flags that someone is using your ID!

    Use all ID Theft protection recommendations to safeguard your identity.

    • Frequently change passwords
    • Opt out of pre-screened credit card offers Shred all documents/mail with any personal information on them.
    • Review your bank and credit card statements regularly for any unauthorized activity (even a small amount).
    • Freeze your credit so your credit report is not available for others to see, no one can open an account in your name (including you), apply for a loan or credit card in your name. 
    • Use 2-factor authentication for devices and accounts.
    • Before donating or discarding any device - wipe everything off.
    • Install anti-virus software.
    • If you are out of town, have your mail picked up daily rather than stacking up in your mailbox.
    • Annually check your credit report.  This credit report can give early signs that someone may have been using your identity.  A free copy is available at "annualcreditreport.com".   Watch for new or unusual activity, or even some negative information that surprises you.  Report these irregularities immediately.

    Credit Freeze or Credit Alert?

    Credit freeze – identity thieves cannot open a new account in your name.  It prevents creditors from accessing your credit report which in turn stops the opening of an account.  You can lift the freeze when you need to.

    Fraud Alert – this alerts a business to check with you before opening a new account in your name. 

     

    Stay safe and keep sending me scams you are hearing about.

     

    https://www.larimer.gov/sheriff/services/information/frauds-scams

     

    Barb
    Chief Scambuster
  11. We couldn't let January move on without another scam activity alert!  We have recently seen Bitcoin being used in multiple scams where thousands of dollars have been lost to these scamsters.
     
    Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system.  There are Bitcoin ATM's in Northern Colorado where you can take cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin wallet.  Scammers are using this method of payment when scamming you - because if you deposit into their Bitcoin wallet - you cannot get it back nor can it be traced to the scammer.  If someone asks you to pay with Bitcoin - it is a scam.  Even if they identify as government agents, law enforcement, US Postal Service - it is a scam.
     
    Additionally - the same is true if someone wants you to pay over the phone using any cash app like Venmo, Zelle, or they want you to buy gift/money cards or wire transfer to pay -- it is a scam.
     
    And one other point to remember - if you get a call or voice mail that indicates you should press a number to be removed from their call list - just hang up and don't hit any button.
     
    Let's hope we roll into February without any more scam alerts.  Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend!  Keep watching out for these creeps that want to lighten your assets.
     
    Stay safe and keep sending me scams you are hearing about.
     
    Barb
  12. Hello and welcome to 2022 everyone!
     
    Hope you had a great and healthy holiday season!  I was hoping the scammers would fall off the ends of the earth as we started a new year but, alas, they did not.  In fact, they are up and raring to get our money!  
     
    In addition to the scams we have covered in previous Newsletters, here are some that are prevalent this month.  
     
    • COVID RELATED SCAMS -  unsubstantiated Covid treatment claims - companies that say they have prevention or  treatments for Covid like vitamin C infusion, Ivermectin, herbal and tea remedies, etc.  The FTC is sending cease and desist letters to sellers of these unproven remedies.  Always check with your doctor for the latest news on prevention or treatment of Covid.
    • Pop-up testing sites -  some testing sites in Ft. Collins have recently been closed down by the state.  Always check with Larimer County Health website for recommended vaccine and testing sites.  https://www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19.  FAKE COVID TESTS -  be sure the tests you are buying are approved by the FDA before purchasing.  Check out the seller - search on-line for the website, company name or seller's name followed by "scam" or "complaint" or "review".  Read on-line reviews or shopping comparisons.  Pay be credit card - this offers you protection if you don't get the product or it isn't legitimate.  FAKE VACCINATION CARDS - please do not purchase a vaccination card - it is fake.
    • LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPERSONATION -  you missed jury duty - or you have a warrant for something else - one citizen recently lost $7,500 and another lost $5,000 on this scam.  They were told to pay be Zelle and Apple Pay.  Please remember that law enforcement will never call you on jury duty or warrants, nor ask you to pay by cash app or money/gift cards.  Medicare, social security, student loan forgiveness, are other types of scams that may contact you under the "law enforcement" trick.  According to the FBI, more than 300 women in Larimer County from 2016-2021 have been scammed using spoofed law enforcement phone numbers and names of law enforcement officers (from the website.)  Red flags of a scam are asking for personal information, payment by money card, cash app or gift cards, telling you to remain on the line while you pay the "bond",  or that the court has placed you under a "gag order" so you won't speak to anyone about this (duh  -- they don't want you to report it.)
    • CASH APP FRAUD - Zelle, Venmo, CashApp and others are great ways to conveniently pay close friends and family or trusted local businesses.  It is NOT safe to pay or receive funds from strangers.  Scammers use this method of payment frequently since it is linked to your bank account and when you pay another cash app account there is no protection.  The scammer can take the money and run.  A recent loss of $3,800 through Zelle and another person lost $600 by paying through Venmo.  Also, never pay up front for merchandise - wait until you can exchange payment for the actual product.
    • ON-LINE EXTORTION - via on-line dating sites, google hangout, instagram, etc.  Very similar to the on-line dating scam but also can hijack your account and use any pictures you may have on your account (you may not want them made public) to extort you for money (via money card, cash apps, etc.) so they won't publish your photos.  It is a good idea never to put any photo or text on-line that you wouldn't want made public.  If you do and find yourself in this situation, do NOT pay the scammer - even if they threaten to share with your contacts.  Cut off communication and file a police report.
    • MacAfee, Norton, Amazon, - thanks for your subscription or you need to renew your subscription, etc.  Just delete - this is just phishing.  Do not click on any of the links or call the phone numbers (its the scammer.)  Take this survey - Want to work for Costco - emails soliciting you to click on links.  These are just scams to get your personal information.  Just delete.  Any email that starts our "Dear friend", "hello dear", "Someone wants to meet you"---- just delete.  Total scammer.
    The major cell phone companies are working on ways to identify and curtail fraudulent calls.  Verizon has Call Filter, T-Mobile and Sprint have Scam Shield, and AT&T has Call Protect.  I still get tons of calls on both landline and cell phone from spoofers - so there is still a long way to go to stop these very annoying calls but at least this has their attention.  It is up to all of us to know the red flags and stop the scammers by not buying their story. 
     
    Thank you all for supplying me with your scam calls - it helps all of us to know what is out there looking for our hard earned money.  Let me know if I can answer any questions or help in any way.  
     
    Check out our scam website for more details -
     
    Have a great start to the new year and stay safe and healthy!  Until next time ------ 
     
    Barb
    Chief Scambuster
  13. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each of you.
     
    As we near this wonderful holiday, I want to thank you each for all your support this last year in getting scams  to me so we can share the information broadly.  The more aware we are, the less vulnerable we become to these bad grinches.
     
    I do want to highlight a few reminders and highlight the resurgence of different variations of scams we should be aware of.
     
    RENTAL SCAMS:  If you list a home for rent on Zillow, Marketplace, Craig's List, etc.  be aware that bad grinches can copy your information and pictures and set up their own rental ad and make it look like it's legit.  The scammer asks for an application which has your personal information on it, and for a fee for application, first months rent and a deposit.  They will not be able to show the property - they will say they are out of town or some other excuse but you can pay the charges and fill in the application and they will send or leave a key.  They might ask you to pay them via Venmo, Zelle, or wire transfer.  This is not a secure payment method and you will lose any money you send and will not have a home to rent!  If you are looking for a rental - never send money or fill out an application until you have met the owner and seen the property.  Never pay with money cards, cash apps or wire transfers.
     
    MEDICARE CARD SCAM:  Call you to let you know they are sending you a new card from Medicare.  They do need some info from your old card.  HANG UP.  They are not from Medicare (they will never call you) and they just want you personal info.
     
    CREDIT CARD CHARGES:  Fraudulent charge on your credit card - uses all your info but changes the ship to address.  :
     
    ONLINE SHOPPING:  Facebook ads, Marketplace, etc.  Bait and switch - you buy from a picture - you either never receive anything or when you do it is a pathetic imitation of what you ordered.  If you paid by cash apps - or money cards - or wire transfer - it's gone.  Always buy from a known and legit seller.  Pay with credit card or Paypal to have some protection if you don't receive it or it's not what you ordered.  I typically search for the product on the internet to find if there is a legit business selling it rather than an unknown.  We have had many reports of people paying for something on these sites and then finding out its a scam.  
     
    LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPOSTERS: Calls from law enforcement telling you you have missed jury duty, you are under a gag order and can't tell anyone, stay on the line until your fine is paid, pay with money cards or bank deposits, etc.  LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL NEVER CALL YOU if you have an arrest warrant.  They will never ask for payment.  
     
    If you have any inkling you are being scammed - feel free to call me or email me to check it out before you do anything.  Check our scam website - we are always adding new scam cards.  Please remember that the scammers change their "hook" regularly so be alert and remember the "never do's" on our webpage.  
     
     
    Again, thank you for keeping me updated with scams you are receiving!  Pass scam info out to everyone so they can be aware as well.  And have a safe and happy holiday and Merry Christmas!
     
    Until the new year......
    Barb
    Chief Scambuster
  14. Greetings -

    Alas - time flew by too quickly so this is a combined November/December Scambuster.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for the Christmas season.  

    Now is the time to really have your scam radar up - lots of scams taking advantage of gift buying and on-line shopping, in addition to all the other varieties of scams.  Here is an overview of scams from November and the first few days of December.

    1.  FBI impersonator (with fake FBI ID) contacting some citizens that have lost money to scams saying he will help them get their money back.  Note:  FBI doesn't allow their ID's to be photocopied (nor do they wear t-shirts in their ID photo).  

    2.  Beware of scammers using big business logo's to get your personal information or have you click on a link.  Email saying they locked your account because of billing issues or some other situation and want you to sign in to your amazon (or other company) account to fix the issue.  This is a scam.

    3.  Threatening emails saying the sender has your passwords and collected dirt on you.  You must send them a bitcoin payment so they won't send your dirt to all your contacts.  Just ignore and delete.

    4.  "You have been charged"  email - from McAfee,  Best Buy, Amazon, Paypal indicating you have been charged for something and it will be delivered to an address you have no knowledge of.  They want you to click on a link - don't do it.

    5.  "We have issues with your shipping address"  email - just click on the link to fix and track your package.  - Don't click!

    6.  Puppy scam - buying a puppy or any pet online is scary.  They could take your money and you will never get the pet.  Or the scammer will find your perfect pet for a fee.  Check out rescues, shelters or reputable breeders before buying.  Search online for their name and add "complaint" or "scam" to see if others have had issues with the seller.

    7.  Facebook ad scams - bait and switch - you order from a picture and what you get is nothing like what you ordered.  Or you pay for the item and it never arrives.  Never pay with money cards or cash apps!

    8.  Paying with cash apps - only use Venmo, Zelle, and other cash apps with trusted friends and family and local trusted businesses!  Otherwise, use a credit card or paypal which has some protection against the scammer.

    9.  Marketplace - please use caution with items you want to buy.  Scammers get on Marketplace to sell items that don't exist.  One scammer recently posted Playstation 5 - asked for a deposit to hold it ($300 deposit) via Venmo and  the balance of $300 paid and he would meet her at his business at a storefront on Link Lane.  She arrived - the business in that store-front didn't know anything about someone using his address to sell non-existent products.  Never pay before you get the product and don't use cash apps.

    10.  Remote access apps - if someone calls or texts you and wants you to download any remote access app to fix some issue - never do this.  It gives the scammer free access to everything on your computer.

    The FBI, in addition to prosecuting some of these fraudsters, offer some good tips to keep us on high scam-alert.

    Medicare -

    • Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information unless you’ve given it permission in advance.
    • Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
    • You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare number. Don’t do it.
    • Medicare will never visit you at your home.
    • Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you call first.
    • If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare, asking for your Social Security number or bank information to get your new card or new benefits, that’s a scam.
    • Don’t give personal information to a caller claiming to be from Medicare. You can’t trust caller ID. These calls can be spoofed so they look like they’re coming from Medicare even when they’re not.

    Before you give any personal information, initiate your own call to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE. You should also call this number if you feel as though you have been scammed.

    Christmas shopping -

    Non-Payment/Non-Delivery Scams: In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. 

    Online Shopping Scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Scammers often offer amazing deals via phishing emails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand-name merchandise at extremely low prices, or offer gift cards as an incentive. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised. Victims may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.

    Social Media Scams: Consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests; others may appear to be from known friends who have shared the link. Often, these scams lead consumers to participate in an online survey that is designed to steal personal information. If you click an ad through a social media platform, do your due diligence to check the legitimacy of the website before providing credit card or personal information.

    Gift Card Scams: During the holiday season, consumers should be careful if someone asks them to purchase gift cards for them. In these scams, the victims receive either a spoofed e-mail, a spoofed phone call, or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons. The gift cards are then used to facilitate the purchase of goods and services which may or may not be legitimate.

    Tips to protect yourself from holiday fraud schemes:

    • Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account.
    • Buy directly from a secure and reputable website.
    • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
    • Never give personal information—such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses—to anyone you do not know.
    • Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
    • Verify the legitimacy of buyers or sellers before making a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check feedback ratings.
    • Avoid solicitations or ads with misspelled words, broken English, or requests to pay for your order with a gift card.
    • Track your order through your original confirmation email.
    • Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders and scan all attachments for viruses if possible.
    • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the country.

    Please check our website for new scams!  www.larimersheriff.org/services/information/frauds-scams

    That's it for this newsletter.  Thanks to all of you that call or  send me copies of scams you receive - it helps us all to be more scam-aware.

     Please enjoy your holidays and stay safe from these fraudsters.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us to all of you!

  15. Happy Fall!  Or some days - happy winter!  Hope you are ready for the first snow expected next week.  I am in denial since I want to think that it is really still spring.  
     
    This month's newsletter will highlight some of the rampant scams we have had reported recently and, in addition, I would like to share some information on the cash apps that are so popular today. 
     
    SMISHING (TEXT) SCAM:  You receive a text on your cell - "Hello my name is Rod from Pfizer Inc.  I got your contact from indeed.  I'm in need of a work from home Assistant.  Confirm your availability to me as soon as possible on rxxmackxzzie.pfizerinc@comcast.net".
    If you send Rod an email, you will be contacting the scammer directly (Rod is a scammer).  Pfizer doesn't recruit this way.  Rod will probably want your personal information in order to be hired --- Just DELETE this and do not reply.  Anyone can set up an email like this on comcast - notice that there is a period after rod's last name so pfizerinc looks to be part of his name rather than coming from a real Rod at Pfizer.com.
     
    VENMO PAYMENT FOR A PUPPY PURCHASE SCAM:  Scammers can sell puppies via the internet - you can't see the puppy in person - and you must pay via Venmo before you can get the puppy.  RED FLAG!  You have no purchase or fraud protection with Venmo or other cash apps.  And chances are - you won't get the puppy you paid for.  See more about cash app usage in the next section on cash apps.
     
    PAYPAL/AMAZON/BEST BUY/EBAY/etc. SCAM:  You receive an email or phone message indicating you made a purchase (usually over $300) through one of these companies and they just want you to confirm that you really made the purchase.  STOP!!!  They want you to call the number or click a link - either way you will be communicating with the scammer - not the business - and you will wind up giving information to the scammer that allows him access to your finances.  It is easy to copy a logo of a reputable company.  If you get this call or email, do NOT call the number they give you or click the link.  Hang up and call the official number of the company and check with them directly.  These are all scams and not real orders - just a way for you to get worried and contact them so they can get your personal information.
     
    JOB APPLICATION SCAM:  You are looking for a job - and are contacted by someone with a great offer.  You have no idea who it is offering this job, although they will tell you some story about them - but they do need your social security number and they might even want to send you money to purchase a laptop and gift cards which you will give them a code on the back.  Total scam!! If they send you a check - it is worthless.  
     
    XCEL/UTILITY SCAM:  Caller says they are from the utility company and the technicians are on the way to your house to shut off your electricity due to an overdue bill.  You must stay on the line with the caller and get money or gift cards and give the code to the caller within 30 minutes.  SCAM ALERT!  Just hang up.  Utility companies do not handle overdue bills this way and in most cases, you are not overdue - it's just a scam.
     
    SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM:  You receive a call from the FBI, Dept of Homeland Security, Dept of Justice, Attorney General, or other government or law enforcement agency about your social security number being involved in a drug and human trafficking ring.  You must either  pay through money or gift cards, or transfer money into a different account in order to keep from being arrested.  HANG UP!  
     
    EBAY PURCHASE SCAM:  You get a phony Ebay charge and you call the number to set it straight.  The number goes directly to the scammer.  Always call the legitimate number for any company rather than the number on the charge or invoice.
     
    The above are just a few of the many scams out there.  Please be vigilant and follow these guidelines -
    1.  NEVER give out personal information to strangers via phone or email or text.
    2.  NEVER click on a link.
    3.  NEVER buy money or gift cards to pay for something.
    4.  NEVER give anyone access to your computer.
     
    The scams listed above have caused losses to our citizens - $2,500;  $38,000;   $3,000 and so forth.  None of these are recoverable.  Another citizen almost lost $90,000 but for a relative stepping in before the money hit the scammer.  Please stay vigilant.
     
    Now let's highlight using cash apps to pay.
    There are many cash apps we use today to pay others.  Venmo, Zelle, Cash App, Apple or Google Pay, Paypal to name a few.  These are considered peer-to-peer  payment apps.  They are owned by financial organizations, Ebay, Google, Paypal, etc.  They all employ security measures to keep your credit card details safe.  Some charge fees to the user but get their main funding from the merchants receiving the payments.
    • Zelle is linked to your bank account.
    • Venmo uses links to a credit card, bank account or your Venmo balance.  
    Here is the big caveat and warning when using these peer-to-peer applications.  THERE IS NO FRAUD PROTECTION.  If  you purchase something using your credit card, you have fraud protection should the merchant not supply the product or service paid for.  If you use a cash app - there is no protection.  Most of these apps have a notice on their websites that say that these should only be used to pay  trusted family, friends or local businesses.  If you purchase a puppy, or a product or service, and you either do not receive it or it is not what you expected - you most likely will be out whatever you paid.  So use these convenient cash apps only with trusted people.  
     
    Please stay aware and stay safe from these criminals.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.  Have a fun, happy and safe Boo day and stay warm!  
      
    Barb
    Chief Scambuster
  16. Hi everyone,
     
    I don't know what is in the air but there are more scammers buzzing around looking for free money than there are mosquitos!  
     
    Since last time, in addition to  the "usual" scams we see, there have been new scams and new twists to old ones.  Here is a run-down.  As always, periodically check the website for new scams in between newsletters.
     
    #1  NEW SCAM ALERT --  GOOGLE VOICE VERIFICATION CODE SCAM
    If you are selling goods on-line (facebook, marketplace, craigslist, etc.), a scammer poses as an interested buyer.  They then want to check to make sure you as the seller are legit.  They ask for your phone number and then send you a google voice verification code and tell you to give them the 6 digit code to confirm you are legit and then they will call you for details on how to pick up the item.  Except they won't call you because all they wanted was your code to set up a fraudulent google voice account to be able to scam others without detection (in your name of course.)  So if you are selling something online and get asked for your phone number, just say no!  If they send you a code, do NOT give it to them.   If you read this newsletter after you have already given this out, the attached word document gives you the instructions on how to get your phone number back and stop this scammer from using your number.
     
    #2   ONLINE DATING SCAM
    Scammers are both male and female and target vulnerable people of any age.  They tell you what you want to hear, they get to know you through chatting and then use this info to set up a bond with you and then build up to asking for money.  Sometimes they get to that point in a week, or maybe a month.  They are patient.  They send you pictures.  They may want to come visit you.  But you can't meet up with them yet.  If they say they want to come visit you, they will devise a story right before the planned  visit that sets them up to ask for money.  For instance, I got sick and in the hospital, my home was burglarized, etc.  Then they will use it as an excuse to ask for money with the promise of paying you back.  Red Flags - You can't meet in person for one reason or another.  Pictures can be downloaded from the internet - it doesn't mean it is actually the person.   Awkward grammar.  Too good to be true.  Asking for money.  Scammers can be found on any website.  Proceed with caution.
     
    #3  NEPHEW SCAM
    7:20 am "Barbara?  I didn't wake you did I?  This is Kevin.  Kevin your nephew. "  Now Kevin starts getting really upset - "I was at a friend's wedding and drank too much and caused a wreck.  They are charging me with careless driving.  My parents will be so upset. I got really hurt - my nose is broken and I have a dislocated shoulder" -- at this point Kevin is sounding much more nasal (due to broken nose) and starting to get more distraught and even sob here and there.  "I can hardly breathe.  Can you contact my public defender?  get a paper and pencil."  I share with Kevin that I am surprised he isn't charged with DUI and ask what he wants me to say to his attorney?  "Find out the bond (sob, sob) and pay it so I can get out.  I will pay you back."   Unfortunately when I told Kevin I hope he got life in jail I think I hurt his feelings and he hung up on me.   I don't have a nephew called Kevin.  This is a rewrite of the GRANDPARENT SCAM".  I would call it the KEVIN SCAM but I bet there will be other names for Kevin!
     
    #4  XCEL, PUBLISHERS CLEARINGHOUSE, CRAIGS LIST, PAYPAL, AMAZON PRIME SCAMS
    These are oldies but goodies but have been popping up a lot lately.  Xcel doesn't ask you for money cards on the phone, Publishers does not charge you for winning something nor do you have to pay taxes up front,  be cautious on Craig's list and logos such as Paypal, Amazon, etc. can easily be copied and pasted to look legit.  Don't call the number and don't click the link if you get an email saying they are confirming a big order you placed to be shipped to an unknown person.
     
    #5   THE GOOD NEWS!
    Indeed there is a rainbow!  Here are just a few scammers that are getting their just desserts!
    • Two people indicted for  health care fraud,  facing conspiracy charges and 14 counts of health care fraud.  Facing prison time.
    • Wire and bank fraud charges - money laundering schemes,  to the tune of $60m.  Sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $30m in restitution.
    • Social security number ID theft - sentenced to two years in prison and one year of supervised probation.
    This is cause for celebration!
     
    Please check out our website for more information on scams and stay safe!  Have a great fall!
     
     
    Barb
  17. Hello everyone -
     
    It has certainly been a crazy summer - floods, heat, smoke, etc.  Unfortunately, this hasn't slowed down the scammers.   Here is an overview of scam calls since our last newsletter.  By no means are these the only ones, but just a few  so you can be extra wary if you happen to be contacted by one of these scammers.
     
    #1 -  The scammer calls you right after you call your carrier (e.g., Century Link) for problems you have with your computer.  Caller ID says "Century Link" - the caller has a heavy Indian accent and tells you he is going to fix your problem. You have to give him permission to get on your computer.  He also tells you there is a refund they owe you.  $270.  You are supposed to type it into the form and instead of $270 - it pops up $27,000.  Scammer is upset that it was the wrong number and asks you to open your bank account to see if it actually went through,  You open it, and alas, there it is in your checking.  Now he wants you to wire transfer the $27,000 back - not to Century Link but to the scammer's boss so he can put the money back into Century Link without them knowing about the mistake.  Fortunately your bank doesn't do that - and you the discover that the $27,000 in your checking was moved from another of your bank accounts into your checking.  How can the scammer do that?  Easy - he has access to your computer, banking info, personal info, credit info, etc.  While he was talking to you he was downloading your info.  
    RED FLAGS - Accent, asking to get on your computer, asking for a wire transfer, and asking you to send it to his boss in New York rather than Century Link.  Thankfully the potential victim realized it was a scam before he paid this $27,000.  The potential victim thought it was legitimate because he had recently called Century Link for the problem, the Called ID said Century Link, and he was distracted by some other things going on so wasn't as aware as usual.
     
     #2 - GEICO CLAIM (or other insurance companies)-  scammer files a fraudulent claim for a car accident against your policy.
     
    #3 - Scammer calls from US Treasury" and indicates you are in trouble and must pay $900 by a certain time that evening. or you will be arrested.
     
    #4 - Message from Quick Books, McAfee, Amazon Prime, Geek Squad, etc. regarding the charge for your subscription . (You don't have a subscription, nor did you order one.)
     
    #5 - Publishers Clearinghouse prize - you won!  millions or a new car, etc.  Just pay the handling, or pay the taxes.  Sends you a letter from the IRS, Publishers Clearinghouse, BBB, etc. claiming its legitimate.  You are required to pay.  Scammer name - John Goldberg. Since there is a sweepstake running now, beware of any phone call or email or text saying you won and you have to pay your taxes, or handling.  Your taxes would be automatically deducted from your winnings if this was real.  
     
    #6.  Excel scammer is at it again.  "You have 30 minutes to pay this or we are shutting off your utilities.  You must pay over the phone with money cards" -- Excel or any other utility never does this.  
     
    #7 -  Police impersonator - calling from LCSO with a valid sergeant's name saying you missed a court date and had to pay over the phone with money card.  Law enforcement never calls and asks for money on the phone.  
     
    #8 - Child credit of up to $300 per child.  Someone contacts you to help you sign up for your benefits or get the money faster.  Can be by email, phone, text or social media.  They are trying o steal your identity or money (money transfer, gift card, cash payment apps like CashApp, Venmo or Zelle.)  You DO NOT have to apply for these benefits - you will automatically get this based on your last year's tax return.
     
    #9 - Emails from bank or credit card fraud department asking you to  re-verify your account.  They send a link to re-verify.  Please never click on these links.
     
    #10 - Door to door salesperson from DISH or other company wants to come in and tell you about benefits of switching to their company.  They need your social security number, credit card number, drivers license number, etc.  PLEASE NEVER LET A STRANGER IN YOUR HOUSE, AND NEVER GIVE THEM PERSONAL INFORMATION.  This is not only dangerous for your money but could be dangerous to your person.
     
    Whew.  Thank you for being alert and savvy when these creeps  come calling. (or emailing, or texting, or at your door.)  Please continue to check our website for new scams, take every precaution to protect your personal information.  These creeps are relentless so we have to stop them by being aware of their tricks and foiling their attempts.
     
    Remember -
    NEVER CLICK ON A LINK  (unless you are absolutely sure it is legit from a friend or family.  Even then, check directly with them to ensure it is from them)
    NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
    NEVER LET ANYONE HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR COMPUTER (unless you have brought it to be repaired)
     
    If you have any questions, concerns or want to share scam info, please email or call me.  Also, please pass this info along to everyone you know - 
     
    Enjoy your summer and stay safe.
     
    Barb
  18. Hello everyone -
     
    I hope you all are enjoying our spring and heat waves mixed with lovely cool weather this week.  Here are a few of the scams we are dealing with now and some that might be on the horizon.  As always - be cautious and wary of scammers posing as people that have your best interest at heart in exchange for your personal information and, of course, your money.
     
    #1 -  A "Mr Franco" sent out a text message (on my personal and work cell phone telling me he is sharing his winnings with me.  All I have to do is click on the link.  He has sent the same message out to many of you as well.   Here is what the text says --
     

    "I'm Mr. Manuel Franco, the Powerball winner of  768  Million in Powerball Millions Jackpot, click here to see my winning interview& (I have changed the link so it is unusable.)   I'm donating to 200 random individuals. If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball. I have spread most of my wealth over a number of charities and Organisations. I have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of Note -   50,000 USD to you as one of the selected 200, to verify your winnings send a text to the agent in charge. Here is the number of the agent Donald Creed in charge (+133xxx07558), text him for confirmation and delivery of your winning."

     
    I was overwhelmed with joy to think that a stranger thought I was so special he was going to send me this free money - and since it came to both my phones I think I will be getting this amount twice!  Oops - even though I think I am special, I also think Mr Franco is a scammer!  Just remember - if it looks too good to be true -- IT IS!  This is a classic SMISHING (phishing via text) scam.  Please beware of clicking any link in a text you receive.
     
    #2 -  The extortion scam - "I know you watch child porn and if you pay $900 to Cyber Blake Network we will not  share this with your contacts" ---- this is a phishing scam.  Just delete
    .
     
    #3 -  Calls from a local business like Coloradoan asking for your credit card to pay for your subscription.  Always go directly to the business website to check on your subscription or amount you may owe.  NEVER give your credit card over the phone.
     
    #4 -  Computer scam - via phone or pop up on your screen.  If you get a call for a virus on your computer - HANG UP.  They want two things - your personal info from your computer and money to fix the virus.  If you get a pop up - and sometimes a robotic voice telling you not to turn off your computer - they want the same thing,  They don't want you to turn off your computer because it makes their pop up go away and un-freezes your screen.  TURN OFF your computer completely and restart. We have had people lose large amounts of money and their personal information (banking, credit cards, etc.)  The scammer tells you to go to Best Buy or other retailers and buy large quantities of gift cards and give them the code from the back over the phone.  Then they want access to your computer to fix it and download all your information,  Whether by phone or pop up - know that your computer is NOT infected and never give them access or money in any form.
     
    #5 -  Job scams - you receive a call regarding a job that fits your skills and  it sounds great.  The person sends you a link to fill out all the information for the application -  the company doesn't appear in the Better Business bureau website but the company does have a website.  (The website was just created last month.)  It looks legit - but even though you may be looking for a job - this came out of the blue.  BEWARE - this doesn't look like an established business and it could be just a way to get you to fill out your personal information.  If you cannot authenticate that this is a legitimate business and you didn't initiate the contact, do not fill out personal info and do not click on the link.
     
    There are always potential opportunities for scammers to capitalize on so please be very wary --
     
    1.  With all the bonus benefits like child care checks, unemployment payments, vaccine incentives,   scammers can definitely find ways to use these to their advantage.  Please use caution if you are contacted for anything that looks too good to be true, requests personal information), wants pre-payment for something, etc.  
     
     2.  People on social media or Next Door apps asking for money or help due to financial issues (rather than giving money --let them know about all the  local resources available to help them).    It definitely is a tough time for many, but it is difficult to tell scammers from those in need.  It is more beneficial to the person to have resources to go to if they are in need of assistance.
     
    Please visit our scams page for more details on other scams and what to do if you get contacted by one of these scammers.  Feel free to contact me via cell or email if you have any questions about the legitimacy of a call or email (or SMISH).  The only way we can stop these _________, (fill in your favorite word) is to be educated and alert about scams so we don't fall for their story.
     
     
    Enjoy your summer!  Until next time......
     
    Barb
  19. Happy spring/winter/spring -

    Our weather is pretty crazy.  Hope you are enjoying whatever the weather is at your house!  Here is just an overview of what has been percolating in the scam world.  

    Amazon email telling you your order is arriving at an unknown address in another state.  You ordered a $4000 TV and $1088 in speakers.  So they are charging you $5,168.50.  They give you an 800 number to call.  I called it and spoke with a gentleman from another country,  it did not go well.  It looks legit except when you see the "from" is intranet@otsspa.com.  They give you a tracking number and order number.  The subject is "Your Order # xx-xxxxx-zzzzzz is out for shipping.  Don't worry though - it is a scam.  You didn't order it in your sleep.  Just delete.

    Business practices - the business doesn't do what was agreed upon, doesn't do the job, or someone is trading out rent for fixing your rental and they don't pay nor do they do the work.  Do not ever pay in cash up front, get a signed contract detailing the services and price, and get references - and follow up contacting those references.  Don't pay until the job is complete and acceptable.  If you give a down payment - use a credit card so you have some protection if the deal falls through,  Never pay with money of gift cards, cash or cash apps like Venmo.

    Auto warranty calls - multiple times a day you get a call because your warranty is up.  These are so annoying - but here are a few ideas.  Let calls go to voicemail and then just delete it.  Sign up your landline AND your cell phone on the DO NOT CALL registry.

    Please do me a favor - a friend or fellow parishioner sends an email asking you to do a favor by getting money or gift cards for them since they are out of town.  Or from your Pastor asking for help for someone in your church.  They want you to give them the codes on the back of the money card.  These are scams using your contact list which the scammer has gotten hold of,  Never buy gift or money cards and give anyone the codes on the back.

    Unemployment scams are still very active along with the Relia card.  Check our website for how to handle these scams.

    Social security - calls to let you know your SS# has been doing unlawful acts and is going to be suspended if you don't pay to clear it up.  Just hang up -- it's a scam.

    These are just a few of the scams that are happening but please always be cautious.  Guard your personal information and your money - be wary and alert.  Check out our website at www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams and feel free to share any of the information on the website with the "share" button.

     

    Enjoy our confused weather patterns!  Until next time --- 

    Barb, Chief Scambuster

  20. HAPPY SPRING!  The flowers are popping up and are a breath of fresh air after the last winter and pandemic.  But alas, more snow will cover those flowers.  Scammers are also popping up.   Rather than write an essay on each, I will just give the highlights and the details can be found on our webpage.  www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams.  Otherwise, this newsletter would be a novel.  

    1.  Unemployment, USBank Relia Card and the 1099-G are all part of the UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS SCAM.  It is still going viral. Estimated over $63 billion has been paid out to fraudulent claims.  

    2.  Facebook Marketplace - someone hacks your facebook and posts something for sale under your name.  They take the money and never produces  the product since it is fictitious.  Then readers blame you for being a scammer and want their money back.  (I will be posting a new scam card on this in a few days).

    3.  Smishing (the text form of phishing) - you receive texts from CDLE (Colo Dept of Labor and Employment) telling you to click on the link for updates on your unemployment.  Please remember - NEVER CLICK ON AN UNKNOWN LINK.  It may look legitimate but it could just leave you with a virus or take your personal information.

    4.  IRS imposter scam targeting college students and staff - targets those with a .edu email address.  They send legitimate looking emails saying they have information on your tax refund.  They want you to click a link and submit a form to get your refund.  NEVER CLICK A LINK.  Note that the IRS NEVER sends an email as a first contact with you.  They send you a letter.  The scammer just wants your personal information.

    5.  Will you do me a favor? - you get an email from a "friend" (you may have a friend with that name) asking you to do him/her a favor by picking up some gift cards for you (maybe for a birthday of a relative, etc.) and give them the card numbers so they can send on to their relative.  Your friend's email was hacked.  If you do this and give the scammer the numbers - your money is gone.  

    6.  Paying for services upfront - you pay for services before they are done is a great way to lose out both money and services.  Get everything in writing, check the standing of a business  through BBB, google reviews and call their reference before you give them the contract or money, and set up payment as services are being done not before.  If you are trading services for rent - monitor each month whether that service is being done. 

    Here are some things to remember and share with others.

    1.  NEVER click on links even if it looks legit.

    2.  NEVER pay anything by money card or gift cards.

    3.  NEVER buy anything from someone using Venmo or cash apps - only use those methods for paying friends and relatives.  

    4.  NEVER pay for services upfront. check references, BBB, and reviews before you choose a service provider. Pay a small down and pay additionally as services are completed.

    5.  NEVER pay strangers over the phone.

    Thank you all for being such great Scambusters!  I so appreciate you sending me information on scams you are receiving via email, phone, texting, etc.  You are helping all of us get more knowledgeable about watching out for scams.

    Take care - stay watchful.  Keep sending me info and check our website regularly for new scams.

    Barb

  21. Hello everyone -

    February has been a very busy month with scammers using email, phone and text messaging to reach out and help themselves to our money.   Right now, the most prevalent scam has been filing for unemployment benefits in your name, USBank Relia card, and now you might be receiving a 1099 for the unemployment benefits you have not requested nor received.   

    The Unemployment Benefits scam has resulted in over $36 billion dollars lost across the U.S.  In Colorado, about one million potentially fraudulent claims have been submitted -vs- about the same legitimate claims.  So far, Colorado has losts about $6.5 million in fraudulent claims but the CDLE estimates these fraud protocol flags have saved paying out about $7 billion in claims.  They have started a program called ID.me to help protect legitimate claims.  Recently they sent out 69.7K requests for claimants to provide their ID.me proof and only 14.3k have responded.  Please note that any email correspondence from a government agency that you receive should end in .gov.  If not, it's not legit.

     Scammers are now using text messaging (SMISHING) to get you to click on their link for an important notice from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) - so beware and don't click on it.  There are specific actions we recommend if you receive any of these so please check our website for these scam cards.  We should be prepared for another round since the unemployment ends soon and a new wave of applications will be coming through if the Senate approves the latest bill.  

    Where are the scammers getting your information?  From data breaches such as the 2018 Marriott International breach, or Equifax at breach in 2017 that impacted anyone with a credit card.  They also can get it from you How are the scammers getting the benefits?  They try to get the pin number to access the benefits on the Relia Card.  

    Another topic that has come up in the last few months has been  dealing with some businesses that have not lived up to their end of the contract for services and have already been paid for the services.  Here are some things you should be aware of when purchasing services or products -

    • Always pay with a credit card or Paypal so you have some protection if the product or service either doesn't happen or is not what the agreement was for.  Never use Venmo or other cash transaction apps unless it's a family member or friend - once you send the money you can't get it back and you have no protection.  Never use your debit card - the money goes directly out and you have no protection on that either.  Never pay someone with gift or money cards - if they ask you for this - red flag for a scam.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau or google the company to check their reviews.

    Email scams are hot right now - remember that these scammers can copy a logo of reputable business and use it in their scam.  They also copy the formatting of correspondence and use in their email.  I have seen Apple, Geek Squad, Best Buy, Amazon and many other emails using the company logo and telling me to click on a link or get back with them for a purchase of hundreds of dollars that I supposedly made or my Amazon Prime is renewing.  There are usually tell tale hints that it is a scam but many times people miss them and fall for the scam.  We have some examples of these emails on our scams webpage.  

    Phone calls - every day and all day - best advice is not to answer a call unless you are positive you know the person - let it go to voicemail.  Never push any numbers (they say - press ## to be taken off the list) and don't call them back.   Nomorobo.com is great for reducing robo calls on your landline (and it's free) - my phone rings just once and then I know it was a robo call that got shut down.  You can also get it on your cell phone but they do charge for that.  There are other apps for cell phones as well.  The FTC and carriers are all trying to slow these down but it is a very complicated challenge but at least they are working on it.

    I hope you are all well and sharing scam information far and wide.  Please stay safe, enjoy the spring like weather and continue to be alert.

  22. Hi all -
     
    For the first time I am including a note about something that is NOT a scam.  I have received many calls about a Visa debit card called the Economic Impact payment  that is supposed to be the card the government will place your Covid relief fund money if you aren't currently set up to get your tax refunds via direct deposit.  IRS didn't give me a call to tell me what they were doing so I had to do some research to find out if this was legit or not.  From what I can tell, this is legit so don't toss the card!  Follow the instructions in the letter and then hold on to your card.  I do not know if there will be another portion of relief funds approved by Congress or if they will use this same Visa debit going forward.  This card should have whatever portion up to $600 that you are due from the Covid relief package that they recently sent out.  It appears that this card is not loadable so the IRS may send a new one out for whatever the next relief check is, but just for caution's sake - hold on to your card after you get your money.  
     
    Here is what the envelope you receive in the mail looks like -

    Sample EIP Card envelope
     
    You can also go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments to get more official information on the IRS website.
     
    As always - check back frequently on our webpage for any new or re surging scams.  Right now the Unemployment and Reliacard scams are rampaging so if you get a notice that someone filed an unemployment claim in your name, or another name to your address, or you receive a Reliacard in the mail - please check the website for what our recommended actions are for you.
  23. Hello all -
     
    Please be alert to two scams that have really lit up the airwaves.
     
    UNEMPLOYMENT /US BANK RELIA CARD SCAM
    Your employer informs you of receiving an unemployment benefits application from you.  You didn't apply for it.  You also may receive a US Bank Reliacard for your unemployment benefits (which you did NOT apply for).  We have been getting hundreds of reports of these scam applications.  Here is what you need to do -
    UNEMPLOYMENT SCAM
    1.  File a report with law enforcement (Larimer County call non-emergency number 970-416-1985)
    2.  File a fraud complaint at https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention.
    3.  Report identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov 
    4.  Place a fraud alert on your credit at one of the credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.  
    5.  Request a  free copy of your credit report from each and review for any suspicious activity.
    6.  Contact your bank to let them know your personal info has been compromised.  
    7.  Monitor your banking/credit transactions closely for any suspicious activity.
    USBANK RELIACARD (in addition to the above action)
    Call USBank and deactivate card.
    Go to US Bank website and file a report under "card inquiry" tab.
     
    COMPUTER SCAM
    I have been hit with this one twice this week and yesterday I received a call from someone who purchased $2,000 in Best Buy gift cards because that is what the person told him to do when he called the number on the screen to get it fixed.  In addition, they asked him to allow them to get on his computer to fix it and they downloaded all his personal information such as credit card, banking, etc.  They then moved money from his savings to his checking.  Best Buy did not alert him to this being a scam.  
     
    You get a bunch of pop-ups on your screen with warnings and a number to call - while your computer has a loud pulsing alarm going off and a voice telling you NOT to turn off your computer.  After experiencing this twice this week I can attest to the level of alarm you feel when these sirens go off and a voice is telling you not to turn off your computer.  
     
    Here's what you need to do -  TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER.  WAIT A FEW MINUTES AND RESTART.  The pop-up will be gone.  NEVER give anyone access to your computer, and NEVER pay anyone with money or gift cards.  
     
    Please check out our webpage for updates on scams and new scams we have to be wary of.  
     
     
    Please feel free to share this and any of the scam cards on the website with all your friends and family.  Awareness is the only way we will protect ourselves from these bad actors.
     
    Happy new year!  
  24. Happy New Year!  It's finally 2021.  We hope you had a good end of 2020 and beginning of 2021.  

    Over these holidays, I have been seeing (and receiving) various email scams related to the pandemic.  If you are due a stimulus check, it will automatically be deposited in your bank account if you have chosen direct deposit on your income taxes.  If not, the government will send you a paper check.  They will not email you - or call you.  Here are just a few examples of some of these emails - and some red flags - 

    • the subject could say "stimulus" or some version - and could be incorrectly spelled
    • the email address "from" has nothing to do with the government or stimulus checks
    • the email asks you to fill out a form or click on a link (never do this)
    • the grammar is strange
    • spelling errors  

    Sample #1:  note red flags in red

    Tanya <newsletter@refinanceset.com>

    REMINDER: This wiIl end soon...
    Have you been affected financiaIiy by the 2020 pandemic?
    If so, you may be eIigible for new stimuIus help
    FiIi out this quick onIine appIication to quaIify----spelling error and link - please do not try this link
    Time is of the essence
    Have a great day, 
    Notice Dept

    Click here to unsubscribe

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Sample #2:  note the "from" is from Equifax but the address is "nicestshops

    Equifax/Update <Hannah@nicestshopss.live>

    this email was full of links for you to click on to get your credit info. 

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Sample #3:  note Shirley is from "sales@realsolutions4all - she is not affiliated with any government assistance

    Shirley Martin <sales@realsolutions4all.com>

    Americans are being urged to check their approvals status for new Gov't assistance.  There are new programs as well as existing ones which many people simply have not applied for.  In order to assure attainment of your full check due, complete your submission  (note - they want you to click on this link but its not for government assisted programs)

    Happy Monday

    Click here to unsubscribe
    Your News Now, 3501 Jack Northrop Ave, Suite #ANI067, Hawthorne, CA 90250
     

    ______________________________________________________________________

    I am also hearing about the Craig's list rental scam being active - please remember - NEVER pay for a rental (or anything else) via Velle, Venmo, money cards, wire transfer, etc.  If you do, you will not see your money again.  This is why scammers use these methods - because you have no protection if it's a scam.  Once you pay them your money is gone and cannot be traced.  Also, never pay for rentals until the person renting can show you the property in person - this is another tool for scammers - they will say they are out of town and can't show you the property.  Once you go to the property to move in (after you have lost your deposit and first months rent) you find the owner of the home wondering why you arrived at their doorstep since they never put their home on the rental list.  

    Please  pass this along to your friends and family - with the pandemic scams, PPE scams, stimulus scams, Craig's list scams, etc. the more information we can get out to everyone the less the scammers can take our money.  Our web page is  https://www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams.  You can easily share any of the scam info via email and social media directly from the website as well.  

    Wishing you a scam-free new year, along with love, joy and laughter throughout 2021.  Stay safe, sane and healthy.

  25. Merry Christmas to you all!   Normally I wouldn't be sending out another newsletter in December, but there is a new scam hitting Larimer County.
     
    DISTRAINT WARRANT LETTER SCAM:  There is a new scam popping up and we wanted to warn you about it.  It appears similar to an actual Distraint Warrant you might receive but this is a scam.  If you call the number listed in the letter, you may speak to a pretty aggressive person demanding you pay this or else.  According to Irene Josey, Larimer County Treasurer, Larimer County does not have a  "Tax Processing Unit, Public Judgment Of Records".  We will put a scam card on our website shortly with more details, but wanted you to be alerted to this scam that is hitting many residents.
     
      The mailing envelope looks like this:
     
    image.png
    The actual letter states:
     
     

    image.png

     
     
     
    In addition to this scam, please also  be aware of the many scammers targeting Christmas online shopping and COVID.  Check our website for more information and always feel free to call or email me to check on a possible scam.  Also, feel free to send this to family and friends - it is not just happening in our county.
     
    MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you from our Scambuster team.  We wish you a blessed holiday and peace, love and joy in the coming year!
  26. Hi all -
     
    We hope this finds you all healthy and in positive spirits.  This year is coming to a close, and I think we are all taking a deep breath and hoping things will get better as we move into a new year.  
     
    As we near the Christmas holiday, scammers are even more resourceful and busy.  I just want to highlight some of the active scams for this holiday season to be cautious of.  
     
    First - a little overview of cool things you can do from our website https://www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams.
     
    Details of  scams are on our website - along with all the ScamBuster Newsletters toward the bottom of the page.   Each of the scam cards are easily shareable from the webpage - to the right of each scam card you will see.....

    Share

    Email  Facebook  LinkedIn  Print Twitter
    so you can share or email the scam card to friends and family to keep them educated about scams.  These are not only happening in Larimer County - but all over the country so feel free to share with anyone you know.  The more the merrier.
     
    Also feel free to share any or all of the newsletters.  
     
    Now for a few scams to be on high alert during this holiday season - you can find more details on our website.
     
    Facebook ads -   these are not certified by Facebook - many are from overseas - delivery times are very long - the item you purchase may not be the same as you receive - or you won't receive it at all.  Buyer beware!  
     
    Ebay bait and switch - You order something from an Ebay seller - they call you directly and tell you they can give you a better deal if you cancel through Ebay and buy directly from them.  Buyer beware - you have no buyer protection if you don't go through Ebay and give this seller your credit card directly.  You may never see your product and you have no backing from Ebay.
     
    Charity scams - Tis the season to be giving!  If you want to give, make sure you initiate the donation to the official charity of your choosing.  Do not donate over the phone or via email.  
     
    Amazon Prime renewal - If you have purchased Prime for Amazon. they will not call you and ask for money on the phone for your renewal!  Go to your official Amazon account and deal directly with them.  
     
    Covid scams - unemployment scams - Covid vaccines - therapies - PPE supplies --- bad actors are using Covid for many ways to take your money or get your personal information.  Filing false unemployment claims in your name - promising early vaccines if you pay for it now - fix-all therapies -- fake N95 masks (note - N95 masks are always marked on the mask as N95 certified) -- and US Bank Relia cards for unemployment benefits when you didn't request them.  Check our website for info on these scams.
     
    Utility bill scams - phone call telling you they are going to shut off your electricity in 30 minutes if you don't pay them over the phone.  
     
    On-line ordering - in this age of Covid - many of us are shopping on-line to stay out of crowded stores.  Protect your credit and banking info when you purchase on-line - stick with companies you trust - never provide your info in email or on phone.  
     
    My apologies for such a lengthy newsletter - but I want you to be aware of all the various traps the scammers have placed to take advantage of us during the pandemic and holiday season.  Also know that no one is spared from these scammers - we are all targets for these bad guys.  
     
    On a happy note -- we want to wish you the merriest Christmas and the hope for a wonderful 2021.  Stay alert, vigilant, safe and healthy!  
     
    Share this and anything on our website to everyone!  
     
  27. Greetings all -
     
    Let's just add one more thing to 2020-  aside from Covid, raging fires, and an election ---  let's add scammers to the list!
     
    Lately I have been hearing a lot of scams from Craig's List- multiple people have fallen for the rental scam - either by renting a home  or vacation rental property.  The red flags are - 
    • you may not be able to see the property because the owner is out of town but they can collect the money via Venmo, bitcoin, money cards or your credit card.  
    • they are the property manager for the property but can't show you in person
    • the rent is much lower than expected
    • you have to fill out an application online before you see the property
    The most recent scam event was when 5 different people showed up to the door of someone's home one evening saying they rented the home for $210 per night and had a contract.  The listing on Craig's List used the property description and pictures from a Air Bnb ad the owners had used in the past and the scammer copied and pasted everything.
     
    I am also hearing the Xcel Energy scam regularly calling residents - saying their electricity will be turned off in 30 minutes if they don't pay.  If you get this call - just hang up.  Xcel does not operate that way.
     
    Grandparents scam is active again.
     
    Craig's List overpay scam is active as well.  This is where the buyer offers you more money than you were asking and sends a check to you to deposit.  Then you are to give the overage mount to the person that picks up the item.  Then the check that they sent turns out to be bogus.   If someone offers you more than you asked, it is a scam.  
     
    Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fire - If you had damage to your home in these fires, please be aware that the bad actors (scammers) are always looking for vulnerability.  If you get a contractor contact you that you didn't request, be cautious.  If you need a contractor - check with Better Business Bureau for reputable and local contractors with references and make the call to them directly.  Many of the door to door contractors could be scammers and will take your money and never do the work.  
     
    It is not always easy to determine who is legitimate and who is a scammer.  It definitely pays to be very cautious and guard your personal information.  It is certainly a Buyer Beware world now.
     
    Take care, stay safe, and check out our scam webpage for more information.
     
    Barb
  28. Hello all,

    It isn't enough that we are dealing with Covid, a major fire, and desert like heat - we have to deal with these creeps that have nothing better to do than to try to bilk us out of our hard earned money - one way or another.  Over the last few days I have had two people call me on craig's list rental scams - losing a total of almost three thousand dollars and a place to rent.  I have also heard about N95 mask counterfeits in addition to a lot of Facebook ad scams.  So this newsletter will highlight these three scams - and you can get more information by going to https://www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams.  

     

    CRAIG'S LIST RENTAL SCAM

    The scammer lists property (house, apartment, vacation rental) for rent - sometimes showing pictures they got from the internet, sometimes without pictures.  They can't show it to you (they are out of state, etc.) and they urge you to wire them money (or pay with cash app) because others are wanting it and you may lose out.  Here are some tips directly from Craig's List website -- 

    personal safety  |  prohibited  |  recalls  |  forum

    Avoiding Scams

    Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

    • Do not provide payment to anyone you have not met in person.
    • Beware offers involving shipping - deal with locals you can meet in person.
    • Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) - anyone who asks you to is a scammer.
    • Don't accept cashier/certified checks or money orders - banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.
    • Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a "guarantee".
    • Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, paypal account, etc).
    • Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing "deal" may not exist.
    • Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.
    • "craigslist voicemails" - Any message asking you to access or check "craigslist voicemails" or "craigslist voice messages" is fraudulent - no such service exists.

    Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

    United States

    If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.

    If you suspect that a craigslist post may be connected to a scam, please send us the details.


     

    COUNTERFEIT N95 MASKS SCAM

    Some scammers are selling "N95" masks but they are counterfeit.  They charge more since they are supposed to be N95.  Counterfeit masks will not have any NIOSH certifications on the mask and packaging.  Here is what an legitimate N95 mask will have showing its certification.  This is directly from the CDC.

    https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html  

     

    Check the respirator approval markings (graphic below) or the Certified Equipment List to verify your respirator is NIOSH-approved. Additional information is available on the NIOSH Trusted Source page.

    Example of the Correct Exterior Markings on a NIOSH-Approved Filtering Facepiece Respirator

    Sample of a generic filtering facepiece respirator with appropriate markings.
     
    Page last reviewed: August 7, 2020
     
    FACEBOOK ADS SCAMS
     
    Some sponsored ads on Facebook are either bait and switch - or the ad describes a product and the quality you receive is junk - or you never receive the item - or they say they delivered it but you never got it.
     
    Be aware of all ads sponsored on Facebook.  BUYER BEWARE is the key phrase for these - many times the sellers are a distributor of products from China - they might even say FROM AMERICA.  
     
    Bait and switch - you order an ultrasonic mini clothes washer -- you get a cheap bowl - no ultrasonic about it.  You order a "rug" and get it in an 11x14 envelope.  You order masks and it takes 2 months to arrive if at all.  
     
    Check out the vendor's website and ensure it is legit before you order anything from them.  Search for the company name followed by "scam" and see what comes up.  
     
    I hope you each stay wary so we can beat these scammers!  If you have any questions, please give me a shout.  And keep checking our website because we add new scams regularly.  Always feel free to pass this along to friends, family, enemies, local and afar!  The more we know about these scammers - the safer we will be from them.
     
    Hoping you have a safe, fun and happy summer weather!  
     
    Barb
  29. Hello everyone -
     
    Alas - the scammers are ramping up -- so just want to alert you to some that I am hearing about right now in addition to those on our website --
     
    1.  Xcel scam - caller sounds very official and legit - says your power will be shut off in the next 30 minutes if you don't give them your credit card info to pay the bill.  This tap into the fear of losing power and you don't have enough time to check directly with Xcel even though you don't think you missed a payment.  The reason they give you such a short time to pay  is because they want you to just give them your credit card right then.  They know if you hang up they have lost out because you will find out you don't owe.  Xcel does not operate this way.  Please remember that no service provider will call, ask for payment under threat of losing your service unless you give them your credit card, and want you to stay on the phone to pay.  Also remember - NEVER give any personal information to anyone on the phone or email.  
     
    #2.  Unemployment benefits scam - you get a card in the mail you never requested.
     

    Method

    You receive a Relia visa card from USBank for your unemployment benefits to be loaded on.  

    Requesting

    Call in to validate your card and your benefits will be deposited on the card.

    Red Flags

    You didn’t apply for any unemployment benefits.

    Your Action

    Call the number for USBank Relia and deactivate  the card.    

     
    3. Here is a link to an article from FTC regarding phony PPE sales --  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/08/scammy-ppe-sellers-exploit-covid-19-fears?utm_source=govdelivery
     
    4.  Work from home job opportunity - the company hires you as a marketing person working from home.  Will pay you $4,000 a month in salary plus a percentage of their bitcoin sales.  They want you to open a bank account with some money so they can deposit to this account.  They put in several thousand dollars and ask you to use the money to buy bitcoins and send them on to various locations.  Then your bank tells you the deposit has been reversed and you are in the hole.  You ask the company to refund the money - they refuse and threaten you if you don't continue to work with them.   Red flags - they want you to open a bank account - they send you funds and ask you to withdraw the funds and send elsewhere.  These can be off-shore companies and once you send any money they deposited it cannot be tracked nor will you be able to get reimbursed for what you lost.  
     
    5.  Buying products from Facebook ads - there might be a few legit vendors selling on facebook, but there are a lot that are not legit.  They either market something (e.g., N95 face mask, or really cheap designer brands, or other type of products) and when you receive it - it is not what they promoted.  Counterfeit N95 mask, cheap version of what they portrayed in the ad, or maybe you won't ever receive the product.  Typically these products will ship from China and can take months to arrive, if at all.  Be sure to check to see if the product is available from a trusted vendor in the US and check to see if the company offering the product is a legit company.  
     
    Please continue to check our new scam website for details on the many scams out there.  And continue to be alert and let's ScamBust these scammers!
     
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!  Visit us on 
     
    Barb
  30. Hello everyone -
     
    We hope you are staying well during this crazy time.  We have been busy updating our scams and fraud website on larimersheriff.org and hope you find it more informative than before.  Please check it out at    https://www.larimer.gov/information/frauds-scams and let me know what you think.
     
    Going forward, I will continue to send out these emails to alert you about trending scams and will update the website with new scams as they pop up.  We will also post these newsletters on the website.  Please feel free to forward this newsletter and our website information to friends and family anywhere.  The more we can educate everyone about these scams the less vulnerable we will be.  
     
    This newsletter highlights three scams -
     
    1.  Business Financial scam - A high level manager sends someone in the finance department a request for a new vendor to be set up and money wired for services rendered.  It provides the vendor banking info and requests the funds to be sent to that bank account.  Or this high level manager requests that his direct deposit account number be changed and provides the new direct deposit account info. If you get an email like this - personally ask the manager if this request is legitimate. More info on this scam on our website.
     
    2. Facebook Ads - Social media (Facebook)  - a sponsored ad offering name brand items for low prices. Sometimes these ads are legit - and sometimes they are from overseas companies using an export company . Two concerns - one is that the product never arrives, and two - the product quality is below par and not what was shown on the original ad. Be cautious when ordering from one of these sponsored ads. Always check to see if the product is available from a US company instead, and check out the link from the company to see if it is legit. Use caution when ordering from one of these sponsored ads.
     
    3. USBANK RELIA debit card - This is used to deposit unemployment benefits on this card. The issue arises when you receive one of these cards and you never applied for unemployment benefits. If you receive this card, call USBANK to deactivate and monitor your credit cards and banking activity.
     
    There are many other active scams right now - including the COVID 19 scams - but these three are ones that are newer. Please check out the website for info on the rest of the active scams.
     
    If you have any questions, or wish to be removed from this newsletter, please contact me. In the meantime, please be safe - and be an active ScamBuster!
     
    Barb