Archive 2



Real Estate and Rental Scams

You need to be cautious when placing real estate and rental properties on-line. Many people continue to fall victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate on-line.

Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim.

The check is to cover housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund.

Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.

Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted using classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them.

Often, the scammers use the broker's real name to create a fake email, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an email through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner.

The "owner" claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away.

If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.

Bank of America Scam and National Health Anti-Fraud Scam

You may receive an email claiming to be from technical services of the Bank of America stating that due to a planned software upgrade you need to confirm your banking details online by clicking on a link in the email.

This email is similar to many variations targeting online banking customers, and attempting to steal their personal and financial information.

If you click on the link in the email you will be taken to a fake website that looks identical to the genuine banking site of the bank named in the email. The details you enter on that fake website will be used by internet scammers to commit fraud and identity theft.

To get a higher number of people to click the link, the email states that it is 'obligatory' for all bank customers to reconfirm their details this way or the account will be suspended!

By stating the reason as a software upgrade, the scammers also ask you to update personal information once you have logged in. This provides them with you logon information so they can steal your funds, and also provides your personal information so they can commit identity theft.

So be wary of any email claiming to be from your bank [or any financial institution] that requires you to logon using a link in the email to provide any personal information.

You should always enter the bank's details directly in the address bar yourself instead of clicking a link. If you are unsure, ring the bank using a phone number out of the directory. Fake websites usually don't show the 'https' in the address indicating it is a secure site.

An email claiming to be from the National Health Anti-Fraud Association is circulating that claims a complaint has been made against you, and strongly recommends that you read the complaint that is in an attached document to the email.

The goal of the email is to get you to open the attachment, and in doing so, install malicious software on your computer.

This email is one of a variety of 'complaint' emails designed to panic you into opening the attachment containing the details, in the hope that you can resolve the complaint before it goes further.

Be wary of any 'complaint' email as most legitimate organizations will write a letter. If you are unsure, contact the organization directly using information from a phone directory, not from an email. Do not follow any links in the email.

Romance Scams

We have recently received many complaints about online dating and romance scams.

The scammers target you by creating fake profiles on genuine internet dating sites, chat rooms or introductory service classifieds.

Scammers then spend a lot of time forming a strong and trusting relationship with you. Their goal is to prey on your emotions and any vulnerabilities you may have.

Once they have gained your trust, they will use a variety of excuses to ask for your money. Common reasons include medical bills for sickness and unexpected accidents, airfares to come and meet you, and family related illnesses.

Money and gifts sent to scammers are usually impossible to recover. In addition to the lost money, hearts are usually broken with long-lasting emotional effects due to having been betrayed by someone they thought they loved and trusted.

Warning Signs

1. The profile photo of your date doesn’t match up to the description they provided, or the photo looks like it is from a magazine

2. Your potential date expresses strong emotions after only a few letters or emails

3. You are asked for money, your bank account details or gifts

4. The emails become more desperate, persistent or direct if you don’t send money straightaway

5. You are asked to go straight from on-site messaging to off-site messaging such as regular email or instant messaging [to prevent the dating site administrators seeing the evidence of the scam and kicking them off the site]

6. The scammer will shun live video chat because the photo is fake

How to Protect Yourself

1. Only give personal details to people you know and trust

2. Be wary of anyone who you have not personally met that asks you to send them money, gifts or your banking and credit card details

3. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity

4. Carefully assess people’s profiles

5. When you agree to personally meet, tell family and friends where you are going

6. Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software and use a good firewall

Safe advice is: Long distance love + request for money = scam!


Apples New Tablet Computer

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs recently revealed the company's latest device, a touchscreen tablet computer called the iPad.

The iPad, which resembles an oversized iPhone, begins shipping worldwide in March.

Speculation and anticipation regarding Apple's latest creation built in the months prior to the iPad unveiling, only to be replaced afterward by intense online debate about the device's strengths and weaknesses.

Scammers have been cashing in on iPad fever by luring the curious to booby-trapped websites with false promises of information about Apple's new tablet computer.

Even before the first user can buy the latest and upcoming Apple technology, the iPad, cybercriminals are already making profit from its popularity.

Hackers and criminals "poison" online searches by rigging websites with words likely to be used as query terms to assure prominent ranking on results pages.

When people seeking iPad information interact with links on trick pages their machines are infected with "scareware" software that tries to get them to pay to fix computer virus problems that don't actually exist.

In the coming weeks you can also expect to see iPad-related spam and phishing attacks hitting consumers hard so be on your guard.

Online criminals routinely take advantage of hot topics such as the Haiti earthquake or the death of a celebrity to lure people into visiting trick websites or opening booby-trapped files.


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