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Fraud and Scams
There are many ways for one to become a victim of fraud and scams.
Please educate yourself on how you can protect yourself below:
Social engineering is the act of influencing a person to accomplish goals that may or may not be in the “target’s” best interest. This may include obtaining personal information and/or identifiers (i.e., name, social security #, DOB, etc.), gaining access, or getting the target to take certain action. Victims of social engineering typically have no idea they have been scammed out of useful information or have been tricked into performing a particular task. The basic goal of social engineering is to gain unauthorized access to systems or information in order to commit fraud, network intrusion, industrial espionage, identity theft, or simply to disrupt and compromise computer systems.
- Social Engineering by Phone – Pretexting
- Dumpster Diving
- Online Social Engineering – Phishing, Vishing, Smishing, Pharming
- Diversion Theft
- Reverse Social Engineering
- Shoulder Surfing – Looking over a shoulder to see what someone is typing
A lottery scam begins with an unexpected email notification, phone call, or mailing (sometimes including a large check)* explaining that you have won a large sum of money in a lottery (domestic or international). Fraudsters will also often use the names of legitimate lottery organizations, thereby trying to make themselves look legitimate. In order to claim your winnings, you are usually told to keep the notice secret and you must contact the claims agent, typically via email. The agent then sends you a claim form to verify your identity. The form requests your personal details and may even request copies of your identification to verify your identity. The form provides the fraudsters with enough information to steal your identity. Additionally, in order to claim the winnings, you are required to wire funds to the criminal to cover the processing fees associated with receiving the winnings. The lottery winnings do not exist, so you lose the money you wired and the criminal has your identity information.
Nigerian Advance Fee – 419 Scam - Check Fraud
This scam is a widespread fraud. The fraudster sends an unsolicited email telling the victim that he/she needs assistance getting a large sum of money out of Nigeria or another foreign country. The 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. The fraudster will claim to have access to funds through a way that makes it difficult to transfer them legally. The fraudster will tell the victims they need money to pay a bribe to move the funds, or that the victim needs to open a Nigerian bank account in order to transfer the funds. Many variations exist but they're all designed to lure the victim into sending money to help illegally transfer the funds for a percentage. In some cases, the criminal will send the victim a check and ask the victim to deposit the check* and wire a portion of the proceeds back to the criminal, while keeping the balance. The check will turn out to be fictitious and the victim will be responsible for the entire balance.
The victim receives an email or letter from a "mystery shopping company”; often times the name of the company sounds official. Usually, there is a check included or a promise to send a check. They instruct the recipient to cash the check and complete an assignment at a major retail store.
The victim is told to cash the check and complete a task or assignment at a retail store. To complete the assignment, the victim is told to take the rest of the money and send it to another mystery shopper via wire transfer or Western Union. The check sent to the victim was not legitimate and will be returned to the bank unpaid a few days later. When the check is returned as fraudulent, the victim becomes responsible for repaying all of the funds.
Internet Purchase Scam
A victim offers an item for sale on the Internet and the buyer sends a check for more than the purchase price. The buyer asks the victim to wire back the amount over the selling price. The check is counterfeit, but by the time it is returned to the bank, the money the victim wired is gone. When selling or buying on the Internet, only accept checks for the exact amount and request cashier's checks when possible. To protect yourself, always be careful when transacting with unknown parties. If you question the legitimacy of a buyer, determine the best way to validate the check and funds prior to shipping any goods or providing a refund for the overpayment.
Work from Home Scam
This is another very effective counterfeit check scam. In this scam, the fraudster places ads on job search sites or replies to those who post job wanted ads. The victim is asked to receive checks, deposit the items, keep a percentage, and forward the rest of the funds via wire to the employer. The checks are counterfeit and the victim is left taking the loss. Sometimes the victim may be offered a job receiving wires and transferring funds via Western Union or MoneyGram. The wires will be money stolen from other accounts that the fraudsters have compromised. The victim is helping the fraudster transfer those funds overseas and can be responsible for repaying the funds. Many times, the victim will be arrested as part of this scam.
When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud. Telemarketing fraud typically involves a situation in which you won a free gift, vacation, or prize; however, you must pay for postage and handling or other processing charges. If you hear these or similar “lines” from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone.
Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud
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 services that were not needed or were 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 and 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.