AGING SERVICES: Fraud and the Latest Scams!

Fraud and the Latest Scams!

 
If you have an example of a Scam or Fraud incident and want to share it on this web page - Please e-mail your example to Dee White at Dee.White@ct.gov
 
 
Did You Know?
The United States Postal Inspection Service Fights Fraud Against the Elderly: The U.S.Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is committed to protecting seniors from telemarketing and mail fraud scheme.  The agency has several resources designed to educate and inform consumers about mail fraud, including fraud against older Americans.  visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov to access these materials.  USPIS has also introduced a new website that provides information about the ways consumers can avoid falling victim to scams involving counterfeit checks, visit www.FakeChecks.org for more information.
 
Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contributions Schemes - Prepared by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - July 8, 2008.
"Since late May and early June 2008, there have been several natural disasters throughout the country - including tornadoes, wildfires, and floods - which have devastated lives and property.  In the wake of these events which have caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.
 
Tragic incidents, such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the recent earthquakes in China, have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purpotedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.  Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consmers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organiation by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
To obtain more information on charitiable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes, visit www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com.  If you are a victim of an online scheme, please notify the Ic3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov."
 
 
Disasters Breed Fraudulent Charities (March 21st, 2011)
Major natural disasters, such as the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan,  bring out the best in humanity – and the worst. The Better Business Bureau reports that you can always count on two things –“The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims and the second is the appearance of poorly run and in some cases fraudulent charities.” It is important, therefore that consumers ensure that their donations will go to “legitimate and reputable charities and relief efforts that have the capability to help those in need.” 
 
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance offers the following seven tips to help consumers decide where to direct donations:
•      Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.  Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
•      Be cautious when giving online.  Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. In response to the tsunami disaster in 2004, there were concerns raised about many websites and new organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims.
•      Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the disaster impact areas.  Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance.  See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
•      Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.  Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations.  If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
•      Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.  Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims that 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses.  They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.   
•      Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.  In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned— may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
•      Look for details when texting a donation. Beginning with the earthquake in Haiti, it’s become common to send a text to make a donation. Make sure you understand the amount to be donated, and whether there will be any service fees charged to your account. Be sure the offer clearly identifies which charity will receive the donation, then check out the charity.
 
 
Examples of Scams and Fraud Reported to the Aging Services Division:
 
Job Rumors and Scams About Hurricane Sandy (November 7th, 2012)
There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social networks regarding the response and recovery effort for Hurricane Sandy.  FEMA has created a Hurricane Sandy: Rumor Control page that includes an on-going list of rumors and their true or false status.   Check back often, share the page and help FEMA provide accurate information about the types of assistance available. 
 
Currently, there are two jobs related rumors and scams that are circulating:   
1.  There are reports that FEMA is paying $1,000 to go to New York and New Jersey to clean up debris.  This is FALSE.  (November 5)  For information on how to volunteer and assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, visit Serve.gov/sandy
 
2.  There is a spike of web traffic related to FEMA hiring cleanup crews in both New York and New Jersey. This is FALSE.  (November 2)  For information on how to volunteer and assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, visit Serve.gov/sandy
 
 
 
Wal-Mart Gift Card Scam Alert! (March 27th, 2012)
The Connecticut SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) Program received notification of the following Wal-Mart Gift Card Scam:
 
Medicare beneficiaries and other consumers have received phone calls from the “Wal-Mart Promotion Center,” stating that they had just won a $1,000 Wal-Mart gift card. All they needed to do to claim their prize was to confirm their name, e-mail address, and cell phone#. Also, they said that they were out of gift cards but, with a bank account number they would be able to deposit the $1,000 into their account today or the person could enter this information on their Promotional website at:  http:/promocenter.ws/walmart.
 
This scam appears to be occurring nationwide and has been sent to individual’s home phones, cell phones and e-mails.  Please be aware of this scam and alert Medicare beneficiaries and other seniors not to give out personal information. Also notify the Better Business Bureau and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) if you encounter this scam.
 
The SMP program wants to remind Medicare/Medicaid Beneficiaries: “Don’t be a Victim of Health Care Fraud, Abuse or Scams“  To report Medicare and other related health care fraud, call CHOICES SMP at 1-800-994-9422.
 
 
 
"National Medicare Card" Scam Targeting Medicare Beneficiaries (June 30th, 2011) 
     Medicare beneficiaries have reported receiving telephone calls from a person with a foreign accent stating that Medicare is presently issuing new “National Medicare Cards” to all Medicare beneficiaries. The caller asked the beneficiaries for the number on their current Medicare card and their mailing address for verification purpose. He also stated that this information was necessary to approve the mailing of the new” National Medicare Card”.
     Fortunately, the beneficiaries that were targeted for this scam realized that the caller was a scam artist and they refused to give any personal information, or their Medicare number.  After informing the caller “Medicare does not call beneficiaries to for the purpose of confirming their Medicare number, they immediately hung up the phone.
     The Senior Medicare Patrol program continues to empower Medicare beneficiaries and consumers and help protect them from becoming victims of scam artists by teaching them to recognize Medicare fraud and to report fraudulent activities to CHOICES - SMP at 1-800-994-9422.
 
“Pay Day” Loan Collection Scam (June 30th, 2011) 
     This scheme involves contact by phone from someone pretending to be from a pay day loan collection agency. The caller provides his name and phone number and tells you that you have an outstanding debt and requires you to pay it immediately using a prepaid visa card or you will be arrested at your home or business by a sheriff within 24 hours. The caller instructs you to call him with your pre-paid visa card number for immediate processing and to also fax a copy of your driver’s license.
     Do not respond to this and other scams that attempt to obtain your personal and financial information. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately and notify your local CHOICES –SMP program at 1-800-994-9422.
 
 

HOT SCAM ALERT: Banks, credit-card issuers warn of email breach (April 4th, 2011)

Beware of  emails asking for personal and account information!

From  PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson, Ap Technology Writer

NEW YORK – With the possible theft of millions of email addresses from an advertising company, several large companies have started warning customers to expect fraudulent emails that try to coax account login information from them.Companies behind such brands as Chase, Citi and Best Buy said over the weekend that hackers may have learned their email addresses because of a security breach at a Dallas-based company called Epsilon that manages email communications.  The email addresses could be used to target spam. It's also a standard tactic among online fraudsters to send emails to random people, purporting to be from a large bank and asking them to login in at a site that looks like the bank's site. Instead, the fraudulent site captures their login information and uses it to access the real account.  The data breach could make these so-called "phishing" attacks more efficient, by allowing the fraudsters to target people who actually have an account with the bank. David Jevans, chairman and founder of the non-profit Anti-Phishing Working Group, said criminals have been moving away from indiscriminate phishing towards more intelligent attacks known as "spear phishing," which rely on having more intimate knowledge of the victims.  "This data breach is going to facilitate that in a big way. Now they know which institution people bank with, they know their name and they have their email address," said Jevans, who is also the CEO of security company IronKey Inc. "You're not going to see typical phishing where 90 percent of it ends up in spam traps and is easily detected. This is going to be highly targeted," he added.  Among the affected are financial-service companies such as Capital One Financial Corp., Barclays Bank, U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ameriprise Financial Inc. and retailers including Best Buy Co., TiVo Inc., Walgreen Co. and Kroger Co. The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that runs the SATs, also warned that a hacker may have obtained student email addresses. Walt Disney Co.'s travel subsidiary, Disney Destinations, sent emails warning customers on Sunday. Hotel chain Marriott International Inc. issued a similar warning. Epsilon said Friday that its system had been breached, exposing email addresses and customer names but no other personal information. Epsilon, a unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., sends more than 40 billion emails annually and has more than 2,500 clients. The scale of the data breach meant that many people got warnings from multiple companies over the weekend. Jill Kocher in Crystal Lake, Ill., said she got at least five emailed warnings, including from U.S. Bank, Best Buy and New York & Co. Because she works for Groupon, an Internet coupon company, she feels savvy enough to avoid any phishing come-ons, but she's concerned for those who aren't. "U.S. Bank sends you an email and it looks legit and you cough up the information, and now you're in big trouble. It sure does sound like a big increase in fraud, just waiting to happen," Kocher said.

 
Still...."Stuck in Canada - Please Send Cash" (February 22, 2011)
     An 83 year old Manchester resident reported receiving two separate calls from a person identifying himself as her grandson, and he even had the right first name! Her real grandson goes to school across country. The "grandson" that was calling said that he went to a wedding in a rental care and "got into trouble". He told her the driver was drunk and crashed the car and he and her "grandson" were detained in Ontario, Canada. He informed her that he could only make outgoing calls and that he needed $2,700 cash sent via Western Union to "214 Helen Steen, Lake Street, Madrid to an attorney who attended the wedding with them". Apparently this supposed attorney would then write a check to get him and the friend out. The "grandson" didn't want his parents to be contacted because she was told he wanted to deal with this himself and not upset them.  
     The woman thought many aspects of this call sounded strange, so she hung up and called 211 to see what she should do. She was then referred to the CHOICES –SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) program administered by North Central Connecticut Area Agency on Aging.  
     Luckily, this woman was able to think fast and not give out any personal information or send any money!! She has reported this scam to her local police and has also notified the proper authorities.
     The SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) program wants to remind everyone that scams happen right in our own backyard! Don't forget to "Protect. Detect. Report"! Never be afraid to call the police and make a report!
 
 
Russian Immigrant Scam Alert from the Consumer Law Project for Elders (January 25, 2011)
     RUSSIAN-SPEAKING SALESPEOPLE HAVE TARGETED RUSSIAN-SPEAKING RESIDENTS OF CONNECTICUT in a scam involving over-priced household equipment.  Please protect yourself by reading the details below.  If you have already been cheated by such individuals, please read below to find out what to do.
• IF ANY STRANGERS CALL YOU OR COME TO THE DOOR wanting to show you a product you might be interested in, be suspicious, ESPECIALLY IF THEY SPEAK RUSSIAN AND APPEAR FRIENDLY, talking about the “good old days” in Russia.
• DO NOT INVITE THEM INTO YOUR HOME. They will probably try to sell you something (for example, an air or water purifier) for much more than it is worth.  Even if they say you can return the product, you will probably not be able to; nor will you be able to get a refund.  
• DO NOT GIVE OUT NAMES OF OTHERS who might be interested in their products; doing so would just perpetuate the scam.
• NEVER SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT THOROUGHLY READING IT AND UNDERSTANDING IT. Do not trust any salesperson to tell you what a document says.
     If you have been a victim of this scam, have any information to share, or have any questions, PLEASE CONTACT THE CONSUMER LAW PROJECT FOR ELDERS* (1-800-413-7796), for free legal information and advice.  Ask for Attorney Masters (x117).  If you reach a recording, please leave your name and phone number (speaking slowly and spelling your name) and we will call you back within a few days.
     WE NEED YOUR HELP to stop these salespeople from cheating more folks. You will not create difficulties for yourself or family by talking to us. We are here to help people with these kinds of problems.
     *The Consumer Law Project for Elders (CLPE) is a project of Connecticut Legal Services, Inc., a not-for-profit legal aid law firm. All services are provided free-of-charge.  Call 1-800-413-7796.
 
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is alerting the public to the latest scheme to defraud the government and steal money from the American people. (December 22, 2010) 
     This scheme involves contact (by phone, email or letter) from someone pretending to be from a government agency, such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Although the precise message may vary, the caller or writer provides his or her name and a fake employee ID, and then typically tells you that you will receive “government grant money” as an incentive for paying taxes on time. The caller will then ask for personal or financial information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number. The caller may also ask you to send a check or wire transfer to cover a “processing fee.”
     If you receive such a call, hang up immediately! If you receive such an email or letter in the mail, do not respond! Call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477; TTY 1-800-377-4950) or email the HHS fraud hotline at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.
     Remember: do not respond to these criminal schemes.  Alert others about this scheme, and remind teenagers and children living in your household not to provide strangers with family or personal information.
     Be smart.  Do not respond to this and other schemes that try to obtain your personal information.  If you receive such a call or message, call 1-800-HHS-TIPS or contact another law enforcement agency.
 
 
"That’s Not Uncle Sam at Your Door Selling an ‘ObamaCare’ Policy"  (March 29, 2010)
By: Sid Kirchheimer | Source: AARP Bulletin Today | March 29, 2010

   President Obama isn’t the only one hitting the road to sell health care reform and what it means to you. In the latest twist on an old scam, unscrupulous salesmen are visiting senior housing facilities, pretending to be federal employees and peddling supplemental Medicare and other insurance plans.
   Hucksters claiming to be with “ObamaCare” and representing the federal government have already targeted several apartment complexes populated by older residents in Missouri, says Rona McNally of that state’s Senior Medicare Patrol, an advocacy group funded by the federal Administration on Aging that educates Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries about health care fraud.
   “They go door to door, saying they need to talk about your Medicare benefits, and that you may need to take a certain plan in order to get coverage,” she tells Scam Alert. “They use fear, they use change as an opportunity to get to seniors.”
   Although it may be legal to sell supplemental insurance plans door to door, it’s certainly illegal for salesmen to say they are government officials when they are not, says McNally.
   “The government does not go door to door selling insurance,” she adds. “If someone comes to your home to sell you a plan, shut the door.”
   A scam ripped from the headlines.
   With the ink barely dry on the new health care reform law, the ObamaCare ruse is the latest trick to get older Americans to buy insurance or other products they may not need. A common scheme uses postcards that warn of changes in tax laws or Social Security benefits to attempt to sell annuities.
   For these mailings, the sender usually buys a “lead list” from a broker containing names, addresses and phone numbers of older people. The sender often uses an official-sounding name, such as the Federal Processing Center, and rents a Washington, D.C., post office box to make its purported government affiliation seem more credible.
   But sometimes salesmen just arrive at the door. They may be guided by the same type of lead lists, or just identify retirement communities and complexes housing older folks.
   The danger: With a front-door visit, some residents may be more easily pressured into buying a plan on the spot.
   Buying a supplemental insurance plan can be wise for Medicare recipients, but before you sign up, you need to do some homework.
   “You really need to check with your provider before buying anything to make sure they work with that plan,” advises McNally. “You need to know what your out-of-pocket costs will be.”
   And what you really need to know: Uncle Sam does not make house calls to sell health insurance.
 
 
 
VISA & Master Care Telephone Credit Card Scam (February 16, 2010)
     Even if "they" provide YOU with all the information....it still could be a scam! 
     In this particular scam the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it... This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & Master Card Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.
     The scam goes like this: you receive a call from 'VISA' or 'Master Card' and the Caller says: 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a Marketing company based in ?'
     When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?'
     You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800 -VISA) and ask for Security.  You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. Do you need me to read it again?'
     Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works.   The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do,' and hangs up.
     You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number.. But after the individual reporting this scam was called, they called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. The REAL VISA Security Department said it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.
     The individual then made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing a new number.   What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card   Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report. Don't forget that you can contact your local Police Report to report the scam!
 
 
Haiti Earthquake: FTC, FBI and National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Warn Consumers to Give Wisely (January 20, 2010)
      In the wake of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti, consumers need to be careful when considering urgent appeals for aid in the news, online, and at social networking sites. The best way to provide immediate help is to donate money directly to established national relief organizations that have the experience and means to deliver aid. The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, as well as the FBI and the NCDF have published  these tips to help consumers give wisely:
·          Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use such tactics. Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check. You can contribute safely online through national charities like www.redcross.org/donate.
·          Donate to recognized charities that you have given to before. Watch out for those that have sprung up overnight. They may be well-meaning, but lack the infrastructure to provide assistance. And be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
·          Check out any charities before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org.  Also, rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its non-profit status. To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.  In other words, give directly to the charity, not the solicitors for the charity. Solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for victim assistance.
·          You don’t have to donate to someone who contacts you out of the blue with an unsolicited e-mail, phone call, or text message. Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages. It’s better to give through a Web site or phone number that you know is legitimate. Also, be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims. Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. 
·          Do not give out personal or financial information – including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers – to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to commit fraud against you.
       For more information, visit ftc.gov/charityfraud. In addition, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, David C. Vladeck, has a blog post on this subject at: http://consumer.gov/ncpw/blog/.  The FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) have established a telephone hotline to report suspected Haitian earthquake relief fraud. The number is (866) 720-5721. The phone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also e-mail information directly to disaster@leo.gov. Also, call CHOICES SMP at your regional Area Agency on Aging – 1-800-994-9422 – so that we can pass it on to our aging and law enforcement networks!  When you report fraud, your information may help local and federal law enforcers investigate the scammers.
 
"Another Sweepstakes Phone Scam" (December 3rd, 2009)
An 86 year old woman from Bristol contacted DSS Aging Services to report that she had not received the $500,000 proceeds promised her from a Philippines’ Lottery win.  She indicated that she received a telephone call from Jeremy Chase, indicating that she had won, but that she had to forward tax and processing payments to Jimmy Jimenez in Manila to receive it.  She was given a number for US Customs to confirm, as well as John Campbell at IRS (which of course, they did). She was told to go to Stop & Shop to send the money via Western Union.  Thankfully, the folks at Stop & Shop would not.  She called Jeremy back (1-888-268-7655) and he told her to go to CVS and lie about why she was sending the money. She didn’t send enough money the first time, so had to borrow money from her credit card company (they would only give her $1,000) and also sent that.  She was told that she would receive her proceeds on Wednesday (Dec. 2) in an armored truck.  It did not arrive – and she was afraid it was because she had not sent enough money. She called the AG’s office and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office before getting directed here.  After speaking with her for some time, she did realize that she had been scammed and the good that would come from her report.  We immediately contacted the Bristol Police who will take the report. She volunteered to be interviewed about her experience so that others would not fall prey to this type of scam. We are continuing to work with her since she was subsequently contacted by  Alex Johnson (1-519-313-7472) indicating that she had also won $250,000 and wanted processing and tax fees from her.
      “Sweepstakes Scams”  Winning a large sweepstakes prize is a dream come true for many people. However, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if the win notification was actually a sweepstakes scam. In order to recognize the signs of a sweepstakes scam, it's helpful to know the most common goals of scammers. Why do people use contests and sweepstakes to defraud people, and what are they trying to accomplish by doing so? Outright theft is a common goal of sweepstakes scams. In this scenario, the goal of the scam artist was to try to convince the victim to send them cash under false pretenses.
      Modus Operandi: Usually, the way this sweepstakes scam works is that you are contacted by someone who claims that you won their sweepstake or contest, and that all you have to do to receive your prize is to wire them money to cover taxes (or service fees, or shipping, or any number of other illegitimate excuses). They are usually in a big hurry to get you to give them your information, and don't want to give you time to think it over.
      How to Recognize the Sweepstakes Scam: Legitimate sweepstakes do not place strings on their prizes. You won't have to pay taxes to anyone but the IRS. Sweepstakes taxes are paid directly to the IRS along with your regular tax return, except for rare exceptions such as paying for port fees or hotel taxes.  Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive a win - those are sure signs of sweepstakes scams.
      REMEMBER:  If you are contacted by someone who asks for payment as a stipulation for you receiving your prize, simply hang up on them , wait a few seconds, then pick up the phone and dial * 5 7 then hang up again. This will store the source of the last call you received.  You can then contact your local police or phone company to report the incident, and let them know you’ve dialed * 5 7.  This does not work with all telephone service carriers, but will work with many. 
 
"H1N1 Vaccination Profiles with the CDC?" (December 1st, 2009)
PHISHING SCAM  - CDC Sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1
      CDC has received reports of fraudulent emails (phishing) referencing a CDC sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1. The messages request that users create a personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccination Profile on the CDC.gov web site. The messages request that users must create a personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccination Profile on the cdc.gov website. The message then states that anyone that has reached the age of 18 has to have his/her personal Vaccination Profile on the cdc.gov site.
 
The CDC has NOT implemented a state vaccination program requiring registration on www.cdc.gov. Users that click on the email are at risk of having malicious code installed on their system. CDC reminds users to take the following steps to reduce the risk of being a victim of a phishing attack:
  • Do not follow unsolicited links and do not open or respond to unsolicited email messages.
  • Use caution when visiting un-trusted websites.
  • Use caution when entering personal information online.
An example of the Phishing email follows:
 "You have received this e-mailbecause of the launching of a State vacination H1N1 Program.  You need to create your personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccintion Profile on the cdc.gov website.  The Vaccination is not obligatory, but every person who has reached the age of 18 has to have this personal Vaccination profile on the cdc.gov site.  This profile has to be created both for the vaccinated people and not-vaccinated ones.  This profile is used for the registering system of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people.  Create your Personal H1N1 Vaccination Profile by clicking the following link: Creater Personal Profile."   
 
 
Magazine Sweepstakes or Phone Scam?  (November 24th, 2009)
A spokesperson for the Norwalk Police Department reported the following incident which was subsequently published in the Norwalk Hour News by staff writer Steve Kobak:
      A Norwalk senior citizen was scammed out of thousands of dollars by thieves running a fake magazine sweepstakes.  The thieves tricked the 86-year-old man into thinking he won a contest and had him wire more than $14,000 to foreign countries for what they called "taxes and processing fees.” The incident was reported to investigators Thursday by the victim's sons, both of whom live in New York state.  They indicated that their father had filled out a postcard from a magazine and entered in what he thought was a contest. When he was contacted on Tuesday from an undisclosed location, he was told that he won $500,000 but needed to wire $5,075 to the Philippines for taxing and processing fees on his prize. On the caller's instructions, the victim wired $3,042 to Costa Rica on Wednesday and $6,000 to a location that he could not recall on Thursday.
      “Sweepstakes Scams”  Winning a large sweepstakes prize is a dream come true for many people. However, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if the win notification was actually a sweepstakes scam. In order to recognize the signs of a sweepstakes scam, it's helpful to know the most common goals of scammers. Why do people use contests and sweepstakes to defraud people, and what are they trying to accomplish by doing so? Outright theft is a common goal of sweepstakes scams. In this scenario, the goal of the scam artist was to try to convince the victim to send them cash under false pretenses.
      Modus Operandi: Usually, the way this sweepstakes scam works is that you are contacted by someone who claims that you won their sweepstake or contest, and that all you have to do to receive your prize is to wire them money to cover taxes (or service fees, or shipping, or any number of other illegitimate excuses). They are usually in a big hurry to get you to give them your information, and don't want to give you time to think it over.
      How to Recognize the Sweepstakes Scam: Legitimate sweepstakes do not place strings on their prizes. You won't have to pay taxes to anyone but the IRS. Sweepstakes taxes are paid directly to the IRS along with your regular tax return, except for rare exceptions such as paying for port fees or hotel taxes.  Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive a win - those are sure signs of sweepstakes scams.
      REMEMBER:  If you are contacted by someone who asks for payment as a stipulation for you receiving your prize, simply hang up on them , wait a few seconds, then pick up the phone and dial * 5 7 then hang up again. This will store the source of the last call you received.  You can then contact your local police or phone company to report the incident, and let them know you’ve dialed * 5 7.  This does not work with all telephone service carriers, but will work with many. 
 
"UPS Prize Package - Phone Scam" (October 29, 2009)
We received another alert from our CHOICES SMP colleagues at the Area Agency on Aging of South Central CT that had been reported to them from a caregiver from Bethany.  The caregiver’s 90 year old father, who lives in West Haven, received a call from a man who said he was from UPS and that he had to deliver a prize. The “UPS man” indicated he would be there within an hour and a half.  Fortunately, the caregiver happened to be there and answered the call.  She was told that she needed to go to the bank and get a certified check in the amount of $99.99. During the course of the conversation, Wells Fargo and Western Union were mentioned. Further, the check should be made out to “Peter Lawrence” and either James Livingston or Chad Young would be there with the prize. He provided a claim number to give to the driver. The caregiver related that had she not answered the phone, she was almost sure that her father would have gone out and gotten the check.  Agency personnel suggested that she contact the West Haven police to make them aware of the situation and to contact UPS to alert them to the fact that someone appears to be using their name (UPS) as a front.
 
“Phone Scams”
Phone scams are very popular with con artists since it’s difficult to trace the source, and even harder to prove exactly who the conversation has taken place with. This means it’s not easy to catch and prosecute phone scammers.  Phone scams often target the elderly, but anyone can become a victim. One of the most common types of phone scam involves notifying the intended victim of a Grand Prize they have won. These claims of sweepstakes winnings are bogus of course, but serve to snag the unsuspecting person on the other end of the line. After convincing the victim of their good fortune, the scammer will have some cleaver way of getting them to send money.  Anytime you are contacted with good news from an unknown source and asked to send cash for ANY reason, keep your guard up.
 
Most people think they could never be taken by a scam of this sort, but it can happen to even the most savvy of us.  The words of an unknown con artist say it best: “No matter how smart you are, there’s a scam out there that can get you.”  If you are notified by phone that you have won a prize, remember this little fact: Federal law requires that telemarketers calling to award prizes must reveal that no purchase or payment is necessary.   If you are contacted by someone who asks for payment as a stipulation for you receiving your prize, simply hang up on them , wait a few seconds, then pick up the phone and dial * 5 7 then hang up again. This will store the source of the last call you received.  You can then contact your local police or phone company to report the incident, and let them know you’ve dialed * 5 7.  This does not work with all telephone service carriers, but will work with many.
 
REMEMBER:  If you suspect you are being targeted as part of a phone scam, call your police department immediately.  Also, call CHOICES SMP at your regional Area Agency on Aging – 1-800-994-9422 – so that we can pass it on to our aging and law enforcement network!  When you report telemarketing fraud, your information may help local and federal law enforcers investigate the scammers. Provide the telemarketer's name or phone number, as well as the date and time of the call.
 
 
"Diversion Scam Alert" (October 20, 2009)
We received an alert from our colleagues at the Area Agency on Aging of South Central CT with news reported in the New Haven Register today. Elderly homeowners in Milford and Orange were lured from their homes by a woman posing as a utility company worker. Police in Milford are investigating what they called a “diversion” type burglary around noon Friday. The homeowner was tricked into going outside by a woman who falsely claimed there was to be an underground power line project in the area. She lured the man into the back yard, saying that was where the work was to take place. While the two were in the yard, another person apparently went into the house and took cash. A similar incident took place in Orange at about 4 p.m. that same day. Police indicated that cash also was taken from the home in Orange, apparently while the homeowner was outside. Police contacted United Illuminating Co. and confirmed that no underground power line work was scheduled to take place in either of the neighborhoods.
 
“Diversion” Scams:   This type of scam/burglary also occurs when the weather is such that residents are working outside (like now!). A con artist will approach an intended victim and occupy his/her attention. A second con artist will then enter the residence. They will typically steal smaller transportable valuables such as cash, jewelry and silver.
 
Another variant occurs when a con artist asks a resident for a drink of water, to use the bathroom, or to use a telephone for an emergency. All the excuses are in an attempt to gain entrance to the residence. The subjects then attempt to divert the resident’s attention while an accomplice searches for valuables.
 
To avoid becoming a victim:
If a person you don’t know comes to your home, for any reason, no matter how innocent they appear or how reasonable the request may be, keep the person outside and the door between you and them secured. If he or she needs a drink, direct them elsewhere. If he or she needs to call someone, make the call for them; When working outside, lock the doors not visible to you; and If you are approached by an individual claiming to work for a utility company or wishing to do repair work at your residence, ask to see proper identification and call the employer to verify their identity. Do not let he or she into the house!
 
"Medicare Will Not Call You to Verify Your Medicare Part D Needs"  (October 13, 2009)
   The Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment period starts soon. Seniors are starting to receive phone calls from a woman and man who claim to be from Medicare.  They team up to request your Medicare number, Social Security number, Bank Account numbers, and Credit Card numbers.
   The scam works like this: A female caller:  “This is (name), and I'm calling from Medicare.  Your file has been flagged for Part D enrollment or a change in Medicare, and I'm calling to verify your Medicare needs.”  While on the phone the caller tries to collect your Medicare number.  Once the Medicare number is collected you are transferred to a male caller.  He verifies your information and transfers you to a third person.  The next step is to convince the senior into revealing your bank account number and credit card number, often with a series of misleading questions bent on "verifying your information so you can keep your health coverage or enroll in Part D for 2010. 
   A few beneficiaries have reported that they did give the callers their Medicare, Social Security, Bank Account, and Credit Card numbers.   Once they have your personal information it is easy to re-populate to whatever forms that are necessary to access services, summit false claims, drain your accounts or commit ID theft for their own gain.  Within 15 minutes after a call of this type is made to a victim, a new purchase can be charged to your card.
   Victims believe they are getting a call from Medicare.  Medicare does not call you to request personal information.  If you receive such a call HANG-UP.  Don't be pressured to provide information or buy something now. And Do Not give out Medicare, Social Security, or Bank account numbers over the phone.  
   You may report these calls to CHOICES SMP at your regional Area Agency on Aging – 1-800-994-9422.  If you gave any numbers to the caller, you should also contact the police, your bank and credit card provider right away. 
 
 
"Grandparents Scam No Longer Just Targeting Grandparents" (October 6, 2009)
   It appears that the scam we know as the “Grandparents Scam” has expanded – many scam artists are hacking into email and social networking sites to contact people’s friends and family and act like they are in danger, and they need money wired to them:
   Alert from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), released by the FBI this week: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2009/091001.aspx
 
 
"Las Vegas Dream Foundation" (September 9, 2009)
An Elderly Outreach worker in town in North Central CT received a call from a client desperate for a ride to the store.  She needed to get a wire transfer done with Western Union so she could get $945,000 promised to her by an attorney identified as Thomas John Scott from Nevada.  He told her she would get the money when she wired $325. to a bonding agent (Eric Jackson, Jersey City, NJ). Needless to say the client did not get a ride so luckily she did not wire anyone money. Outreach worker advised her that this was probably a scam and would check up on it with me. Client was eager to get the money so she could give most of it to her church. A call to the “Attorney” was answered by machine message merely saying, “please leave a message.” Research reveals that this is a “Las Vegas Dream Foundation” Lottery type SCAM!  To get the substantial winnings, consumer needed to send $300, or 1% or…to a bonding agent in another state. On 7/2, the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warned of a similar scam trying to capitalize on the recent deaths of celebrities operating out of Las Vegas and provided the following consumer tips:
 
• If you are contacted by someone who says that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes as a result of the recent death of a celebrity, it is a scam. Call your police department and CHOICES SMP at your regional Area Agency on Aging – 1-800-994-9422.

• Are you being directed to wire money, provide access to your bank account or credit card numbers, or forward any personal financial information in order to claim your sweepstakes or lottery winnings? This is an attempt to steal your money or identity, by a person masquerading as a sweepstakes or lottery official.
 
• Legitimate sweepstakes companies do not require you to pay taxes, customs fees, shipping or handling, or any other fee before awarding your winnings.
 
• Did you ever actually enter the company’s sweepstakes? Chances are you did not.
 
• Do not be deceived by seals, official-sounding names, or terms that imply affiliation with or endorsement by a government entity, celebrity or charity be it here or abroad. It is illegal for a promoter to misrepresent an affiliation with a government organization or other well-known organization.
 
 
 
Connecticut Better Business Bureau Warns Consumers about Chimney Cleaning Con Game (Press Release) July 23rd, 2009
Dishonest Operators Use Fear, High Pressure Tactics and Lowball Estimates to Cheat Consumers
 
In light of the recent arrest of two New York men who tried to cheat a Milford homeowner, Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about chimney cleaning scams.  The arrests followed an investigation by the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which alleges the men turned a $39.95 chimney cleaning estimate into a recommendation for $3,200 in unnecessary repairs. Charges against the pair ranged from impersonating home contractors to performing work without a license. According to Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, this is not a new scam, and the intervention by DCP shows its potential to cheat consumers. "When a contractor tells you that your life is in danger or part of your home needs urgent repairs to prevent serious damage, your first instinct is to protect yourself and your property.
 
Unlicensed and dishonest contractors often use fear tactics to turn routine maintenance into an unnecessary costly and potentially unsafe job." Chimney cleaning fraud usually starts with a postcard, flyer, an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail and an unusually low price, typically around $40.00. Once the scammers perform an inspection,  they may say that there is structural damage, problems with the  chimney cap (also known as a spark arrester), and may even bring in dead birds or chunks of concrete to illustrate the "problems."  They often claim there is a carbon monoxide leak or that the chimney liner needs replacing. Chimney liners cost thousands of dollars, and some con artist contractors may replace a perfectly good liner with one that may not even fit properly, or only line part of the chimney.
 
Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to consumers to prevent them from becoming victims of chimney cleaning fraud:
Don't be taken in by low prices:
  • An inspection usually costs $75 dollars; the cleaning is another $150 and should  take about an hour. No reputable chimney cleaner will do an inspection and cleaning for $40.
  • Protect yourself from being pushed or frightened into immediate action:
    A chimney carbon monoxide leak is extremely rare. There are instruments to measure this. If they make this claim, ask them to prove it.
  • Ask for documentation: Check to see that the company is licensed and insured. You can check to see if it has a history of complaints by checking their Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.
In some cities and towns, the local fire department may provide free chimney inspections. How often does a fireplace chimney need to be cleaned? If it is used more than three times a week it should be done every year. One clear sign that it needs attention is if soot falls from the damper when it is opened. Once you have reputable experts doing the job, they also can tell you whether your furnace chimney needs cleaning.
 
 
Cash for Clunkers Scams (July 2, 2009)
Unscrupulous scamsters and dealers out there are ready to prey on consumers who want to take advantage of the new "Car Allowance Rebate System" voucher system recently signed into law by the President.  The estimated $1 billion dollar program will give vouchers to consumers who replace junky cars with fuel-efficient models. Vehicles bought after July 1 may get consumers as much as $4,500 to trade in old gas guzzling cares for new cars that are more fuel efficient. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be working out the details within the next 30 days in order to implement regulations to safeguard the program from fraud and abuse.  In the meantime, however, car dealers may begin honoring the rebates now. The agency is launching a Web site, www.cars.gov , and also has a hot-line at 888-327-4236 for consumers to get official information about the program.
 
How the program works:
·         Clunkers eligible for the program must get 18 miles per gallon, or less, in combined city and highway driving.  The subsidy ends up benefiting more owners of light trucks, SUVs and mini-vans more than it would owners of regular old passenger cars.
·         A $3,500 subsidy can be used to purchase cars and vans that are more fuel efficient than the older clunkers by four miles per gallon. A $4,500 subsidy can be used toward purchasing cars and vans that are more fuel efficient than older cars by 10 miles per gallon.
·         Cars that have not been insured for the past year, or those that are older than 25 years, are not eligible to be traded in for vouchers.
NHTSA officials warn that “Cash for Clunkers” Web sites are asking consumers to provide personal information including names, addresses and social security numbers so they can “register” for the program. Other Web sites tell consumers they will put them in touch with “Authorized Cash for Clunkers” dealer in their area. So, Beware! 
·         Consumers DO NOT need to register!
·         Although car dealers will have to register to participate in the program, the registration process has not yet begun; and
·         One clue that Web sites aren't real is if they use the name "Cash for Clunkers," since that is not the real name of the program (Car Allowance Rebate System)
·         Only use the official Web site – www.cars.gov – or call the official hot-line – 888-327-4236.
 
American Publishing Scam (June 19, 2009)
The AASCC CHOICES SMP program reported receiving a call from a New Haven resident who said she got a phone call from "American Publishing Company" (she is uncertain about the name but that’s what she thinks he said). The man (foreign accent, possibly German) told her that she had won $200,000.00. All she needed to do was give him $3,500.00 for the insurance. He would come to her apartment, collect the money and deliver her prize to her.  He asked her for her social security number and confirmed her home address that he had on file. After more discussion with the caller she began to not believe him so she hung up. Another scam artist activity for all to be aware!
 
Jury Duty Scam (May 30th, 2009)
      Verified by the FBI, the Jury Duty Scam is spreading fast so be prepared should you get this call. Most of us take those summonses for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of fraud has surfaced.
      The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity was just stolen.
      The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado . This (swindle) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.
      Check it out here:
 
 
Estate planning: Trust mills – avoiding financial elder abuse in the guise of estate planning (May 11th, 2009)  -Written by Dennis Fordham    
      The ‘trust mill’ living trust scam is a major nationwide problem that has cost many elderly persons dearly, not to mention disturbing their peace of mind. Let us see how the “trust mill” scam works.
      Trust mills are NOT legitimate law firms. Some may have attorneys on staff, in order to say that they are not illegally practicing law; however, providing legitimate legal services is NOT the trust mill's true objective. Rather, the trust mill offers one thing (living trusts) in order to later-on try to sell something else altogether (financial services).
      Like a traveling circus, the trust mill goes from town to town advertising free seminars in order to draw in the public. Trust mills entice people by advertising “living trust” packages at “low costs” – far less than what legitimate legal services cost.
      The trusts provided are basically just a one-size fits all, i.e., fill-in the blanks form, and should not be confused with personalized legal services. As such they may or may not be drafted by a licensed attorney, and certainly are not what the public has in mind in regards to professional legal services.
      These salesmen will often use phony titles like “certified trust advisor” to make themselves appear legitimate and knowledgeable about estate planning, when they are neither. Such so-called titles are deceitful as they are not certified by any state regulatory agency and were merely issued by the trust mill itself to their sales persons.
      Once the trust mill has the elder's trust and financial information, they then try to sell annuities, life insurance, and reverse mortgages – usually in the privacy of the elder's own home. The sales tactics used are unscrupulous and predatory, to say the least. That is, the salesmen are often trained to manipulate the elderly person into believing that the elderly person's money is not safe the way it is, and that they have a solution.
      The salesman's ulterior motive is a substantial sales commission, and not the estate planning fee for the trust. Ultimately, therefore, the trust mill experience is far from a “bargain,” as the trust mill experience winds up costing the elderly far in excess of the legal fees charged by a legitimate attorney.
      Qualified, ethical attorneys, on the one hand, offer the public a legitimate professional service that they are both licensed and educated to provide – for that sake only. Attorneys develop a one-on-one personal relationship with their client for the purpose of creating an appropriate, individualized estate plan based on client meetings; and will review documents with their clients and answer legal questions. They are not going to use the relationship later-on to try to sell you financial products.
      Dennis A. Fordham is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and New York. He earned his bachelor's degree at Columbia University, his juris doctorate at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his LL.M in taxation at New York University. He concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and aspects of elder law.
      Note: There is some good news. Trust mills are being sued and prosecuted at various levels. If you believe that you were a victim, you can call the Consumer Law Project for Elders in CT at 1-800-296-1467 or the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 860-808-5400.
 
 
Connecticut BBB Warns Against a Summer Scam Going Door-to-Door Nationwide (May 7th, 2009)
      Trying to help a good cause could get you ripped off by fraudulent magazine salespeople.  The Better Business Bureau warns that deceptive door-to-door magazine sales crews are hitting the pavement in Connecticut, and looking to earn a quick buck this summer. In the last 12 months alone, BBB’s across the nation received 1,100 complaints from consumers in 46 states against more than 50 companies that are selling magazines door-to-door. A number of these complaints were filed by Connecticut consumers.
      Many of these companies employ crews of high school and college-age people who are trying to earn money over their summer break. These crews are sent to communities to knock on doors and sell magazines—sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the sales pitch, the representative might explain they are working to help raise money on behalf of a charity, for a school trip or even selling subscriptions to support troops in Iraq.
      A Greater New Haven woman said a pair of students claiming they were from the University of Rhode Island, knocked on her door, said they lived “down the street,” and were selling magazines and books to “go to London.” Later, when she became suspicious, she called police, filed a report with Connecticut Better Business Bureau and put a stop on her check.
      Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says victims readily believe the phony sales pitch and often pay hundreds of dollars by check. However, complaints allege the sales reps took the checks and the magazines never arrived.
      “We are alerting consumers to this scam to prevent an epidemic of door-to-door magazine fraud. We encourage all Connecticut residents to be vigilant, and to inform their children, parents and grandparents about this type of operation.”  Scarpetti adds that consumers are not the only victims of this scam.  “The young salespeople also are being taken advantage of by their employers, forced to work long hours and having their wages withheld from them.”
      BBB offers the following advice to avoid getting scammed by a door-to-door magazine sales scam:
   Always research the company with your Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org before issuing a check for a magazine subscription.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
Victims of fraudulent magazine sales can file a complaint with their Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, local law enforcement, and the state Attorney General’s office.

For more tips and information from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau check out their website at: www.connecticut.bbb.org
 
 
" Don't Be An April Fool When It Comes To Your Economic Recovery Payment" (March 31, 2009)
By Elizabeth Wertime, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Upstate, New York
      No one likes being the target of an April fool's prank.  If you're receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, don't let anyone fool you regarding your special one-time recovery payment of $250 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 
 
To make sure no one does, we'll state this as clearly as possible:
·         All Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who are eligible for the special one-time recovery payment will have their payment issued in May;
·         The payment is automatic; no action is required on your part; and
·         There are no requests to make, no applications to complete and no fees to pay.
      If you receive a visit, call or email from anyone claiming to want to help you obtain your payment, be skeptical.  Do not pay anyone to help you receive your payment.  And do not reveal any of your personal information to them, such as your full name, date of birth, or Social Security number.  If someone requests this information for this purpose, it's more likely they're "out to get you" than out to get your payment for you.
      In addition to people who receive Social Security and SSI benefits, people who receive benefits from Veterans Affairs and the Railroad Retirement Board will receive one-time payments of $250.  Note, however, that only one payment of $250 will be made per person, regardless of any combination of benefits that may be received.
      How will your recovery payment be made?  The same way that your regular monthly payments are made.  People with direct deposit will receive their payments electronically.  Those who receive paper checks will receive their payments in the mail.  People who receive regular payments through the new Direct Express debit card will receive their one-time payments through the card.  We will send your one-time payment separately from your Social Security or SSI benefit.
      To assist in processing the payments as efficiently as possible, please do not contact Social Security - unless you have not received your payment by June 4.  More information is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/payment and will be updated as needed.
      Rest assured that your special one-time recovery payment will be sent to you automatically.  And if it's not received by June 4, there's only one place you need to contact:  Social Security, at your local office, or 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-3250-0778).
      To learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, visit www.recovery.gov.
      To learn more about Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
 
 
"Spring Break Is 'Scam-A-Grandma' Time" (March 25, 2009) By GEORGE HESSELBERG in the Wisconsin State Journal
   It’s spring break, also known as "scam-a-grandma" time, and, with calendar precision, one showed up in Madison, WI last week, according to consumer protection and bank officials. In this case, the woman who believed she was sending money to help a grandchild out of an emergency lost $10,000 and was talked out of sending another $10,000 at the last moment. The telephone swindle is also called the "It’s me" swindle, because the caller starts out the conversation with "Hi Grandma, it’s me." It really isn’t, of course, but Grandma (or Grandpa) says something like "Is that you, Jason?" and the ersatz Jason responds glibly with a tale of woe, often a car crash, that requires an immediate cash infusion. "This is happening more frequently and especially now during the spring break season," said Glen Loyd, of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Officials were alerted to the latest attempt by Daryll Lund, of Community Bankers of Wisconsin. The customer of a bank in Dane County received three calls from her "grandson," and when she came in to the bank for a third withdrawal — after explaining in two earlier visits she was "gifting" her grandchildren $5,000 each time, the bank staff "did not feel comfortable." The customer was tracked to a Wal-Mart where a $10,000 money order was being purchased. She was certain a grandson had called, but the Wal-Mart manager would not put the third wired money order through, so the customer brought the money back to the bank, Lund said. Total lost: $10,000. The grandson was not on spring break and was not in a car crash, Lund said.He suspects social Internet sites have contributed victims’ names to the calling lists of swindlers, especially if plans for spring break adventures are shared among many people.
 
 
"Medicare Infusion Therapy Fraud" (March 25, 2009)
 
 
"Your Car Warrantee Is About To Expire" (March 24, 2009)
"Hello…Your car warrantee is about to expire. This is your last opportunity to sign up.  Press 1 for …Press 2 for...”  Have you received a call like this recently?  The Milford Police Department received a call just like this recently.  Of course the officer knew the call was a scam.  These scammers want to convince you they can lower your credit card interest rates and in the process will try to obtain your personal identifying information or account information.  Just because someone says "this is your last chance for this opportunity" doesn't mean it is for real.  Just like the moral in the Canadian Lottery winning story (if you never entered the lottery - how could you be a winner?) keep in mind that if you never had a warrantee on your car - how could it be on the verge of expiring?  Don’t be hoodwinked on the telephone!
 
 
"Monitor Your Credit Card Statements!" (February 18th, 2009)
A Reminder to Protect, Detect, and Report: On February 12th, the Bristol Press reported on a credit card theft in a Farmington Nursing Home. A Bloomfield woman was arrested on larceny and credit card theft charges Tuesday after police said she stole a credit card from an 80-year-old resident while on the job at a local nursing home. The 32 year old woman is accused of using the woman’s card nine times at a gas station in Bloomfield, racking up $382 in charges. The fraudulent activity was discovered by a relative. The woman worked at the nursing home where the 80-year-old resident lives. The fraudulent charges occurred from May 13 to June 3 and were reported to police June 6.  The woman was charged with fifth-degree larceny, credit card theft, illegal use of a credit card, receiving goods obtained illegally and third-degree identity theft. CRIME DOES NOT PAY!!!!!
 
 
"Property Tax Relief Versus Income Tax Assistance - Be Sure You Know What You Are Getting." (February 2, 2009)
      An elderly individual in South Windsor received a phone call from a woman saying she was with the Senior Center regarding property tax relief. The caller asked a bunch of personal questions and sent the beneficiary a card to fill out and return, which she did - not recalling where it was from or where it was going. As a result, the beneficiary then received a phone call from the same woman to schedule an appointment with a representative. This beneficiary brought the situation to the attention of one of CHOICES Counselor & Town of South Windsor Employee Jennifer DiMauro, who set up a sting!
      The number left on the beneficiary’s Caller ID by the calling agency was not in service when Jennifer returned the call. On the date of the scheduled appointment, Jennifer met this gentleman at the beneficiary’s home and acted as a friend of the beneficiary. The agent presented himself as being with a company based in Michigan but his business card had a local address. We could not locate the company in a computer search.  The agent reported to our undercover CHOICES/SMP Counselor “We help newly retired seniors with their pensions, annuities and insurance.”  When informed that the beneficiary was told the appointment was for assistance with property tax, his response was “Oh, no we do income taxes.” People will try almost anything to schedule an appointment with you to try to sell their product. Don't be afraid to ask questions to clarify an offer of "assistance" and don't be afraid to say "no." If you want to learn about Property Tax Relief efforts in your town - your town Assessor's Office will be able to provide you with more information.  
         In the mean time…please be on high alert for such incidents of Fraud and Abuse in our own back yards! Kudos to Mrs. DiMauro for her very helpful investigation!! The information she was able to collect has been and will continue to be extremely helpful! If you or anyone you know has had a similar experience, please contact us ASAP!
 
 
"Wal-Mart Customer Satisfaction Survey" (January 29, 2009)
This scam is spreading quickly throughout the nation: "You have been chosen by Walmart to take part in our Customer Satisfaction Survey.
If you decide complete this survey, Walmart will send $150 to your confirmed Credit or Debit Card Account just for your time.Helping us better understand how our customers feel, benefits everyone. With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our services.  The Survey form is attached to this email. Please download the attachment, open it, and follow the instructions on your screen."
   THIS IS A SCAM!  Ashley Hardie at Wal-Mart’s Corporate Offices and stated  “Wal-mart does not participate in this type of promotion and has no affiliation with them.  If you receive a survey, please contact your local authorities as well as the Federal Trade Commission.”  Local Wal-Marts have received hundreds of calls regarding this.  Please get the word out as quickly as possible, as we envision a lot of people falling for this scam. 
 
 
 
 




Content Last Modified on 11/7/2012 11:16:24 AM