Scammers Want To Put A Zero On It

A word of warning: Beyonce says, “Caused if you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it.”  When it comes to your prepaid debit card or Paypal account, maybe someone adding a zero to your existing funds isn’t such a great idea. Please don’t let scammers put a ZERO on it.

Times are hard. But please don’t fall prey to this latest scam. Heard about it on the local news. This poor woman is in shadow. She doesn’t want to show her face because, well, quite simply, she has aided and abetted in her own robbing. A total stranger contacted her, said if she had one of those prepaid credit cards, she could crack some code, add a ‘0’ and make her life much richer.

These thieves are all over the place: Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist, Twitter, etc. Any place they can set up a bogus profile and lure you in with the promise of a quick buck. If you have $200 on your prepaid debit card, wherever you’ve purchased it, this scammer promises to add a ‘0’. So, she/he will turn your $200, to $2000, your $500, to $5000. You get the picture.

The shadow lady on the local news handed over her pin number and the rest as they say is history. Instead of that promised ‘0’ being added to her account, she ended up with ‘0’ and a horrible lesson learned, hopefully. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be a sucker.

This person disappeared like the thief in the night he/she was. Once they’ve gotten your money, it’s all but impossible to get it back. Remember, the prepaid credit card is not a credit card in the sense that you’re dealing with a legitimate bank, say Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, etc. THIS IS YOUR MONEY. Think of the prepaid card like your own personal piggy bank.

Please don’t let greed and/or some desperate situation turn you into a silhouette on the local news, putting the story out there about how you assisted in your own robbing. Instead of the scammer adding a ‘0’ to her balance, Ms. Silhouette was left with a ZERO balance on her card.

According to the BBB, Green Dot Moneypak is currently the most used preload debit card. That’s why it’s these particular scammers card of choice. Keeping their finger on the pulse of parting folks from their cash is what they do. Check out this very in depth link to how this scam works.

Should you be contacted via social media, call or text, on the street, a knock at the door, by someone insisting he/she can just manipulate your card, tell them, “thanks but no thanks.” Let others know about this scam, especially the elderly, a population often targeted by scammers. One part common sense, one part knowledge can be a powerful potion to ward off heartless scammers.

FYI: Some claim this scam actually delivered as promised. If it did, it was probably a few bucks, just my opinion. Just enough to turn some person into the scammer(s)’s own personal mule, without the person even knowing. I mean seeing someone’s twenty buck account increased to $200 would make most of us want a piece of that action, right. Sometime it’s the price a scammer pays to do business. Again, don’t be fooled.


Top Ten Scams to Watch Out for

There is nothing I hate worst than those who devote their lives to scamming people out of their hard earned money. How scam artists are able to sleep soundly still boggles my mind. I just have to accept some people have no conscious when it comes to obtaining money by hook or crook. All we can do is arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. So when my local television news station, WXII 12,  featured these scams I felt the least I could do was post them. If it keeps even one person from being scammed, I feel this post won’t have been in vain. The Better Business Bureau named these the top scams to watch out for. Arm yourself with knowledge and common sense (remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is), and try not to get scammed in 2013:

Top overpayment/fake check scam: car advertisements

The online ad would say “Get Paid Just for Driving Around” – a prominent company is offering $400+ per week if you’ll drive around with their logo all over your car. They send a check to you, which you are supposed to deposit in your account and then wire part of the payment to the graphic designer who will customize the ad for your vehicle. Whoops! A week later, the check bounces, the graphic designer is nowhere to be found, and you are out the money you wired. The Internet Complaint Center ( says they saw this one a lot in 2012.

Top sales/rental scam: real stars, fake goods

Sports memorabilia and phony tickets always make the list of top counterfeit goods. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, counterfeiters manage to have their hands in your pocket all year long. With the London Olympics added to the mix, it appears that 2012 was a good year for sports fakes. Some scammers were selling cheap knock-offs in front of stadiums. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Top emergency scam: grandparents scam

The “Grandparents Scam” has been around a while, but it’s still so prevalent: grandchild/niece/nephew/friend is traveling abroad and calls/texts/emails to say he or she has been mugged/arrested/hurt and needs money right away (“…and please don’t tell mom and dad!”). Plus the FBI says that, thanks to social media, it’s getting easier and easier for scammers to tell a more plausible story because they can use real facts from the supposed victim’s life (“Remember that great camera I got for Christmas?” “I’m in France to visit my old college roommate.”). Easy rule of thumb – before you wire money in an emergency, check with the supposed victim or their family members to make sure they really are traveling. Odds are they are safe at home.

Top home improvement scam: Sandy “Storm Chasers”

This year there was an unusual amount of “storm chaser” activity following Super Storm Sandy. Tree removal, roofing, general home repairs – some were legitimate contractors who came from other areas for the volume of work available; others were unlicensed, uninsured and ill-prepared for the work; while some were even out-and-out scam artists who took the money and never did the work. In an emergency, it’s tempting to skip reference checking, but that’s never a good idea.

Top advance fee/prepayment scam: nonexistent loans

Loan scams continued to fester in 2012. It seems for every legitimate lender out there, there is a scammer waiting to prey on people in desperate situations. Most of the scams advertise online and promise things like no credit check or easy repayment terms. Then the hook: you have to make the first payment upfront, you have to buy an “insurance policy,” or there is some other kind of fee that you have to pay first to “secure” the loan. This year there was an aggressive twist on loan scams: consumers who were threatened with lawsuits and law enforcement action if they didn’t “pay back” loans they said they had never even taken out in the first place. Some got calls at their workplace, even to relatives. The embarrassment of being thought of as a delinquent caused some victims to pay even when they knew they didn’t owe the money.

Top employment scam: mystery shopping

If you love to shop, working as a secret shopper may sound like an ideal way to supplement your income. But scammers have figured that out, too, and many job offers are nothing more than a variation on the overpayment/fake check scam. Sometimes they even tell you that evaluating the wire service company is part of the job, which is why you need to send back part of the money. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association says it’s not the practice of their members to pre-pay shoppers.

Top sweepstakes/lottery scam: Jamaican phone lottery

This is an old one that flared up again this year. In this one, the calls come from Jamaica (area code 876) but the person claims to represent the Better Business Bureau (or FBI, or another trusted group). Great news: you’ve won a terrific prize (typical haul: $2 million and Mercedes Benz) but you have to pay a fee in order to collect your winnings. There are lots of variations on this; sometimes it’s a government grant. Best just to hang up and then file a phone fraud report with the appropriate government agency.

Top phishing scam: President Obama will pay your utility bills

Of all the politically-related scams, this one seemed to be the most prevalent. At the peak of summer with utility costs soaring, consumers got emails, letters and even door-to-door solicitations about a “new government program” to pay your utility bills. Victims “registered” with an official-looking website and provided everything scammers needed for identity theft purposes, including bank account information.

Top identity theft scam: fake Facebook tweets

Two top social media sites were exploited in one of this year’s top scams. You get a Direct Message from a friend on Twitter with something about a video of you on Facebook (“ROFL they was taping you” or “What RU doing in this FB vid?” are typical tweets). In a panic, you click on the link to see what the embarrassing video could possibly be, and you get an error message that says you need to update Flash or other video player. But the file isn’t a new version of Flash; it’s a virus or malware that can steal confidential information from your computer or smart phone. Twitter recommends reporting such spam, resetting your password and revoking connections to third-party applications.

Scam of the year: Newtown charity scams

Within hours of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, social media pages dedicated to the child victims began cropping up and some of them were scams asking for money. The FBI arrested one woman for posing as the aunt of one of the children killed, and state and federal agencies are investigating other possible fraudulent and misleading solicitations.



Blacked out my address. Otherwise this looks really legit.

As of this writing there are so many scams going on I won’t even attempt to put a number on them. Nor will I break out some bulleted list on the latest and greatest scams. Why? Because I wouldn’t want you alerting for a particular scam only to be broadsided by one not noted on my nice, neat little list. I know what I’m talking about. It just happened to me.

Case in point, I kept getting emails from folks on my contact list directing me to someone claiming to be a work-at-home mom. She goes by the name Amy Livingston and supposedly makes thousands a month from home. This aroused my curiosity so I decided to do a bit of snooping. Turns out it was a big ol’ scam. Ticked off because I felt it exploited legitimate mothers working at home I decided to alert others.

I was also scared the hackers or ‘phishers’ had gained access or could gain access to sensitive financial information through our email accounts. Paranoid and feeling authorities wouldn’t be much help, I decided the best way to fight back was to let others know so they could be on guard against this so-called ‘stay-at-home-mom’ scam.

Shortly after putting stay-at-home-mom scam in my rearview mirror I heard about con artists scamming elderly folks out of their hard-earned money, emptying not only their bank accounts but family members’ who had to clean up the mess. Even though it didn’t affect me personally, the thought of mentally and physically ailing older people being preyed upon again made me post an alert. No sooner did I click ‘publish’ a couple of news programs mentioned the ‘grandparents’ and ‘stuck in jail overseas scams. Knowing some of the big news organizations like CBS and ABC also had these scams on their radar gave me a little satisfaction.

Still there’s only so much I or anybody else can do against a multitude of scams. There just isn’t enough time in the day. Like Forrest Gump said, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”  With millions unemployed, underemployed, and just clinging to a thread of hope, scammers are counting on you being gullible. When they make you an offer that seems too good to be true, remember, it usually is.


Remember everything that glitters isn’t gold

Ironically I found this USPS Priority Mail envelope in my mailbox today. Inside was a postal money order for $975.00 from someone claiming to be Tom A. Lee. Take a long hard look at it. I did. Then I excursioned into cyberspace and sure enough it’s just another scam. It’s called, ‘Money Order’ scam or maybe even ‘Money Order Fraud’.  Really though the name of the scam is not important. I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, nor had I done anything in recent memory to warrant $975.00.  Say it with me. IF SOMETHING SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.

Tomorrow I will return all to the nearest post office. Then I will do whatever else is necessary to get as far away from this scam as possible. Please don’t take the money order to your bank. While it looks legit it is fake as a $2 bill. Not even sure how the scammers make money off this one. If you have been personally impacted by this one, I really would like to know how it works.

Scam Alert! Elderly Scammed Out of Some $2.6 Billion A Year

Scams vs Elderly = BIG BUSINESS 

Apparently scamming elderly folks is big business. So big in fact, according to a article, many in their golden years are being swindled out of some $2.6 billion per year. With this in mind, adult children should keep as close an eye out on aging parents as possible. Knowing health and mental acuity diminishes with age scammers may have your parents in their sight. It could be just a matter of time before they pounce. When and if they do, it could wreak financial havoc on the entire family.

Scammers and shysters come after the elderly from all directions. Stay alert without appearing to snoop. Keep the line of communication open in hope you will be kept in the loop if something is going on. Remind the elderly person(s) to not believe everything in print or that smooth talker over the phone. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is.

Scams aimed at the elderly abound. Here are just a few noted in the article: The grandparents scheme, The discount prescription scam, The credit card company fraud call, The ‘Help for Haiti’ hustle, and The fake lottery/sweepstakes scam. Knowledge is power. Please share with the elderly loved one(s) in your life.

An abbreviated cautionary tale of the fake lottery/sweepstakes scam

According to written accounts no one quite knows how the elderly couple landed on the ‘super sucker list’ or how they ended up being ‘reloaded’ again and again. No matter how it started by the time the pair’s children became suspicious their elderly parents were knee-deep in the scam’s quagmire and sinking ever deeper.

His voice could melt butter. A guy Miriam and Charles Parker knew only as Howard. Over the phone he dazzled Miriam with terms such as ‘dear’ and ‘sweetheart’ and promised the couple riches from a sweepstakes they had supposedly won. There were just those pesky taxes that needed to be taken care of. So December 08, 2004, Miriam Parker, an 80-year-old mother and grandmother wired a MoneyGram to Montreal Quebec. By May 2005 the Parkers’ once hefty savings was depleted.

Between ’04 and ‘08 Mrs. Parker was a scammer’s dream. A ‘money mule’ at one point receiving and repackaging $60,000 in cash in just over a week. An unwitting, albeit desperate, participant in the victimization of elderly folks like her as the money flowed straight to the coffer of scammers in Montreal. Apparently Miriam got a commission but never the riches she’d been promised.

On April 2007 in Montreal, ‘Howard Clark’, real name, Clayton Atkinson, scheming of the elderly came to a screeching halt. A federal grand jury in Raleigh, North Carolina, handed up a 35-count indictment against Atkinson and two co-defendants. The three were charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property, seven counts of wire fraud and 26 counts of mail fraud.

Unfortunately, Charles passed away before the trail. The couple wasn’t the only victims. In her victim impact statement, their daughter, Donna Parker, ran down the list: The adult children had to pay off their parents’ credit card debt; cash in insurance policies; liquidate stocks, and even take out a mortgage.

Even worse than the financial loss was taking her parents to court, and the resentment it had caused. “To this day,” she said, still referring to her father in the present tense, “they are convinced that their family deprived them of their right to prizes and lottery winnings.” Additionally, she feared her mother would be victimized again.

“The sad thing is, I know my family is not unique,” she said. “Scammers who prey on the elderly are a blight on society.”

In this dog eat dog world, the elderly are an endangered species. Please do your part to protect them. Pass along this info and any other as gentle reminder to stay ever alert, on guard, against predators out to part them from their hard earned money.


My one remaining fan – he works so hard at it

Recently I received several emails directing me to a news site for someone calling themselves Amy Livingston. Because the emails were seemingly sent by people I knew, I clicked on the link and was introduced to Amy Livingston. After reading everything, including the comments, I couldn’t shake the gnawing suspicion something just wasn’t right.

Years ago I did an article on local scams. During the interview the lady at the Better Business Bureau(BBB) said, “If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.” With that in mind I googled, ‘Is Amy Livingston, work-from-home mom, a scam?’ According to several sources, this so-called Amy Livingston, like Satan,  goes by many different names. Somewhere there is a stock photo of a benign looking woman and child being used as an integral part of a work-from-home SCAM.

These scammers seem to be hacking into people’s email accounts and sending emails to their close contacts. The ones I received linked me to a news15 site. So far I’ve learned the so-called news story is just as bogus as Amy Livingston and the site. A couple of other non-news sites being used by these scammers are: and News10reports. No telling how many people they’ve fleeced as the so-called work-at-home-mom lives in San Diego, Greensboro, Vienna, Ho Chi Minh, and just plug in a name why don’t you.

An even scarier aspect to this story is if your email account has been hacked or highjacked by these parasites you must be very careful of your passwords to important stuff like FINANCIAL AND RETAIL ACCOUNTS. If you forget your passwords to such accounts, you may want to open a new one and use a strong password. If your computer has already been  highjacked, your changed info could be going straight to the hackers’ account(s). These scammers are apparently very computer-savvy hell-bent upon parting you from your money by any means necessary. All I can tell you is if you feel your account has been violated act quickly and aggressively to purge your system of the offending violater.

STAY ALERT. If you receive an email linking you to Livingston or whatever pseudonym they are using, please BEWARE.  The thing that alerted me that work-from-home-mom could be a scam was that so-called Amy kept everything so close to the vest. It was obvious you would have to wander farther down that rabbit hole to learn what those ‘simple forms’ were she filled out that garnered her $15,000 – $17,000 a month. Aside from being vague as hell, it just sounded too good to be true.

This is just a brief post asking that you please beware and be a friend and alert your contacts to would-be scammers. Also, alert them when you think their email may have been hacked. Right now Internet scammers seem to be multiplying like cockroaches. And if  you’re looking for law enforcement to come galloping in on a white horse to save us, don’t. Like Wall Street bankers these guys are too complicated to be taken down. For now we consumers must arm ourselves with information and question everything.

Zoey’s gone. I’m so all alone.
I kind of miss that grr-rl