Articles Posted in Fraud

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The Associated Press has posted an article about a man from Miami, Albert Gonzalez, who has reportedly tried to steal 130 million credit card numbers. “The one-time government informant” is being charged with the largest case of credit and debit card data theft in the nation’s history…on top of another 40 million numbers that he previously stole.

Gonzalez used to work for the US Secret Service as an informant responsible for tracking hackers, which is ironic because

…the agency later found out that he had also been working with criminals and feeding them information on ongoing investigations, even warning off at least one individual, according to authorities.

Two Russian co-conspirators also joined Gonzalez in attempting to hack into corporate computer networks to leave malware that would give them access to steal data. They targeting major companies such as 7-Eleven Inc, the grocery store chain Hannaford Brothers, Co. Inc, as well as a New Jersey based card-payment processor named Heartland Payment Systems.

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Associated Press’ Matt Apuzzo has written an article about a “nightmare mortgage” scheme.

Around 1,000 people in Maryland were tricked into paying a combined total of roughly $70 million to a company that promised to use the revenue from their money to pay off their mortgages. An upfront investment fee of $50,000 was required for each house. A $100,000 investment got the customer a seat on the “Junior Board of Directors.”

Investors were told they were investing in ATM machines, television advertising and calling card kiosks that would raise money for the mortgage payments. But prosecutors say the businesses never made any money.

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The Federal Trade Commission has posted an article that warns consumers about scams associated with getting stimulus payments. Scammers can use very official looking forms that strongly resemble those used by the IRS, to trick people into submitting their personal information in return for the promise of a stimulus check. Scammers can also contact you by email or telephone.

The FTC advises consumers not to give their personal information to anyone who randomly contacts them about a stimulus payment. The IRS doesn’t contact people in that manner. While the idea of receiving a check is certainly enticing, be aware that it might just be an identity theft scheme.

When a stimulus plan does involve a check to you (it may not), you won’t need to fill out a separate form in an email or give out personal information – like account numbers or your Social Security number – to someone who calls you out of the blue.

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Alan Zibel and Christopher S. Rugaber of Associated Press have written an article that discusses the government’s response to an increase in

“criminal actors…preying on desperate borrowers caught up in the nation’s housing crisis.”

The article warns that “scammers” are trying to trick customers into paying hefty upfront fees for “loan modifications” that are rarely successful. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan warns consumers to

“…stay away from anyone who says that they will save your home for money upfront.”

The Federal Trade Commission has sent over 70 letters to companies they feel are using questionable advertisements, as well as filing new complaints regarding 3 companies. The FBI is also investigating 2,100 cases of mortgage fraud.

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Alabama consumers should be aware of this jury duty scam we recently read about on the Houston Consumer Blog. This is a blog that the local ABC News Station has on their website. The blog is maintained by Mike Mcguff, who has done an excellent job of informing Houston consumers of issues they need to be aware of.

Apparently, an identity theft was attempting to obtain individual’s personal information by calling them and telling them that they had missed jury duty and were being fined. One person he called reported it this way:

“I received a phone call yesterday from someone claiming to be with the Harris County Jury Assembly Room Staff. They said that I had failed to report to Jury Duty and I would be fined $300 dollars if I did not. Then they told me that I could pay with a credit card and get it taken care of right away. I do not have a credit card, so I told them I had never received a letter/summons and if I was going to be fined, I would rather send in a money order or check. Then I started asking more questions about what I could do to avoid the fine, since I had never received the letter, and they just hung up on me.

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