Posts tagged with "scam victim"

LongdistanceRelationship by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Catfishing During COVID

new study expects there to be an unprecedented rise in online romance scams this Valentine’s Day, with scammers praying on lonely and isolated people during the pandemic.

Americans lost $201 million to romance scams in 2019, more than any other type of scam. Virginia had the eighth most victims in the nation.  

When the FTC releases the final totals for 2020, they are likely to increase in correlation with surging dating app usage due to more Americans turning online for human connection.

Bumble saw an 84% increase in video calls and Match Group, which owns 60% of the market including Tinder, saw subscriptions increase by 15%.

SocialCatfish.com released a study, Catfishing: A Growing Epidemic During COVID-19, using the most recent data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. It also includes an exclusive seven-minute video interview with a Nigerian scammer, and a 20-page leaked playbook.

The study warns of 5 tactics scammers are using:    

1.     Cannot Meet Because of COVID: The hallmark of a catfish scammer is to come up with excuses of why they cannot meet, such as pretending to be in the military overseas. The pandemic gives them a built-in excuse not to meet.  Be careful.

2.     Will Not Video Chat: The oldest excuse in the book… they cannot video chat with you because their video camera is supposedly “broken”, or they do not have the best access to Wi-Fi. These are red flags.

3.     They Ask You for Money: Once they form an emotional connection with lonely victims, they ask for money. During COVID-19, scammers have begun saying they are sick and need help with treatment, or are low on food, water, and other supplies.

4.     Poor Grammar: If the person claims to be American but has terrible grammar, they may be a scammer.

5.     Confesses Love Quickly: If you are stuck in your house with limited contact with your loved ones, then someone else’s sweet words can win you over. Scammers know that the sooner they win your trust, the sooner they can drain your bank account. Beware of someone who is moving too fast.

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim:  

1.     Never Give Money: Do not give anyone you meet online money, no matter the reason.

2.     Meet or Video Chat: Do not form a relationship with someone who will not video chat with you or meet you in person. 

3.     Do Not Give Personal Information:  Scammers can use basic information to commit identity fraud, get access to your banks and steal your money.

4.     Conduct Thorough Background Checks: Do not take someone’s word for it.  Use reverse look-up sites to verify information, images, email addresses, phone numbers and online profiles.

5.     Take Things Slow: If you like someone online, do not let them rush you. Nigerian romance scammers will be pushy about falling in love right away. If that is the case, know something is not right.  

Veterans illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Postal Inspection Service Lists Scams Targeting Veterans

As Veterans Day approaches this Wednesday, Operation Protect Veterans is alerting more than 17 million U.S. veterans to scams that are specifically targeting them. OPV is a joint crime prevention program created by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and AARP.

Some of these scams are listed as: 

  • Secret Veterans Benefits Scam: Veterans are told they qualify for “secret” government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars. But first, they attempt to collect personal information or a fee.
  • Pension Poaching Scam: Scammers often offer veterans lump sum payments up front, in exchange for signing over all their future monthly benefit checks.  
  • Bogus Employment Scam: Scammers post fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran’s job application, or they charge an employment fee.
  • VA Loan Scams: Offers to refinance VA loans at extremely low rates. 
  • Update Your File Scam: An imposter, claiming to be from a government agency, attempts to get a veteran’s personal information to “update their file,” so they can maintain their benefits.
  • Aid and Attendance Scam: Veterans (or their family members) receive an offer to move their assets into a living trust so that they can qualify for financial assisted Iiving benefits.

According to research conducted by AARP, veterans are twice as likely as the general public to be victims of scams. What can veterans – and those who care about them – do to prevent being taken advantage of by scammers? 

The Postal Inspection Service advises every veteran do the following:

  • Visit the Postal Inspection Service’s website (www.uspis.gov) to learn about scams targeting veterans and what they can do to prevent becoming a victim.
  • Check out any offer with a trusted family member, friend or your local veteran’s affairs office before acting. 
  • Don’t be pressured into acting immediately. If you are dealing with a legitimate outfit, they won’t try to pressure you to act before having a chance to check it out and think about it. If they do, just say “no” and hang up.
  • Get an answering machine and caller ID display. Then, let the machine answer the phone for you. If you don’t recognize the person leaving a message, don’t pick up the phone! 
  • Contact your telephone service provider, and ask them what kind of services they offer to help you block unwanted calls.
  • Report if you believe you have been the victim of a scam. Contact your local police or AARP (protectveterans@aarp.org or 877-908-3360).
  • Get credible information on how to qualify for veterans’ benefits by contacting your state veterans’ affairs agency. Visit www.nasdva.us, and click on “Links.”

“Veterans have access to special benefits and share a special bond that scammers know and use to take advantage of them,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “The Postal Inspection Service works hard every day to stop scams targeting veterans, but we need everyone to become better informed, so they can help spread the knowledge to the veterans they know and love. 

“I encourage all Americans to make this Veteran’s Day not only a day of remembrance and thanks for our veterans,” Barksdale continued, “but also to make it the start of learning about, and helping to spread information on scams targeting veterans.”

For more information on scams targeting veterans and other scams, visit www.uspis.gov. To learn more about the U.S. Inspection Postal Service, visit www.uspis.gov. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.