Elder Alerts & Advisories

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Mortgage Assistance Scam

Preying on people facing foreclosure, President Obama's voice is being used to help sell their product!

So far four companies based in Florida and their owners have been charged for mortgage assistance scams that netted millions of dollars in this nationwide scheme.

"A message from our President." A robotic call dials your home, and this is what you hear: "All across the country, there are families who have done everything right." It's the familiar voice of President Barack Obama, and then, "If you are behind on your mortgage payment, press 1 to find out how we may be able to help you."

It's a company claiming to help. It's a real call that comes from a bogus company getting rich off of your hardships, it's designed to mislead.

Lawsuits have been filed against FHA All Day.Com, Safety Financial Services, Housing Assistance Law Center, and Housing Assistance Now. More than 300 complaints have been filed from across the nation against the companies, which claimed to lower mortgage payments or dissolve entire loans. Many consumers say the companies didn't deliver on promised services and walked away with as much as $5,000 in up-front fees.

If someone calls you out of the blue telling you they can help you, it's just a telemarketer on the other end. If you or someone you know needs mortgage assistance look for a local company to assist you.

Remember, SCAMNOT...
[Courtesy of http://www.scamnot.org.]

homeHome Loan Modifications

Does the current economic situation have you considering a home loan modification? If so, learn how you can protect yourself from being scammed: home loan modification alert

ID Theft Alert

Placing your outgoing mail in U.S. postal boxes is strongly discouraged. It is recommended that you walk your outgoing mail into the post office or use secure indoor drop boxes at your place of business.

House Rental Scam

In recent months, we have seen a boom in rental scams here in Fresno; most recently, a man who was arrested for renting out over 40 homes that he did not have title to do so.

You should always be cautious when renting a house, especially if the owner wants money sent to them for the rent and you never actually meet them. You should always try to deal with an actual person when renting and do your best to make sure the person you are dealing with actually has permission to be renting the house out.

A red flag should go up if you are told that the keys were lost and you need to have a new set made. Be cautious of out of town owners that ask that you send the money to them and you never actually talk to them in person. Also, be aware to the fact that if a person renting out a house is asking that the money be sent via Western Union or MoneyGram, this should be considered a scam. Be cautious when the deal looks too good.

One example: In Fresno a house located in the Old Fig Garden area (an older well kept higher rent area) was listed by a property management company for $1500 a month and was using Craig's List in addition to a sign in front of the property. It came to the attention of the property management company that there was a second listing for the house on Craig's List to rent the house for $800 a month. Had one of the persons that wanted to rent the house for $800 a month not driven by the house, saw the leasing sign and called the management company, they would have sent the rent money and deposit to the out-of-town address. A fter investigation by Fresno County Sheriff's department it is believed that the money would have been destined for Nigeria. The information about the investigation on the house in the Old Fig Garden area was provided to Scamnot on 01-08-09.

Grandson in Jail Scam

You receive a call from a grandson or granddaughter saying they are in trouble. The caller says they are in jail or have been in an accident either in Canada or Mexico and need money right away to pay fines or to receive medical attention.

Border states have seen an increase in this type of scam. Individuals in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, California, and Texas.

Many times the scammer knows the name of the family member so the senior does not question it and sends the money, only later to find out they have been scammed. The caller asks the victim not to discuss the matter with his or her parents for fear of angering them.

Other times the caller waits for a person to answer the phone and starts of with "Grandma/Grandpa guess who?" and they get an answer like "Johnny is that you?" "Yes Grandma/Grandpa it's Johnny and I'm in trouble..." and the scammer is on his way.

Things to do to insure you are not being scammed:

  • Contact other family member before sending money. Ask if they know of the situation.
  • If the grandchild states that they are in jail or in a hospital, ask which one. Contact that institution to find out if the grandchild is actually in that facility.
  • Consider where the child wants the money sent. If it is to be sent to somebody else, DO NOT DO IT. Remember, if the child is in jail, another prisoner could have gotten your information from discussions with the grandchild.
  • If you send money, ask that identification be provided by the receiver before the money is paid out.
  • Regardless of the request to not talk to the parents, confirm through another family member that what you were told is true or do not send the money.
    [Courtesy of http://www.scamnot.org.]

Hitman Email Scam

Reports concerning the hit man e-mail scheme are making the rounds again. This E-mail has been around since late 2006 and is evolving; however, the messages remain similar in nature, claiming the sender has been hired to kill the recipient.

Two new versions of the scheme began appearing in July 2008. One instructed the recipient to contact a telephone number contained in the e-mail and the other claimed the recipient or a "loved one" was going to be kidnapped unless a ransom was paid. Recipients of the kidnapping threat were told to respond via e-mail within 48 hours. The sender was to provide the location of the wire transfer five minutes before the deadline and threatened bodily harm if the ransom was not received within 30 minutes of the time frame given. The recipients' personally identifiable information was included in the e-mail to promote the appearance that the sender actually knew the recipient and their location.

Perpetrators of Internet crimes often use fictitious names, addresses, telephone numbers, and threats/warnings regarding the failure to comply to further their schemes.

In some instances, the use of names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of government officials, business executives and/or victims' personally identifiable information are used in an attempt to make the fraud appear more authentic.

Consumers always need to be alert to unsolicited e-mails. Do not open unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links, as they may contain viruses or malware. Providing your personally identifiable information will compromise your identity!

There is a new twist to the Alert regarding e-mails claiming that the sender has been paid to kill the recipient and will cancel the contract on the recipient's life if the recipient pays a large sum of money. Now e-mails are surfacing which claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in London. These e-mails note the following information:

An individual was recently arrested for the murders of several United States and United Kingdom citizens in relation to this matter.

  • The recipient's information was found on the subject identifying the recipient as the next victim.
  • The recipient is requested to contact the FBI in London to assist with the investigation.
  • This is all part of the scam and the email is not coming from the FBI in London.

[Courtesy of http://www.scamnot.org.]

China Earthquake Scam

The FBI is asking people to beware of emails claiming to be raising money to help the victims of the recent earthquake in China. Some of the Chinese earthquake scam messages claim to be offering free vacation trips to the largest donors and even use fake logos of legitimate online pay services to fool people.

Please consider the following:

  • DO NOT respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • BE SKEPTICAL of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • DO NOT click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • BE CAUTIOUS of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS DIRECTLY TO RECOGNIZED ORGANIZATIONS rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • VALIDATE the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • ATTEMPT TO VERIFY the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • DO NOT provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and open you to identity theft.

tax calendarTax Time Scams

Don't let tax time become "scam time". As you begin working over-time to complete your annual tax return, please be assured that crafty thieves are working over-time as well to obtain your personal information for their own financial benefit.

The Internal Revenue Service wants consumers to be aware of the many ways thieves are trying to steal your personal and financial information.

  • Phony IRS e-mails which lure victims into providing personal information. The subject line of the email says: IRS NOTIFICATION. The email claims that a tax refund is due and requests that the taxpayer fax the attached form or click on a link to submit personal information directly to the IRS. The IRS does not use email to contact taxpayers!
  • Fictitious Bank Correspondence and Phony Forms are being mailed to taxpayers claiming to be from the taxpayer's bank stating that "records are being updated" in an attempt to "exempt" the taxpayer from reporting interest or having interest paid on the bank account. The attached phony forms request personal information and data which allows the thieves to gain access to the victim's identity.

Hang Up On Phone Fraud

Telemarketing fraud is a serious problem and it appears to be growing as our population ages. If you receive a call telling you that you are a winner, please remember:

  • Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions.
  • In both the U.S. and Canada, it is illegal to play a foreign lottery.
  • Do not send any money for taxes, fees, or other charges.
  • Do not give out your credit card and bank account numbers.
  • If you respond to just one foreign lottery or fraudulent sweepstakes offer, you've opened the door to many more bogus offers.

Craig's List Scams

If you use Craig's List to post items for sale, rooms to rent, looking for relationships or employment, you need to beware of the dark side of this board. Scamnot has not found anything wrong with the Craig's List website itself, just some of the people that use it.

Below is a short laundry list of things to look out for when you are contacted by what you may think is a buyer, employer, potential roommate or future loved one.

Buyer:

Anytime the other person sends you a check for more than the amount requested for an item and asks you to return the excess funds to them via Western Union.

The buyer sends you extra money and asks you to send that amount to a shipper located in a different state than yours. Many times they will also send extra money for you to keep for all the inconvenience.

Employer:

The person wants you to be their "middle person/receiver" by receiving checks from their clients in the USA. They direct you to deposit the checks into your bank and deduct 10% of each check for your commission. Then you are to send the balance via Western Union to them, normally in a different country than where their company is located.

Potential Roommate or Renter:

The person wants to rent your home, apartment, or become your roommate. They live in a foreign country and are willing to pay three months in advance with a little "extra" money for the inconvenience -- all sight unseen. Prior to them ever actually coming here, they give you a reason to have you send part or all of the money back to them via Western Union or Money Gram.

Relationship:

If you are contacted about starting a personal relationship, the other person starts off the first few emails stating needing to take things slow, then switch to professing love and marriage.

Soon after, requests start coming in about needing money for a family member needing an operation, paying taxes on large sections of land or other personal hardships. The person will send scantily clad pictures of themselves as well as professing their love and their commitment to you.

Bottom line ... anytime someone sends you a check and you are supposed to cash it and send money back to the other person or a third party, or you are being asked to help a person financially that you have met, you are probably being scammed.

[Courtesy of http://www.scamnot.org.]

piggybankCheck Out Charities Before Giving

Are your mailboxes filling up with solicitations for charitable donations? Deciding to whom to give is not always easy. There are no laws that require charities to use a specific percentage of your donations on charitable purposes. It is up to each of us to make sure our charity giving is used wisely for those in need, instead of lining the pockets of for-profit fundraisers and questionable organizations. The DA's Office recommends:

  • PiggybankMake an annual charitable giving budget and list ... and stick to it! Keep your list to a manageable number of charities.
  • Do not judge a charity by an impressive sounding name. Many organizations have names similar to other well-known charities.
  • Ask for a written description of programs, staff, finances and tax deductibility of the charity, such as an annual report.

Most telephone appeals are made by salespeople employed by professional fund raisers. Most of your donation goes to the fundraiser, not to the charity.
For detailed reports that rate charities and tell you how your donations will be used, please visit these national charity watchdog resources on the Internet:

For information on local charities, contact the Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org or 1-800-222-4444.

credit cardBogus Telemarketers Seek Credit Card Info

Credit Card Fraudulent telemarketers are calling consumers claiming to be with your credit card company and needing to "verify

information." Callers may say they are with the security department from VISA or MasterCard and ask if you purchased an anti-telemarketing device for $500 from an Arizona company. When you say "no," the caller says they will issue a credit to your account and need to verify your address and the seven-digit security number on the back of your card. The caller will ask that you read the last three numbers to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen.

The callers are not from VISA or MasterCard, but are con artists who trick you into giving out valuable security information so they can use your credit card number for purchases over the Internet or telephone.

To protect yourself from credit card fraud:

  • NEVER give out personal information to anyone who has called or emailed you no matter if they claim to be with a "security department." Credit card companies and banks never ask for anything off their cards because they already have that information;
  • DO NOT talk to strangers over the phone or reply to unsolicited e-mail.

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