Archive for the 'Scams' Category

Senior Fraud Alert: Chapel Hill Police Warn of Jamaican Sweepstakes Scammers Demanding Money ASAP

January 20th, 2012

******Alert #287******

 Officer Mark Geercken of the Chapel Hill Police Department shares the following with the NC Senior Consumer Fraud Task Force.  The scammer was so persistent that he seemed unfazed when the call recipient identified himself as a police officer.

We have received calls in reference to people winning large sums of money and checks in the mail.   One call of interest was from this number:  876-456-6117. It shows up on Caller ID as Robert Cross from 86 Columbia Avenue, Newark, New Jersey. The caller stated the he had won 3.8 million dollars and a new car. All he needed to do to claim his prize was to send $599.00 right away  to him via Western Union.
The suspect called several times asking where his money was.   He did not know he was talking to a Police Officer.  The guy called so many times that the police officer finally identified himself as a police officer with the Chapel Hill Police Department telling the suspect that he knew the whole call was a SCAM. The suspect told him he was not the police, his company was real and asked harshly where is my money. These guys are very persistent.

We Googled the number 876-456-6117. The internet says this number is a scam and is from Jamaica. There is whole page and a half of these numbers related to this scam.

I just wanted to give you heads up that this is happening to the residents  of Chapel Hill.  Luckily the person reporting this scam knew it was a scam and did not lose any money. Could you please send this out to the entire state. I feel if it’s happening here is happening elsewhere too.

 ******End of Alert******

Investor Alert: Investment Seminars – Trading Seminar Scams

November 29th, 2011

TO NORTH CAROLINA SCF TASK FORCE MEMBERS

******Alert #284******

The Securities Division (NC Department of the Secretary of State) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have issued the following warning about certain seminars on stock trading:

Investor Alert: Investment Seminars – Trading Seminar Scams
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to warn investors of potential fraud they may encounter at investment seminars that purport to teach investors trading strategies that will allow them quickly and easily to make money trading securities. In particular, SEC staff warns that some trading seminar promoters may use misleading or untrue statements to lull investors into purchasing expensive products such as trading software or classes. Investors should be prepared to recognize and avoid some of the potential fraudulent conduct they may encounter at investment seminars that purport to teach investors how to trade securities.

Signs of Trading Seminar Fraud

Claims that trading strategies are “easy” or “simple.” Trading strategies are not “simple” or “easy.” Securities transactions occur in complex financial markets. Investors should be skeptical of anyone making those kind of claims.

Be mindful of “guaranteed” returns. Trading any type of securities carries some degree of risk, and the level of risk typically correlates with the return an investor can expect to receive. Low risk generally means low yields, and high yields typically involve higher risk. Fraud promoters often spend a lot of time trying to convince investors that extremely high returns are “guaranteed” or “can’t miss.” Don’t believe it. High returns represent potential rewards for investors who are willing and financially able to take big risks.

High-pressure sales tactics. Promoters sometimes use high-pressure sales tactics to get investors to buy their trading products and classes without thinking it through. They might claim there are only a few spots left or that getting in immediately will allow investors to see the greatest returns. Any reputable promoter of trading products or classes will let investors take their time to do research and will not pressure for an immediate decision.
Sounds too good to be true. Generally, if a strategy for trading securities sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No strategy for trading securities is fool-proof.

Ways to Avoid Trading Seminar Fraud

Investigate before the seminar. Before attending any investment seminar on trading strategies, investors should research the people or company promoting the investment seminar as well as the trading products or classes being sold at the seminar to see if they have any history of complaints, fraud, or criminal activity. Investors can check-out speakers at seminars through the following resources:
• For all speakers, contact the North Carolina Securities Division at (800) 688-4507 or (919) 733-3924.
• For speakers that are broker-dealers, use FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.
• For speakers that are an investment adviser, use the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website.
• For all speakers, checking an Internet search engine.

Ask questions. Investors should always ask questions regarding purported trading strategies. Some questions should include:
• How much will it cost to learn the trading strategy? Investors should determine what up-front and continuing costs are associated with both learning and implementing the trading strategy.
• What are the risks of this trading strategy? Any trading strategy has risks. Any presentation regarding how to trade securities should have a balanced discussion of benefits and risks. Investors should be wary of any trading strategy that has “no” risks.

Be skeptical of claims of past trading success. Some promoters attempt to validate their trading strategies’ effectiveness by highlighting the past trading success of “former students” that have used their trading strategies. Some promoters have these “former students” appear at their investment seminars to talk about their past trading success. Fraud promoters may provide false or misleading trading records to demonstrate these past trading successes. Investors should always be mindful of any claims regarding past trading success. Past trading success is not an indication of future trading success. Furthermore, investors should independently verify whether the past trading success stories and records are accurate.

Related Information

For additional educational information on avoiding fraud, please explore the “Avoiding Fraud” section of Investor.gov.
Finally, be sure to check out the article, “Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Free Lunch’?” in the November 2009 edition of the Securities Division’s newsletter.

******End of Alert******

Date: November 28, 2011

Need tech support? Beware of the latest telemarketing scam, warns AG Cooper

November 14th, 2011

TO NORTH CAROLINA SENIOR CONSUMER FRAUD TASK FORCE MEMBERS

******Alert #283******

About ten days ago, Task Force members Margrita Harrison and Dorothy Strickland with the Attorney General’s Tel-Fraud Unit began to receive reports from consumers about alarming phone calls from persons claiming to be tech support specialists with Microsoft. The Attorney General issued the following warning on Friday when it became clear that the calls were persisting and that similar calls had plagued consumers in other English-speaking countries recently.

Need tech support? Beware of the latest telemarketing scam, warns AG Cooper
Scammers posing as Microsoft tech support attempt to steal your information, money
Raleigh: North Carolina consumers have reported getting calls from phony tech support specialists who are out to access their personal information and steal their hard-earned money, Attorney General Roy Cooper warned today.

“Be suspicious of anyone who calls out of the blue offering to fix a problem with your computer,” Cooper said. “If you need assistance with your computer, seek out real help rather than responding to these calls.”

More than a dozen North Carolinians have called Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division in the last two weeks to report suspicious calls from phony tech support specialists claiming to be partners with Microsoft or Windows.

According to reports from consumers, the phony tech specialist claims that the consumer’s computer has a virus and that they can fix the problem. The caller then directs the consumer to take a series of steps, supposedly to get rid of the computer virus. Some consumers are asked to locate “Computer Options” on their computer, go to www.windowsonlinesupport.com, scroll down the page and run a scan on their computer.

Following the steps actually gives the phony tech specialist access to all of the data stored on the consumer’s computer. At this point, the scammer may demand payment for installing “security software.”

Consumers report that the callers have South Asian accents and are calling from a call center with a lot of background noise. Most consumers hang up rather than completing the steps, but the tech support scammers often call back.

The calls seem to target seniors and other consumers who may not be as technologically savvy.

If you receive one of these phony tech support calls, keep the following tips in mind:
• Microsoft and other computer and software companies do not make unsolicited calls offering tech support.
• Do not follow the caller’s instructions. If you need tech support, contact the computer or software company at a number you know to be valid.
• Never share personal information, such as bank account and credit card numbers, with anyone you don’t know who contacts you.

If you’ve fallen victim to this or a similar scam:
• Contact your bank or credit card company to dispute the charge for any money you paid.
• Immediately run anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer.
• Monitor your credit report and place a security freeze on your credit, especially if you store sensitive financial information on your computer or use it to bank online.

Consumers who have questions or may have fallen victim to this scam should contact Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division. Call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov .

http://www.ncdoj.gov/News-and-Alerts/News-Releases-and-Advisories/Press-Releases/Need-tech-support–Beware-of-the-latest-telemarket.aspx

Noelle Talley
Public Information Officer
N.C. Department of Justice
Desk: (919) 716-6484
After hours: (919) 218-1255
ntalley@ncdoj.gov
www.ncdoj.gov

******End of Alert******

Home repair fraudsters back in action

August 11th, 2011

TO NC SENIOR CONSUMER FRAUD TASK FORCE MEMBERS

******Alert #277******

Below please find an alert that was issued this morning by Attorney General Roy Cooper. The home repair fraud ring in question was based in communities just east and north of Raleigh, but it operated throughout the state and as far north as Maryland. According to various law enforcement members of the Senior Fraud Task Force, several members of that home repair fraud ring have not mended their ways despite having to spend time in prison for their earlier misdeeds. They are also teaching younger individuals how to run the scams.

Many of these fraud artists’ recent scams can be found on pages 11 and 12 of the Senior Frauds booklet: http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/bf89e24b-8c8d-4784-ad50-3d9ed2d0b6ed/Scams-and-Frauds-List-5-10.aspx Recent losses reportedly range from $20,000 to over $100,000 per elderly home owner.

Home repair fraudsters back in action

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Members of a home repair fraud ring broken up by law enforcement in the 1990’s are out of jail and appear to be back to their old tricks. The group was very active throughout North Carolina, scamming hundreds of elderly homeowners out of as much as $50,000 to $100,000 each for unnecessary repairs, before local, state, and federal law enforcement stopped them.

Unfortunately, our office has heard of two Raleigh homeowners who lost several thousand dollars to these fraudsters in recent weeks. Local authorities are investigating those incidents, and we’d like to prevent other consumers from becoming victims.

Telltale signs that a homeowner is being scammed by these criminals include:

· Unmarked trucks frequently parked out front

· Contractors who suddenly leave when a visitor comes over

· Several screw-jacks mounted under the first floor of the home

· Wooden 2” by 4” braces mounted between the attic floor and roof supports

· New shingles on a roof that wasn’t showing any signs of damage, and

· Thousands of dollars in checks made out to individual crew members.

If you or someone you know may be a victim of this home repair fraud ring, report it to local law enforcement and building code officials immediately. To file a complaint with our office, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within NC or visit www.ncdoj.gov.

******End of Alert******

Senior Fraud Alert: Buying Gift Cards to Enter a Sweepstakes Contest or Collect a Prize? Something Isn’t Right

July 13th, 2011

TO NC SENIOR CONSUMER FRAUD TASK FORCE MEMBERS

******Alert #274******

Roanoke Rapids (NC) police are warning citizens of a sweepstakes scam in which callers invite people to enter their contest simply by purchasing a $99 gift card for themselves. The callers tell their intended victims they can purchase the cards from whatever store or business they like. If a call recipient does this, he or she is asked during a subsequent call to recite the numbers on the back of the gift card in order to enter the sweepstakes. The callers then use these numbers to charge on-line purchases to the victim’s newly purchased gift card.

More information on the scam is available from the Roanoke Rapids Herald website: http://www.rrdailyherald.com/news/gift-card-scam-hits-roanoke-rapids/article_6812b1d4-a284-11e0-8e00-001cc4c002e0.html
Gift cards and Green Dot cards are growing in importance to overseas sweepstakes and lottery scammers as they try and obtain money from US victims. Anyone who requires that you purchase a gift card in order to enter a sweepstakes — or to pay taxes and fees on a sweepstakes prize — is probably trying to defraud you.

******End of Alert******

TO NC SENIOR CONSUMER FRAUD TASK FORCE MEMBERS

July 5th, 2011

******Alert #273******

Task Force member Brian Simpson of the Social Security Administration’s Raleigh Office shares the following with us:

The Raleigh Social Security office received an inquiry from the Constituent Services Liaison in U.S. Representative David Price’s office. She said that a constituent reported the following:

A female caller told the constituent that she was calling from SSA and that he was due to receive a new Social Security card. He said he already had one and asked why would he need a new one. She replied that “it was just time” for him to have a new one issued. She said she already had his name, address and Social Security number but needed his bank information to process the replacement card. This made the man suspicious. The female caller had “a heavy foreign accent,” so the man asked to speak to someone else he could understand better.

At that point, a male with a similar heavy foreign accent came on the line. The man reported that as he asked for additional information from the callers, they became increasingly “short” with him. He hung up and called SSA directly.

________________________________________
Brian Simpson, Spokesperson
U.S. Social Security Administration
Call My Desk: 1-888-221-9512 x 28224
Send Me an E-mail: brian.simpson@ssa.gov
Enjoy & Share My FREE Webinar: http://ssa.gov/open/social-security-101-whats-in-it-for-me.html

******End of Alert******

Watch out for calls from scammers posing as cops, AG Cooper warns

June 14th, 2011

******Alert #271******

The Attorney General just issued the following alert about highly abusive callers who pose as law enforcement officials who claim to be collecting on a debt.  Many call recipients owe no such debt at all, while some may have taken out so-called payday loans on-line. 

ROY COOPER
NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL

                                                                                                                                                                                  _

Watch out for calls from scammers posing as cops, AG Cooper warns

 Callers threaten arrest if you don’t pay debt

Raleigh:  Telemarketing scammers claiming to be law enforcement are threatening people to pay them money or face arrest, Attorney General Roy Cooper warned consumers today.

“Don’t let scammers intimidate you into paying debts you don’t owe,” Cooper said.  “These calls come from crooks, not real law enforcement officers.”

Consumers in North Carolina and elsewhere have recently reported getting calls from the “Federal State Bureau of North Carolina,” which is not an actual law enforcement organization.  The callers tell people they owe a debt and must pay it now or go to jail.  The threatening calls come from (336) 505-7092, a Google Voice number that could be used by scammers anywhere in the world. 

Both the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the State Bureau of Investigation have received reports about the fraudulent calls.

This is not the first time Cooper’s office has heard of debt collection scammers posing as police.  Even though the fraudulent calls originate overseas, the scammers sometimes spoof the phone number of a real law enforcement agency to make their calls appear to come from a local Sheriff or police department. Some of these collection calls are made to people who owe money on Internet payday loans, while other people who get the calls have never taken out a payday loan. 

If you receive a similar call:

  • Don’t give out your personal information, particularly your bank account and credit card information.
  • Check your credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228 to spot any unauthorized credit cards or loans taken out in your name.
  • Consider a free security freeze to block unauthorized use of your credit.  For information about how to get place a security freeze on your credit, visit www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
  • Remember that legitimate debt collectors will provide you with written proof of a debt.  They are not allowed to use profanity or threaten you with violence or arrest, and they must follow rules about when and how they contact you.

Consumers can report debt collection scams to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a consumer complaint online. ###

******End of Alert******

 

Telephone Scam being used by Inmates and others – Don’t fall for this (*72)

March 24th, 2011

Telephone Scam being used by Inmates and others – Don’t fall for this (*72)

Members of the public are being tricked by jail inmates and others through a telephone scam. 



Members of the public have been calling the Sheriff’s Department and asking to talk to a specific deputy, detective, or sergeant who had just called them. The real deputy who answers the phone explains they are mistaken, as the named deputy does not exist or is not on duty. 



The scam begins by the victim caller receiving a call from a person claiming to be a deputy. This imposter tells the victim that one of their family member’s has been incarcerated or involved in an accident. The imposter then informs the victim caller that their family member provided the victim caller’s name as an emergency contact. 



The victim caller is then instructed to call a number that begins with *72 (Example: *72-323-555-1212) to get the information they will need. When the victim caller hangs up and dials the number provided, they are told they have a wrong number. 



Concerned for the safety of their family member, the victim caller then calls an information line (4-1-1) and asks for a number to the Sheriff’s Department. They are then connected with a real deputy. 



However, since the victim caller used the prefix *72 to initiate their last phone call, they have just automatically forwarded all their incoming calls to the scammer’s phone number (These include collect calls from inmates who want to avoid paying for collect calls). The billing for these forwarded calls goes to the victim caller until they turn off call forwarding on their phone (usually by dialing *73).

If not careful, Victims can be scammed out of a lot of money in collect-call fees before they find this out. 




Do Not Dial *72 unless you want to forward your calls. 

If you have been involved in this scam, and you have already dialed a number beginning with *72, contact your phone service provider to learn how to shut off automatic call forwarding.

AG COOPER STOPS SHODDY PAVER WHO TARGETED SENIORS

February 28th, 2011

 

******Alert #262******

 

With an assist from Task Force member and Winston-Salem BBB President David Dalrymple, who provided an affidavit and bureau records concerning the defendant’s complaint history, the Attorney General obtained a restraining order Thursday against an itinerant driveway paver who allegedly scammed older home owners.   The AG’s announcement of the filing appears below:

  AG Cooper stops shoddy paver who targeted seniors

Release date: 2/25/2011

 Boswell accused of promising low prices, then intimidating homeowners into paying more

Raleigh: A Forsyth County man is under court order to stop performing driveway paving and gravel work, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
 

“Paving scams often pop up in different parts of the state, change company names frequently and disappear when consumers catch on to their con,” Cooper said. “By being vigilant and not giving into high-pressure tactics, homeowners can protect their money and help us catch the scammers.”
 

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens agreed Thursday with Cooper’s request for a temporary restraining order against Lige Bobby Boswell and his various companies including Katidid Paving, AJ Paving, Absolute Paving, and Skyline Paving. Cooper asked for the order based on six complaints filed with his Consumer Protection Division and an additional 19 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau in Winston-Salem. The Attorney General is also asking the court for a permanent ban against Boswell’s driveway work, civil penalties and refunds for consumers.
 

Boswell also faces criminal charges in Chatham, Johnston and Harnett counties. Those matters are being handled by local District Attorneys.
 

As alleged in Cooper’s complaint, Boswell’s regular practice is to approach homeowners, especially seniors, and offer to pave or gravel their driveway at a deep discount using leftover materials from a nearby job. He usually starts work before the homeowner ever sees or signs a contract. When the work is done, Boswell routinely demands a much larger payment, and homeowners complain that he tries to intimidate them physically if they balk at the new price. Consumers also complain about the quality of Boswell’s work, saying the pavement or gravel often begins to wash away quickly and that grass starts growing through the driveway soon after the job is done.
 

Investigators believe that Boswell has offered driveway paving and gravelling services in North Carolina for at least the past 15 years, operating under a number of company names and in various parts of the state, most recently in Chatham and Randolph counties. The Attorney General’s Office had previously warned Boswell against failing to give customers written notice of their three-day right to cancel his services under state law.

North Carolina law gives consumers three days to cancel most door-to-door purchases and requires businesses to notify consumers about their right to cancel. Under North Carolina law, consumers can only waive their right to cancel in certain situations, such as an emergency. 

 Cooper and his Consumer Protection team have gone after three other pavers in recent years, Platinum Paving, Tommy Clack, and H.A.R.D Top Asphalt Maintenance. All operated in a similar way: approaching homeowners door-to-door, quoting a low price upfront and then demanding more money once the job was done, failing to tell consumers about their right to cancel, and performing poor quality work.
 

“Don’t let a paving scammer steamroller you into paying too much for shoddy work,” Cooper said. “Before you hire anyone to work on your home, get a written estimate and check out the company thoroughly.”
 

To check out a home repair company or file a complaint against one, North Carolina consumers can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state. Consumers can also file a complaint online.

  Contact:  Jennifer Canada, (919) 716-6413

  ******End of Alert******

Date:   February 28, 2011
 David N. Kirkman
Assistant Attorney General
Task Force Alerts Chair
Consumer Protection Division
Office of Attorney General Roy Cooper
9001 Mail Processing Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-9001
Tel. 919-716-6000

(Copies of Earlier NCSFTF Trade Practice Alerts and Senior Fraud Alerts Are Available on the NC Division of Aging & Adult Services’ Website, www.dhhs.state.nc.us/aging/fraud/cfalert.htm )

TO NC SENIOR CONSUMER FRAUD TASK FORCE MEMBERS

November 8th, 2010

******Alert #255******

 

For an update on earlier Trade Practice Alerts concerning timeshare resellers who allegedly scam seniors and others, please see the following excerpt from a press announcement issued today by the Federal Trade Commission:

 

 

For Release: 10/29/2010

Psst… Hey Buddy, Wanna Sell a Timeshare?

At FTC’s Request, Court Stops Fraudsters Who Took Advantage of Consumers Trying to Resell Timeshares

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal district court has put a stop to a deceptive telemarketing operation that allegedly scammed millions of dollars from property owners hoping to sell their timeshares. The FTC charged that the ring, operating out of South Florida, conned consumers by promising that they had buyers lined up and waiting. Only after making a hefty up-front payment did the consumers learn that there were no buyers, and that it was nearly impossible to get their money back from the defendants, many of whom have long criminal histories.

“When cash-strapped consumers are trying to sell their property, the last thing they need is to lose thousands of dollars to scam artists who promise a quick sale, but then provide no services at all,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The case is part of an ongoing FTC effort to crack down on con artists who use fraud and deception to take advantage of consumers hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Many of the defrauded consumers needed to sell their timeshares to help pay their living expenses. According to the FTC, the number of complaints related to fraudulent timeshare resales has more than tripled over the past three years, as more consumers have attempted to sell their timeshares.

In this case, the defendants allegedly defrauded consumers nationwide out of millions of dollars before being shuttered by the court. They also are well known to the South Florida Better Business Bureau (BBB) which, together with the FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s Office, has received hundreds of complaints from consumers about their conduct. The BBB has given the firm, Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, an F rating, the lowest rating it can give a business.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Timeshare Mega Media, two related companies, and six individuals used a telemarketing boiler room in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They told timeshare owners who were attempting to sell their units that a buyer was lined up and a deal had been negotiated on their behalf, but that before the sale could be completed, consumers would have to pay an up-front fee, usually $1,996, by credit card.

The FTC’s complaint charges that Timeshare Mega Media’s representatives typically claimed the fee was for sale-related costs, such as realtor fees, closing costs, title searches, or document processing. They also told consumers that this fee would be refunded at closing. In some cases, if a consumer owned an expensive timeshare, the fee could be more than $1,996, ranging up to 10 percent of the asking price. Consumers also were told that their timeshare sales would close quickly, often in as few as 30 days.

(Complete text of the announcement available at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/10/megamedia.shtm )

 

******End of Alert******

 

Date:   October 29, 2010

 

David N. Kirkman

Assistant Attorney General

Task Force Alerts Chair

Consumer Protection Division

Office of Attorney General Roy Cooper

9001 Mail Processing Center

Raleigh, NC  27699-9001

Tel. 919-716-6000

 

(Copies of Earlier NCSFTF Trade Practice Alerts and Senior Fraud Alerts Are Available on the NC Division of Aging & Adult Services’ Website, www.dhhs.state.nc.us/aging/fraud/cfalert.htm )

 

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