Fraud Report July 4, 2024

Did you know that there is a 1906 federal law that exempts interstate movers from state consumer protection laws?  This should be fixed.  As I detailed in my study for the BBB there are criminal gangs that advertise cheaper prices for moving services online, but after they load the goods on a truck they demand a lot more money.  And if they arrive when they say that will, they often demand still more, and drive off if people refuse to pay.  This is a major problem.  The 1906 Carmack Amendment may have made sense at one time, but has clearly long outlived its usefulness.  For more on the history of this see here.

Interpol announces global fraud crackdown “First Light”

  • Seize $257 million
  • 61 countries involved
  • 3950 arrested
  • Scams included tech support, BEC, law enforcement impersonation

Spain and Portugal take joint action against phone fraud gang which called, pretending to be bank, and then appeared at homes demanding credit and ATM cards; sometimes threatened violence and robbed homes as well;  54 arrested

Bob Sullivan: Crooks are now appearing IN PERSON to pick up money from scam victims

India: Police raid call center claiming to be US Marshalls and telling people that their Social Security Number had been compromised; 77 arrested FTC brings new case against $200 million free trial offer fraud

Fraud Report June 27, 2024

Canada: Toronto man shoots and kills two who he believed were scammers that took him for $1 million

NYT: IRS suspends payments from Covid employment retention tax credits; 90% of claims may be fraudulent

Clerk at Chevron station saves 84 year old woman who was feeding money into a bitcoin ATM; victim thought she was talking to bank security person; had been close to sending $40,000

Brooklyn: Four Nigerians charged for BEC and romance fraud money laundering; handled $50 million; one to be extradited from France

Full report here

Fraud Report June 13, 2024

Homeland Security explains how frauds from India, not limited to tech support, get victims to buy gift cards, and then Chinese gangs launder them into buying real goods

Troubling new opinion from the 9th circuit court of appeals on fraud.  In US v. Milheiser the Court recently reversed the criminal conviction of several toner scammers. For years these companies called offices, told the receptionists that they were their regular supplier of toner for their copier,  that the price was going up, but that they would send “more” at the old, cheaper, price. The victim companies had never in fact dealt with these scammers before.  A jury convicted them of mail fraud.

          The Court reversed the convictions, concluding that victims in fact did receive toner at the price disclosed in the call, thus concluding that the defendant’s lies were not “material” to victims.  Needless to say, this decision is bound to cause trouble in future consumer protection cases, and I believe it is wrongly decided. But it reminds us that no matter what the legal standard is, it is important to have a solid theory of consumer injury – to explain why the lies matter to consumers.

Full report here

Fraud Report June 6, 2024

EU heads worldwide effort against botnets; worlds largest effort; four arrested, searches done in Armenia, Netherlands, Portugal and Ukraine; over 100 servers closed down; used for ransomware and other fraud

North Dakota woman poisoned her boyfriend thinking he was to inherit $30 million; but the inheritance was simply a scam

WSJ: How a crypto romance scam cleaned out a senior citizen

Worth Remembering:  Eighty years ago the allies returned to Europe in the landings at Normandy, with the largest Armada the world had ever seen.  Thousands of brave men lost their lives in the desperate struggle on the beaches.  I was fortunate to have known one man who was there on Omaha and lived to tell about it.  I’m not at all sure that I would have been brave enough to have done this.  So take a moment to think about them today.

Full report here

Fraud Report May 30, 2024

Top Stories

New FTC report looks at which companies scammers are impersonating

  • Most common are Geek Squad, Amazon, and Paypal
  • But most money is lost to Microsoft for tech support fraud
  • And to Publisher’s Clearinghouse for lottery frauds
  • Biggest losses where victims send money by crypto or bank to bank wire transfer
  • But gift cards most common way to pay in romance rauds, tech support fraud, and government impersonation frauds

Nigerian man claims responsibility for attempt to foreclose on Graceland; send phone documents claiming estate owed money

Social Security wants that scammers are impersonating agents of its Office of Inspector General and picking up cash from victims in person; says agents will NEVER ask for money

Full report here

Fraud Report May 23, 2024

Top Stories

Police in India raid two call centers, arrest 155, kingpins flee; were running three scams, all demanding gift cards

  • Calls offering payday loans but had to pay upfront
  • Tech support calls resulting from Microsoft popups
  • Calls claiming Amazon shipments had illegal contents and victim needed to pay to cancel or they would report to law enforcement

Los Angeles: Two Chinese men arrested for laundering $73 million from crypto romance frauds

North Dakota: Jury convicts Nigerian man in fraud on law firm; had sent counterfeit check to firm for legal work and then had them wire money back after work cancelled

Tech companies form coalition to fight crypto romance and other frauds; includes Meta, Coinbase, Match

Need an expert witness for consumer protection or fraud issues?  Let me know.

Fraud Studies: Here are links to the studies I’ve written for the Better Business Bureau: puppy fraud, romance fraud; BEC fraud, sweepstakes/lottery fraudtech support fraud, romance fraud money mules, crooked movers, government imposters, online vehicle sale scams, rental fraud, gift cards,  free trial offer frauds,  job scams,  online shopping fraud,  fake check fraud and crypto scams

Full report here

Fraud Report May 16, 2024

Top Stories

Can I get rid of spam email?  Under federal law those who send email have to have a working unsubscribe feature.   The FTC enforces this. But I got some emails recently, and when I hit unsubscribe and found that I needed to reenter my email address.  As you’ve probably guess I’ve since started getting a flood of spam.  I’ve not seen any enforcement from the FTC for years against spam emails. This industry clearly has some organization, and some of my spam is on behalf of at least of some legitimate organizations like the AARP.

FTC warns that if someone claims your social security number has been used IT IS A FRAUD

Spain and Italy arrest 106; bust Italian mafia group that was doing BEC and other frauds; laundered money for scams; operated from the Canary Islands

Full report here

Fraud Report May 9, 2024

Top Stories

Another troubling story about a fraud victim.  As I’ve previously reported, 74 year old Ann Mayer was arrested for trying to rob a credit union in a Cincinnati suburb recently. She had a gun, had taken the license plates off of her car, and had mentioned robbing a bank to family members recently.  She was arrested and charged.  She had no criminal record.  She got $500.

Family members say she was a scam victim herself, and had been sending money to an “unidentified individual.”  News articles also say that she’d lost tens of thousands of dollars; others say she lost her life savings.

But we don’t know anything about the scam.  Was this a romance fraud?  Did the scammer encourage the robbery?  Have they tried to track down the scammer?

Police in Bosnia, Lebanon, Albania, Kosovo shut down 12 scam call centers, arrest 21; scammers were doing romance scams, investment fraud, and fake police calls

Investigation finds Chinese operation has created at least 76,000 websites for designer goods; 800,000 victims in the US and Europe; victims don’t get counterfeits; instead get nothing or something wholly different

Wired:  NigerianYahoo boys on the internet often don’t even try to hide; have 16 Facebook groups with 200,000 members; a dozen Youtube channels, more

India busts 76 tech support operations across the country, work with Microsoft and Amazon

Iowa: Three arrested for impersonating police and sherriff’s deputies, telling people that they had to pay or they would be arrested; met victims in person

US sends cybercrime advisor to Nigeria, and country adopts the 2022 international cybercrime convention

full report here

Fraud Report May 2, 2004

Important case about older scam victim.  I’ve reported before about William Brock, an 81 year old Ohio man who shot and killed an Uber driver who came to his house to pick up $12,000 for a grandparent scam.  Apparently he had been told that his nephew was in a car crash in Charleston and had been arrested.  Brock tried to get the phone from the Uber driver, which she refused, and he shot her when she tried to leave.  Brock called 911, the police came, and the police answered two subsequent calls from the scammer, who said he was with the police himself. Brock  is charged with felony murder.

The news articles give a few interesting facts

Apparently Uber assisted. The phone call to the Uber driver was from Canada, and was from a burner phone.  And there are some questions the articles don’t answer/

  • Was this the first time Brock had provided money in this scam?
  • Was the Uber driver aware that this was a scam?  Or was she simply being paid to pick up a package? 
  • Why did the scammer want to know what hospital the driver had been taken to?
  • Was there any other useful information on her phone?
  • Were they able to track the credit card number used by Uber?

New Australia Anti-Scam Centre issues first report, for 2023

  • Complaints up 18.5%
  • Reported losses down a bit from $3.1 billion to $2.74 billion
  • Top frauds reported were investments (likely crypto romance fraud); tech support fraud, and romance fraud

Warnings issued across the US and Canada of huge spurt in text messages claiming fines are owed for speed cameras and road tolls.  Example

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center releases 2023 report on fraud against victim over 60

  • Complaints up 14% over 2022
  • Losses reported of $3.4 billion
  • Tech support by far the most common fraud
  • Biggest losses were in crypto investment frauds
  • 15% paid by crypto

Full Report here