Guest Blog and Scam Warning

Today I am sharing a blog post written by my good friend Denise Richardson

If you are looking for work-at-home opportunities –you may have already come across this deceptive marketing website dressed up as an investigative news site. A number of scam websites try to make themselves look legitimate through the use of bogus claims and website scripts that detect where visitors are browsing from and update portions of the site to mention their towns or cities.

Unfortunately, some websites try to take things one step further and attempt to pass themselves off as sources of legitimate news in hopes of tricking those who are looking for legitimate opportunities. It appears that The Consumer Warnings Weekly site at ConsumerWarningsReport.com does exactly this; it masquerades as a consumer website that purports to separate the scams from real opportunities, all the while being disguised as an investigative news organization.

The Consumer Warnings Weekly site features information about fake consumer investigations which claim to reveal a work-at-home program that isn’t a scam, and further claims that the one the site promotes has worked for people in the visitor’s hometown. Included are pictures of checks and a variety of comments which are most likely fake, along with “endorsements” from major news organizations such as CNN and MSNBC which are either taken out of context or are completely fake. Pictures on the site are stock photos, taken from free photo libraries and other websites to try and give the site the look of a more professional operation. Even the advertisements on the page are fake, directing users to other portions of the scam site when they think that they’re clicking on an ad to learn how to avoid online scams. To top it all off, the site even features a Facebook “Like” button so that unsuspecting visitors can share the scam with their friends and potentially draw in more victims.

Of course, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website then all of this is revealed to you in fine print. An “Important Consumer Disclosure” is located at the bottom of the page where many websites print their copyright information, obviously with the hope that it will be ignored by a number of visitors who routinely ignore similar text on other sites. This disclosure reveals that the site is in no way affiliated with any news outlet and that the story presented is only loosely based on an actual story. It goes on to reveal that both the comments and pictures are bogus and that the page receives compensation for any ad clicks or purchases made while on the site. To quote the disclosure, “I understand this website is only illustrative of what might be achievable from using this/these products, and that the story depicted above is not to be taken literally.”

A number of websites and products use fictionalized accounts of what their product may be like to avoid having to pay endorsement fees, but few of them attempt to pass themselves off as consumer news reviews. The way that the site presents itself is intended to trick users into thinking that they’ve stumbled upon a legitimate opportunity when the disclosure itself states that results like those presented on the site may only occur with the top 1% of users of the program.

A number of savvy opportunity seekers will see through the site almost immediately because they’ve seen similar scams and know to avoid them. Unfortunately, not everyone who’s searching for a way to make money at home will be as experienced in avoiding work-at-home scams. These are the people that the Consumer Warnings Weekly website is aimed at, those who will see supposed endorsements from major news networks and assume that the site is a legitimate opportunity instead of being nothing more than a scam.

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Denise is the author of the book Give Me Back My Credit

 

The verdict: Hang up!

Here is a great reminder from our friends at ScamNot.org

THE VERDICT: HANG UP
Don’t Fall for Jury Duty Scam

The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he’ll need some information for “verification purposes”-your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.

This is when you should hang up the phone. It’s a scam.

Jury scams have been around for years, but have seen a resurgence in recent months. Communities in more than a dozen states have issued public warnings about cold calls from people claiming to be court officials seeking personal information. As a rule, court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.

The scam’s bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.

“They get you scared first,” says a special agent in the Minneapolis field office who has heard the complaints. “They get people saying, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not a criminal. What’s going on?'” That’s when the scammer dangles a solution-a fine, payable by credit card that will clear up the problem.
With enough information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts.

“It seems like a very simple scam,” the agent adds. The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate. “It’s kind of ingenious. It’s social engineering.”

In recent months, communities in Florida, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Hampshire reported scams or posted warnings or press releases on their local websites. In August, the federal court system issued a warning on the scam and urged people to call their local District Court office if they receive suspicious calls. In September, the FBI issued a press release about jury scams and suggested victims also contact their local FBI field office.

In March, USA.gov, the federal government’s information website, posted details about jury scams in their Frequently Asked Questions area. The site reported scores of queries on the subject from website visitors and callers seeking information.

The jury scam is a simple variation of the identity-theft ploys that have proliferated in recent years as personal information and good credit have become thieves’ preferred prey, particularly on the Internet. Scammers might tap your information to make a purchase on your credit card, but could just as easily sell your information to the highest bidder on the Internet’s black market.

Protecting yourself is the key: Never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call.

REMEMBER SCAMNOT.