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West Jordan Journal

Two women detail their experiences being scammed

Feb 07, 2022 03:34PM ● By Linda Steele

By Linda Steele | [email protected]

Unfortunately, the rise of scams has gone up in the past year. All of us can fall victim to scams. There are different kinds of scams, such as identity theft, phishing, voice phishing and pyramid schemes. Some of the latest scams are coronavirus-related scams, vaccine and government program scams, phone-related scams, online purchase scams, and employment scams. 

Scams can happen when you are selling something online. This is a scam that happened to Terry (not real name as she wished to remain anonymous). She put her son’s iPhone up for sale on KSL and received a text from a man who said he wanted to purchase it. He went to her home and walked in her house, and she handed the phone to him to look at. He asked her about the battery life, and while she was talking, she noticed that he was logging onto a Wi-Fi network. When asked if he had a hotspot, then all of a sudden, he was activating something on the phone. She had reset the phone so he could set anything up on it that he wanted. He quickly entered a PIN. “Well, if I upset him then he will leave, and I won't be able to get into the phone again,” she said. “It didn’t matter if he was going to buy the phone anyways, but I felt uneasy about it. I asked him why he put his PIN into it, and he said he was just going through the set-up menu.” 

“I made a mistake. I should not have handed anyone a blank phone without a PIN. They can do whatever they want. Next time, I will enter my own PIN and only change it when I feel comfortable with the transaction,” Terry said. 

“He then asked if the price was $100.00 less than my ad said, and he looked in an envelope he was holding with cash he had. I corrected him and told him the amount the phone was. Immediately after I told him the price of the phone, there was a man waiting in the car yelling at him in Spanish. I thought he was telling him to hurry. He then hastily handed me the envelope and ran out the door and drove off,” Terry said. 

She continued counting the bills as he was running. She was relieved it matched the price she told him. She was nervous because of how he was acting. She took the bills straight to the bank, and they told her they were counterfeit. The bank filed a police report. They showed her the differences between the bills she took into the bank and a real $100 bill. The bank representative said they are seeing more and more counterfeit bills brought in. She called the police, and they came to the bank. 

She wanted to check if the fraudsters put the phone she was selling up on KSL. The West Jordan police followed up on a similar phone she saw on KSL for sale, but the identifying numbers didn't match. 

“I just hope they get caught. What bothers me more than anything is that I invited criminals into my home. Next time I sell anything on KSL I'll have them pay me with Venmo and meet them somewhere else or meet at my bank and have the bank verify the bills before I give them the item. If they have a check, then you can meet them at their bank and get it cashed while you are together,” Terry said. 

“In hindsight, I made several mistakes that I hope you can learn from. Protect yourselves. It is dangerous out there,” Terry said. 

Another scam happened to an older woman Melinda (not real name, she also wished to remain anonymous). She answered the phone. A nice person on the phone told her they were from the U.S. government and that they needed help to stop scams from happening around the world. They proceed to tell her where scams are happening and that it needed to be stopped, and she could help by donating money. “They were so nice and friendly,” Melinda said. She was so happy she could help, and she believed them. “I never would have thought they were fraudsters.” she said. They called her for three days talking to her and being friends. Unfortunately, they got her bank account information and got $200.000 dollars.. “My Christmas was hard because of what happened,” she said. The FBI is on the case. “Unfortunately, I won’t get the money back, but I hope they find who committed this fraud and they are in prison for a lifetime sentence. Don’t talk to anybody you don’t know and never give out any information to anybody, unless you know who you are talking to and you have a good identity theft protection plan, because a plan can protect all your accounts, and they will tell you if callers are fraudulent,” she said. 

According to a report from TransUnion, the U.S. online fraud attempts are up 25%. Digital fraud attacks against financial services companies were up 109% in the U.S. Global fraud attempts in the financial service industry were up 149%. 

Fraudsters attempt to steal personal information through social media networks, online sites and phishing attempts. This happens when cyber criminals send fake emails to you that either attempt to retrieve personal information or infect a device with malware. 

With buying online and businesses that have been closed, scamming went up. People have been getting out more for shopping and dining. Still, many people remain more comfortable with shopping online and businesses are maintaining a higher online presence, which means that digital fraud will continue to rise. 

Financial services companies such as banks and investment companies are particularly attractive targets because there’s big money there. People have been doing more online transactions since the pandemic hit, and cyber criminals know it, and they are attempting to cash in. 

Fraudsters who have been successful (or they think they've been successful) at gaining someone’s personal information are taking it to the next level by trying to obtain credit cards or take over bank accounts. 

A business has the responsibility to protect customers from fraud. Customers need to take responsibility as well. That would include signing up for two-factor authentication, which requires users to not only enter a password but conform their identity by entering a code texted or emailed to them. 

It is a good idea to use strong different passwords for each account. If you can’t remember all the passwords, consider using programs that can store your passwords. Dashlane and LastPass are two programs you can use to store your passwords. There are other programs you can use as well. 

Unfortunately, scams probably won’t decrease any time soon. With businesses having more digital transactions, cyber criminals will continue their attacks. 

Most of us are on social media platforms, connecting with friends and family, and work colleagues. Be careful not to post your personal information on social media. Be careful about posting pictures and where you are traveling to. Value your privacy on social media, and customize your social media Privacy Settings. Toggling specific options can help tighten your social media and limit your audience on who can view your posts.