Current Scams Running Amuck

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The District Attorney’s Office has been receiving numerous phone calls on an array of different scams. This month I thought I would highlight some of them to let you know what is potentially threatening our community, putting you at risk.

Mystery Shopping Scams:

Although I may receive a complaint here and there on this one, it usually is about every 2 years that this one makes a strong comeback. 2012 seems to be the year for this scam. How the scam works: You receive an email, or a letter in the mail, stating you have been selected to become a mystery shopper. All you have to do is evaluate a money wiring transfer service. You’re sent a check for a large sum in which you are instructed to deposit the check into your bank account and wire a portion of the check to a certain person and location using a specific money wiring transfer service. You’re then instructed to evaluate the service you received and provide the tracking number to the sender. You are further instructed that the remainder of the money is yours to keep. So what is the scam? The money you just wired was not from the proceeds of the check they sent to you, but it was in fact your very own money out of your very own bank account. Even though the check appeared to be a legitimate check, it was a fake. Your bank will soon learn that the check was a fake, and not only will you not be able to retrieve the money that you wired, the bank can and will hold you legally liable for the money now missing out of your account. If you do not put the money back into the account, the bank can press criminal charges of theft against you. The people committing these scams can easily avoid detection because the tracking number you provided is all they need. With that tracking number, the recipients can pick up the money at another location or even another country. More often than not, the money you wired is then wired to another location. This makes it nearly impossible to identify or locate the final recipient, therefore making it relatively impossible for prosecution to take place. For further information on legitimate mystery shopping companies, contact the District Attorney’s Office.

Payday Lending Scams:

Some people have taken out quick high interest loans and paid the money back only to find out that later, a company identifying itself as an attorney, or a collection agency, contacts them to collect on the loan again and even threatens lawsuits, arrests or a lengthy jail sentence to intimidate you into sending more money to them. For unlawful collection agency practices, please contact the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office at (800)222-4444 to make a complaint as they oversee the collection agencies and their process for collecting.

Online Shopping Scams:

These can originate anywhere from Ebay, Craigslist, and are now even starting to show up on Facebook on the trading pages. Ebay, Craigslist and Facebook are reputable sites, but they’re being used by scam artists to take advantage of you and I. The major scam of this kind seems to be listings of cars for sale on Craigslist and Ebay. If you’re the purchaser, then you are asked to wire the money to them, usually out of the country, and then the car is never received. If you are the seller, then you are contacted by someone that usually doesn’t try to negotiate a lower price. In fact, they send you a check not only for what you were asking, but sometimes up to a $1,000.00 more than the listed price. They tell you that it is either for a courier service that you are to coordinate pick up with and wire the overage to, or they tell you it was a mistake and would you please deposit the check and wire the overage back to them. The check is not good and you are only sending your own money from your own bank account. Again, let me state that your bank will soon learn that the check was a fake, and not only will you not be able to retrieve the money that you wired, the bank can and will hold you legally liable for the money now missing out of your account. If you do not put the money back into the account, the bank can press criminal charges of theft against you. One of the newer online scams that I have been made aware of is showing up on Facebook and is referred to as the “Shoe Scam”. Fake profiles are being created on Facebook to then try and perpetrate scams by stating they have high priced sports type shoes for reasonable prices. They go so far as to attempt to create credible profiles. I say attempt because if you actually look at the profiles closely, you will more than likely find errors big time where they contradict themselves on things, whether it be listing other websites that they represent or misspelling the name of the school they allegedly attended or graduated from. They go so far as posting pictures of children as their profile picture to convince you that they are a family type person. The pictures they use are usually taken from other pages that they have just copied for their own personal use. These type of scams are only attempting to obtain your personal identifying information. Even if you get your shoes and are happy with them and think they are legitimate how comfortable are you with the fact that you will more than likely be a victim of identity theft in the near future because of giving out your personal information to someone in another country that you do not even know. The fact that you may have paid $60 for a pair of name brand shoes that normally cost a $100 in the store may seem great, but what if the other person you gave your information to is sitting in their recliner at home patiently waiting for the moment that you feel confident enough that your information hasn’t been compromised before they use it to their advantage. Identity theft is not a matter of IF it happens. It is a matter of WHEN it happens. If you have given out your personal information in one of these type of scams, please contact the District Attorney’s Office to get information on identity theft to help protect you in the future.

If you have any further questions regarding any of these particular scams, or any others that you may have knowledge of, please contact Stacie Harris at the District Attorney’s Office at (719)583-6030.

Scam Date: 
September, 2012