Posts Tagged cost trap

Warning “US Federal Grants Administration” awards fake grants

Just imagine you receive a phone call one afternoon from THE US Federal Grants Administration and you think to yourself, what could they possibly want with me? You receive the news of a lifetime – you have been awarded a grant to initiate any project or further your education of your choosing, all at a total value of $8000.00!*

Does it sound too good to be true? The latest scam to sweep across America is the Government Grant scam and unfortunately my friends, this one hasn’t landed anyone thousands of dollars richer. What usually happens to the contrary, is that the caller claims himself to be a representative of the US Federal Grants Administration and attempts to lure the recipient to believe that they have qualified for a government grant. In order to retrieve this “free money,” the caller firstly requires the person’s bank account number or a small figured deposit.

We have some beneficial information with what you might hear, see and expect, to help easily recognize this Government Grant Scam and useful tips for proceeding with the phone call.

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“Was that my phone?” Beware of less than exotic calls from the Carribean

Most of us now are glued to our mobile phones. Kids can be playing in the other room but by golly our phones are always within arms length or even closer. Have you ever asked yourself how you ended up with missed calls on your phone? Surely, you would have it heard it ring. And then we sight this phone number we’ve never seen before. Once upon a time we would just simply hit the call back button but we live in different times now, a time where we need to move with caution and implicate security measures with almost everything we do. We have another reason why.

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Our weekly Top 3 plus more info on where to Report a Scam

Before we give you our Most Annoying Numbers for the week, here’s a list of institutions that can help you deal with a scam:

1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has consumer advisories on international and text message scams.

2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides information on phone scams and spam.

3. The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

4. All major U.S. wireless companies can help you with their spam blocking technologies.

And so this week for our top 3, we have a Spanish autodialer with 11 comments and 2085 search requests; we have a spammer looking for k.smith because her debit card has been locked, and lastly, we have our resident caller telling you to claim your Royal Caribbean or Carnival Cruise prize. Remember guys, don’t fall for it!

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Caribbean Numbers Continue Phone Scam

tellows is once again receiving several comments regarding Carribean numbers, this time from Montserrat, with code number 664. The scam starts by calling anyone, usually during late hours, so one would think that it is an emergency and would then make a return call. Unfortunately, it is often just a recording generated by a computer system with the purpose of making the victim stay on hold for a longer time. Apparently, it is coming from a „pay-per-call“ line (similar to area code 900 numbers in the US) that charges high fees including international rates.

This scam has been going on since the 90’s and because it is not a US-based number, it is not under US regulations. It would be difficult for those people who were scammed to get assistance and ask for a credit or refund from its local phone carriers since for one, they did make the call, and second, it is already another foreign company in the Carribean that they should be dealing with.

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News from the Caribbean – Grenada’s Haven for Sex Scam Callers

It’s one of those late night calls that you were not able to pick up. You called back early in the morning thinking that it was an emergency. Unfortunately, you heard obscene moaning and realized it’s a scam. Then your phone bill arrives, and there goes an extra $100 charge.

Due to the huge amount of complaints received, police departments across Utah are warning people not to answer and not to call back numbers from the 473 area code. Apparently, some residents in the area who just picked up the phone and did not even return the call were getting a $19.95 charge on their phone bill.

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Pests of the Caribbean – The Tide of Grenadian Nuisance Calls

For some the Caribbean Sea equals paradise, for others, the sole notion of the Grenadian area code 473 forebodes only waking nights and sleepless nightmares. A new phone-fiend has arisen on the small island of Grenada in the Caribbean Sea and pesters unwitting people with dozens of silent calls a day.

Our fellow tellows users complain about an increasing number of automated calls from Grenada. Usually the calls are most numerous in the morning, yet afternoon calls and bellowing phones at night were reported as well. Yet no one actually ever talked to the caller. The tellows user thereby conclude that the callers agenda is primarily aimed at tricking people into calling back.

Danglt reported the number 4735209795:

Seems to be a ping call from grenada. Even without any fees for a service number the reaming fee will be high enough to cost you some dollars

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All Systems on Alert for the Medical Alert Scam!

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: scammers really do know no scruples. The scheme we’re looking at this week preys on senior citizens.

Often living at home alone, Grandma & Gramps may feel isolated or vulnerable; so when a scammer comes calling from ‘Senior Safety Alert’ with an offer of an unbelievably cheap in-house alarm system for break-ins or medical emergencies, they will probably jump at the chance.

Ironic, considering that sieges on their security are exactly what they’re trying to protect themselves against.

The call starts with a recording offering the deal: a system worth hundreds of dollars, fitted for you, on a $30 per month contract. The potential ‘scammee’ will then need to press a number to indicate their interest and will be transferred to a ‘customer advisor’, who will take their credit card numbers and personal information and scam them for all their worth.

You, faithful tellows users, seem to be on the ball enough to show these fraudsters what you’re made of. It helps that they don’t seem to have the facility to filter their target market.

User ‘vanity-affair’ got a call from 2126775122, claiming to be ‘Medical Alert Systems for Seniors’ (which might be bona fide but is suspiciously one of the names famously used by bogus callers).

I’m not a senior but the calls are still annoying. I’m not interested in buying something over the phone.

Meanwhile, ‘grandma’ is having none of it: with a dismissive flick of what I imagine to be an immaculate perm, she terms the call she got from 5412003592 as

the classic medical alert scam.

Things to look out for…

The caller will identify him or herself as an employee of a company to the effect of Senior Safe Alert, Medical Alert Systems, etc. etc. There are, of course, legitimate companies that offer these systems but they will NOT, repeat NOT, ask you for your social security number, credit card details, outline of your genetic makeup, etc. etc. during a sales call! Other warning signs include a refusal to disclose any details about the company (e.g. address) or an unwillingness to provide any authentification documents.

As always, take care of yourselves! And don’t forget to er… raise the alarm, if you get one of these calls.

Keep reporting your number experiences on tellows and have an excellent week!

Your tellows team

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Ingenious Ruses and Scams: Spoofing The IRS

The crème de la crème of cunning crooks and crafty con artists have been leading US citizens a merry dance with their latest scheme: using the Internal Revenue Service’s caller ID to make threatening calls demanding that their victims pay their ‘overdue tax’. In the aftermath of the initial bombshell, the caller will casually request that the tax be paid via debit card or a wire transfer, both methods conspicuous by their untraceability.

You may think that this scam is clumsy and glaringly obvious. As we’re about to demonstrate, we’ve seen numerous instances of badly executed IRS impersonations in the past: heavy accents, threadbare information about their potential victims and a habit of dropping the phone like it’s hot when the victims press for information…

User Dumbo proved himself not very dumb at all when he received a call from 5302385813:

A man with a thick accent said his name barely audible and claimed to be from the IRS and said that this call was regarding some debt I allegedly had. He got very rude and threatened to freeze my accounts and credit cards. The thing is, I don’t have any debt and I’m VERY sure of it. So I told him not to call anymore and, still hearing his protests through the phone, I just hung up.

‘Xaviera’, meanwhile, was pestered by 7165757391:

I was called three times in 2 hours. Each time they claimed to be IRS and they said something about taxes or debts, I didn’t really get it because he had an indian accent. Anyway, firstly I know for sure that the IRS won’t call people, it will use the US Mail service to reach the person they want. So their claim is false. And second, they wanted to talk to a different person and I told them each time that I’m not the one they’re looking for. I was informed that it didn’t matter. Now that’s a trustworthy business…

Very savvy, guys. Hang in there: we’re proud of you.

However, these guys have gone the extra step. Not only are they calling from what appears to be the IRS’s bona fide number (spoofed, naturally), they also somehow know the last 4 digits of your social security number and make it a royal flush with staff names, badge numbers and often emails with the IRS logo and format.

But they don’t even draw the line there! We covered the worrying rise in number-spoofing in a previous blog, “Who Spoofed the Sheriff?”: fraudsters can make use of technology that masks their real caller ID and replaces it either with a nonsense number (000-000-0000 being a favourite), or (oh the audacity!) the caller ID of a publicly recognised establishment. If you don’t comply, or seem doubtful, the guys behind the IRS scam will proceed to follow up the call with further harassment from the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles; number-spoofing is child’s play to these guys so prepare for a barrage of calls, all ostensibly from the correct caller IDs. Armed with this facade of legitimacy and threats of arrest, deportation or confiscation of your business or driving licence, they’ll have you listening.

However, as always, we urge you to BE WARY! IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel stresses that in the first instance, notification about due tax will in most cases be sent in the mail. Payment will be requested via cheques or bank transfers, never wire transfers or debit card! Moreover, they are an independent body and do not act in conjunction with state police or other organisations.

If you receive an unprompted call claiming to be from the IRS, we advise you to call them directly on 800-829-1040. You can also wise up using the official IRS ‘scam-alert’ web page. In the meantime, keep searching and reporting numbers on tellows and give each other a hand in the fight against scam callers!

‘Til next time,

Your Tellows Team

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Fake job offers, donations that never reach their destination and the rather popular PayPal scam. The latest in scams!

Dear friends of tellows,

If you think that scammers aren’t clever, or creative, this article may surprise you. Successful frauds are not that common and it’s quite difficult even to invent one, much less make it work. Today, we will present you with three new techniques that we have come across this week, based on a good deal of patience, exploitation of basic human emotions and of course, a degree of resourcefulness.

The first number 2032863985 from Connecticut, USA is a great example. To pull off this particular scam, the fraudsters had to buy a domain and make a plausible webpage, obtain a convincing phone number, research classy-looking addresses, stay in constant contact with their clients and rake in the cash in a way which wouldn’t arouse suspicion – at least not right away. This was a carefully planned and executed ploy, not your standard “Give me your credit card details!”

It goes something like this:

Your receive an email from Wilfred Adams (this name was a favourite of theirs) from Ghana Gold Corporation with a job offer, which seems to fit you perfectly and also happens to pay pretty nicely. (It’s always an email, never a call or a letter). Although you may initially have some doubts, they’ll provide you with ample information on their projects, give you access to their webpage (http://ghgoldcorp.com/projects.html) and provide their contact information.
However, the catch will inevitably become visible when formalities are discussed; the job is, after all, in Ghana and there will be a fair few administrative points to consider.

when you come to the “formalities” of the job offer they start asking for money, like for the courier services, medical clearances and custo clearances and so on. They never really answer your questions and the offer comes out of the blue, without any calls. You would believe that a big company like that doesn’t make you pay for something like courier services but this is the first hint.

The further along it goes, the more you’ll notice that things don’t quite add up. As you start to find out more about the job, the company and their projects, you’ll begin to smell a rat.

a few things don’t really add up:
– the area code is wrong
– when you look up the domain information about the site you’ll find a different registered address=> so the address given in the mail is wrong or just doesn’t make sense
– but even the newfound information is wrong if you go deeper:their phone number isn’t even theirs
– the mail in the domain informations is known to be used by frauds
=> it sounds more and more like scam: someone bought a domain and phone number to hide the real objective….to many red flags here that i would believe this job offer, there isn’t even a business like Ghana Gold Corporation in NY!!!

The second number 4107056172 from Beltsville – USA is from Outreach Calling call center. It is a lawful enterprise but its methods are somewhat interesting. This call center calls on behalf of several charitable organizations, such as MD State Fraternal Order Of Police or children’s hunger funds. People can donate money to, say, the families of fallen officers. Whilst this all seems very commendable, what brought this issue to our attention was how the donations are managed. One user reported some interesting facts:

I know about this company because let’s say I had a friend (^^) and this friend kinda worked for a similar company. This callcenter calls people and collects money for different causes, depending for what organization it currently works. It can be something like “for families of fallen police officers” or the like. They cant accept donations under 10$ because only 1-15% of it will be actually donated and the rest goes to the owner or let’s say for paycheks, for maintaining the building and so on. To remove the number is also quiet difficult because a regular call rep can’t do that. He will just remove you from the list of that specific organization but they’ll continue to call you to donate for different organizations. I heard you’ll have to aks specifically for a verifier to remove your number permanently but this step is avoided as much as possible. It’s not like the don’t donate anything but like I said, the majority of the money isn’t used for what the people who donated think it is. It’s sad but well….this friend of mine doesn’t work there anymore but it was an experience…..

This is not to say that donations should not be made but those who would like to donate may wish to ask how much of the donated money actually goes to the charitable organization. If you have any problems or you can’t get hold of the information you want, then it’s always possible to donate to the preferred organization directly.

And finally our third number 8324081079 from Texas, Houston area, USA, which is a PayPal scam. This method is getting quite popular the world over. Why? Because it’s easy to do and citing PayPal can create a trustworthy-looking facade. Spotting the scam is easy if you look out for the following…

These are the hints for the scam:
– First you wouldn’t send a text message but use the services on the responsible site. But by sending you text like that you’ll give them your mail address.
– They usually ask for information which you already published on Cycle Trader or another site.
– Then it always comes to problems with the payment and for whatever reason, they always can pay with PayPal only. Maybe they’ll invent some story…

Getting your email address and paying by PayPal are the vital elements needed to make this scam work. Usually the process goes like this:

1. They send you a text message asking you to send them a mail so that they can get your mail address
2. Then they will say that they’ll pay with PayPal and they will give you extra money for the shipping or something else, afterall your bike or whatever they want, has to be delivered to them
3. Then you receive a PayPal deposit notice email where you can read the money has been transferred
4. Finally, now that you have the money, you transfer via wire or pre-paid card the ‘extra’ money for the shipping to the one who’s supposed to pick up the bike or whatever
=> Then you realize that no money has been transferred to your PayPal account. The end!

In some cases, when the scam victim starts to have their doubts, they will become more insistent and between steps 3 and 4 they may start to send more messages to reassure you and encourage you to pay. They may say something along the lines of:” I already paid my part. All that’s left is for you to finish your part of the deal” or “PayPal already gave you all the information. The notice they send me…..”. Watch your step here and do not answer to this kind of message.

All of these techniques are designed to make you part with your money and in the most inconspicuous way. Second-guessing is highly recommended and if there is even the slightest hint of scam, take precautionary measures and do your research.

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