How An Oil Baron’s Heir Cleaned Up A $14 Billion Internet Scam
According to the Committee report, at least 450 e-commerce websites partnered with AVW, and between 1999 and 2009, those partners received about $608 million in pure profit from the deals — 88 got more than $1 million apiece, and Priceline received over $10 million — with the other $792 million or so going to AVW.Fully 98% of calls to AVW customer service lines were from consumers wanting to cancel as soon as they discovered these extra charges on their credit card bills — payable to unfamiliar entities such as “WLI Reservation Rewards,” according to the Committee report.AVW use what are euphemistically called “Aggressive Marketing Tactics.” I recently interviewed Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, who testified in front of the Commerce Committee about these firms and their marketing tactics. According to Edelman, these include:
Making solicitations at a time when few consumers expect solicitations and
Automatically transferring customer payment information, such that a consumer can end up a member of a paid membership program, facing monthly credit card charges, without ever providing a card number to the company posting the charges.
Ads must be “clearly distinguished from the checkout process , “
Sequencing must be “consistent with customer expectations ,” and
“Consumers retype all account details .”
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You Dontrecognize The Debt That The Person Claims You Owe Money For
Ask questions to make sure the debt is onethat you owe. Any debt collector who contacts you claiming you owe payment on a debt is required by law to tell you certain information about the debt. That information must include:
- The name of the creditor
- The amount owed
If you believe you do not owe the debt or that it’s not even your debt, tell the caller that you will send a written request to the debt collector and dispute the debt. You can also send a written request to the debt collector to receive more information about the debt.
Fake Text Messages From Your Bank
What the scammer will typically do is send out text messages in bulk, which say something like This is a security alert from Bank of America. Please visit and confirm your identity to see the message
As you can guess, they are sending you to a dummy website to collect your information. Although less common, some of the bolder criminals will instead request you to call a phone number .
Just like the PayPal scam, this is all a numbers game. They know that a given percentage of the population in an area is going to use a given bank. So by pretending to be affiliated with popular financial institutions, they know that at least some of the recipients will indeed be customers .
New Venmo Scam Is Trying To Give You Money Not Take It Away
Individuals are reporting a new Venmo scam that tries to overpay you out of the blue, but why would a scammer want to pay you? There is no limit to the creativity scammers can employ when trying to separate you from your money. Worse, as new technologies and platforms emerge, criminals come up with even more ways to take advantage of you, leaving you scammed on Venmo.
A new Venmo scam that relies on the Venmo peer-to-peer payment app has users and security experts alike scratching their heads, trying to determine how exactly scammers can benefit. Venmo, owned by PayPal, lets you send money instantly from a stored credit card, bank account or pre-loaded Venmo card to anyone with an account. It is a great way to pay your friend for your part of the rent, takeout food they brought over or concert tickets they bought to ensure the seats are located together.
What do you do if a stranger on Venmo sends you a suspiciously large amount of money? Some potential victims from the Venmo scam have received as much as $1,000 from someone they do not know, only to receive a strange message: Sent to you by mistake, please return the money.
It is already starting to sound fishy.
Most likely, the scammer withdraws the money to their Venmo card instead of back on the original credit card. They might also delete the stolen from their account and submit their own card in its place so that the money you are sending them goes to their personal card.
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How To Tell The Difference Between A Legitimate Debt Collector And Scammers
Dealing with debt collection issues can be challengingespecially when youre not sure if the person youre being contacted by is legitimate or trying to scam you.
Whenan account like a credit card, auto loan, or cell phone bill becomes past due,the original creditor may attempt to collect the amount owed. The creditor mayalso hire a debt collector or sell the debt to someone who may try to collectthe debt. While there are many legitimate debt collectors in the financialmarketplace, there are also scammers who may try to get you to pay on debtsthat you dont owe or on debts that dont even exist.
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How Do You Protect Yourself Credit Card Phishing
As scary as these scams are, fortunately there are some relatively easy strategies to help safeguard yourself from becoming a victim:
- Use good security software: First and foremost, you need to equip your computer with the best spam filter, anti-virus program, and spyware remover.
- Only communicate with your card issuer thru verified means: If you receive an email or text claiming to be from your bank, dont click on the link or call the number listed in the message. Instead, you should only contact your credit card company through confirmed means such as the phone number printed on the back of your card and by typing in their URL directly into your browser .
- Educate yourself about phishing: Like they say, knowledge is power. The more you educate yourself about how these scams work, the better prepared you will be to spot them.
Guest post By Michael, CEO of updated for July 2015.
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Scam No : Government Grant
The scam: A government agent calls to announce youve got a nice little windfall coming your way. And it can be loaded directly to your debit or prepaid card.
This ones been around for the last four to five years, she says. The details change the promised money could be a refund, a government grant or a reward for being a good citizen.
Sometimes the scammer will weave in familiar details or mention an issue in the headlines to make it sound realistic, Chan says.
The tipoff:The government will never call you directly, she says. It will notify you by mail.
A second clue: Its never smart to share card or account information with someone who calls you, no matter who the person claims to be, she says. And a real government employee would never call out of the blue to ask for it, she adds.
The solution: There really is an official government grant registry: Grants.gov. If youre on it, you can contact the granting agency directly and bypass any scammers trying to steal your money.
See related: Q& A with the FTCs scam-spotter, Infographic: Credit card numbers still top thieves wish lists
If Negotiation Fails Then Do A Chargeback
Mitch, a partner with the New York-based firm Wealth Recovery International, which helps binary options victims recover their funds in exchange for a percentage of the recovered loss, agreed that a victims first recourse should be to try as hard as possible to obtain a chargeback.
If you suspect you have been defrauded by a binary options company, said Mitch, you should at first try to negotiate with it directly. If, as is often the fraudulent firms initial response, they tell you to put in more money in to recover your lost investments, dont do it, as you will likely never see that money again either. If the company refuses to refund your money, you will then at least have documentation to show your bank that you made a good-faith effort to recover your funds, he noted.
Mitch added that if you are able to ascertain the real location of the binary options firm that defrauded you, you should provide that information to the bank. Many binary options firms claim to be calling from England or Scotland. If you can show that they are actually in Israel, Cyprus or Bulgaria, it will bolster your case.
How To Spot A Legitimate Business
We have talked mostly about warning signs and red flags, but theyre not all bad eggs. How do you spot a legitimate business lender?
Here are some tips:
- Research the name of the company itself, along with the companys state license number, public phone number, and physical address, as well as the name of the person representing the company. Be alert to anything that doesnt seem to match.
- Match the physical address with the license number and phone number, if possible.
- Search the companys name online and look for any scam warnings or feedback from other business owners.
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Beware Of Scams Implying Association With The United Nations
The United Nations has been made aware of various correspondences, being circulated via e-mail, from Internet web sites, text messages and via regular mail or facsimile, falsely stating that they are issued by, or in association with the United Nations and/or its officials. These scams, which may seek to obtain money and/or in many cases personal details from the recipients of such correspondence, are fraudulent.
The United Nations wishes to warn the public at large about these fraudulent activities being perpetrated purportedly in the name of the Organisation, and/or its officials, through different fraud schemes.
- The United Nations does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process or other fee, or request information on applicants bank accounts. To apply for a job go to careers.un.org and click on Vacancies. See more on employment-related fraud.
- The United Nations does not charge a fee at any stage of its procurement process or other fee. Visit the Procurement Division to see the latest business opportunities with the United Nations.
- The United Nations does not request any information related to bank accounts or other private information.
- The United Nations does not offer prizes, awards, funds, certificates, automated teller machine cards, compensation for Internet fraud, or scholarships, or conduct lotteries.
- The United Nations does not approve military vacations or pensions, or release packages in exchange for a fee.
Check Your Credit Report For The Account In Question
You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies. To get your free credit report authorized by law, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 322-8228. Keep in mind that not all debt collectors and creditors provide information to the credit reporting companies. If the debt is not on your credit report, that does not necessarily mean the debt is not valid.
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Loan Scams: Be Aware Of These
When you need money and have a poor credit score, its easy to accept almost any offer for a personal loan. But there are scam artists waiting to take advantage your desperation. They might be offered personal loans through online website advertisements. They could mail a flyer that guarantees a loan, regardless of your circumstance.
Here are some warning signs usually experienced by victims of loan scams:
Upfront Fees Also known as advance-fee loan scams, these lenders offer a low interest loan in exchange for an upfront payment. They disguise their intent with fees for legitimate-sounding purposes such as applications, processing, or documenting. They all mean the same thing: Send me some money before I perform any service. Think about this: You are being asked to send money to be loaned money. Often, youre asked to make payment via prepaid card a digital gift card from Apple, Google, Visa or the like you find in supermarket kiosks. Thats a scam. Run.
Legitimate lenders disclose all their fees. Oftentimes, these fees are rolled into the cost of the loan, not paid for in advance. Advance-fee scammers may offer the same arrangement, and may even create a fake ACH automated clearing house deposit to your bank for the full amount. Youll see it in your account as pending. But end the conversation the moment they ask you to send that gift card theyll drain the card and that pending deposit will never clear.
Scam No : Gift Card Prize
The scam: An email announces youve won a high-dollar gift card from a popular retailer.
It could be a scam, says Jason Schall, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.
Dangling the promise of a prize, youre required to supply personal information and, often, to buy things, too, he says.
In one instance, consumers were told they couldnt receive their prize until they purchased at least 13 items and referred three other people who would do the same, he says.
The tipoff: If you havent entered a contest, its unlikely someone will be contacting you about a prize, he says. And, with a real prize, you usually dont have to register, supply financial information or buy anything, he adds.
The solution: Be alert to any demand for personal information, or that you buy something to get a prize. Scammers will try to keep you on the hook to harvest as much cash and information as they can.
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Experts Say This Is The Key: Do Not Give Out Personal Information When You Have Not Initiated The Conversation
Unless you initiated the call, DONT give out: Your date of birth. Your mothers maiden name. The three-digit security code on the back of your card.
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What To Know About Real Contests And Prizes
Plenty of contests are run by reputable marketers and non-profit organizations. But there are some things to know before you drop in a quick entry or follow instructions to claim a prize.
- Real sweepstakes are free and by chance. Its illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter, or to increase your odds of winning.
- Contest promoters might sell your information to advertisers. If you sign up for a contest or a drawing, youre likely to get more promotional mail, telemarketing calls, or spam.
- Contest promoters have to tell you certain things. If they call you, the law says they have to tell you that entering is free, what the prizes are and their value, the odds of winning, and how youd redeem a prize.
- Sweepstakes mailings must say you dont have to pay to participate. They also cant claim you’re a winner unless you’ve actually won a prize. And if they include a fake check in their mailing, it has to clearly say that its non-negotiable and has no cash value.
A special note about skills contests. A skills contest where you do things like solve problems or answer questions correctly to earn prizes can ask you to pay to play. But you might end up paying repeatedly, with each round getting more difficult and expensive, before you realize its impossible to win or just a scam. Skills contests can leave contestants with nothing to show for their money and effort.
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Zamfara Apc Chairman Urges Members To Register
Meanwhile, the chairman of the state caretaker committee, Senator Hassan Muhammad Nasiha, has called on all members in the state to come out en masse and register to become full members of the party.
He described party membership as the most important tool for standing any election in the country.
Senator Nasiha also commended Governor Matawalle for uniting party members in the state and ensuring that they work as a family at all levels.
What To Do If Youve Been Scammed
If youve been the victim of a loan scam or personal loan fraud, contact your local law enforcement as soon as possible. Notify, also, your state attorney general and the FBI . The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau also will be helpful allies.
You can file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center , a partnership among the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center , and the Bureau of Justice Assistance .
If you suspect theres a website that is designed to look legitimate in an attempt to steal users personal information, report it to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or whatever search engine you favor.
To file reports, provide the following information:
- Your name, mailing address, and telephone number.
- The name, address, telephone number, and web address of the individual or organization who perpetrated the fraud.
- Specific details on how, why, and when you believe you were defrauded.
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Is That A Legit Credit Card Company Calling Or Just Another Scam
Toby Nixon recently contacted us about annoying robocalls from a company promising to lower his credit card rate. Heres part of what Toby reports:
Ive been receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls for several months on my cell phone, offering to lower my credit card interest rate. I have asked several times to be removed from their list especially since it is a violation of federal law to make telemarketing calls to cell phones but they have ignored me or hang up before I can even get the words Please add me to your do not call list out of my mouth…I continue to get these calls at least a couple of times a week.
Today, I finally got one of their agents to stay on the line long enough to give me some information. I offered them made-up information about my credit accounts, such as balances and interest rates, to sound like I was an attractive prospect. They then asked me for my credit card number, supposedly so they could talk to the credit card issuer to verify my credit standing . Of course, I wouldnt give my card number to someone who called me, and told them so. I said I wanted to look at their web site to verify that they are a legitimate company, and they told me it is www.cardmemberservices.com.
Shannon Smith, the AGOs Consumer Protection Chief, also offers some personal experience with this very scam:
Here are few additional pointers to avoid such scams:
-Dan Sytman and AGO Volunteer Rachel Vinson-