Scam Alert: Internet PhishingPhishing is a term that means getting your personal information
by deception and possibly using the information to steal
your identity. A common phishing scheme comes through
your email and disguises itself as a bank that needs to
update your personal information. Some phishing schemes
will offer to put money into your bank account for answering
a survey. No matter how legitimate the message looks,
never send personal information over the internet unless
you initiate the contact.
Nigerian schemeYou receive a letter, email or fax pertaining to money
laundering. They may send your checks or money orders
asking you to deposit them and then wire a percentage
back to the scammer. The checks and money orders are counterfeit.
You will end up paying back thousands to the bank. This
scam mainly originates out of Nigeria or other parts of
West Africa. The scammers will have a seemingly good reason
for asking your help. Do not believe them.
Advance Fee LoanThe scammers claim they can obtain a loan for you but
you have to pay in advance. They may give an address in
the U.S. but the address is bogus. They often want you
to wire the advance fee to Canada. They tell you that
once they receive the fee, they will deposit the loan
proceeds into your bank account. You keep looking for
the promised loan to show up in your bank account. The
scammers then may tell you they need more money to insure
the loan. You may end up sending more money. Again, the
loan proceeds do not show up in your account. They promise
you a refund within a couple of weeks once you tell them
you want to cancel. Eventually, they will not accept any
calls and the phone number may no longer be in use. You
have been taken for hundreds of dollars. Remember, once
you get on a scam list, they will call you again and again.
Internet AuctionsYou win the bid for merchandise and it never arrives.
You endlessly try contacting the scammer via email and
phone and you are ignored. Sometimes the scammer sends
the product but one of lesser value. There are also second
chance offers that are off site. These are also bogus.
Once they receive your money your never hear from them
Government GrantsSomeone calls you on the phone indicating that they are
from the government and that the government wants to give
you a government grant. They just need your bank account
numbers to deposit the check. Don’t be fooled. The government
doesn’t call people to give money away.
EmploymentSome job offers for supposedly foreign employment opportunities
ask for an advance fee to cover visa and travel costs.
They may ask for your social security number, credit card
numbers and bank account numbers. Legitimate companies
will absorb the costs of hiring you and would never ask
for your credit card numbers or bank account numbers.
There is an employment scam that asks you to be an agent
for the bogus company. They ask you to cash checks and
money orders for clients through your own bank account
and you will be paid a percentage for doing so. The checks
and money orders are bogus and you may end up paying thousands
of dollars back to your bank.
On-Line DatingYou meet someone on the internet and hit it off. Your
romance begins and soon you are exchanging photos and
making plans to meet. The person you meet says that they
are from the U.S. but are currently working in Nigeria
or some other place in Africa. They want to fly to meet
you but they need you to send the money for the airfare.
After you send the money, they may ask for more money
to cover visa costs or other expenses. This on-line scammer
will get you to send thousands of dollars and convince
you that he or she is in love and coming to visit. After
awhile you realize that you have been scammed.
Lottery/SweepstakesYou receive a letter in the mail saying you have won
thousands of dollars in a lottery or sweepstakes. They
send you a check to cover taxes or some other bogus fee.
You deposit the check in your bank account and then wire
the required fee, probably to Canada. Your bank contacts
you days later to alert you that the check is fraudulent
and you now have to pay the bank back.
Scam Alert: Fake Check Scams (This information provided by the Maine Attorney General Office)There is an old saying, "If it sounds too good to
be true, it probably is." When you are looking to
protect yourself from being ripped off, or becoming a
victim of identity theft, heeding these words is the best
protection you have.
But what if the offer is not too good to be true? What
if it is a reasonable transaction, conducted in the course
of day to day business? You may be renting an apartment,
selling an item on eBay or in Uncle Henry’s and the person
perpetrating the fraud seems to check out OK.
This is the nature of a popular type of con.
Fake check scams often originate through email. A stranger
wants to purchase a good or a service, and when they send
their check they will ask you to wire some money back
The stories they use vary from scam to scam. If you are
renting an apartment, they may ask you to wire money to
cover the cost of getting their furniture out of storage
or make up a family tragedy that has changed their circumstances.
If they are buying an item from eBay, they could "accidently"
send you a check for too much money, then ask you to wire
back the difference.
Fraudsters do not respond solely to internet or newspaper
ads. We recently saw nearly a dozen Maine farmers contacted
about the purchase of hay, sent a check from out of state,
and then asked to wire the overpayment back to the purported
Whatever the set-up, the bottom line is if someone you
don't know pays you with check but wants you to wire money
back, it's a scam.
The Maine Office of the Attorney General has witnessed
people from around the world using the internet, the mail
box and the telephone to rip off Maine consumers. At first
they were asking you to donate to a charity that did not
exist, then they were offering can’t miss business deals.
When that stopped working, they started answering classified
ads for apartments and cars. They would send you a check
and then come up with an excuse to have some money wired
to them. Here in Maine, and across the United States,
people were scammed out of millions of dollars.
A survey conducted in seven states estimates that over
29 percent of Western Union transfers in excess of $300
from the U.S. to Canada were fraud induced, representing
58 percent of the total dollars transferred.
In response to these finding, Maine and 46 other states
negotiated an agreement with Western Union that has helped
to educate consumers who transfer money by wire.
I am proud to be here today to help raise awareness of
check fraud. It is often difficult to catch the perpetrators
who operate overseas, who operate in developing nations
where governments not only turn a blind eye, but the culture
encourages the behavior.
This Consumer Awareness Campaign is designed to educate
people so Americans can steer clear of fraudulent transactions.
While there is no way to ensure that you will never fall
victim to one of these schemes, there are things you can
do to protect yourself:
Be skeptical. There is no legitimate reason for you
to wire money back to someone who has paid with a check.
Just because it looks like the money is available,
does not mean the check has cleared. Check with your
bank to make sure the check has cleared.
If a stranger would like to pay you for something,
demand a cashier’s check from a local bank or a bank
with a branch near you.
Do not deposit checks unless they are for the exact
amount of the payment. If a check is for more than it
should be, return it and ask for a check for the exact
Educate loved ones about the nature of scams
Resist any pressure to "act now." If the
buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the
Many people often think this type of thing will never
happen to them. That people who fall victim to scams are
looking to get rich quick or so gullible there is no helping
them. These stereo types are not at all accurate.
About a month ago I was forwarded an email chain from
a constituent who had been looking to rent some rooms
as a way to make a little extra money.
He advertised the rooms on Craig’s List, and received
a response from a very interested person. Over the next
few weeks the constituent exchanged 19 emails with the
fraudster. Answering questions about how the room was
furnished, move in dates, trash collection, transportation,
and other questions one would ask before renting an apartment.
In the final emails the fraudster asks the landlord to
wire part of the security deposit to a moving company.
Luckily the constituent became wary, ceased contact and
reported the incident to the authorities.
What struck me about this particular scam was the high
number of contacts, the legitimate nature of the questions
the fraudster was asking, and the details of his story.
There was no offer of millions, just someone answering
an ad. The consumer was not trying to get rich, he was
just trying to supplement his cash flow.
I would like to end by offering a piece of advice. If
it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While this
is sound advice, I also urge you to be even more vigilant.
Thieves are no longer just playing on financial fantasies;
they are concealing their scams in legitimate commerce
and complex back stories.
Scam Alert: Iraq Money TransferA new scam has been reported to the Office of the Attorney
General. It involves someone looking to move money from
Iraq to a US bank. The caller offers you a portion of
the money if they can transfer the funds to your bank
account. The caller then asks for your checking account
number or that you send some money to start the transfer.
DON’T SEND MONEY, THIS IS A SCAM! It is just the latest
variation of the so-called Nigerian Scam.
Never give out your personal identifying information
over the phone if you do not initiate the contact. If
you are unsure, contact our office before you give out
the information, (800) 436-2131. If an offer is good now,
it will be good later, do not let the scam artist pressure
you. Remember, if you tell someone your bank account number,
it’s possible for that person to then drain your account.
Scam Alert: Automated telephone scamsWill receive a call from an automated telephone system
claiming to be from a financial institute alleging your
debit/credit card is about to expire or needs to be activated/re-activated.
The phone message prompts you to input you credit/debit
card number into the phone thus compromising your account.
Scam Alert: Puppy ScamClassified listing in the Pioneer Times:
Ad in the September 24, 2008 Pioneer Times edition lists
Teacup Yorkie puppies for adoption. Person leaves a hotmail.com
address for inquiries. Local resident emails the owner
of the Teacup Yorkies who resides in Nigeria. He emails
a very cute picture of one of the Yorkies and requests
$350 for help in shipping the puppies to the US. Seller
tells you that the puppies will be shipped with all of
their toys. Seller informs buyer that the puppies should
arrive in 2-3 days. First of all whenever you see something
with the word Nigeria in it, red flags should automatically
go up. Seller will inform you that they never received
the money or additional cash is needed for veterinary
bills, shots etc. Buyer never receives the dog and is
out of the cash.
Scam Alert: Credit Card Scam
This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all
the information, except the one piece they want. Note,
the callers do not ask for your card number; they already
This information is worth reading. By understanding how
the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works,
you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.
For more details, please check this link: http://www.houltonpolice.com/ccscam01.html
Scam Alert: Reverse Mortgage Scam
Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous
professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial
services, and related entities to steal the equity from
the property of unsuspecting senior citizens aged 62 or
older or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters
in stealing equity from a flipped property.
In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered
free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure
or refinance assistance; they are also used as straw buyers
in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted
for this fraud through local churches, investment seminars,
and television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.
For more details, please check this link: http://www.houltonpolice.com/mortgagescams.html
Scam Alert: Smishing
The Gardner (MA) PD reports ongoing problems in their
area with ‘SMISHING ATTACKS’. Victims receive text messages
on their cell phones that appear to be from regional banking
institutions stating ‘CARD SERVICES CU….ALERT: YOUR CARD
HAS BEEN DEACTIVATED, please contact us at 978-596-0798
to REACTIVATE your card. Calling this number (believed
to be out of Lowell, Mass) often comes up with a busy
signal; however if the victim does get through a recording
asks for the PIN numbers to the cards. If this info is
given then the card is compromised. It is unknown at this
time if anyone in Maine has been contacted; however similar
scams have been taking place across the country and are
being dubbed ‘SMISHING ATTACKS’.
Kennebec SO is investigating a SCAM where an elderly couple
from Randolph was duped out of $240,000! The local Bank
of America branch contacted the SO after noticing several
extremely large withdrawals from their bank account. The
couple told detectives they had been contacted by mail
and phone advising them that they had won a $5.5 million
dollar contest and needed to pay processing fees. Believing
they had won the prize, the couple withdrew retirement
funds, emptied their savings and maxed out NINE CREDIT
CARDS to make 22 ‘processing fee payments’. The funds
were mailed to addresses in Florida , New York , Georgia
and Iowa …….then transferred to Jamaica .
Counterfeit money on bleached genuine $5 paper.
Click here for details
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