Federal Trade Commission Reports Top Frauds for 2018

This isn’t a juicy frauds and crooks story like some I’ve reported lately, but it is a useful one sent to me by a reader.
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The FTC last week reported a summary of what kinds of consumer frauds were trending and tells us which states are the most fraud-ridden (or at least the states where in 2018 people reported that they had been defrauded).
And get this…..

There was a 38% jump in the amount of money lost to fraud in 2018 over 2017, says the FTC!

Learn which states are the worst for consumer fraud and where to report this type of fraud!
Continue reading “Federal Trade Commission Reports Top Frauds for 2018”

Be Aware of the Top Ten Scams that Steal from Granny

CNBC recently published a list of the Top Ten Scams that are perpetrated against seniors in the US.

Scams cheat older Americans out of almost $3 billion a year. Here’s what to watch for

Seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually from financial exploitation, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
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Impersonating the IRS was the No. 1 scam targeting seniors in 2018.
More than 1,500 seniors across the country contacted the committee’s fraud hotline in 2018; however, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in recent testimony that only 1 in every 24 cases of elder exploitation gets reported.
“Despite that under-reporting, statistically one in every 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse,” he wrote.
Here are the top 10 scams targeting seniors last year, according to the Senate aging committee’s 2019 Fraud Book:

For a description of each of the ten, go back to CNBC or the Fraud Book mentioned above.

1. IRS impersonators
2. Robocalls
3. Sweepstakes scam/Jamaican lottery scam
4. Computer tech support fraud
5. Elder financial abuse
6. Grandparent scams
7. Romance frauds
8. Fake Social Security calls
9. Lawsuit or arrest threats
10. Identity theft
Identity thieves not only drain bank accounts and charge credit cards, but they also defraud the government and taxpayers by using stolen personal information to submit fraudulent billings to Medicare and Medicaid.
The Senate aging committee recommends that victims place a fraud alert, report identity theft or file a police report if a scam is suspected.

Sit down with elderly relatives and explain the kinds of frauds that they might experience and then take time and report fraud or suspected fraud.
Almost a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get some call about “free” knee braces and such!  How about you?

Foreign Phone Scammer Nabbed after Targeting the Wrong Elderly Couple

This is a funny story that should warm your heart!
If you’ve had grandma or grandpa targeted like this you will be thrilled to see this news!
From NBC News,

Telephone scam artist picked the wrong target — former FBI and CIA director William Webster


Former spy chief William Webster and his wife Lynda nabbed the creep!  Photo: https://capitolfile-magazine.com/getting-to-know-former-cia-and-fbi-director-william-webster

A telephone scam artist picked the wrong target — former FBI chief and CIA boss William Webster.

Jamaica map
Phone scam artist was Jamaican

Keniel Thomas, 29, from Jamaica, pleaded guilty in October to interstate communication with the intent to extort, federal authorities said.
He was sentenced to 71 months in prison last week by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington, D.C., and will be deported after he has served his term, officials said.
Thomas made his first call to Webster on June 9, 2014, identifying himself as David Morgan. He said that he was the head of the Mega Millions lottery and that Webster was the winner of $15.5 million and a 2014 Mercedes Benz, according to court documents.
Little did Thomas know that he was targeting the man who had served as director of the FBI and then the CIA under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
“It seemed to me that something wasn’t quite right,” Webster, 94, said in an interview Tuesday with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” “This was pretty obvious to me that there was something fishy about it.”
Thomas told Webster and his wife, Lynda, that they must pay him $50,000 to cover the taxes on the prize, authorities said.
The Websters notified the FBI, and the agency recorded follow-up calls the couple had with Thomas.

This guy was meaner than most…

“He terrified me,” Lynda Webster told NBC News. “He told me that what the sniper’s bullet would do to my head and the blood would go onto my white house.”
The FBI eventually learned Thomas’s identity and arrested him on Dec. 18, 2017, when he landed at JFK International Airport in New York, unaware he was a wanted man.

More here.

question markWhat do you do?
I don’t know about you, but I get phone scams on a regular basis. If you are feeling as feisty as the Websters, do some homework and figure out how you can work with the feds to nab a foreign scammer. 
At minimum be sure to educate grandma and grandpa about these crooks. 

Alert: Beware of Medical Supply Phone Fraud

Have you been getting calls that start with a recorded voice saying “Don’t hang up!”? The caller says he/she has important information about relieving chronic pain with neck, back or knee braces (that Medicare will pay for).
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I get those and so I noticed this news story from Fruitland, Maryland ten days ago about how phone scammers clone a number (in this case they cloned the police department!) and use it to make their fraud calls.
Then I found a letter to the editor from a man in Wilson, NC who, although suspicious of the call, did talk with the ‘supplier’ of braces, and here is what he said,

I have received dozens of calls concerning braces for pain in my back, shoulders, etc., none of which is true! On those calls where I actually talked to the callers, I told them exactly that and apparently I was ignored. They told me it will cost me absolutely nothing and Medicare will pay for everything. I again told them no, I don’t need them, nor do I want them. They told me they would send them anyway and they would be absolutely free and Medicare would pay.
Guess what? On a recent Thursday, a package arrived from Trilogy Medical Supply of West Palm Beach, Florida. I refused acceptance and UPS took the unopened package back. Now the fun part!
I called Medicare and after speaking to three individuals, was told that this company had indeed billed Medicare more than $3,400 for something I neither wanted nor asked for and in fact refused. Medicare has opened an investigation into this and will refuse payment for my “pain relief braces!”

So, it appears that the feds were promptly paying out to Trilogy Medical Supply.* It is not clear if the letter-writer gave out his Medicare card number to the callers.
Check your Medicare statements when they come in and look for items you were billed for.  One friend of mine said there were amounts of certain medications (for pain!) that were larger than she had received.
Yesterday a Better Business Bureau in Ohio published a list of the Top Seven phone fraud schemes they had been notified about in 2018.
See them all but especially #2:  The Grandparents Scam!
Another of my friends reported that an elder family member fell for this one and actually drove out late at night to wire cash to the unknown caller!

question mark*We have no idea who owns Trilogy Medical Supply (could be perfectly legit).  But, as soon as the Department of Justice website is up and running again (after the shutdown), I’ll check if they show up there.