Scam Alert - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

There are always a variety of scams that make their way at any given time.  Some of the most recent ones are becoming more and more sophisticated or even bolder in nature.  Here are some of the newer, and older but popular, ones that you should keep an eye out for.

  1. Tax related Scams - There are a variety of tax related scams that have existed for various years.  They come and go based on the new tax policies or the time of the year.  
    1. Every tax season, around the time when most people will get their tax refunds, you will get emails or voice calls or text messages that you have gotten an extra amount of tax refund and click on this link to accept it.  When you file your taxes, you provide in there how the government will send you your refund … the government doesn't need to go asking again afterwards or won't send you the refund as a etransfer request.  These are all tied to having you go to the scammers website and to try and trick you into entering your banking details for them to then use to empty your accounts.
    2. Criminal case for tax non payment.  No particular time when these occur, but its always about having to fail some tax payments and the police are about to come to arrest you.  They keep of sense of urgency high, in that you have to act now based on what I'm telling you and don't think about it.  In most cases, they will ask for payment via an Apple gift card, or amazon gift card, or similar.  If a judgement had been rendered against you for non-payment, you won't first hear about it 10 minutes before the police knock down your door.  These are more targeted towards the elderly who may believe the caller and thus buy the gift cards for the scammer.  Once you give them the number, it will take them less than 5 minutes to empty that gift card, and your money is gone.
  2. Employment related Scams - These are around promises of employment, or startup purchases.
    1. An older but still ongoing scam, is the promise of a job … more than likely a work from home job, where your new employer will buy you a new laptop, printer, monitor etc. and to help facilitate that, they will send you a cheque to cover those costs upfront.  You are thinking “sweet … I don't have to wait to expense it afterwards”, so you accept.  The “employer” sends you a cheque, but oh no … there was a mistake and the cheque was for double the amount they intended to send.  To avoid delays, they tell you to etransfer or wire transfer them back the difference and spend the agreed amount at this website to buy your items.  Not thinking it through, you send them half of what the cheque amount was, and make purchases on the suggested website for your parts.  What has really happened here?  (1) You won't get those items you purchased, that was a fake website and was controlled by the scammer. (2) the cheque they sent initially … it bounced / was found to be a fake, and the bank took that cheque amount out of your account. (3) you have already send money back to the scammer, but you did that on your own, so the bank won't see that tied to the fake cheque.  You weren't hacked, you logged in yourself and made the transfer. You are now out the money you sent to the scammer, you don't have the money from the fake cheque … and the scammer knows you fell for this trick, so they will try it again with a few changes so you don't realize that its the same trick.
    2. You get a request from an old employer, saying that there was some mistake in your last cheque and it was an overpayment.  To make it easier, they ask if you can transfer the overpayment amount into the bank account they list in the email/letter.  There may be some threats of financial penalties, or freezing your accounts for not cooperating to try to entice you to act quickly.  You make the transfer, and a week later run into your old boss and make a rude comment to him about the threats in the letter.  He of course has no clue what you are talking about, since the old employer didn't actually send you that letter.  It was a scammer, who used publicly available information online to send that to you and the bank account you sent money to, was a real account that got emptied minutes after you made the transfer.  The money is now gone.
  3. Family help - These are more targeted towards elders, who are more than happy to help out their kids and grandkids in distress.
    1. You get a call about your grandkid or child, they won't give you the name … not until you mention it first, and how they have gotten hurt or in jail and need some money to get out of the situation.  More than likely the help is needed cause they are stuck in a different city or country, and so to help you they will accept payment in the form of gift cards (you see the pattern from the earlier scams?) so you don't have to travel to the different country.  The tone of the call is always that things need to happen quickly.  “You don't have time to waste to call them, or check with others … are you going to let your grandkid stay in jail or die cause he couldn't pay for the medication?”.  They will prey on your love for your family.
  4. Shipping or Logistics help
    1. They want your help to receive shipments, repack them, and then send them to their office.  They do this to avoid multiple cross border shipments, and have only one shipment.  They will facilitate the consolidated shipping, and pay for it all.  You will get paid for a few hours of work while you are home, and think its a great opportunity.  What's really happening?  They are buying items from website and stores using fake or stolen credit cards.  They ship the items to you, so that when the fraud investigation is started, it gets traced to you.  It is now up to you to try to convince the authorities that you were just a pawn and you have no idea where the $2K laptop that was delivered to your house is.  The address you send the consolidated shipment?  Its a fake address, and the items that were delivered there are now long gone.