Work-At-Home Scams - Job One: Don't Take the Bait

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 3:13 PM

Announcement; Earn $$$$ without leaving your homeEveryone’s seen them - seductive work-at-home opportunities hyped in flyers tacked to telephone poles, in newspaper classifieds, in your e-mail, and all over the web, promising you hundreds or thousands of dollars a week for "Ads/E-mail Processing", "Craft Assembly", "Data Entry", "Envelope Stuffing", "List with Clients for Sale", "Make Profit Now", "Marketing Kit", "Medical Billing Service", "Typing at Home", etc. And it’s just a phone call or mouse click away…

Might be tempting during these uncertain economic times, but beware of any offers that promise easy money for minimum effort - many are scams that fill the coffers of criminals.

In a nutshell, you find an ad, which tells you that you could turn your computer into a moneymaking machine (giving you the example of someone who already quit their 9-5 job - More details on this can be found in the "Mom Makes $.../ Day Scam"). They lure victims in by using phrases such as "Make an extra buck", "extra holiday money", "Make money online", or "Make money on the Internet", etc.

Here are a few of the most common work-at-home scams

  • Advance-fee
    Starting a home-based business is easy! Just invest a few hundred dollars in inventory, set-up, and training materials, they say. Of course, if and when the materials do come, they are totally worthless…and you’re stuck with the bill.

  • Making a couple of additional bucks doesn't sound any simpler than this:
    Simply pay an in advance, one-time charge (a couple of thousand dollars, maybe) to have somebody fabricate and host a working site highlighting different family unit products available to be purchased, from toothpaste to tissue; every time somebody purchases a thing, you gather a cut of the exchange. You should do nothing more than urge individuals to shop there - the rest (stocking stock, transporting the item) is taken care of for you. On the other hand, more probable, nothing is taken care of, and the criminal offering you the open door is a distant memory with your sincere cash before you've sold one tube of Crest.

  • Driver needed
    This trick, as of late promoted on Craigslist, has numerous varieties. For one situation, a man asks you to chauffer his wife, who is going to your territory. Sufficiently simple, however the installment terms are slightly convoluted. You are informed that you will get a check (or "cash gram") for, say, $2,500 via the post office. You will store the check, then instantly haul out the money - $700 to cover your charge and any subordinate costs, and the rest to be sent back to the trickster. Your bank most likely won't know for a day or two that you have saved a fake check.

  • Counterfeit check-facilitated "mystery shopper"
    You’re sent a hefty check and asked to deposit it into your bank account, then withdraw funds to shop and check out the service of local stores and wire transfer companies. You keep a small amount of the money for your "work", but then, as instructed, mail or wire the rest to your "employer". Sounds good? One problem: the initial check was phony and by the time your bank notifies you, your money is long gone and you’re on the hook for the counterfeit check.

  • The greater part of these telecommute plans guarantee up to a great many dollars for each week for preparing protection claims for specialists who are excessively occupied with, making it impossible to manage the printed material themselves. You'll get startup showcasing materials, programming, an instructional meeting and a "lead" rundown of neighborhood doctors - all for a charge, obviously. Too awful that product costs a considerable measure less, best case scenario Buy, your instructional meetings are put off uncertainly, your leads are vapor and nobody needs your service.

  • This may be the worst one of all
    Customers pay a charge to enroll with the business to get to a pre-screened rundown of "genuine" work-at-home employment postings. The con artist's promotions appear over the span of a "trick free employments at home" online inquiry, and they guarantee a discount to the individuals who neglect to get a vocation. In the wake of sending in installment, casualties are summarily bolted out of their records and never see a solitary opening for work.

  • Pyramid schemes
    You’re hired as a "distributor" and shell out big bucks for promotional materials and product inventories with little value (like get-rich quick pamphlets). You’re promised money for recruiting more distributors, so you talk friends and family into participating. The scheme grows exponentially but then falls apart - the only ones who make a profit are the criminals who started it.

  • Unknowing involvement in criminal activity
    Criminals - often located overseas - sometimes use unwitting victims to advance their operations, steal and launder money, and maintain anonymity. For example, they may "hire" you as a U.S.-based agent to receive and re-ship checks, merchandise, and solicitations to other potential victims…without you realizing it’s all a ruse that leaves no trail back to the crooks.

Add identity theft to the mix. As if these schemes aren’t bad enough, many also lead to identity theft. During the application process, you’re often asked to provide personal information that can be used to steal from your bank account or establish new credit cards in your name.

On the job. A host of law enforcement and regulatory agencies investigate these schemes and track down those responsible. But the most effective weapon against these fraudsters is you not falling for the scams in the first place.

A few tips:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.

  • Be suspicious when money is required up front for instructions or products.

  • Don’t provide personal information when first interacting with your prospective employer.

  • Do your own research into legitimate work-at-home opportunities, using the "Work-at-Home Sourcebook" and other resources that may be available at your local library.

  • Ask lots of questions of potential employers - legitimate companies will have answers for you!

  • Keep in mind that every successful business is successful because it has happy customers. Try to find those who worked with the company before, but do not use the "company's" own testimonials. That's where everybody falls, as they believe everything without doing research. There are over 1,000 forums on this topic on the Internet.

And if you think you’ve been the victim of a work-at-home scam, file a complaint at your local authorities.

 

Lottery Scams

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 2:06 PM

Slot Machines"Congratulations! You’ve won the National Lottery! To claim your prize, just send us cash to pay the taxes in advance."

Sound familiar? It’s a classic Nigerian letter scam - originating in Spain - that bilks thousands of people around the world out of an estimated $24 million a year and opens the door to future identity theft.

How does the scam work? The names and addresses of targets - all outside of the named country - are collected through the Internet. Then you, the target, get a letter from the National Lottery claiming you’ve won about a few hundred thousand dollars in a special promotional lottery. An estimated six million letters are sent a year. The letters look legitimate, complete with official logos and contact information. They also include a form from the bank where the money is supposedly being held. You might even receive follow-up faxes and phone calls.

Then the hook: all you have to do is pay taxes from the country - between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the winnings - to get the money. Just fax your completed claim forms with personal and banking information and wire the money within a couple of days. If you take the bait, chances are you’ll be asked to cover other expenses, too.

The Spanish National Police (SNP) has relentlessly pursued criminals in their country who has behind such a scheme. In July last year, they launched a massive crackdown that resulted in 300 arrests, 150 searches, and the seizures of nearly 2,000 cell phones, hundreds of computers and fax machines, plenty of fake documents, and $265,000 in cash.

This is truly a 21st century concept of policing: working internationally to protect you in your community.

You cannot win money or a prize in a lottery unless you have entered it yourself, or someone else has entered it on your behalf. You cannot be chosen as a random winner if you don’t have an entry.

Many lottery scams try to trick you into providing your banking and personal details to claim your prize.

You should not have to pay any fee or tax to claim a legitimate prize. Don’t be fooled by claims that the offer is legal or has government approval - many scammers will tell you this. Instead of receiving a grand prize or fortune, you will lose every cent that you send to a scammer. And if you have provided other personal details, your identity could be misused too.

A fake prize scam will tell you that you have won a prize or a contest. You may receive a phone call, an email, a text message or see a pop-up screen on your computer. There are often costs involved with claiming your prize, and even if you do receive a prize, it may not be what was promised to you.

The scammers make their money by making you pay fees or taxes, call their premium rate phone numbers or send premium text messages to claim your prize. These premium rate calls can be very expensive, and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number.

Avoid from getting scammed by these and similar frauds? Here’s an good advice:

  • NEVER give personal information over the telephone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
  • Do NOT wire money to strangers.
  • NEVER send money to collect a prize if a fee is required.
  • If you think you’re being targeted, contact your local authorities.

 

Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 8:01 AM

StethoscopeHealth care fraud costs the country tens of billions of dollars a year. It’s a rising threat, with national health care expenditures estimated to exceed $3 trillion in 2014 and spending continuing to outpace inflation. Recent cases also show that medical professionals continue, and may be more willing, to risk patient harm in furtherance of their schemes. The FBI is the primary agency for exposing and investigating health care fraud in the U.S., with jurisdiction over both federal and private insurance programs. We seek to identify and pursue investigations against the most egregious offenders involved in health care fraud through our investigative partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as our relationships with private insurance national groups, associations, and investigative units. Our field offices proactively target fraud through coordinated initiatives, task forces and strike teams, and undercover operations.

Medical Equipment Fraud: Equipment manufacturers offer “free” products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.

“Rolling Lab” Schemes: Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.

Services Not Performed: Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.

Medicare Fraud: Medicare fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance frauds described above. Senior citizens are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare numbers. Because a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment or testing is needed before Medicare pays for it, con artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place, the manufacturers bill Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or was not ordered.

Tips for Avoiding Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud:

  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms.

  • Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.

  • Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.

  • Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.

  • Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.

  • Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.

  • Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.

  • Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

 

Identity Theft

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 4:08 PM

Comic Identity TheftIdentity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources, including by stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.

Identity fraud can be described as the use of that stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception.

Fraudsters can use your identity details to: 

  • Open bank accounts.
  • Obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits.
  • Order goods in your name.
  • Take over your existing accounts.
  • Take out mobile phone contracts.
  • Obtain genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.
  • Stealing an individual’s identity details does not, on its own, constitute identity fraud. But using that identity for any of the above activities does. 

The first you know of it may be when you receive bills or invoices for things you haven’t ordered, or when you receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.

The sources of information about you are so numerous that you cannot prevent the theft of your identity. But you can minimize your risk of loss by following a few simple hints.

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft:

  • Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.

  • Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.

  • If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Be aware that a bank will never ask for your PIN or for a whole security number or password.

  • Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.

  • If you’re expecting a bank or credit card statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank or credit card company.

  • Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.

  • Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.

  • If you move house, ask your mail service to redirect your post for at least a year.

  • Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.

  • If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.

  • If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.

 

Advance Fee Schemes

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 3:45 PM

Poster Work from Home - Free info PackageAdvance fee fraud gets its name from the fact that an investor is asked to pay a fee up front or in advance of receiving any proceeds, money, stock or warrants in order for the deal to go through.  The fee may be in the form of a commission, regulatory fee or tax, or some other incidental expense. These secondary "advance fee" schemes work very similarly to boiler room operations, the difference being that an advance fee scheme generally targets investors who already purchased underperforming securities, perhaps through an affiliated boiler room, offering to arrange a lucrative sale of those securities, but first requiring the payment of an “advance fee.”

With other words an advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value - such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift - and then receives little or nothing in return.

The variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, “found money,” or many other “opportunities.” Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a “finder’s fee” in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source. Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the “finder” according to the contract. Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the “finder” never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.

Tips for Avoiding Advanced Fee Schemes

If the offer of an “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is. Follow common business practice. For example, legitimate business is rarely conducted in cash on a street corner.

  • Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.

  • Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.

  • Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.

  • Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use non-circumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.

 

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AboutMe

I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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