Archive for the ‘Scams’ Category

Of Lottery Winnings And PayPal…
October 13, 2010

I must be the luckiest guy in the world. In the last week I have won 2, count ’em, two major international lotteries. My luck then ran out when my PayPal account was suspended. My inbox gets peppered with these scams on such a regular basis that I hit the delete key before I finish reading the subject line. Still, I wanted to pass along a few of the scams that apparently will NEVER DIE. I’m doing this just as a reminder to everyone to be careful with clicking on these nefarious missives.  Here is a copy of one email…

Your email has own you £691,252GBP contact your Claims Agent.on for details.


Mrs.Doylce Makebe

Promotions Manager

This mail is scanned by Ironport

First tip-off should be that the email comes from India, hence the “dot-in” at the end of the sender’s address. Plus, there is no such thing as the free UK lottery.

The next email notified me I was a winner in the “email sweepstakes”. However, this prize only made me eligible for a loan interest loan from a company in Spain. Here’s an excerpt…

Good Day,

We are a Legitimate Reputable Money Lender. Getting a legitimate loan has always been a huge problem to clients who are financially in needs. VESTING FINANCE LENDERS has been accredited by the lender’s council to give out loans to local and international clients. We have been given the privilege to meet your financial needs. The issue of credit shouldn’t stop you from getting the loan that you need and we have made that difference in the lending industry. We gave out loan ranging from US$65, 000 to US$650. 000 to individuals and companies who are in need of credit / financial assistance, pending on your motive of a bad credit or in need of money to pay bills, to invest on business etc.

First off, any email that begins with “we are a legitimate reputable money lender” is in no way, shape or form legitimate. Period. Also, notice the bad grammar. Another tell-tale sign of scam artists. The biggest tip-off is that the company asks you to provide all your personal information before they’ll give you a loan. But hey, at least they don’t do credit checks.

Since I was a big winner in the free UK Lottery I decided I no longer needed a low-interest loan from Spain so I moved on to the troublesome warning that my PayPal account was suspended. Since PayPal is so popular this one can catch even savvy users off guard. I mean after all if your PayPal account has been limited or suspended how in the world will you pay for that vintage GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip (if you don’t get that line then you are too young or I am getting too old). The thing to notice about these emails is that it doesn’t provide any details, just a “dear customer”  and a subtle nudge to click on that internet link. That link will then ask you to provide all your personal information so the kind folks at PayPal can verify whether your account has been limited, suspended or, darn it to heck, they just mixed up your account with someone else. The link is usually something like, “Restore_your_account_paypal.html. This is the email I received…

Dear customer,

Your account has been temporarily limited .

Download and fill out the form to resolve the problem and then log into your account.

Thank You.

Just delete these emails or forward them to the FBI’s internet crime database at





Oil Spill Scams
June 7, 2010


As with most disasters there are those who will try to make a buck off it. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is no different. Reports are popping up of people offering training to anybody who wants to help with clean-up. This training, of course, comes with a fee. This has prompted BP to issue a statement.. 

Individuals falsely representing themselves as BP employees are offering applicants training and promising job placement for a fee.    

“It is important that the public be aware that this is a scam,” said Neil Chapman, BP spokesperson. “BP does not charge to train and hire applicants.”
BP is working closely with local authorities to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. If you or someone you know has been charged fees for training, please contact law enforcement. 

“BP is committed to protecting the wildlife, marshlands, and residents. We will continue to engage the community in the Gulf region and provide services to ensure that no one, especially those affected by the DeepWater Horizon Incident, are taken advantage of.”     

In addition to employment scams there are those “phishing” around for people thinking they may be entitled to compensation from BP. Since a large numbers of Gulf Coast residents are entitled to compensation scam artists are hoping to confuse unsuspecting people. I received this e-mail today.. 

For You, 

Arising from the BP Victims Compensation Committee just set up by the BP Products North America Inc., Transocean my personal acting capacity empowered to compiled phase-1: names and personal contact information of the victims to receive compensation in the next coming days, I have seen this as an opportunity to work with you and get your name into this phase-1 list of victims to receive financial compensation in the next coming days upon verification and processing of claims by my committe via a personal attorney which will fast track the compensation payment process to your favor as a victim who the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill has affected it’s daily means of livelihood. 

Details of what to do next,will be communicated to you via my private e-mail with the “BP GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL VICTIMS COMPENSATION RELEASE FORM”{BP-GMOP-VCRF} along with a professional attorney’s contact details who specifies in individual victims individual claim lawsuits and class action lawsuits for you to contact the LAW FIRM right away under my strict instructions and reference,please note this is highly confidential and classified secret. Mail in your full name and contact information to: or fax: 206-222-1942 


Engr.David Simon 

For: BP Products North America Inc., Transocean Ltd. 

The email is easy to spot as a fake. First of all, the “To You” salutation indicates someone crafting a single message that can be blasted out to hundreds of thousands of people. Second, notice the poor grammar. Whatever your opinion is of BP, you cannot count poor grammar against the company. Third, the 206 area code listed for the fax number is based in Washington State. BP doesn’t have any claims centers in Washington. Fourth, there is no “Phase 1” process. I’ve been to the claim centers in Louisiana. You go in, fill out copious amounts of paperwork. Then you’re either approved or not approved. Again, there is no “phase” process. Fourth, and perhaps the biggest give away, is the “via my private email.” Trust me, if you file a claim with BP you will not be dealing with a single individual through a private email. Also, Engr. is an abbreviation for engineer. Why would an engineer be handling compensation claims? 

Is it really that easy?
March 11, 2010

My dear mom sent me this video and I went back and forth as to whether I should post it to my blog. The whole not wanting to give any wayward soul a new idea dilemma. I decided to post it more as a reminder to everyone not to leave ANY valuable item in their car. By the way, I haven’t tried any of these techniques to see if they work.

Don’t Panic, It’s Just Another Scam
January 7, 2010


I received an e-mail this morning from a viewer and thought it would be a good reminder for everyone to not fall for this classic phishing scam. Adam wrote,The following is copied and pasted from a scam e-mail I received today regarding my Bank of America account. Since I do not have an account with this bank and the link described will disappear shortly you may want to warn your viewers about this type of e-mail supposedly from Bank of America.” 

Dear Valued Member, 

We noticed invalid login attempts into you account online from an unknown IP address .
Due to this, we have temporarily suspended your account.
We need you to update your account information for your online banking to be re-activated
please update your billing information today by clicking

here After a few clicks,

just verify the information you entered is correct.


BOA Member Services Team  

P.S. The link in this message will be expire within 24 Hours . You have to update your payment information

� 2009 BOA LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Adam had an easier time dismissing this scam because he doesn’t have an account with BOA. However, this type of scam has been sent under the auspices of all banks. These e-mails are getting more sophisticated and some of the links you are asked to click will look official. Most scam artists are banking (pun intended) on a person’s knee-jerk panic that they won’t have access to their money. Just know that if your account has truly been compromised your bank will not send you an e-mail, the bank will CALL you. Also, the bank will certainly not send you an e-mail with a link that expires in 24 hours. If you receive an e-mail like this one and are still concerned it is legitimate then all you have to do is call your bank to find out if there is a problem with your account. If you do click on the link provided then you’ll be asked to enter a battery of personal information the scam artists will use to steal your identity. If you receive one of these e-mails report it to your bank and report it to the feds at

Don’t Do it!
May 11, 2009

I know times are tough economically and the temptation to jump at what appears to be free money is nearly overwhelming.  I have been getting a lot of e-mails lately from people who have been told they’ve won a sweepstakes they never entered. Neat trick, huh? Wonderful, generous people from Canada just decided to enter all these American citizens at random in their sweepstakes because they had a few hundred thousand dollars just burning a hole in their pocket. These are all scams, you cannot win a sweepstakes you did not enter. The scam works one of two ways. One, you get a check for your winnings. The check looks great, except the account number is either bogus or from a closed account. The check will clear the bank when you deposit it, then a few days later the bank calls to say the check is bad, the money is being withdrawn from your account and you’re stuck with the NSF fee. Two, you receive a check to cover the taxes incurred from your winnings. How thoughtful. The check is the same deal as before, but here’s where the scam goes up a notch. The check you receive to cover the taxes is accompanied by a letter instructing you to call a number (usually a Canadian area code) to provide your bank account number so the total winnings can be wired into your account. Can you say ‘all my money is gone’? If you’re thinking ‘I would never fall for something so blatant’, remember the people who contacted me are very intelligent but have fallen on tough times. These people knew this was probably a scam but were seriously considering cashing the checks on the off chance this was something legitimate. 

Few things to remember:

1) You can’t win a sweepstakes you did not enter.

2) If you are asked to call a number with a 514 area code, don’t. This is Canada(I don’t care if the address on the check or the letter shows it’s orginating from the United States, it’s coming out of Canada)

3) Never give your personal information to anyone over the phone. No legitimate organization is going to call you out of the blue and ask for your bank account.

If these tips aren’t enough then just remember what mom used to tell you, “Nothing in life is free.”

If you receive one of these “winning” notifications via e-mail report it to

If you get a letter in the mail go to

Higher Learning
February 23, 2009

Just want make sure everyone is aware of this new scam in case your phone starts rininging. Here is a news release sent to me by San Jacinto College…

San Jacinto College warns of scholarship scam

PASADENA, Texas – The financial aid department at San Jacinto College is warning students and the community of a scholarship scam.

People claiming to represent the U.S. Education Department are calling students to offer scholarships and grants. The callers ask for a bank or credit card number, saying the information will be used for a $249 processing fee, but the call is fake.

“The U.S. Education Department and San Jacinto College do not charge students a fee for educational grants,” said Robert Merino, San Jacinto College financial aid services director. “You should not offer your financial information to anyone making these claims.”

If you receive a call, please report it to 1-800-MIS-USED, or send an e-mail to The government website shares telltale signs of fraud.

San Jacinto College disburses over $22.2 million annually in financial aid to more than 6,100 students who are not required to pay a processing fee.

If you are a student requiring financial aid, please follow the proper financial aid procedures set forth by San Jacinto College. For more information on how to obtain financial aid, visit the San Jacinto College website at or call 281-998-6150.

San Jacinto College serves more than 24,500 students in over 140 degrees and certificates in university transfer and technical programs. The College also serves the community through workforce training. Students come with various goals and aspirations and we are committed to their success. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

Even though San Jac caters to a somewhat smaller pool of students, I’ll bet a paycheck the scam artists will start including other universties and community colleges.

Tax Scam
February 9, 2009

This latest variation of a tax scam comes from Local 2 viewer Craig, who passed along an e-mail he received.

From: Internal Revenue Service <>

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $4990.55. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 2-3 days in order to process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline. To access the form for your tax refund, please click here

Note: For security reasons, we will record your ip-address, the date and time. Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicated.

Regards Internal Revenue Service.

© Copyright 2009, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A. All rights reserved.n

As Craig very astutely pointed out the e-mail has a dot-com address, not dot-gov. Also, look at the very bottom of the e-mail…why would the IRS need to copyright itself? Tax time is upon us so be careful because there are tons and tons of scams out there. One good thing to keep in mind is that the IRS will not contact you via e-mail. So if you get an e-mail from the IRS you can bet it’s a scam. In case you were wondering how many of these scams are out there, here’s a list

If you receive any e-mails (or snail mail) like this one pass it along to me.


Talk About Bi-Coastal
January 30, 2009

That title will make sense in a minute. First, I want to thank Local 2 viewer Erick for passing this one along to me. Erick received this very official looking e-mail…

From the Desk of the Secretary
U.S Department of Treasury
Office of Foreign Assets Control
NW, Washington D.C, 20220, U.S.A
Operators Tel #: (206) 299 2709

Dear Beneficiary, 

This is to inform you that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under
the U.S Department of Treasury, has declared that all outstanding transactions
involving U.S. persons and non U.S persons, including BGs, CDs and MTNs payments
and fund transfers to common carriers, incident to the blockage of funds and the
person whose property and interests in property are blocked, are presently
authorized to be unblocked, thus, issuing a tentative license to this effect, as
all payments will be effected in due process, following the new mandates that
was published to the Treasury Department by the new U.S President, Barack
Hussein Obama.

Therefore, if you are affected in one way or the other in reagrds to this
development, kindly get back to me immediately with your personal details
through my private email ( for further
clarifications and information on how to file in an application to unblock your
funds/property immediately to aid the transfer of your funds into your account
through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York- Automated Clearing House (ACH)
System. Please attend urgently to this message.

Derrick Johnson,
Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control

This is definitely one slickly worded scam. For those of you who don’t know, the Office of Foreign Assets Control enforces economic and trade sanctions. This is just a new twist on a very old scam. The scam being you are entitled to a lot of money all you have to do is give me your bank account and social security numbers to process the transaction. Hey, I give the scam artists credit on this one, at least all the words are spelled correctly. Plus, note the vague nature of the e-mail. There are a lot of 10-cent words in there but nothing specific as to what sanction has been lifted or from what country. Also, what government employee, conducting official government business is going to ask you to send sensitive information to their personal g-mail account? As for the Bi-Coastal title of this blog, that’s because the Office of Foreign Assets Control is a part of the Treasury Department, which is in Washington, D.C. The number on the e-mail has an area code for Seattle. I called it and, what a shock, no one answered. The only response is a pre-recorded voice with a British accent telling me to leave a message. I also couldn’t find any record of a Derrick Johnson working for this office.

Gone Phishing
January 14, 2009

No, I haven’t lost the ability to spell properly I just wanted to let everyone know about a new scam hitting inboxes. This is a new and rather clever twist on the phishing scam. In case you don’t know”phishing” is a scam that involves sending a person an e-mail that looks to be from a reputable organization, usually a bank, that then tricks the person into handing over sensitive information. This can happen through a virus embedded in an attachment or by tricking the person into entering personal data like bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc. This newest one comes in the form of an e-mail from an airline company. The e-mail gleefullythanks you for your purchase of airline tickets and informs you that your credit card has been charged several hundred dollars. The e-mail comes with  a .zip attachment and tells you to open the attachment to view your tickets and receipt. Naturally the people who receive this e-mail panic, thinking someone has gotten a hold of their credit card and is going on a spending spree. So what is the first thing they do…wait for it….drum roll….they open the attachment. BAM! Their computer has just been infected with a nasty little virus that gathers all their passwords, documents stored on the computer and embeds software that allows hackers to send remote commands to their computers. I understand that when you receive an e-mail stating your credit card has been charged a specific amount the first thing you want to do is look at the attachment. RESIST THE URGE!!! The e-mail never states which of your cards has been charged so here’s what you do if you receive one of these e-mails. Pull up your credit card/bank accounts on-line or call the 800 number to ask about recent charges. Since all of these e-mails state a specific dollar amount it should be easy to determine if your card/bank account has been compromised or if the e-mail you received is just a phishing scam. For future reference Microsoft has simple page that helps you recognize a phishing scam.

Who knew the Feds were so helpful?
November 28, 2008

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up about a scam making the rounds on both the Internet and over the phone. I’ve posted one of several e-mails I received in the last week from viewers. Some viewers got this via e-mail others actually got a phone call. Here’s one e-mail I received from a viewer…
I want to report a new scam that I received two days ago by telephone.
A man called saying he was from the US Customs office asking if I was XXXXX XXXXXXX at my home address…and was I expecting a package from overseas. I advised him I was XXXXX and that I was not expecting a package.

He said that they holding a check in the amount of $250,000 and that if I wanted it I had to go down to any official government office to pay the duty in the amount of about $2,500 and then they would arrange deliver of the check that had already been reviewed by the FBI as being real checks and not fraudulent They asked if the duty fee was a problem and I said Yes…he hung up.

I just wanted to tell you to let other people not to fall for this obvious scam.

First thing, had the above viewer told the caller that paying the fee was no problem then the caller would have sweetened the deal by offering to have the check delivered to their house, instead of making them go down to a musty old government office. Con artists are so helpful. All they would have to do is give their credit card or bank account number over the phone to pay the processing fee.

Another variation of this scam came in the form of a very official looking e-mail from the FBI. The lucky devil who got this e-mail was informed they had won an international lottery and not to worry it’s perfectly legitimate because the FBI already verified the check.

OK, the FBI and US Customs wears many hats, but one thing neither agency does is randomly verify lottery winnings from foreign countries.  Especially when those winnings come from lotteries you didn’t enter.

A couple things to remember…first, NEVER, EVER reply to one of these e-mails. However, you can report the e-mail to the real FBI by logging on to Second, if you get a phone call try to jot down the number on caller ID and send it to me. I won’t make any promises because many of these numbers may be “ghosts” (this is where a person in foreign country makes their phone number appear to come from a phone in the United States).  Of course, never give any personal information to someone over the phone calling from a company who have never heard of before. Just hang-up or if you have a mildly twisted sense of humor like I do ask the caller if they prefer boxers, briefs or going al fresco? Throws them off balance and it gives me a chuckle.