Stay safe from scams at the holidays

This information can be found at

This holiday season the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI) is reminding people that cyber criminals continue to aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, and sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at a discounted price.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales
Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

As for product delivery, unfamiliar Web sites or individuals selling reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites many times are deemed to be fraudulent. In many instances, these Web sites or sellers provide shipping labels to their customers as a service. However, the delivery service providers are ultimately not being paid to deliver the package; therefore, packages shipped by the victims using these labels are intercepted by delivery service providers because they are identified as fraudulent.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100% positive feedback, if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam
Be careful about purchasing gift cards from auction sites or through classified ads. If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases.

Phishing and Smishing Schemes
Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate where any personal information you provide, such as account number and PIN, will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed Web site. A spoofed Web site is a fake site or copy of a real Web site and misleads the recipient into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer’s computers.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

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. Virus scan the attachments if possible.

Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.

Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.

Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.

To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI Web site and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at

For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI’s New E-Scams and Warnings webpage at

National Organization for Victims Assistance

One of the people that I had the pleasure to meet at the Expo in Florida a couple of weeks ago was Will Marling from NOVA, the National Organization for Victims Assistance. If you have not heard of NOVA the following video will give you a lot of great information on them.

Also, look for more information coming about the next NOVA conference

Victim to Victorious!…The Journey Continues

August 22-25, 2010

Hilton Salt Lake City Center

Salt Lake City, UT


Worth checking out

I know that we usually talk about scams, but this site is just too good for me to not tell you about. is my new favorite site. I went there yesterday to purchase gift certificates for family members for the holidays. I was able to purchase $50 worth of gift certificates for $27!

When you go to the site you can enter your zip code and it will show you the restaurants in your area that are a part of the program, and then you choose the amount of gift certificates you want to purchase. The best part is that there is no waiting for a gift card to arrive in the mail. You are able to print out the certificates for the restaurants right away! You could be getting ready to go out to eat right now, check online and find a discounted gift certificate for your favorite restaurant in your area, print it out and save some money on today!

This place is worth checking out! In addition to having great deals, a portion of what you spend goes to support Scam Victims United . . . yes, that is right . . . you can eat out, save money, and help to support our site!

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!


Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at

ATM Scam

Robert Siciliano o f was recently on Extra. He was showing how easy it is for a scammer to attach a skimmer to an ATM machine and steal the bank information from hundreds of people in one day. The even scarier part is that the ATM machine that Robert bought to demonstrate this was purchased on Craigslist.


Here is a link to the segment that aired.

Boston Globe Article here:

More here:

Help Scam Victims for the Holidays

The Holiday Season is approaching, and as always at Scam Victims United we would like to help those out that are going through really tough times this year due to scams.

We call it our “Secret Santa Program” and here is how it works . . . If you are a parent who has recently been hit by a scam and is now wondering how you are going to provide Christmas gifts for your child, please send a private message to me with the subject “Dear Santa” and in it list the ages of your children and one gift that they would like to see from Santa this year, along with your complete mailing address. (Please remember that this is supposed to be for small children who still believe in the magic of Santa)

Everyone else that visits this site, if you would like to help to make Christmas better for one child, or one family, please send me a private message with the subject “Santa’s Helper” and I will then forward you the information of one family that needs help this year. Please only contact me if you plan of following through . . . this could be the ONLY gift that some of these children get this year!

If you would like to help support this Holiday season you can send donations through PayPal
Purchase Scam Victims United merchandise at
Purchase books and movies at our Amazon Store
Purchase items from the retailers listed at

Retailers include
Best Buy
plus many more!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to email/private message me.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through

The National Consumer Empowerment Conference and Expo

The National Consumer Empowerment Conference and Expo this past weekend in Florida was a wonderful event, and I was so happy to be a part of it. I met some wonderful people, heard some inspiring stories, and made friendships and partnerships that I hope will last a lifetime. In the following weeks I will share some of the stories of the people from this event with you.

 This entire event started off as an idea in the head of one inspirational woman, Denise Richardson. Denise took on a battle with a large bank in order to fix the accounting errors and credit problems that they created for her. Her story is truly an inspiration and shows that one person can stand up and make a difference, and that as consumers we need to look out for ourselves because the people we trust with our money, the banks, are not.

While my story is different from Denise’s, I do feel a common bond with her . . . fighting the bank for what is right! We were both told that we could not take on the “big bad bank”, and we were both told by the bank employees not to worry, and we both learned over the years that what the bank tells you and what they actually do are not always the same thing. We have both gone from being the average woman to someone who is willing to stand up and speak . . . and sometimes yell . . . for the rights of the consumer. Denise is someone I respect, trust and motivates me to do even more in my work in fighting scams.
I would strongly encourage you to read Denise’s book, Give Me Back My Credit!
Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at

Support Scam Victims United while you shop

Support Scam Victims United by shopping with the following retailers. Every time that you make a purchase at one of these retailers through our links, a portion of what you spend will go to Scam Victims United.

If you plan on doing any of your Christmas shopping online, please think about doing it with our retailers. As we add more, you will be able to find them at

Thank you Monster!

I have been wanting to see this happen for YEARS! Monster just sent out a warning about work at home/employment scams to all of their members! Here is a copy of the information.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Whether you are searching for a new job through Monster or other websites, keep in mind that the same technological innovations that help in your job search may be used by cyber-criminals looking to lure job seekers into questionable job “opportunities.”

Monster, the worldwide leader in the online recruitment industry, makes protecting job seekers a top priority. While Monster continually monitors its network and database to detect and terminate fraudulent access or job postings, keep in mind that Monster’s primary purpose is to serve as an open forum for employers to advertise open positions and a service for job seekers to broadcast their qualifications to interested employers. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate parties (such as employers) have access, but neither we nor any other online recruitment company can guarantee that inappropriate parties will not gain access to a posted resume. Accordingly, we’d like to remind you of what you can do to help keep yourself safe during a job search.

Know What to Avoid

Some employment scams appear as job postings or classifieds while others may target victims with an offer through an unsolicited email. Below are the most common scams you may see:
Money-Laundering Scams
Money launderers often create job descriptions that offer commissions or pay as high as $2000 per day to process checks on behalf of foreign nationals. They are recruiting local citizens to “process payments” or “transfer funds,” because as foreign nationals, they can’t do it themselves. The image below is an example of a money laundering scam hidden behind what appears to be an offer of employment. Learn more about money laundering scams here. »

Reshipping Scams
Reshipping, or postal forwarding, scams typically require job seekers to receive stolen goods in their own homes– frequently consumer electronics — and then forward the packages, often outside the United States. Those who fall for reshipping scams may be liable for shipping charges and even the cost of goods purchased online with stolen credit cards. Read more about reshipping scams here. »

Pre-pay/Work at Home Scams
Although there are genuine jobs working at home, many “offers” are not valid forms of employment and may have the simple goal of obtaining an initial monetary investment from the victim. Using claims such as ‘be your own boss’ and ‘make money quickly’, Work at Home scams will not guarantee regular salaried employment and almost always require an “up-front” investment of money for products or instructions before explaining how the plan works. Find out more about avoiding these scams. »

Protect Yourself

What seems like a lucrative job offer could cost you your savings and more. Learn to identify the signals of an employment scam to protect yourself. When conducting a job search:

Look for signals in a job posting or email offer, which could serve as an indicator that what is being presented as employment is not legitimate. Don’t get involved with an employer that can’t make its business model perfectly clear to you or one that’s willing to hire you without even a phone interview. Do your own research on any employer that makes you feel at all uneasy.

Never put your social security or national ID number, credit card number, bank account number or any type of sensitive personal identification data in your resume. You should never share any personal information with a prospective employer, even if they suggest that it is for a “routine background check”, until you are confident that the employer and employment opportunity is legitimate. Use Monster’s resume visibility options to ‘Be Safe’.

Do not engage in any transaction in which you are requested to transfer or exchange currency or funds to a prospective employer. Remain alert for the Work at Home employers who require you to make an up-front investment.
Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
If you see a questionable job posting or suspect misuse of the Monster website or its brand, please report the suspected fraud to Monster.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, immediately report the fraud to your local police and contact Monster, so steps can be taken to ensure your safety. We also recommend that you file an online report with The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). For more information on how to conduct a safe job search, visit Monster’s Security Center. You can also check out

Best regards,

The Monster Team

Phishing scam hitting hard


The Community Driven Credit Union in Pittsfield Township has frozen the bank accounts of 20 to 30 of its customers in recent days after they provided sensitive information to suspected scam artists.

The phishing scam – involving e-mails and text messages – appears to be hitting Washtenaw County hard since last week.

Many people have reported receiving the messages, which warn them their accounts have been frozen. They’re directed to call a number and are then prompted to provide bank and debit card information.

The majority of the messages appear to reference the Community Driven Credit Union. Kevin Finneran, president and CEO of the credit union, said even his wife and daughter received the text messages.

The scam also appears to be impacting the Chelsea State Bank. Michigan State Police Sgt. Tony Cuevas said today at least 3 people have reported similar scams involving the Chelsea bank.

One man said he received an automated message that his bank account was frozen, and when he called, he was directed to enter his 16-digit debit card number, Cuevas said.

On Tuesday, the president of the Ypsilanti Area Federal Credit Union said the credit union has heard from at least 50 customers who received suspicious messages.

Finneran said his credit union has talked to 50 to 60 customers, and 20 to 30 of them provided their banking information by computer or phone to the scam artists. Their accounts were frozen, and new cards are being issued.

Finneran said the bulk of those who received the text messages appear to be Sprint customers. He said the credit union has spoken to the Pittsfield Township Police Department and state Attorney General’s office, and also is spreading the word about the scam to help customers avoid being victimized.

“It probably started last Thursday or Friday,” Finneran said of the calls. “If people provided information, we’re immediately taking steps to secure their accounts. We’re also doing everything we can to make people aware.”

Barrie Kiser, marketing manager for the credit union, said the e-mail can appear convincing because it has a screen shot of the credit union’s home banking system. But the address is wrong, and the information it requests to log in also is different.

Officials at the banks stressed this week that they never gather information from ttheir customers via text or e-mail, so customers should never respond to such messages.

Anyone who received the messages and provided information should immediately contact their bank or credit union and local police department.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group also offers some advice on what to do if you’ve been scammed and how to report it.

One last reminder

I am so sorry that I have not posted as much this week, but I have been so busy getting ready for the National Consumer Empowerment Conference and Expo in Hollywood, Florida this weekend.

Both consumers and advocates coming together to share resources, ideas and discuss the issues.

Join us!

I am sure that I will have a lot of great things to share with you from this event.