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Tag Archive | "scam"

Elaborate licensing scam costs couple their life savings


LANSING—Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks has today alerted professionals licensed by the State of Michigan to beware of an elaborate, sophisticated scam that ultimately costed one physical therapist and her family their entire savings.

The scheme reported to Nessel’s consumer protection team took place over the course of several days and involved three different men who posed as an investigator from LARA, a chief investigator from LARA, and an FBI agent, respectively. The men convinced the physical therapist that her license to practice was in danger of immediate temporary suspension and directed her to the nearest UPS store to receive notification in writing. According to the woman, the document the men provided her appeared to be on official LARA letterhead and even included her license number.

The man posing as the chief investigator told the physical therapist that he was investigating a drug trafficking case involving her license and that her name and license were associated with 15 different bank accounts laundering 2.4 million dollars. At one point, all three men got on the call with her, giving her the option of obtaining a lawyer and being stuck in jail without bail for at least six months, or cooperating with their investigation by signing a federal bond agreement with the Department of Justice.

Convinced that the scam was legitimate, the woman followed their instructions, told no one—including her husband—and made a wire transfer for her so-called bond. She was then provided with an application to allegedly reinstate her license. Once her husband discovered the wire transfer, the police were called and confirmed the scam. The couple was unable to recoup any of their financial losses.

“This kind of scheme shows the depth and breadth bad actors will go to while robbing well-intentioned people who are fearful of the results should they not comply,” said Nessel. “Do NOT fall for anyone who calls and threatens you unless you provide them with some form of cash—in this case, a hefty wire transfer. Be alert, be skeptical, and hang up, no matter how often they reach out to you. And by all means, immediately stop any payments and alert local law enforcement to report them. You may also wish to report this conduct to our office as it helps us understand what scams are circulating so that we can warn the public about them.”

“No one from our office in LARA will ever reach out to you and threaten to suspend your license,” said Hawks. “Our investigators have teamed up with Michigan State Police to put a stop to as many scams as possible but we need our licensees to be alert to the possibility that the next text, email, or phone call they get about their license may be someone trying to scam them.”

Last fall, several State of Michigan licensees encountered spam emails or spam websites impersonating LARA. Hawks emphasized the following while urging licensees to take caution:

Licensees should be cautious of unsolicited requests for any of their personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information.

Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or links to websites. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in emails or text messages about validating your personal data.

If there are any hyperlinks, check the url before clicking. LARA websites will have michigan.gov in the url.

If you suspect fraud, report it immediately to your licensing bureau.

“Don’t be fooled by a scam, no matter how real it seems,” said Nessel. “Do your homework and report anything that is even remotely suspicious to the proper authorities. It is much easier to protect yourself from a scam than to recover from one.”

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Consumer Alert: Smishing


 

Smishing, a blending of the words SMS and phishing, is when scammers send text messages pretending to be from trusted sources

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced this week that his Consumer Protection team has released a new consumer alert on “Smishing.” Smishing is when a scammer sends text messages to consumers appearing to be from a trusted source.

Smishing scams are like phishing scams for emails except they arrive as text messages. The scammer’s goal is for consumers to respond to the texts with personal information or to click on links that install malware.

“Dishonest individuals are always trying to find new ways to obtain our personal information,” said Schuette. “My Consumer Protection team continually works to stay current on the latest scams, so they can make sure Michigan residents are aware of these scams and know how to identify the scams and avoid them.”

With more than 20 billion text messages sent every day in the United States, a growing number of those are from thieves trying to scam consumers. Smartphone users are three times more likely to fall for fake text messages than computer users, therefore text message scams are on the rise. 

Common Smishing Scam

A common smishing tactic involves a text warning about a problem with one of your accounts and asking for your information to correct it.

In addition, some scammers, will pitch offers that seem too good to be true such as promises of free gifts and trips.

It is important to not respond to these texts, either by clicking on a link or providing information. You may download malware or become an identity theft victim.

The easiest way to avoid being scammed: delete the message.

How to Spot Smishing Scams

It is important to look out for the following: 

* A text message that appears to be your bank and states there is a problem with your account. A phone number is listed for you to call right away;

* A text message from an unknown sender asking for you to call a number, click on link or respond with personal information;

* A text message that reads: “REAL ROLEX 90% OFF, click here.”; and

* A text message that says, “click here,” enter “x,” or reply “stop” to opt out of future messages.

How to Prevent Smishing Scams

* Don’t respond to any suspicious numbers. Instead once you report it, delete the text and block the number;

* Don’t share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well;

* Beware of the fine print in user agreements for products or services that may use your phone number, like mobile apps and free ring-tone offers;

* NEVER follow a text’s instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages; and

* Report scam texts to the Federal Communications Commission online, by phone 888-225-5322; or by mail: FCC Consumer Complaints, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington D.C. 20554.

What You Need to Know

Neither the State of Michigan nor the federal government will contact you via text message. Federal law makes it illegal to send commercial text messages to a mobile device without the recipient’s permission. This law even applies if you haven’t put your name on a “Do-Not-Call-List.” Downloading apps and ringtones on your smartphone put you more at risk for your number to get in the hands of scammers. It is important to read the terms of agreement carefully before downloading anything to your device. 

REPORT FRAUD

If you are a mobile subscriber with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Bell you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the text and forwarding it to 7726 free of charge.

If you cannot use 7726, then consumers can report smishing texts to your service provider and the Federal Communications Commission

Learn more about robocalls, phone scams, and government imposters with our Consumer Education materials, including our Consumer Alerts on Michigan Telemarketing Laws and Telemarketing Fraud. 

To report a scam, file a complaint, or get additional information, contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General:

CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION

P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-1140

Fax: 517-241-3771

Toll free: 877-765-8388

To file a complaint online, go to michigan.gov/ag/ and then click on “about,” and then “duties,” and then “complaints.”

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Health Department warns of potential scam


 

Scam targeting restaurants

On Monday November 28, 2016 the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) was contacted by a local restaurant who said they had received a phone call from a person claiming to be a representative of KCHD. The caller told an employee that the restaurant would have to pay a $5 “rescheduling fee” for an inspection. The caller insisted that the fee be paid immediately by credit card. This call did not come from a KCHD employee.

The Kent County Health Department does not charge a “rescheduling fee” and KCHD inspectors do not demand immediate credit card only payments for any fees.

The Kent County Health Department is urging restaurant owners and employees to be cautious.

“Our concern is that a restaurant owner or an employee could easily be caught off guard especially since this is a very busy time of the year for them,” said Adam London, Kent County Administrative Health Officer. “A five dollar charge might seem so insignificant to someone that they simply agree to pay it. It is very possible though, that whoever is making these calls has larger plans for your credit card such as selling your information or running up huge bills on your account.”

If you are contacted by someone who claims to represent the Kent County Health Department and they are asking for money over the phone, please request a call back number and contact the Kent County Health Department immediately at 616-632-6900.

KCHD also urges anyone who believes that they have been a victim of this scam to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100.

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Don’t cruise your way into a vacation scam


Winter and spring are prime months for ocean cruises, but the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan (BBB) advises consumers to read all of the fine print before signing up for a special cruise deal.
The BBB urges consumers to be especially cautious of unsolicited mail with offers of free or discounted cruises. In 2011, the BBB received more than 1,300 complaints against cruise companies. While legitimate cruise companies do offer specials periodically, there are always those sneaky few that end up leaving consumers on the hook for thousands of dollars.
Many times, scammers will send numerous e-mails, postcards, and other mailings trying to get you to call them in order to claim your “free cruise.” Don’t be fooled by professional looking websites. Gather as much information as you can about the business, and ask a lot of questions before signing on the dotted line.
The BBB and CruiseCritic.com recommend the following tips to consumers who are looking to book a cruise getaway:
· Don’t be a victim. Oftentimes, vacation scammers will use high-pressure sales tactics and make you feel coerced to buy the limited-time deal on the spot. A reputable business or travel agent will provide any information that you request, and give you time to consider your options before booking a vacation.
· Always check the business first. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Before giving a business any personal information, check out their BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org/search. Consumers can also contact the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for information on finding a reputable travel agent.
· Pay with a credit card. For your best protection against a dishonest cruise provider, always pay for your cruise fare — both the initial deposit and the final payment—with a major credit card such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express. If problems arise, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. This same protection may not apply to those using debit or check cards; it’s important to confirm policies with your issuing bank before you charge.
· Ensure your money is in the right hands. After you’ve made a payment, review your credit card or bank statement and make sure that any applicable charges originate directly with the cruise line, not with the travel agency. That way, you’ll know that the cruise line has definitely received your money. If you must pay by check or money order, it should be made payable to the cruise line — not to the agency or to an individual.
· Get proper confirmation of your booking. Insist on getting the actual  cruise line’s confirmation numbers, not just a confirmation number from your agency. Not only will you then know that your information and money is in the right hands, but you’ll also be able to pre-reserve shore excursions, restaurant reservations and spa appointments (where available) on the cruise line’s website.
· Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Before signing on the dotted line make sure all of the details have been clearly outlined and the pricing has been thoroughly explained. Double check whether there are hidden cancellation fees, port charges, or insurance processing fees that haven’t been covered.
· Consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide protection in the event of an accident, an illness, lost luggage, or a canceled or interrupted trip, among other things. Follow the same steps outlined here when buying travel insurance.
· For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org/us/bbb-news.

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SCAM ALERT


The Post received a call from a retired gentleman, in Courtland Township, about a phone call he received this week from someone trying to scam him out of money.

The man said he got the call just before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. A male caller, with a deep, resonant voice, identified himself as “Sam Davis” and told the man he had won $50,000 in a contest, and that to get his winnings, he needed to go to the nearest Walmart and purchase a green moneypak reload card, and put $350 on it. The caller instructed the man to call him back at 818-627-9802 after he purchased it, and they would set up a meeting at 1:30 so the man could collect his winnings.

Immediately suspicious, (especially since he had never entered a contest) the man did not go get the card, but called the Kent County Sheriff Department instead, and they told him they would send a deputy out to take the report.

“Sam Davis” called the man back about noon and asked if he had gotten the card yet, and the man told him no. “Davis” called back again later in the afternoon, while the deputy was there. But when the deputy got on the phone, the caller hung up.

Later on, after the deputy left, the man received another phone call, this time telling him he had won between $1.2 and $2.3 million in a lottery, and that to get it, he needed to buy a moneypak card and put $250 on it and mail it to him. The caller id showed the call came from Kingston, Jamaica.

The first call came through as “private” but the number shows it is out of California. An Internet search on the number shows this is not the first complaint. Others have experienced a similar scam.

Remember: if you have won any type of lottery or sweepstakes, you will not have to pay out any type of money to collect your winnings.

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