Tag Archives: scam

Wells Fargo Scam

This post is not an endorsement supporting Wells Fargo. In fact, I largely disapprove of Wells Fargo and think they’ve been up to some questionable activities in relation to my good-standing accounts. If it were up me, I’d love to see Wells Fargo fail miserably – but not at the expense of the average customer. The following is to help you, not them.

This afternoon, after filming a spot for MSNBC’s “Caught On Camera,” I drove into town to pick up a my daily espresso.

I received an incoming call from “BLOCKED,” but answered anyway. There was a pre-recorded voice stating something along the lines of: _This is Wells Fargo. Your bank card has been locked due to security reasons. Press ‘1’ to unlock your account.” I did not press ‘1’ – and the call disconnected after I pressed ‘0’ (just to see). Even if it did go through, I wouldn’t have given any information to the caller.

It certainly sounded like an automated recording, leading me to believe that this operation (if criminal in nature) was scalable and widespread. These criminals would be spending next to nothing to gain access to untold amounts of money.

Being a block away from a Wells Fargo bank, I stopped by just in case this was a legitimate call. Before I could explain the entire situation to the teller, he confirmed that the call was a scam. Worse yet? He said that they’ve had a lot of account holders come in to relay the same story recently.

Before heading home, I called my girlfriend (through my hands-free bluetooth system) to let her know about what had just happened. I didn’t want to leave her safety to chance.

In all my years, I’ve really only seen digital scams – but they certainly prepared me to face this situation with skepticism. I’d like to believe that even if I hadn’t been aware of these types of scams, I would have reacted the same way (and remained safe).

Let this simply serve as a reminder: think before you act, especially if you’re reacting to something. It’s one thing to share private / sensitive information with a person you’ve called or connected with, but you should always keep your guard up when someone (largely unauthenticated) tries to pry any amount of knowledge from your brain.

You might think yourself secure simply because you’re not banking at Wells Fargo, but replace this brand with the name of any other financial institution…? Yeah, it could happen to anybody.

Facebook Hacker Uses Chat to Extort Money

Having security software on your computer isn’t enough to keep you protected. Not clicking on unknown links won’t make sure you aren’t infected. Restraining yourself from punching the monkey or placing a tail on the donkey will not ensure your machine stays clean and free of unwanted nasties. Likewise, locking down your Facebook profile to only allow friends direct access to you may not be enough to keep you from being scammed.

Scammers will go to any lengths to extort money from us, apparently. One man recently hacked into a Facebook account and then proceeded to beg for money from a friend of the user whose account he had broken into. You can read the entire transcript of the chat between the two at the end of this post. Suffice to say the idiot tripped himself up more than once right from the beginning. Thanks to the quick thinking of the friend contacted, no harm was done – and no money changed hands.

Mike was supposedly in the hospital, recovering from some type of surgery to his head or brain. Imagine his friend Kevin’s surprise, then, when Mike chatted him up on the popular social networking site, claiming that he and his family were stranded in London and needed money right away to get home. The first red flag was raised at that precise moment. The second came shortly after Kevin offered to pay for airline tickets for the quartet using his air miles. Mike insisted they needed cash to settle the hotel bill – even though they were supposedly already standing in the airport. Mister scammer wanted cash wired to him via Western Union faster than most people could think.

Sadly, you can’t even trust your friends these days. More accurately, you should never fully trust that your friend is REALLY your friend if they ask you for money out of the blue… especially if they want it wired to some weird location they shouldn’t be in. Double and triple-check every detail before giving in to the impulse to help these people. Make sure the story is really true – or you’re going to be out a whole lot of money and pride.

Mike: Hello
Mike: how are you doing today ?
Kevin: hey hey
Mike: how are you doing today?
Kevin: all good, thank God…how’s by you
Mike: not good at all
Kevin: ?
Mike: yes
Kevin: what’s going on
Mike: we’re stuck in london
Mike: got mugged at the gun point last night
Mike: all cash and credit card phone got stolen away from us
Kevin: oh my goodness
Mike: but thank God will still have our passport with us
Kevin: i didn’t even know you guys were traveling
Mike: i need your help
Kevin: did you go to the police?
Mike: sorry i didn’t inforom you
Mike: yes but there are not helping issue ata ll
Mike: they told us to come back in two weeks later
Kevin: i thought you were confined to a hospital bed? how did you manage to get on a plane?
Mike: yes
Mike: i do
Mike: but my wife
Mike: has us to leave with the kids
Mike: for vacation
Mike: wondering if you can loan me some cash $$
Mike: when we get back today am going to refund back your money to you
Kevin: so you are still in the hospital, or you are in london with them?
Mike: i said am in london with them
Mike: Tracy said she going to pay back the money
Mike: when we get back
Kevin: Mike, seriously???? you never even paid me back the last loan! how i can i possibly give you more now?
Mike: please
Kevin: you remember, you asked me for money for the head surgery
Mike: Tracy will refund all
Mike: back to you immediately we get back home
Kevin: tell you what
Mike: i swear
Kevin: i have a friend in london. he can come get you
Kevin: we’ll sort it out
Kevin: i’m going to call him now, hold on
Kevin: where are you now
Mike: ok call him
Mike: but i don’t think that will help us
Mike: in this situiation
Mike: what we need is some cash
Kevin: he can bring some money for you
Mike: to get on a plane back home
Kevin: i’ll get you tickets. are you coming back to JFK?
Mike: our flight will be leaving in the next 1hour
Mike: yes
Kevin: oh, then i can meet you at the airport
Mike: can you wire us dome fund
Mike: via western union money transfer ?
Kevin: you’re at the airport already??
Mike: yes
Mike: please send us the money
Kevin: how much do you need
Mike: we’re going to pick it up here in the airport
Kevin: how much
Mike: $1550
Kevin: yikes
Kevin: oh you know what
Kevin: i have plenty of miles on my account, i can just buy the tickets for you
Mike: ??
Kevin: what flight number
Mike: i have to sort out hotel bills also
Mike: money is the issue
Mike: before leaving
Kevin: if your flight is in an hour, and you’re already in the airport, the hotels can wait until you land in a few hours
Mike: let me know how much you can get me at the moment?
Kevin: i’ll meet you at the JFK terminal
Kevin: i’ve already called your dad to let him know the situation
Kevin: he’s freaking out
Kevin: but i told him that you’re safe now
Mike: i still have my lodgings in the hotel
Kevin: he asked if you delivered the special package, or if it was taken from you
Kevin: not sure what he means by that
Kevin: do you want him to call you?
Mike: let let him know i did
Mike: i told you our phones got stolen away from
Mike: us
Kevin: oh right ok
Mike: let me know how much you can get to me at the moment
Kevin: ok, i got you 4 tickets on kuwait airways 101, it’s leaving at 6pm your time
Mike: because we need to get the bill sorted and get back home
Kevin: i put you, Tracy, and the the kids’ names on it
Kevin: so that should take care of the flight
Kevin: let me call the hotel, i’ll sort it out with them
Kevin: what’s their info
Mike: ok
Mike: you can call the hotel manager
Mike: +44[redacted]
Mike: let me know if you’re calling now
Kevin: actually, i’m calling the police. thanks for the phone number, scammer
Mike: you’re welcome
Mike: i will hack into your account if you dont log out between 6minute
Mike: i swear
Kevin: hahah go for it
Mike: ok wait and see your account going on hack processing right now
Mike: with bad sofware
Mike: 5minutes more

I have no idea if this scammer was caught, but let’s hope he at least learned a lesson.

Phishing Scam Spreading on Twitter

A few minutes ago, I received a direct message from one of my twitter followers:

hey! check out this funny blog about you… jannawalitax . blogspot . com

And there’s another one:

Hey, i found a website with your pic on it… LOL check it out here twitterblog . access-logins . com / login

DO NOT VISIT the URL in question. It will redirect you immediately to a suspicious domain: twitter . access-logins . com – notice the subdomain? Worse yet, here’s what you’d see there right now:

Grabup Image

This is NOT the Twitter login page, and it smells completely phishy! Suggestion: do NOT log in to your Twitter account through any site other than Twitter.com. This may go without saying, but consider how many third-party Twitter services you use? Seems it’s about time for some kind of verification / validation for applications using the Twitter API – so you can be sure you’re passing your credentials to the right people. I’m guessing this particular phishing scam is not using the API (but there’s no way for a user to properly verify).

This phishing domain appears to be registered in China, and I’m about to report ’em to OpenDNS (via PhishTank.com):

Organization : zhang xiaohu
Name : zhang xiaohu
Address : changningzhonghuainanlu192hao
City : changning
Province/State : Hunan
Country : CN
Postal Code : 421500

Please, tell your followers to NOT VISIT or LOGIN THROUGH that site! Watch out for these direct messages. If you did happen to visit one of the offending URLs, you should be safe so long as you didn’t try to log into your Twitter account there.

What are Popular Home Repair Scams?

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

The last time I changed our furnace filters, I sliced my finger open. I’m not a handyman by any stretch, but I do attempt to take care of things around my house. There are times, though, when you just have to call in someone else to fix something. How can you be sure you’re not getting ripped off? Tedd wrote in to tell me about his brother-in-law’s construction company, and to give us his top tips on what to watch out for when hiring someone to work on your home.

  1. Leaky Roof: A con artist will try to convince you that water is seeping through the shingles, so you should have the shingles removed and replaced. This can cost $5000 or more. Most of the time, the leak is caused because the sealing around vent pipes and chimneys has deteriorated, or the connections between roof sections have eroded. Replacing the sealant or flashing is a cheap and easy fix. Normally, an asphalt roof lasts 10 – 20 years. You should replace the roof when you see curling or missing shingles, or a large amount of granular material from the shingles collecting in the gutters. Don’t get talked into having the old roof removed, which can raise the replacement price by 50%, unless your building code demands it. Many towns allow a second, or even third roof to be installed on top of each other, as long as the framing can support the extra weight. Beware of a roofer that says you need an entire new deck, which is the wood beneath the shingles. This is needed in only about one out of a thousand times. Usually only a portion of the deck will need replaced, and then only if it is rotted.
  2. Basement Water: If your basement is chronically wet, con artists will attempt to convince you that they need to dig out your entire foundation and waterproof it. This can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars. More often, the solution is simple and costs very little. Many basement leaks are caused by overflow from clogged gutters, misrouted downspouts, unsloped land around the house and even poorly aimed sprinklers. Damp walls may be caused by humidity. To test, simply tape a piece of aluminum foil to the wall. If moisture shows up after a day or two on the patch, it’s just condensation. You can then start shopping for a dehumidifier. If water is still seeping in, repair cracks in the masonry with hydraulic cement, and apply a quality waterproof paint.
  3. Termite Problem: There are a lot of myths about termites. One of the most common myths is that termites can bring down a house in as little as 6 months. Con artists use this incorrect information to scare you into paying up to $3000 for unnecessary and shoddy work. The most common termite in the USA is the Subterranean, of which there are two main kinds: Workers and Swarmers. The Workers hollow out the wood, while Swarmers mate and produce new colonies. They burrow through the soil until water and wood or wood-like products are located. To get into your home, they usually build moist tunnels across the foundation, a clear sign of infestation. Be wary of exterminators showing you termite colonies on wood piles or fences not connected to your house: This may be a scam. You have a problem only if there is evidence of termites inside your home or close to the foundation. Bugs flying in the home during the Spring are another sign of a problem, but these may simply be flying ants. Termites have full waists and long wings. Ants have a pinched waist and back wings shorter than the front wings.
  4. Mold: Since Hurricane Katrina, con artists have been playing up fears about disease from mold in the home. They try to convince you to pay $300 – $600 on tests to identify the mold, and recommend a company to remove it which they are in cahoots with. The truth is, healthy people usually don’t have anything to worry about. If your immune system is compromised, or you have asthma or allergies, it might cause issues. Other than that, mold is not dangerous. The CDC doesn’t recommend that you get the mold tested, because if it is a problem to the occupants, it should be removed no matter what kind it is. All you need to clean the mold from small areas is soap and water, followed by a mixture of one cup bleach with one gallon of water. To prevent mold growth, keep the humidity between 40 and 60 percent, promptly fix leaky roofs, windows, and pipes, and ventilate shower, laundry and cooking areas.
  5. Chimney Sweep Swindle: A chimney sweep knocks on your door and says he just fixed a neighbor’s chimney and offers you an inspection for the low price of $39.99. Once inside, he finds a problem and tells you that you need a new liner for instance. Suddenly, that $39.99 becomes thousands of dollars. Chimneys can indeed be dangerous, and occasionally a blocked chimney causes carbon monoxide to come into the home. This doesn’t happen as often as chimney sweeps want you to believe. Experts recommend annual inspections to check for creosote buildup and structural soundness. This costs between $100 and $250 dollars. If cleaning is required, an additional $100 – $150 should be expected. Hire only those that are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Also, lately sweeps use cameras to complete their inspection. Ask to see the video, and have him explain it as you watch. If he balks, he’s scamming you.

Thanks so much, Tedd, for sending in these tips. I know that when we first moved into this house, we had to deal with a lot of contractors. The ones we went with, were the guys who talked us down in price. They were honest, and good at what they do. We interviewed four contractors (always good to get more than one bid), only ONE of them was talking us out of spending more than we needed to spend. We have been recommending him to people ever since.

Watching out for scams is something we all have to be cognizant of. It’s embarrassing when we get caught… and can cost us money and time. Be alert, and do your homework.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Are Those "Free iPod" Websites Legit or a Scam?

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

You know the sites. You see them everywhere. “Sign up and get five of your friends to sign up… and you’ll win!” It’s not as easy as they make it sound. With so many sites who do the same thing, you’ll have a hard time trying to find even five who want to sign up under you.

I received an email earlier in the week from Tom, asking me if these “freebie” sites are legitimate or not. I personally tiptoe very cautiously around things like these. The odds are not in your favor that you’ll really get something for free. It’s quite difficult to get enough people to buy in to whatever it is the site in question is selling or advertising. Most people will fail in getting the ‘free’ product. Yes… there are legitimate sites giving away real products. Just read the fine print. Make sure you fully understand the requirements that are laid out prior to getting involved. Heck… why not ask your friends BEFORE you sign up if they’re even willing to follow your lead and try to get something for nothing?

Don’t throw away your money. Be smart. Stay away from all those scams out there.


Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Optimus Maximus Keyboard: Horrible Customer Service

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Yes, you read that right. I’ve had it with this company. Their customer service is absolutely horrible. They have canceled my order twice now for the Optimus Maximus keyboard. I’m not a very happy Geek at this point.

A few months ago, this news was huge. Any Geek knows what I’m talking about. However, I feel this is a complete ripoff. This isn’t because of the price. If the keyboard is as it is promised, then the cost is worth it. That’s not the issue I have. I placed one of the first orders, and they sent me an email back saying the order had not gone through. I argued with them, because I know that my credit card was valid and so on. After a lot of going back and forth, they said they had simply canceled my order.

What? Even though I was mad, I lusted after the keyboard still. So, a few months later, Ponzi placed an order to try and buy it for me for Christmas. The problem is, even using a different credit card, the order was again canceled. WHAT?? Something just isn’t right here.

I’m not the only one this has happened to!

I feel this is a scam, and that you should be very wary. If anything, their customer service is just plain bad. The whole ordering process is jacked. Twice now, my order has been canceled for no good reason. If anyone actually orders or has ordered this keyboard… good for you, and good luck to you. However, I’m telling you that you shouldn’t bother.

I feel ripped off, even though they never actually took my money. This product is just so unbelievably amazing looking, and they can’t even be bothered to actually sell it! What’s the deal?

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Is GeekSquad a Sham?

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Would you trust Geek Squad?

The value of Geek Squad really boils down to the management of the local BestBuy store. To make a sweeping statement about them would be unfair to each individual unit. Having no experience with them, we can't speak positively or negatively about them.

We'd recommend getting involved in local computer groups before using the Geek Squad services. While you may think Geek Squad is staffed with the best technicians, your local geeks may have another opinion.

Do you have any opinions?

Want to embed our Is Geek Squad a Sham? video in your blog? Use this code:

Formats available: MPEG4 Video (.mp4), Flash Video (.flv), MP3 Audio (.mp3), Microsoft Video (.avi)