Payday Loan Scams

This information was posted on the FBI website.The Internet Crime Complaint Center has received many complaints from victims of payday loan telephone collection scams. Callers claim the victim is delinquent in a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The callers purport to be representatives of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, various law firms, or other legitimate-sounding agencies. They claim to be collecting debts for companies such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net, and other Internet check-cashing services.

According to complaints received from the public, the callers have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the fraudsters obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.

The fraudsters relentlessly call the victim’s home, cell phone, and place of employment. They refuse to provide any details about the alleged payday loans and become abusive when questioned. The callers have threatened victims with legal actions, arrests, and, in some cases, physical violence if they do not pay. In many cases, the callers harass victims’ relatives, friends, and employers.
Some fraudsters have instructed victims to fax a statement agreeing to pay a certain amount, on a specific date, via a pre-paid Visa card. The statement further declares the victim will never dispute the debt.
If you receive these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Rather, you should:

  • Notify your banking institutions.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
  • File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  • Never give your Social Security number—or personal information of any kind—over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. The e-mail may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get you to react immediately.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information.
  • Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
  • Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
  • When you contact companies, use numbers provided on the back of cards or statements
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Fraudulent Notifications

From the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The IC3 continues to receive reports of letters and emails being distributed pursuant to prize sweepstakes or lottery schemes. These schemes use counterfeit checks that bear legitimate-looking logos of various financial institutions to fool victims into sending money to the fraudsters.

Fraudsters tell victims they won a sweepstakes or lottery, but to receive a lump sum payout, they must pay the taxes and processing fees upfront. Fraudsters direct individuals to call a telephone number to initiate a letter of instructions. The letter alleges that the victim may elect to take an advance on the winnings to make the required upfront payment. The letter includes a check in the amount of the alleged taxes and fees, along with processing instructions. Ultimately, victims believe they are using the advance to make the required upfront payment, but in reality they are falling prey to the scheme.

The victim deposits the check into their own bank, which credits the account for the amount of the check before the check clears. The victim immediately withdraws the money and wires it to the fraudsters. Afterwards, the check proves to be counterfeit and the bank pulls the respective funds from the victim’s account, leaving the victim liable for the amount of the counterfeit check plus any additional fees the bank may charge.

Persons may fall victim to this scheme due to the allure of easy money and the apparent legitimacy of the check the fraudsters include in the letter of instruction. The alleged cash prizes and locations of the financial institutions vary.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • A federal statute prohibits mailing lottery tickets, advertisements, or payments to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery. 

  • Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or sweepstakes. 

  • Beware of lotteries or sweepstakes that charge a fee prior to delivering your prize. 

  • Be wary of demands to send additional money as a requirement to be eligible for future winnings. 

If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other cyber crime, you can report it to the IC3 at: www.IC3.gov. The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to law enforcement for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns to alert the public to new criminal schemes.

Holiday Tips

Here are some tips from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

 
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
  • Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the email with the link to which you are directed and determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
  • Log directly onto the official web site for the business identified in the email, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email. If the email 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 email to verify if the email is genuine.
  • If you are asked to act quickly, or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
  • Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
 

Holidays ~ Fraudulent Classified Ads and Auction Sales

It seems like every year at the holidays the amount of crime goes up, and that is the same in the world of internet crime.  The Internet Crime Complaint Center put out a warning about some things to be on the look out for, and I am going to share one with you each day.

Fraudulent Classified Ads and Auction Sales

If you are one of those people who cannot stand the crouds at the malls and want to do all of your holiday shopping online, you need to watch out for fraudulent classifed ads and auction sales. 

Here is the advice that the IC3 offers

Internet criminals post classified ads and auctions for products they do not have, and make the scam work by using stolen credit cards. Fraudsters receive an order from a victim, charge the victim’s credit card for the amount of the order, then use a separate, stolen credit card for the actual purchase. They pocket the purchase price obtained from the victim’s credit card and have the merchant ship the item directly to the victim. Consequently, an item purchased from an online auction but received directly from the merchant is a strong indication of fraud. Victims of such a scam not only lose the money paid to the fraudster, but may be liable for receiving stolen goods.

Shoppers may help avoid these scams by using caution and not providing financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their schemes. Always use a legitimate payment service to ensure a safe, legitimate purchase.

As for product delivery, fraudsters posing as legitimate delivery services offer reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites. They perpetuate this scam by providing fake shipping labels to the victim. The fraudsters do not pay for delivery of the packages; therefore, delivery service providers intercept the packages for nonpayment and the victim loses the money paid for the purchase of the product.

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, with a low total number of feedback postings, or with all feedback posted around the same date and time.

Congratulations IC3!

On November 9th, 2010 the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) logged it’s 2 millionth customer!  This is an amazing number, especially when you consider that not all scams and fraud are even reported.

This is a good thing, since it means that people are reporting the scams, which will give the FBI, National While Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (the agencies that partnered together to form the IC3) more information to try and go after these people and help warn people about these scams.

The IC3 receives, develops, and refers cyber crime complaints to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. The IC3 gives cyber crime victims a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations.

Since its inception, the IC3 has referred 757,016 criminal complaints to law enforcement around the globe. The majority of referrals involved fraud in which the complainant incurred a financial loss. The total reported loss from these referrals is approximately $1.7 billion, with a median reported loss of more than $500 per complaint.*

Happy Birthday IC3

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is celebrating 10 years of crime fighting.

IC3 was established in May 2000 as a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The organization gives victims of cybercrime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. IC3 provides law enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels a central referral system for complaints involving Internet-related crimes.

“Since its creation in 2000, we have seen the number of complaints coming into IC3 increase year after year. Cybercrime is not going away and, in fact, is only going to continue as criminals become savvier,” said Don Brackman, Director of the NW3C. “We are so proud to be partners with the FBI in operating IC3 to address this growing global issue.”

End of the year review

I would like to thank our friends at the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) for their post yesterday.

Education Remains the Best Defense Against Internet Fraud

2009 is turning out be a banner year for the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Experts predict the Center will end the year with close to 350,000 complaints. That’s a heck of a lot more than last year in which a record 275,284 complaints were received. 2010 will probably set another record.

While there is no doubt IC3 has become one of the most recognized vehicles for reporting online fraud today, the numbers have to date, only scratched the surface. Many experts believe the number of people who fall prey to credit card fraud, online auction fraud, phishing scams and the like, is actually far greater than the complaint numbers would indicate and cyber thieves aren’t letting up. If anything, they’re increasing their efforts to separate you and I from our money.

Consumers need to educate themselves to prepare for the coming decade and the wave of sophisticated scams that are sure to follow. There are a host of Web sites available that can help including:

http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com

www.scamvictimsunited.com

http://www.scambusters.org

If you do fall victim to online fraud, contact your local police right away and file a complaint with IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov. It only takes a couple of minutes and the information can help law enforcement bring the perpetrators to justice.