Category Archives: SCAM

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office scam alert

The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports of telephone scams being committed throughout Pamlico County over the last week. The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind residents to never give anyone access to your checking accounts, credit card accounts, social security numbers, other account numbers or any other personal identifying numbers to soliciting companies and/or individuals over the phone. These telephone scams are usually targeting the elderly, in which the suspects stated that the victims have won a large cash prize, or that they or a family member are in legal trouble. The majority of these cases are impossible to solve due to the suspects living in other states or even another country. We would ask that anyone who thinks they may have been victimized in a scam or has questions about a scam, please contact Investigator Jason Tyndall at (252)745-3101.

Carteret Sheriff’s Office warns of “Jury Duty” scam

scam-alertThe Carteret County Sheriff’s Office is warning people about jury duty scam.

A caller posing as a Carteret County Deputy has been accused of calling unsuspecting victims claiming they have missed jury duty in Carteret County and a warrant has been issued for their arrest. The caller will then request your personal information and attempt to confirm you address. The caller’s demeanor will be authoritative and persistent.

The caller will then attempt to get his victims to wire money and he will “take care” of the warrant by paying this fine. The caller will further attempt to convince you to proceed to a local business and purchase Green Dot Prepaid Cards in the amount of the stated fine.

Detectives warn to be suspicious whenever you’re told you can only pay for something using a Green Dot Prepaid Cards. Getting these calls in general should act as a red flag because the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office will never call you over the phone to request money for a fine.

If you have missed jury duty, a judge will issue a show cause order with a date to appear in court. If anyone attempts to gain money or your personal information simply hang up the phone and report the matter to your local law enforcement agency.

Scam Alert – Beware ‘Mystery Shopper’ ruse!

Veteran columnist turns tables on would-be con artists

The check that Justin Manjorin received looks legitimate, but the scam became evident after his inquiries. The names of the innocent banks used by the scammers have been obscured in this photocopy of the bogus check.

The check that Justin Manjorin received looks legitimate, but the scam became evident after his inquiries. The names of the innocent banks used by the scammers have been obscured in this photocopy of the bogus check.

Many of you who read this paper know me as the guy who writes about wine, food and does restaurant reviews. Today, I am writing about a variation on a scam to separate you from your hard earned money.

Like many of you in our aging population, I am always on the lookout for a job that isn’t too physically demanding and can be done on a part time basis. Recently, I saw an e-mail on my computer from a company looking for a Mystery Shopper. I filled out the application. It DID NOT ask for any sensitive information such as Social Security or Credit Card information, so I felt relatively safe.
A few days later, I received an e-mail telling me that I had been approved as a Mystery Shopper and that instructions and a payment had been sent to me.

Imagine my surprise when an overnight Federal Express package is delivered to my home!

Inside the package I found an ‘Assignment Letter’ and what looked to be an absolutely authentic Cashier’s Check, made payable to me, in the amount of $3,590.56.

My ‘assignment’ consisted of two parts. First, the letter instructed me to deposit the check in my local bank. My second task was to visit a local Walmart, spending $50 in the process. For my time, the letter told me to keep $300 and an additional $50 for travel expense. And, the letter warned me to keep this transaction secret and that further instructions would be forthcoming!

The linchpin of this entire scam is the bogus check. Most people think a Cashier’s Check is the same as cash since funds are supposed to be available in the account upon which the check is drawn. In addition, the bank freezes the funds in the account until the check is presented for payment. This is true but it depends upon some additional factors.
Some of these factors are: 1) The company issuing the check exists. 2) The bank upon which the check is drawn exists. 3) The account upon which the check is written exists.

Here are the red flags that helped me avoid being scammed: 1) The check was drawn on a company I didn’t know. 2) The bank was located in a town in New Jersey I had never heard of. 3) The so-called ‘Payable Through’ bank was located in a small town in Oklahoma – again a place I had never heard of.

Further investigation was warranted!

I went online to research the issuer, and there they were! The bank exists, and even has several branches in Burlington County, New Jersey (which is way South and in an area even Jersey residents aren’t too familiar with!)

Being a methodical type, I picked the branch upon which the check was drawn and called them to make sure the branch existed. The phone was answered and that satisfied me for the moment.

I then called the bank upon which the check would be paid to ascertain if the issuing corporation maintained an account or had a relationship with them. Being a small bank, I was able to reach a person who took the time to help me. It turned out that there was no account or relationship, which he could discover.

Following up, I called the issuer back and after some time on hold I found someone to help me with the research. When I described the check, the person on the other end said it sounded like it could be one of their Official Checks.

HOWEVER, THERE WAS NO ACCOUNT TO MATCH THE ACCOUNT NUMBER ON THE CHECK THAT I HAD RECEIVED. That meant I was holding a worthless check!

What can we all learn from this incident? Don’t be too trusting! Scam artists tend to target the aging population for a number of reasons. One, we come from a more trusting time. Two, studies have shown that financial acuity tends to decrease as we age. Three, even “official documents” may not be what they appear to be. Four, if you are not sure, seek help from your financial institution. There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to your money.

BE WARY: IF A DEAL SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY ISN’T.

‘Cryptowall’ one nasty virus

By Allen Miller | The Technology Desk

cryptowall-ransomware-RIG-Exploit-Kit-(1)Last weekend, I worked on a laptop that was infected with the “Cryptowall” virus, which is the latest variant of the infamous “Cryptolocker” virus.

The Cryptowall virus (along with its predecessors) encrypts all the documents, pictures, etc. on your computer. It then places several files on your computer, stating that your files have been encrypted and you must pay a ransom in order to have them unencrypted.

I have seen reports of the ransom costing anywhere from $500 to $1,000.

Simply put, if your files have been encrypted they are “gone” and irrecoverable.

You could pay the ransom, but there is no guarantee the cyber-criminals will un-encrypt your files even if you do pay the ransom. On top of that, paying the cyber-criminals just encourages them to come up with new ways of ransoming your computer and/or data.

This virus falls into the category of “Ransomware,”, as does the FBI virus, etc. They are referred to as “Ransomware” because they try to force you to pay a ransom in order to regain access to your computer and/or your files.

Because of the success of the cyber-criminals there is no reason to think this type of exploit will end anytime soon.

The reason for the title of this column? This nasty virus goes after your backup drive, if one is connected to your computer. Once encrypted, your backups will be useless.The best scenario would be to have a “Warm” backup and a “Cold” backup (two external drives).

The “Warm” backup drive would be the one you use this week and is currently connected to your computer. The “Cold” backup would be the one you used last week and is currently disconnected from your computer/network. Obviously you would rotate the drives each week.

When I owned my technology companies in Pennsylvania, I tried to regularly rotate my tape backups. We had six tapes that we used one week, and six more tapes that we used the previous week.We had a safe-deposit box at the bank where we stored the tapes when they were not in use.

Overkill? Sure. Right up until you discover your QuickBooks file has been maliciously encrypted!

Editor’s note: Readers may contact Mr. Miller by e-mail: al@awm.bz

Scammers call, Sheriff answers

cellphoneiconBy Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Con artists, dialing from this Caribbean hotbed of chicanery, inadvertently called an unlikely target this week – the cell phone of Pamlico County Sheriff Billy Sawyer Jr.

“They told me I was the third place winner in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes,” said Sawyer, “and that I had won $350,000 and a new Chevy Malibu.”

The sophisticated scam was on Sawyer’s radar screen, however. He and other investigators recently investigated nearly identical calls that tricked a woman in Hobucken.

“They told her she had won the first place prize of $2.5 million, and they got her to send a $1,000 wire transfer for something they called a ‘credit card bonding fee.’ They also told her that they were close by and that they were traveling with an attorney and two U.S. Marshals.”

Prosecuting this type of crime is difficult, said Sawyer, because it originates outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.

Sawyer said the man with whom he spoke “tried to mask his accent.” And, in response to Sawyer’s question, the caller identified himself as Peter Rogers.

“Then, he told me that to claim the prize I needed to call his Office Manager, a fellow named Henry Morgan,” recalled Sawyer.

The veteran law enforcement officer played along, and ultimately found himself talking to the culprit who eventually asked for a type of upfront payment.

But, when Sawyer surprised the con artist with a brusque “you happen to be talking to the Sheriff of Pamlico County,” the phone went dead.

Sawyer wants readers to be on the lookout for any calls originating from area code 876. He also confirmed with officials from the real Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes that they never call beforehand. They just show up on the winner’s doorstep, as seen on TV.

“If they need money upfront for attorney’s fees, or to bond a check, or for any reason, that’s going to be a scam every time,” warned Sawyer.

To report this type of incident or anything similar, call the Sheriff’s Department at 745-3101.

Scam targets grandparents

 

Did perpetrators use personal info gleaned from Facebook?

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

f_logoORIENTAL – When Jane Bliss, 70, answered her home phone Wednesday morning, she was stunned to learn that one of her grandsons might have been involved in an accident, which had triggered his arrest.

The call, which Bliss later discovered originated from Georgia, was a sophisticated hoax, designed to dupe a caring grandmother.

“The guy was pretending to be my grandson,” said Bliss, who reported the con to local and state authorities. “He said something like ‘I only had three beers, grandma.’ Whoever was doing this knew my grandson’s first name, and they (mistakenly) called me by my first name of Mary. My husband thinks they probably got some of the information off a Facebook page.”

Early in the conversation, the pseudo-grandson turned the phone over to a man, who called himself a “public defender,” claiming to represent Bliss’s grandson.

“He’s in a holding cell here at the jail,” reported the man, “and he only gets one phone call.”

The discussion soon turned to sending $2,800 to Beirut, Lebanon, which is, of course, the point at which the trusting grandmother turned suspicious.

“They really went into a great bit of detail about how I should wire money using Western Union, exactly how to do it, and where the closest place might be,” said Bliss.

The money trail, its intended purpose, some type of insurance settlement, and a variety of other convoluted factors were all designed for one purpose – to quickly and safely spring Bliss’s supposedly errant grandson from jail.

At the time of the call, grandfather, Ed Bliss, 72, was on the golf course, and blithely unaware of the pending con that might have happened.

“I got a call from my wife,” he said, “and she was all upset.”

The Bliss couple dutifully reported the incident to state and local law enforcement. And, also decided to share the story with a local newspaper reporter.

Turns out the call, which came from area code 706, and the money’s intended Middle East destination, were in no way linked to the Bliss’s sober and law-abiding grandson, safely ensconced at his Maryland home.