The Skinny on Scams

By Tim Cook - timc@landings.org
Security Director

As we head into the summer months, things are heating up! Unfortunately, the fight against the multitude of scammers is increasing as well. Various scams continue to plague our residents and have been rising for several years. What is worse is that more people are falling for the endless methods of trickery. I have written several articles on scams, and it is practically impossible to keep up with them. Last month, I encountered the Geek Squad scam, the iPhone/Amazon Prime scam, and a “known associate” asking me to do him a favor. I will break down these scams so, hopefully, you do not fall for them. However, the different methods and twists on known scams are endless, and far too numerous and complicated to cover in a single article. In fact, there have been books and movies written about various long scams. If there is such a thing as good news when talking about scams, it is that all cons have some relevant and very distinct red flags.

  1. The scammer asks for money or claims to be giving you money or a refund.
    1. Money can be in bitcoin, Zelle, Venmo, gift cards, etc.
  2. They will advise you to keep this a secret and not tell anyone. The scammer may even pull on your heartstrings and say they made a mistake, and if you tell anyone, they could be fired.
  3. The request/demand for money will most likely be time-sensitive or urgent.
  4. A loved one will not be provided emergency care, someone needs you to post a bond to get them out of jail, or requires you to send money for legal services they need.
  5. The scammer may threaten you will be arrested, corrupt your computer and files, or turn off certain services such as power, internet, or cellular phone.

The Geek Squad Scam

I received an email similar to the one below. The email may appear to have a valid email address, but if you hover over it or right-click on it, it will not be from a reputable source. Most legitimate businesses do not use Gmail, Yahoo, and similar services for their email domains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you call the number in these emails, they will attempt to retrieve personal information such as credit card or banking information. The scammer also may ask that you connect online with them to cancel your subscription. Once they connect with you, they can essentially take control of your computer. The different scenarios blossom from there to include searching for saved usernames and passwords to an elaborate scheme where they “access” your bank account and “show” you that they accidentally made a mistake. Instead of refunding your $399.99, they reimbursed you $3,999.99 (or pick any number). They will convince you to send them the difference between the actual refund and the amount they “mistakenly deposited” into your account. In short, do not fall for this or any other various twist on this scam for any renewal or cancellation. Call the business directly to an established and legitimate telephone number (in this case, Best Buy’s Geek Squad, 1-800-433-5778) for canceling, auto-renewal, membership claims, or questions.

Other similar scams include the below. The variations and types of scams are too endless to list. A great source of information can be found online at the FBI’s Scams and Safety webpage.

 

iPhone/Amazon Prime scam

If you receive an unexpected call, text, or email from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, or any company, about your account, be on guard. The message may be that your order has been filled, your account has been charged $799 (or fill in the amount), and it is on its way. It may have a link to view your “order” and instructions on how to cancel the order or report this “fraud” to the company. They may even provide you with a tracking number.   

Another twist to this is an email or even a telephone call with the fraudsters posing as the company stating that they noticed possible fraudulent activity on your account. They may have even tracked you online and know where you recently traveled to say a charge appears to have originated from that area. When this happens, do not give any information. Instead, try to obtain as much information from them as possible, such as where the charge occurred, the date of the charge, and the amount. Once you get this information, immediately call the customer service number posted on a reputable website or call information to obtain a legitimate number for the business they claim they are associated with.

Text and SMS scams are ever-increasing as well. Below is an example of one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Known associate or family member asking you to do them a favor scam

I have received many emails from scammers posing as family and known associates. In fact, I received the following email this past week from a scammer posing as General Manager Karl Stephens. Note the email address for “Karl” is realmail226@gmail.com:


From: Karl Stephens <realmail226@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:37:04 PM
To: Tim Cook <timc@landings.org>
Subject: Tim Cook

How are you doing? Are you available at the moment for a task I want you to help handle discreetly? Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Karl Stephens

 

Sent from myMail


On May 12, 2022 at 22:37 GMT, Tim Cook <timc@landings.org> wrote:

Sure, what is the task?

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Get Outlook for Android


From: Karl Stephens <realmail226@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:40:39 PM
To: Tim Cook <timc@landings.org>
Subject: Re: Tim Cook

 Thanks for your response, I have been thinking of giving the staff something as a show of appreciation to the various dedicated staff including yourself, and I came to the conclusion of getting them a gift card. I will be glad if you can help me manage this as I am occupied at the moment. This should be Confidential until they all have the gift as it’s a surprise. Can you get this done?

Karl Stephens

 

Sent from myMail


On May 12, 2022 at 22:42 GMT, Tim Cook <timc@landings.org> wrote:

Yes, I would be happy to accomplish this task for you. Zelle me the money for the cards, and I will pick them up tomorrow. 

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Get Outlook for Android


From: Karl Stephens <realmail226@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:49:04 PM
To: Tim Cook <timc@landings.org>
Subject: Re: Tim Cook

I will be glad if you can help get this done now, You will be reimbursed. I need 5 qty of Visa gift cards $100 value on each (total $500) you should get them at any store around you. I intend to surprise the staff with the picture of the cards through their email respectively. kindly send me the pictures of the front and back of each cards when you have them, I will handle the disbursement. Please keep the physical cards and receipt for reference purposes. You will be reimbursed. Thanks.

Karl Stephens

 

Sent from myMail


On May 12, 2022 at 22:57 GMT, Tim Cook <timc@landings.org> wrote:

OK. I need some gas money first. $10 should do it!

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Get Outlook for Android


From: Karl Stephens <realmail226@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2022 7:00:50 PM
To: Tim Cook <timc@landings.org>
Subject: Re: Tim Cook

Okay. I will surely pay you back all money spent to get this task done. Thanks for your help

Karl Stephens

 

Sent from myMail


On May 12, 2022 at 23:59 GMT, Tim Cook <timc@landings.org> wrote:

I can’t get there without the gas, so you will need to send me the $10 first. I will even buy you an extra $100 gift card for being such a great boss!           

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Get Outlook for Android


Did I mention my whimsical wit? Needless to say, I didn’t get the $10, and they haven’t replied to my last email.

 

IRS/Federal, State, or Local Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.

Authentic governmental agencies will not call you and threaten to have you arrested if you do not pay your bond or demand payment for current or back taxes, legal services, court costs, or district attorney fees.

Again, take the time to read through the FBI’s Scams and Safety web page.