SHR
Barbara Bennett

Meet Barbara, LCSO's Chief ScamBuster

Who are you going to call if you get a call from someone wanting your hard earned money? Why, ScamBusters, that’s who.

All joking aside, over my last 13 years with LCSO, scams and frauds have become part of our everyday lives. My passion for being a huge pain in the ankle to criminals and scammers works well in my role as the coordinator of our Sheriff’s Auxiliary/Crime Prevention Unit. I love sharing ways that our citizens can become more in charge of their safety by knowing what is suspicious and what to do with that knowledge.

As scammers have become more sophisticated in targeting their prey and using human behavior techniques to make you think they are credible, we have to become more street smart and beat them at their own game. We do that by recognizing their tactics and learning how to build a safety wall around our personal information and finances. Knowledge is power - and it is easier to prevent scammers from taking advantage of our inherent trust in people than to try recovering after they have taken our hard earned money.

These criminal scammers can only be stopped by being aware that they are out there, understanding how they work, and being smarter than they are. This webpage has been established to provide information on what the scams are, how to recognize a scammer and how to be smarter than the scammer. If they can’t get our money - they have to give up. Let’s stop them in their tracks. Let’s all be ScamBusters!

Barbara EJ Bennett
970-682-0597
bennetbe@co.larimer.co.us
Coordinator - Sheriff's Auxiliary/Crime Prevention Unit
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

P.S. If your group would like a scam presentation, give us a call or email to set it up. We love spreading the word! Also, feel free to send out this link to friends and family!


 

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Amazon Prime Scam Alert

Overview

The scammer is targeting a wide audience to see who bites (phishing scam). Whether you get a phone call or an email, they want the same thing - your money and your credit card information. In the case of the caller sending you to a web page, it is very easy to assume it is legitimate - the logo is the same, the page layout looks authentic. In reality, it is the scammer’s web page and when you insert your personal information you are giving them access to your money, If they request you to download their app so they can fix your security flaw, they then ask you to log in to your banking or credit card site so they now have access to your funds.


Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

Especially during Covid, people depend on ordering items online so want to ensure they can still get prime delivery.

 

Resources

Report to Amazon Security and Privacy page. Also monitor your Amazon charges very closely and your other credit cards and banking information for any suspicious activity.

 

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Business Scam Alert

Overview

The email looks legit - it’s from a high level manager in your firm. The email sender has the right name but the email account address looks strange. Maybe from their personal account? Your first thought is to proceed with the request but STOP! Go to the manager and ask in person if this email is legit. Chances are good that it is a scam.

 

Emotional Play

Following direction from your management.

 

Target Audience

Small to medium sized businesses.

 

Resources

After this business described the scam to us, they installed some additional software that enabled them to catch incoming email as a potential phishing scam. Definitely a good tip for businesses!

 

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Census scam alert

Overview

Scammers use the phone, email or texts to ask you to give them your personal information for the Census.  This is not how the Census is being handled and they are just trying to get your personal info.  The official Census has sent out a printed letter telling you where to go to fill in the census online.  They will send you a second letter as well.  They will never call you, text you or email you for this info.

 

Emotional Play

Wanting to "do my part" and be a good citizen.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Additional Resources

www.census.gov

 

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Charity scam alert

 

Overview

We all have our particular passions - maybe its animal welfare, supporting law enforcement or firefighters, fighting medical challenges, etc.  Scammers capitalize on these passions and use them to fraudulently take your money.  Usually it’s a call asking you to donate online via credit card. If  you request they send you info through the mail and you can send them a check, they indicate they can’t do that.  What they really want is your credit card or bank info.  If you want to support your charity of choice, go to their official website to donate safely - never on the phone.

 

Emotional Play

Love for a cause, supporting your passion, willingness to give to others.

 

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors are at particular risk because they are more trusting.

 

Additional Resources

United Way Guide to Charitable Giving

 

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Computer Scam Alert

 

Overview

Hearing all these warnings and alarms on your computer is certainly attention getting and very startling. That’s what the scammer wants. They don’t want you to turn off your computer because their scam pop-up’s will disappear and they can’t hook you. They want you to believe if you shut off your computer it will be devastating but the opposite is true. Just recently I had this happen to my computer twice in one week while I was doing research online. It startled me. I shut off my computer and restarted and all was fine. However, I got a call from someone that got the same alert and pop-ups and called the number. He was then told to go to Best Buy, purchase $2,000 in BB gift cards and give the caller the numbers on the phone. He did. The caller had already asked him to get on his computer – which he allowed. The scammer then downloaded banking and credit card info and got into the person’s bank accounts. In this case there is no way to get the money back. It is untraceable and the scammer has access to your banking and credit card.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of losing access to your computer.

 

Target Audience

All ages - the scammers don't know who's receiving their calls or pop-ups until you interact with them.

 

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Windows phone scam alert

 

Overview

You get a pop-up on your screen that locks it up.  It says you have a virus and you need to call a number to get it removed.  When you call, they want anywhere from $299 to $899 to fix your computer.  WAIT.  There is nothing wrong with your computer.  DO NOT call the number.  Just shut down your computer for a few minutes and when you turn it back on the pop-up will be gone.  

Or you get a phone call from “Microsoft” or “Windows” or “Apple” saying your computer has a virus and they need to get on your computer remotely to fix it.  They will charge you for this AND when you give them access they will download ALL your personal information such as credit cards, banking info, contacts, etc.  In the case of the phone call - hang up.  No one at these legitimate companies knows what is going on with your computer and would never call you to get access to your computer.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of losing access to your computer.

 

Target Audience

All ages - the scammers don't know who's receiving their calls or pop-ups until you interact with them.

 

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COVID-19 scam alert

 

Overview

The last few months have brought unprecedented challenges for each person across our world,  This virus has kept people in their homes, closed businesses and schools, and has permeated the news waves with constant fear of being exposed to this devastating virus.  There are no known preventative medicines, vaccines or therapies, yet  scammers have used this as an opportunity  to sell you tests, preventative medicines,PPE’s,  miracle cure therapies, or the opportunity to be the  first in line to get the vaccine.  This is all bogus. When any legitimate remedies are available, the CDC will let citizens know. They also have developed  malware emails - one  saying it’s from John Hopkins University with a map of COVID-19 patients.  JHU does have such a map but they don’t send it out.  The scammer is spoofing the return address as JHU and gives you a link to click to see the map.  If you click on the link, they deposit malware on your computer to download all your personal information (bank, credit cards, etc.) We need to be very skeptical during this unsettling time and not fall for these scams.

 

Emotional Play

Fear, wanting to stay informed, curiosity.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Additional Resources

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

Centers for Disease Control

 

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Craig's list scam alert

 

Overview

When you post an ad on Craig’s list with a price determined for the item, the scammer will contact you with an offer of more than you are asking, but telling you the item will be picked up by someone else.  They will send you a check, could be a cashier’s check, and tell you to deposit the check in your bank, keep your asking price and give the overage to the person picking it up for transportation cost.  The bank may not discover the check is fraudulent for a few days so you will have already given the item and overage amount to the person picking up the item, then find out from your bank that the check is no good, you are out the item you were selling plus the overage cash.  Best way to avoid these scams is never do business with someone offering you more than you are asking, or indicates they are out of state and will send someone to pick up the item.

 

Emotional Play

Financial motivation.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Craig's List Rental Scam Alert

Overview

You see an ad on Craig’s List for a house or apartment for rent, a vacation home for rent, a mountain get away  --- sounds wonderful. They post pictures of the property.  They tell you they are out of the state or country so can’t show it to you.  Or that they are the property manager and are representing the owners. The price is really good.  They tell you many others want it so if you don’t get your deposit wired to them right away you will lose out.  No credit cards accepted.  Just wire them or use Cash app -- “wire transfer,” “money order,” “Western Union,” “Prepaid Visa,” and “Moneygram,” are all absolute red flag words. When you send money through these forms of payment, it is essentially impossible to get your money back. That’s why these forms of wire transfers are a scammer’s method of choice.  Except in some cases - the renter placing the ad is a scammer and doesn’t have the right to rent this out.  The real owner of the property doesn’t know what is going on until someone shows up on their doorstep to move in --- what a surprise for both of you. .  The owner is in the dark so they aren’t responsible for your loss.

Another case is where the scammer says s/he is the property manager and actually shows you the property. This is made possible by the property actually being on a legitimate property management website where you can “show yourself” property where you can register and get info to let yourself in to view the property.

The Craig's List scammer doesn’t have you fill in an application but you must get your deposit in right away via CashApp.

 

Emotional Play

Great offer (good location, good price), fear of missing out on the deal.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Resources

Report to Craig's List, local law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FTC.

 

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Delivery scam alert

 

Overview

You may receive a text, email or phone call indicating there is a delivery scheduled.  This could be from FED-X, UPS, USPS or Amazon.  They may say that before the package can be delivered, you need to pay the shipping or the price of the item.  You may not even remember ordering anything.  Or they give you a link to click on to get more information.  Since spoofing a legitimate company logo is easy to do, you should not rely on the message being legitimate if its asking you to pay for shipping or the price of the item.  If legit, these charges have already been paid when you ordered the item.

 

Emotional Play

Curiosity, material and/or financial gain.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Restraint Scam Alert

 

EXAMPLES:

Distraint scam envelope

Distraint scam letter

Overview

This is an attempt to defraud you with an official looking letter.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

Fear.

 

Resources

When in doubt, call the LCSO Crime Prevention Unit to discuss a suspicious letter.

 

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Door to door scam alert

 

Overview

Someone comes to your door and offers to check your roof for damage from the recent storm.  When they tell you about the damage, they offer you a great deal for them to fix it for you.  Pay them half (or full) upfront and they will do the work for you.  STOP!  Even if they have a sign on their truck indicating they are a contractor, it is very easy to get a magnetic sign saying any company name.  These scammers go door to door after a weather incident to see if they can con you into believing you have damage.  If you think you might, you should call a reputable company to come out and check your roof.  Most cases, there is no damage but the scammer just wants your money.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of damage to property.

 

Target Audience

All ages, seniors often targeted.

 

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EBay Scam Alert

Overview

Typically EBay sellers are legitimate sellers and when you order through EBay you have a purchase protection that comes with the purchase.  Some bad actors are posting something for sale on EBay and then when you order it they call you directly and give you a better deal on the item if you go around EBay.  This of course leaves you high and dry should the seller be a bad actor.  You not only give them your credit card number which they can use however they want, but you will not get your item and have no recourse through EBay.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

We love a better deal! Save money.
 

Resources

Report to EBay, FTC, credit reporting companies.  Watch your credit transactions for any suspicious charges.

 

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Email scam alert

 

Overview

An email hits your inbox from a seemingly legitimate company.  Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, credit card  company, a bank, or a high ranking official from another country.  They might say there is a problem with your account and you need to click on the link they provide, or the high ranking official or other overseas person has a lot of money they would like to give you (you are deserving, they are dying and want to share their wealth, etc.). Company names are easy to spoof and the scammer really wants your credit card number or your banking information (so they can deposit millions in your account.)  Remember - never click on a link and if it sounds too good to be true (like a stranger wanting to give you millions of dollars) it is not true.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of fraudulent use of your accounts, or financial benefit.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Examples and Additional Info

Emails can look very official from companies you might have done business with in the past.  Company logos can be easily copied as can information from a legitimate business’ website.  There are typically little red flags to alert you to possible suspicious activity, as shown on the examples.  The sender gives you a link, website, or phone number to call.  Links can provide the scammer with your personal information from your computer as well as a virus to your computer.  The phone number and website are the scammer's – not the official ones, so when you call you are speaking to the scammer’s call center

Email scam example 1

Email scam example 2

 

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Extortion scam alert

 

Overview

These emails are very disturbing, threatening, accusatory and disgusting.  The scammer has a password you may have used in the past or makes one up to bluff.  Tells you s/he has access to all our contacts, social media sites and websites.  If you don’t comply s/he will post disgusting things on all your sites and to your contacts about you using porn and other things.  They tell you they have access to all your internet usage and they know you are watching porn.  They also give you a timeframe to provide them their ransom (typically $2,000 in bit coins) or they will unleash their destruction on you.

 

Emotional Play

Fear, embarrassment.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Facebook Ad Scam Alert

Overview

Facebook and other social media sites typically have sponsored advertising on their sites. Some of these are legit and many are not. Export distributors represent many overseas companies and take orders for them. It may take months for your product to arrive - during Covid, overseas products will be sent by ship due to flight restrictions, which can then sit in customs for weeks after weeks of transit time. It could be 3 months before you get the product and the company will tell you it’s on the way. In many cases, the product you see on the ad is a really nice picture - but the product you receive is junk and not worth anywhere near what you paid. When you try to get a refund - they say you have to pay to return the product overseas and when they receive it they will refund. Or they say no refund just because you don’t like what they sent.

 

Emotional Play

Emotional purchase, unique product or discounted price.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Resources

If you pay by PayPal, go through the escalation process if the company balks. If by credit card, dispute the charge and give your reasons. If you never receive the product, also report as fraud.

 

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Grandparents scam alert

 

Overview

Using the very strong devotion to grandchildren, scammers will pretend to be your grandchild (Hi, grandma/pa - and you respond with “is that you Jimmy?”) They spin a tale about getting pulled over with dope in the car, running out of money, or other stories about being arrested.  They also will ask you not to tell their parents.  In some cases, they will even pass the phone over to the “police officer” so he can tell you what happened and how much the grandparents need to pay to get their grandchild released.  They also will stay on the line while you go to the bank or money card location to put the money on a card and provide the “officer” the code from the money card.  They won’t let you hang up because they don’t want you to call the parents and find out the grandchild is not in trouble.

 

Emotional Play

Love for grandchildren, protective, concern for their safety.

 

Target Audience

Seniors with grandchildren.

 

Additional Resources

Larimer County Office on Aging

 

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IRS scam alert

 

Overview

You owe the IRS back taxes!  Or so the caller says - either in person or by robocall.  Who wants to be guilty of that!  The problem with this is that the IRS never uses a phone call to let you know you owe back taxes,  They send you a letter through the US Post Office.  And they never ask you to pay through money cards or other sketchy methods.

 

Emotional Play

Fear of arrest, desire to be law abiding.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Sweepstakes scam alert

 

Overview

You have won!  Money!  Vacation!  Free lodging!  Sweepstake! Lottery!  WOW.  But guess what - you only have to pay a handling and shipping fee!  What a deal!  It’s like Christmas!  Oh wait - my Christmas presents don’t come with a shipping and handling fee.  These are just scammers trying to get money from you.  The old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true.”  If you won any of these prizes, it would be free.

 

Emotional Play

Excitement of getting a prize.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Online dating scam alert

 

Overview

These scammers prey on the human need for companionship.  They develop a nice profile and use one photo depicting a nice looking person (male or female) and place it on the various dating sites.  Sometimes you will notice awkward grammar when they start chatting with you.  They always have a reason for not meeting in person. They may say they are in the military and are going out of the country for a few months,  They may spend a month or two “courting”  you before they ask for money. They count on you being too embarrassed to report them when you figure out they are scammers.  Typically they are from overseas locations.

 

Emotional Play

Loneliness, romance, companionship, reluctance to report (embarrassment).

 

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors and grieving people most vulnerable.

 

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Law Enforcement Impersonation Scam

 

Overview

These scammers prey on the targets they feel are vulnerable and use law enforcement names to scare the target into paying in lieu of whatever the scammer is accusing the target of. This could be missing jury duty, warrants for arrest, or any other reason for the target to be afraid of being arrested - whether they broke the law or not. Most citizens are law abiding so are horrified to think that they have broken the law and might be arrested. 

Please remember - law enforcement does not call anyone to request money or payment for any type of activity over the phone. NEVER give funds or personal information over the phone. If you have questions about a call like this, call the crime prevention number (970-498-5159) to ask if the call is legitimate or not.

 

 

Emotional Play

Fear of being in trouble, protecting your good name.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Additional Resources

Call your local law enforcement agency to verify any contact received by phone:

  • LCSO 970-416-1985
  • Fort Collins Police Services 970-221-6540
  • Loveland Police Department 970-667-2151
  • Estes Park Police Department 970-586-4000

 

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Robocall scam alert

 

Overview

You answer your phone or get a voice mail indicating your credit card, bank account have been used fraudulently and you must call back or hit a number on your keypad to speak to someone to help you.  They also indicate, if a sales call, that you can be taken off the call list by pressing a certain key.  The best way to deal with these calls is to not call back and do not press any number.  Just delete.

 

Emotional Play

Fear, they want you to act quickly without thinking.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Examples

  • We need to speak to you about a warrant for your arrest

  • We need to speak to you about a person in your family missed court

  • We need to speak to you about fraudulent use of your credit card, or bank account

 

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Seeds Scam Alert

Overview

People have been receiving packages of seeds from China. They were never ordered - they just showed up. Or they receive some item that they never ordered. As much as we love planting things - be aware that these seeds could have bugs or other things we don’t want here in the US. Please use the process stated in the bulletin for taking care of these seeds. Don’t throw them away because they can still spread whatever they have. If you received some item you didn’t order - you do not have to return it. Nor do you have to pay for it.

 

Emotional Play

Free stuff. Curiosity (What will the seed sprout?).

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Resources

Watch your credit  card and bank statements for any transaction that you didn't make to ensure you are not getting billed for something you didn't order.

 

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Sex Offender Scam

 

Overview

These scammers prey on the targets they feel are vulnerable and use law enforcement names to scare the target into paying in lieu of whatever the scammer is accusing the target of. Sometimes they will target registered sex offenders due to the public record of their information. The scammer will tell the victim that they missed some administrative supervision requirement and will be arrested unless they pay money.

Please remember - law enforcement does not call anyone to request money or payment for any type of activity over the phone. NEVER give funds or personal information over the phone. If you have questions about a call like this, call the crime prevention number (970-498-5159) to ask if the call is legitimate or not.

 

 

Emotional Play

Fear of being in trouble, protecting your good name.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Additional Resources

Call your local law enforcement agency to verify any contact received by phone:

  • LCSO 970-416-1985
  • Fort Collins Police Services 970-221-6540
  • Loveland Police Department 970-667-2151
  • Estes Park Police Department 970-586-4000

 

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Share My Winnings Scam Alert

Overview

There are many wonderful people in the world that are willing to share their fortune with others.  BUT there are more scammers who say they will share but need your personal information to do it.  You don’t know this person and even if you know you are special, this stranger isn’t really giving you this share of his winnings because he thinks you are special.  This really could be the name of the winner, and his picture might even be legit - but the person sending it and the link are not legit - they are just using his name and picture.  They want your personal info and maybe even a payment in order to process this.

 

Target Audience

Anyone with a cell phone.

 

Emotional Play

Free money / windfall / economic relief. "Wow, I can get caught up!"

 

Resources

Report the message to your cellular provider and delete it.

 

Example

I'm Mr. Manuel Franco, the Powerball winner of  768  Million in Powerball Millions Jackpot, click here to see my winning interview *https://www.youtuxe.com/watbh?v=sT--2y1G7zC0 I'm donating to 200 random individuals. If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball. I have spread most of my wealth over a number of charities and Organisations. I have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of  50,000 USD to you as one of the selected 200, to verify your winnings send a text to the agent in charge. Here is the number of the agent Donald Creed in charge (+13302577558), text him for confirmation and delivery of your winning.

*link changed to avoid someone clicking  on it.

 

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Social security scam alert

 

Overview

You receive a call or email alerting you to the fact that your social security number has been used in fraudulent activities and has been placed on hold.  They want you to contact them to provide your personal information and money since you could be arrested or have legal action taken against you.  This is a scam.

Thieves are misusing the Social Security Administration’s authority in phone schemes to trick you into giving them money or personal information. They state there is a problem with your Social Security number or account. They claim there has been suspicious or fraudulent activity and you could be arrested or face other legal action. They even spoof SSA’s main customer-service telephone number on caller ID. Don’t believe them. Don’t provide any information. SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise benefits in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent.

Just hang up!

 

Emotional Play

Fear of arrest, fear of breaking the law, fear that someone is using your social security number fraudulently.

 

Target Audience

All ages, focused on people receiving Social Security benefits.

 

Resources

Social Security Fraud Hotline 1-800-269-0271

 

Example

Scammer message: Department of the Social Security Administration. The reason of this call is to inform you that your Social Security number has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity. If you do not contact us immediately, your account will be deactivated. For more information about this case file, press 1 or call immediately our department number XXX-XXX-XXXX.

 

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Stimulus check scam alert

 

Overview

The pandemic has created many emotions - fear, unrest, isolation, financial worries, helplessness and many other feelings that typically are not as strong or active as they are during this time.  Many people are depending on the recovery/stimulus check that was promised by the Federal Government.  Scammers saw a way to capitalize on this to offer a way to get your stimulus check faster by giving them your bank details.

 

Emotional Play

Financial worries, fear, frustration.

 

Target Audience

All ages. Seniors and those who do not use direct deposit most vulnerable.

 

Additional Resources

Internal Revenue Service

 

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Threatening Text Message Scam Alert

Overview

This threatening scam has been happening in other parts of the US but is now popping up in Northern Colorado.  Using public information, it attempts to make you think you have messed with someone related to the cartel and now you are being fined $2,500 or other amount.  If you don’t pay, they threaten to hurt your family and they include gory pictures of mutilated /murdered bodies to make sure you know they mean business.  They say they have researched you and know everything about you - but they really only have the public information.

 

Emotional Play

Fear

 

Target Audience

All Ages

 

Resources

Send any documentation to  LCSO - Barbara Bennett.  Do not respond,  Make a fraud report on ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

 

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Example

Threatening Text Message Scam Example

 

Trial scam alert

 

Overview

There is a TV ad, a phone call or an email offering you a fabulous product for free - just pay a small amount for  shipping/handling. You have 30 days to try it! Sounds great, right? Well, in the really small print, it says you must return the product within 30 day otherwise you will be billed for the full amount. In addition, you will be signed up for a monthly subscription for a product every month and you will be billed at full price. The full price of the product is quite expensive and the 30 day window starts when you order, not when you receive the product. It could take up to two weeks to receive the product. The company has your credit card so will bill you continuously.

 

Emotional Play

Hope that the product will help you look younger, the product will help you lose weight, help prevent you from getting sick, etc.  Embarrassment to report.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

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Unemployment Scam Alert

 

Overview

This scam has really hit during the COVID 19 pandemic to take advantage of those that have not applied for unemployment benefits. The scammer has and is misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and date of birth. 

The unemployment payments usually are deposited to accounts the imposters control. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person’s account, instead. If this happens to you, the imposters may call, text, or email to try to get you to send some or all of the money to them. They may pretend to be your state unemployment agency and say the money was sent by mistake. This a money mule scam and  participating in one could cause you more difficulties.

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

If you have received a 1099 for unemployment you have not applied for, please ensure you follow the recommended action in the Unemployment Benefits Scam card to protect yourself.  In addition, the Colorado dept of Labor and Employment provides the following info:

If you have received a 1099-G document from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment but did not file a claim for unemployment benefits, you may be a victim of identity theft. Unfortunately, fraudsters steal or purchase private information from illicit data brokers and use that information to file fraudulent unemployment claims. While we have a sophisticated multi-factor program in place to flag suspected fraud, no system is perfect.

Here’s what you should do if you’ve received a 1099-G document from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment but did not file a claim for unemployment benefits:

  1. Report it using the Report Invalid 1099 formhttps://co.tfaforms.net/f/Report_Invalid_1099  

  2. For more info on the scam - https://cdle.colorado.gov/tax-form-1099-g    

  3. Contact the three consumer credit bureaus and put a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number (SSN). Credit Bureau Contact Info: Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 | Experian: 1-888-397-3742 | TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289  

For more information from the IRS, go to https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-offers-guidance-to-taxpayers-on-identity-theft-involving-unemployment-benefits

 

Emotional Play

Fear of negative impact.

 

Target Audience

Anyone who hasn't applied for emergency unemployment benefits.

 

Resources

Colorado Department of Labor - Report Fraud Here

Federal Trade Commission - Unemployment Benefits

 

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Unemployment Text Scam Alert

 

Overview

This is a variation of the Unemployment Benefits Scam, just using a different way of reaching you. Clicking on the link will allow the scammer to take your personal information and perhaps even drop a virus as a token of their appreciation.

 

Emotional Play

It must be official - I am curious if I didn't make an unemployment claim and if I did this must be important.

 

Target Audience

Anyone with a smartphone.

 

Resources

If you made an unemployment claim, go directly to the CDLE website and check on your claim. Never click links.

Colorado Department of Labor - Report Fraud Here

Federal Trade Commission - Unemployment Benefits

 

Examples

Scam Text Messages

Scam Text Messages

Scam Text Messages

 

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US Bank Reliacard Scam Alert

Overview

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment uses a debit Visa card (USBANK RELIA) to deposit unemployment benefits to those that apply for unemployment benefits. If you have NOT applied for unemployment, and receive this visa card, it possibly could be a scam.

 

Target Audience

Those that haven't applied for unemployment benefits. This is part of the Unemployment Benefits scam that has been going viral across the country. In some cases, a number of cards in different names could appear in your mailbox.

 

Resources

De-activate the card and monitor your credit cards and bank accounts for anything suspicious.

Also review the Unemployment Benefits Scam card for additional details.

 

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Utility Bill Scam Alert

Overview

Scammers (bad actors) have used this phishing scam for quite awhile but during this time of Covid, it is especially alarming to many citizens that have had a tough time paying all their bills, including their electric bill. It is alarming to hear your electricity will be turned off within a few minutes so many are willing to do whatever they need to do to keep their power on. The scammer may also ask for payment in untraceable methods such as wire transfer, money cards, etc.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

Alarm, fear.
 

Resources

If you want to assure your bill is current, or if you are overdue, contact the phone number on your utility bill. NEVER give your payment on the phone to the caller.

 

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Wildfire Damage Scam Alert

Overview

Sadly, when a disaster hits, scammers figure out how to capitalize on the tragedy to bilk you out of your money. It is up to you to be very alert to uninvited offers to fix your damage especially at a “great deal” and all you have to do is pay up front. Then they take your money and are gone.

 

Target Audience

All ages.

 

Emotional Play

We are emotionally drained, our home is damaged, and someone offers a great deal and they will give you the help you need.

 

Resources

Do your homework and if you need a contractor to help you - check out the reputable local contractors with a solid history and references and initiate the call yourself. Roving contractors looking for business is a huge red flag.

 

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Will You Do Me a Favor Scam Alert

Overview

Somehow the scammer has access to your contacts and is pretending to be your real friend.  Real friends don’t ask you to buy gift cards even if they are out of town.  Nor do they ask you to peel off the silver and give them the access numbers.  Only scammers ask you to do that.  Keep in mind that even if your friend is out of town they can buy their own gift cards anywhere and not ask you. 

 

Emotional Play

We always want to help our friends.  We just have to know which are real friends and which are real scammers.

 

Target Audience

Anyone who uses email.

 

Resources

If you ever fall victim to something like this and lose money, please file a police report and monitor your banking and credit card information. 

 

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If you have fallen victim to a scammer, remember these 7 important steps:

  1. Do not communicate further with the scammer.  They are criminals and some are dangerous. Never offer to travel to meet them to claim your money or prize, pay them to receive your prize, exchange products from Craig’s list or give out your address and other personal information.
  2. Contact your bank immediately and ask them to monitor your account for unusual activity. Ask them if it is necessary for you to close out your current accounts and open new ones. You can also refer to our Identity Theft Prevention page for more information.
  3. Contact the fraud departments of one of the three major credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your account. They will pass the info to the other two. This will require credit agencies to contact you before opening any new accounts or making changes to your current accounts.  
    1. Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
    2. Experian - 1-800-525-6285
    3. Transunion - 1-800-680-7289
  4. File a Police Report with your local law enforcement if you have lost money to the scammer. Ask for a copy of the report to submit to your bank, credit agencies and other financial institutions for proof that a crime was committed. If you have not lost money but want to report the scam, call or email Barbara Bennett, 970-682-0597.
  5. File a fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission - www.ftc.gov and  www.identitytheft.gov. 
  6. Document and save all conversations you have with the scammers, whether by text, email or phone, and with your bank, the credit agencies, and law enforcement. Include the date and time of when you had a conversation, who you spoke with (person's name and extension number if applicable), the phone number you contacted and the information you provided.
  7. Monitor bank and credit card activities closely. Report any suspicious activity.

NEVER DO THESE:

Never - Click on a link from an unknown source

Never - Give any personal information over the phone

Never - Pay for anything via money or gift cards or wire transfers

Never - call the numbers provided by a scammer pretending to be a legitimate business - these calls go directly to the scammer.

Never - pay strangers via cash apps (Venmo, etc.)

Never - pay for something prior to seeing it (rentals through Craig’s List)

 

 

PLEASE familiarize yourself with the scams listed on this website so if you are contacted you will be aware that it is a scam!  Check back frequently since new scams are always added!

FAQs

  1. Hi everyone,
     
    I don't know what is in the air but there are more scammers buzzing around looking for free money than there are mosquitos!  
     
    Since last time, in addition to  the "usual" scams we see, there have been new scams and new twists to old ones.  Here is a run-down.  As always, periodically check the website for new scams in between newsletters.
     
    #1  NEW SCAM ALERT --  GOOGLE VOICE VERIFICATION CODE SCAM
    If you are selling goods on-line (facebook, marketplace, craigslist, etc.), a scammer poses as an interested buyer.  They then want to check to make sure you as the seller are legit.  They ask for your phone number and then send you a google voice verification code and tell you to give them the 6 digit code to confirm you are legit and then they will call you for details on how to pick up the item.  Except they won't call you because all they wanted was your code to set up a fraudulent google voice account to be able to scam others without detection (in your name of course.)  So if you are selling something online and get asked for your phone number, just say no!  If they send you a code, do NOT give it to them.   If you read this newsletter after you have already given this out, the attached word document gives you the instructions on how to get your phone number back and stop this scammer from using your number.
     
    #2   ONLINE DATING SCAM
    Scammers are both male and female and target vulnerable people of any age.  They tell you what you want to hear, they get to know you through chatting and then use this info to set up a bond with you and then build up to asking for money.  Sometimes they get to that point in a week, or maybe a month.  They are patient.  They send you pictures.  They may want to come visit you.  But you can't meet up with them yet.  If they say they want to come visit you, they will devise a story right before the planned  visit that sets them up to ask for money.  For instance, I got sick and in the hospital, my home was burglarized, etc.  Then they will use it as an excuse to ask for money with the promise of paying you back.  Red Flags - You can't meet in person for one reason or another.  Pictures can be downloaded from the internet - it doesn't mean it is actually the person.   Awkward grammar.  Too good to be true.  Asking for money.  Scammers can be found on any website.  Proceed with caution.
     
    #3  NEPHEW SCAM
    7:20 am "Barbara?  I didn't wake you did I?  This is Kevin.  Kevin your nephew. "  Now Kevin starts getting really upset - "I was at a friend's wedding and drank too much and caused a wreck.  They are charging me with careless driving.  My parents will be so upset. I got really hurt - my nose is broken and I have a dislocated shoulder" -- at this point Kevin is sounding much more nasal (due to broken nose) and starting to get more distraught and even sob here and there.  "I can hardly breathe.  Can you contact my public defender?  get a paper and pencil."  I share with Kevin that I am surprised he isn't charged with DUI and ask what he wants me to say to his attorney?  "Find out the bond (sob, sob) and pay it so I can get out.  I will pay you back."   Unfortunately when I told Kevin I hope he got life in jail I think I hurt his feelings and he hung up on me.   I don't have a nephew called Kevin.  This is a rewrite of the GRANDPARENT SCAM".  I would call it the KEVIN SCAM but I bet there will be other names for Kevin!
     
    #4  XCEL, PUBLISHERS CLEARINGHOUSE, CRAIGS LIST, PAYPAL, AMAZON PRIME SCAMS
    These are oldies but goodies but have been popping up a lot lately.  Xcel doesn't ask you for money cards on the phone, Publishers does not charge you for winning something nor do you have to pay taxes up front,  be cautious on Craig's list and logos such as Paypal, Amazon, etc. can easily be copied and pasted to look legit.  Don't call the number and don't click the link if you get an email saying they are confirming a big order you placed to be shipped to an unknown person.
     
    #5   THE GOOD NEWS!
    Indeed there is a rainbow!  Here are just a few scammers that are getting their just desserts!
    • Two people indicted for  health care fraud,  facing conspiracy charges and 14 counts of health care fraud.  Facing prison time.
    • Wire and bank fraud charges - money laundering schemes,  to the tune of $60m.  Sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $30m in restitution.
    • Social security number ID theft - sentenced to two years in prison and one year of supervised probation.
    This is cause for celebration!
     
    Please check out our website for more information on scams and stay safe!  Have a great fall!
     
     
    Barb
  2. Hello everyone -
     
    It has certainly been a crazy summer - floods, heat, smoke, etc.  Unfortunately, this hasn't slowed down the scammers.   Here is an overview of scam calls since our last newsletter.  By no means are these the only ones, but just a few  so you can be extra wary if you happen to be contacted by one of these scammers.
     
    #1 -  The scammer calls you right after you call your carrier (e.g., Century Link) for problems you have with your computer.  Caller ID says "Century Link" - the caller has a heavy Indian accent and tells you he is going to fix your problem. You have to give him permission to get on your computer.  He also tells you there is a refund they owe you.  $270.  You are supposed to type it into the form and instead of $270 - it pops up $27,000.  Scammer is upset that it was the wrong number and asks you to open your bank account to see if it actually went through,  You open it, and alas, there it is in your checking.  Now he wants you to wire transfer the $27,000 back - not to Century Link but to the scammer's boss so he can put the money back into Century Link without them knowing about the mistake.  Fortunately your bank doesn't do that - and you the discover that the $27,000 in your checking was moved from another of your bank accounts into your checking.  How can the scammer do that?  Easy - he has access to your computer, banking info, personal info, credit info, etc.  While he was talking to you he was downloading your info.  
    RED FLAGS - Accent, asking to get on your computer, asking for a wire transfer, and asking you to send it to his boss in New York rather than Century Link.  Thankfully the potential victim realized it was a scam before he paid this $27,000.  The potential victim thought it was legitimate because he had recently called Century Link for the problem, the Called ID said Century Link, and he was distracted by some other things going on so wasn't as aware as usual.
     
     #2 - GEICO CLAIM (or other insurance companies)-  scammer files a fraudulent claim for a car accident against your policy.
     
    #3 - Scammer calls from US Treasury" and indicates you are in trouble and must pay $900 by a certain time that evening. or you will be arrested.
     
    #4 - Message from Quick Books, McAfee, Amazon Prime, Geek Squad, etc. regarding the charge for your subscription . (You don't have a subscription, nor did you order one.)
     
    #5 - Publishers Clearinghouse prize - you won!  millions or a new car, etc.  Just pay the handling, or pay the taxes.  Sends you a letter from the IRS, Publishers Clearinghouse, BBB, etc. claiming its legitimate.  You are required to pay.  Scammer name - John Goldberg. Since there is a sweepstake running now, beware of any phone call or email or text saying you won and you have to pay your taxes, or handling.  Your taxes would be automatically deducted from your winnings if this was real.  
     
    #6.  Excel scammer is at it again.  "You have 30 minutes to pay this or we are shutting off your utilities.  You must pay over the phone with money cards" -- Excel or any other utility never does this.  
     
    #7 -  Police impersonator - calling from LCSO with a valid sergeant's name saying you missed a court date and had to pay over the phone with money card.  Law enforcement never calls and asks for money on the phone.  
     
    #8 - Child credit of up to $300 per child.  Someone contacts you to help you sign up for your benefits or get the money faster.  Can be by email, phone, text or social media.  They are trying o steal your identity or money (money transfer, gift card, cash payment apps like CashApp, Venmo or Zelle.)  You DO NOT have to apply for these benefits - you will automatically get this based on your last year's tax return.
     
    #9 - Emails from bank or credit card fraud department asking you to  re-verify your account.  They send a link to re-verify.  Please never click on these links.
     
    #10 - Door to door salesperson from DISH or other company wants to come in and tell you about benefits of switching to their company.  They need your social security number, credit card number, drivers license number, etc.  PLEASE NEVER LET A STRANGER IN YOUR HOUSE, AND NEVER GIVE THEM PERSONAL INFORMATION.  This is not only dangerous for your money but could be dangerous to your person.
     
    Whew.  Thank you for being alert and savvy when these creeps  come calling. (or emailing, or texting, or at your door.)  Please continue to check our website for new scams, take every precaution to protect your personal information.  These creeps are relentless so we have to stop them by being aware of their tricks and foiling their attempts.
     
    Remember -
    NEVER CLICK ON A LINK  (unless you are absolutely sure it is legit from a friend or family.  Even then, check directly with them to ensure it is from them)
    NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
    NEVER LET ANYONE HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR COMPUTER (unless you have brought it to be repaired)
     
    If you have any questions, concerns or want to share scam info, please email or call me.  Also, please pass this info along to everyone you know - 
     
    Enjoy your summer and stay safe.
     
    Barb
  3. Hello everyone -
     
    I hope you all are enjoying our spring and heat waves mixed with lovely cool weather this week.  Here are a few of the scams we are dealing with now and some that might be on the horizon.  As always - be cautious and wary of scammers posing as people that have your best interest at heart in exchange for your personal information and, of course, your money.
     
    #1 -  A "Mr Franco" sent out a text message (on my personal and work cell phone telling me he is sharing his winnings with me.  All I have to do is click on the link.  He has sent the same message out to many of you as well.   Here is what the text says --
     

    "I'm Mr. Manuel Franco, the Powerball winner of  768  Million in Powerball Millions Jackpot, click here to see my winning interview https://www.youtube.cam/wxtch?v=sTv2y187zC0 (I have changed the link so it is unusable.)   I'm donating to 200 random individuals. If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball. I have spread most of my wealth over a number of charities and Organisations. I have voluntarily decided to donate the sum ofNote -   50,000 USD to you as one of the selected 200, to verify your winnings send a text to the agent in charge. Here is the number of the agent Donald Creed in charge (+133xxx07558), text him for confirmation and delivery of your winning."

     
    I was overwhelmed with joy to think that a stranger thought I was so special he was going to send me this free money - and since it came to both my phones I think I will be getting this amount twice!  Oops - even though I think I am special, I also think Mr Franco is a scammer!  Just remember - if it looks too good to be true -- IT IS!  This is a classic SMISHING (phishing via text) scam.  Please beware of clicking any link in a text you receive.
     
    #2 -  The extortion scam - "I know you watch child porn and if you pay $900 to Cyber Blake Network we will not  share this with your contacts" ---- this is a phishing scam.  Just delete
    .
     
    #3 -  Calls from a local business like Coloradoan asking for your credit card to pay for your subscription.  Always go directly to the business website to check on your subscription or amount you may owe.  NEVER give your credit card over the phone.
     
    #4 -  Computer scam - via phone or pop up on your screen.  If you get a call for a virus on your computer - HANG UP.  They want two things - your personal info from your computer and money to fix the virus.  If you get a pop up - and sometimes a robotic voice telling you not to turn off your computer - they want the same thing,  They don't want you to turn off your computer because it makes their pop up go away and un-freezes your screen.  TURN OFF your computer completely and restart. We have had people lose large amounts of money and their personal information (banking, credit cards, etc.)  The scammer tells you to go to Best Buy or other retailers and buy large quantities of gift cards and give them the code from the back over the phone.  Then they want access to your computer to fix it and download all your information,  Whether by phone or pop up - know that your computer is NOT infected and never give them access or money in any form.
     
    #5 -  Job scams - you receive a call regarding a job that fits your skills and  it sounds great.  The person sends you a link to fill out all the information for the application -  the company doesn't appear in the Better Business bureau website but the company does have a website.  (The website was just created last month.)  It looks legit - but even though you may be looking for a job - this came out of the blue.  BEWARE - this doesn't look like an established business and it could be just a way to get you to fill out your personal information.  If you cannot authenticate that this is a legitimate business and you didn't initiate the contact, do not fill out personal info and do not click on the link.
     
    There are always potential opportunities for scammers to capitalize on so please be very wary --
     
    1.  With all the bonus benefits like child care checks, unemployment payments, vaccine incentives,   scammers can definitely find ways to use these to their advantage.  Please use caution if you are contacted for anything that looks too good to be true, requests personal information), wants pre-payment for something, etc.  
     
     2.  People on social media or Next Door apps asking for money or help due to financial issues (rather than giving money --let them know about all the  local resources available to help them).    It definitely is a tough time for many, but it is difficult to tell scammers from those in need.  It is more beneficial to the person to have resources to go to if they are in need of assistance.
     
    Please visit our scams page for more details on other scams and what to do if you get contacted by one of these scammers.  Feel free to contact me via cell or email if you have any questions about the legitimacy of a call or email (or SMISH).  The only way we can stop these _________, (fill in your favorite word) is to be educated and alert about scams so we don't fall for their story.
     
     
    Enjoy your summer!  Until next time......
     
    Barb
  4. Happy spring/winter/spring -

    Our weather is pretty crazy.  Hope you are enjoying whatever the weather is at your house!  Here is just an overview of what has been percolating in the scam world.  

    Amazon email telling you your order is arriving at an unknown address in another state.  You ordered a $4000 TV and $1088 in speakers.  So they are charging you $5,168.50.  They give you an 800 number to call.  I called it and spoke with a gentleman from another country,  it did not go well.  It looks legit except when you see the "from" is intranet@otsspa.com.  They give you a tracking number and order number.  The subject is "Your Order # xx-xxxxx-zzzzzz is out for shipping.  Don't worry though - it is a scam.  You didn't order it in your sleep.  Just delete.

    Business practices - the business doesn't do what was agreed upon, doesn't do the job, or someone is trading out rent for fixing your rental and they don't pay nor do they do the work.  Do not ever pay in cash up front, get a signed contract detailing the services and price, and get references - and follow up contacting those references.  Don't pay until the job is complete and acceptable.  If you give a down payment - use a credit card so you have some protection if the deal falls through,  Never pay with money of gift cards, cash or cash apps like Venmo.

    Auto warranty calls - multiple times a day you get a call because your warranty is up.  These are so annoying - but here are a few ideas.  Let calls go to voicemail and then just delete it.  Sign up your landline AND your cell phone on the DO NOT CALL registry.

    Please do me a favor - a friend or fellow parishioner sends an email asking you to do a favor by getting money or gift cards for them since they are out of town.  Or from your Pastor asking for help for someone in your church.  They want you to give them the codes on the back of the money card.  These are scams using your contact list which the scammer has gotten hold of,  Never buy gift or money cards and give anyone the codes on the back.

    Unemployment scams are still very active along with the Relia card.  Check our website for how to handle these scams.

    Social security - calls to let you know your SS# has been doing unlawful acts and is going to be suspended if you don't pay to clear it up.  Just hang up -- it's a scam.

    These are just a few of the scams that are happening but please always be cautious.  Guard your personal information and your money - be wary and alert.  Check out our website at www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams and feel free to share any of the information on the website with the "share" button.

     

    Enjoy our confused weather patterns!  Until next time --- 

    Barb, Chief Scambuster

  5. HAPPY SPRING!  The flowers are popping up and are a breath of fresh air after the last winter and pandemic.  But alas, more snow will cover those flowers.  Scammers are also popping up.   Rather than write an essay on each, I will just give the highlights and the details can be found on our webpage.  www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams.  Otherwise, this newsletter would be a novel.  

    1.  Unemployment, USBank Relia Card and the 1099-G are all part of the UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS SCAM.  It is still going viral. Estimated over $63 billion has been paid out to fraudulent claims.  

    2.  Facebook Marketplace - someone hacks your facebook and posts something for sale under your name.  They take the money and never produces  the product since it is fictitious.  Then readers blame you for being a scammer and want their money back.  (I will be posting a new scam card on this in a few days).

    3.  Smishing (the text form of phishing) - you receive texts from CDLE (Colo Dept of Labor and Employment) telling you to click on the link for updates on your unemployment.  Please remember - NEVER CLICK ON AN UNKNOWN LINK.  It may look legitimate but it could just leave you with a virus or take your personal information.

    4.  IRS imposter scam targeting college students and staff - targets those with a .edu email address.  They send legitimate looking emails saying they have information on your tax refund.  They want you to click a link and submit a form to get your refund.  NEVER CLICK A LINK.  Note that the IRS NEVER sends an email as a first contact with you.  They send you a letter.  The scammer just wants your personal information.

    5.  Will you do me a favor? - you get an email from a "friend" (you may have a friend with that name) asking you to do him/her a favor by picking up some gift cards for you (maybe for a birthday of a relative, etc.) and give them the card numbers so they can send on to their relative.  Your friend's email was hacked.  If you do this and give the scammer the numbers - your money is gone.  

    6.  Paying for services upfront - you pay for services before they are done is a great way to lose out both money and services.  Get everything in writing, check the standing of a business  through BBB, google reviews and call their reference before you give them the contract or money, and set up payment as services are being done not before.  If you are trading services for rent - monitor each month whether that service is being done. 

    Here are some things to remember and share with others.

    1.  NEVER click on links even if it looks legit.

    2.  NEVER pay anything by money card or gift cards.

    3.  NEVER buy anything from someone using Venmo or cash apps - only use those methods for paying friends and relatives.  

    4.  NEVER pay for services upfront. check references, BBB, and reviews before you choose a service provider. Pay a small down and pay additionally as services are completed.

    5.  NEVER pay strangers over the phone.

    Thank you all for being such great Scambusters!  I so appreciate you sending me information on scams you are receiving via email, phone, texting, etc.  You are helping all of us get more knowledgeable about watching out for scams.

    Take care - stay watchful.  Keep sending me info and check our website regularly for new scams.

    Barb

  6. Hello everyone -

    February has been a very busy month with scammers using email, phone and text messaging to reach out and help themselves to our money.   Right now, the most prevalent scam has been filing for unemployment benefits in your name, USBank Relia card, and now you might be receiving a 1099 for the unemployment benefits you have not requested nor received.   

    The Unemployment Benefits scam has resulted in over $36 billion dollars lost across the U.S.  In Colorado, about one million potentially fraudulent claims have been submitted -vs- about the same legitimate claims.  So far, Colorado has losts about $6.5 million in fraudulent claims but the CDLE estimates these fraud protocol flags have saved paying out about $7 billion in claims.  They have started a program called ID.me to help protect legitimate claims.  Recently they sent out 69.7K requests for claimants to provide their ID.me proof and only 14.3k have responded.  Please note that any email correspondence from a government agency that you receive should end in .gov.  If not, it's not legit.

     Scammers are now using text messaging (SMISHING) to get you to click on their link for an important notice from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) - so beware and don't click on it.  There are specific actions we recommend if you receive any of these so please check our website for these scam cards.  We should be prepared for another round since the unemployment ends soon and a new wave of applications will be coming through if the Senate approves the latest bill.  

    Where are the scammers getting your information?  From data breaches such as the 2018 Marriott International breach, or Equifax at breach in 2017 that impacted anyone with a credit card.  They also can get it from you How are the scammers getting the benefits?  They try to get the pin number to access the benefits on the Relia Card.  

    Another topic that has come up in the last few months has been  dealing with some businesses that have not lived up to their end of the contract for services and have already been paid for the services.  Here are some things you should be aware of when purchasing services or products -

    • Always pay with a credit card or Paypal so you have some protection if the product or service either doesn't happen or is not what the agreement was for.  Never use Venmo or other cash transaction apps unless it's a family member or friend - once you send the money you can't get it back and you have no protection.  Never use your debit card - the money goes directly out and you have no protection on that either.  Never pay someone with gift or money cards - if they ask you for this - red flag for a scam.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau or google the company to check their reviews.

    Email scams are hot right now - remember that these scammers can copy a logo of reputable business and use it in their scam.  They also copy the formatting of correspondence and use in their email.  I have seen Apple, Geek Squad, Best Buy, Amazon and many other emails using the company logo and telling me to click on a link or get back with them for a purchase of hundreds of dollars that I supposedly made or my Amazon Prime is renewing.  There are usually tell tale hints that it is a scam but many times people miss them and fall for the scam.  We have some examples of these emails on our scams webpage.  

    Phone calls - every day and all day - best advice is not to answer a call unless you are positive you know the person - let it go to voicemail.  Never push any numbers (they say - press ## to be taken off the list) and don't call them back.   Nomorobo.com is great for reducing robo calls on your landline (and it's free) - my phone rings just once and then I know it was a robo call that got shut down.  You can also get it on your cell phone but they do charge for that.  There are other apps for cell phones as well.  The FTC and carriers are all trying to slow these down but it is a very complicated challenge but at least they are working on it.

    I hope you are all well and sharing scam information far and wide.  Please stay safe, enjoy the spring like weather and continue to be alert.

  7. Hi all -
     
    For the first time I am including a note about something that is NOT a scam.  I have received many calls about a Visa debit card called the Economic Impact payment  that is supposed to be the card the government will place your Covid relief fund money if you aren't currently set up to get your tax refunds via direct deposit.  IRS didn't give me a call to tell me what they were doing so I had to do some research to find out if this was legit or not.  From what I can tell, this is legit so don't toss the card!  Follow the instructions in the letter and then hold on to your card.  I do not know if there will be another portion of relief funds approved by Congress or if they will use this same Visa debit going forward.  This card should have whatever portion up to $600 that you are due from the Covid relief package that they recently sent out.  It appears that this card is not loadable so the IRS may send a new one out for whatever the next relief check is, but just for caution's sake - hold on to your card after you get your money.  
     
    Here is what the envelope you receive in the mail looks like -

    Sample EIP Card envelope
     
    You can also go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments to get more official information on the IRS website.
     
    As always - check back frequently on our webpage for any new or re surging scams.  Right now the Unemployment and Reliacard scams are rampaging so if you get a notice that someone filed an unemployment claim in your name, or another name to your address, or you receive a Reliacard in the mail - please check the website for what our recommended actions are for you.
  8. Hello all -
     
    Please be alert to two scams that have really lit up the airwaves.
     
    UNEMPLOYMENT /US BANK RELIA CARD SCAM
    Your employer informs you of receiving an unemployment benefits application from you.  You didn't apply for it.  You also may receive a US Bank Reliacard for your unemployment benefits (which you did NOT apply for).  We have been getting hundreds of reports of these scam applications.  Here is what you need to do -
    UNEMPLOYMENT SCAM
    1.  File a report with law enforcement (Larimer County call non-emergency number 970-416-1985)
    2.  File a fraud complaint at https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention.
    3.  Report identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov 
    4.  Place a fraud alert on your credit at one of the credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.  
    5.  Request a  free copy of your credit report from each and review for any suspicious activity.
    6.  Contact your bank to let them know your personal info has been compromised.  
    7.  Monitor your banking/credit transactions closely for any suspicious activity.
    USBANK RELIACARD (in addition to the above action)
    Call USBank and deactivate card.
    Go to US Bank website and file a report under "card inquiry" tab.
     
    COMPUTER SCAM
    I have been hit with this one twice this week and yesterday I received a call from someone who purchased $2,000 in Best Buy gift cards because that is what the person told him to do when he called the number on the screen to get it fixed.  In addition, they asked him to allow them to get on his computer to fix it and they downloaded all his personal information such as credit card, banking, etc.  They then moved money from his savings to his checking.  Best Buy did not alert him to this being a scam.  
     
    You get a bunch of pop-ups on your screen with warnings and a number to call - while your computer has a loud pulsing alarm going off and a voice telling you NOT to turn off your computer.  After experiencing this twice this week I can attest to the level of alarm you feel when these sirens go off and a voice is telling you not to turn off your computer.  
     
    Here's what you need to do -  TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER.  WAIT A FEW MINUTES AND RESTART.  The pop-up will be gone.  NEVER give anyone access to your computer, and NEVER pay anyone with money or gift cards.  
     
    Please check out our webpage for updates on scams and new scams we have to be wary of.  
     
     
    Please feel free to share this and any of the scam cards on the website with all your friends and family.  Awareness is the only way we will protect ourselves from these bad actors.
     
    Happy new year!  
  9. Happy New Year!  It's finally 2021.  We hope you had a good end of 2020 and beginning of 2021.  

    Over these holidays, I have been seeing (and receiving) various email scams related to the pandemic.  If you are due a stimulus check, it will automatically be deposited in your bank account if you have chosen direct deposit on your income taxes.  If not, the government will send you a paper check.  They will not email you - or call you.  Here are just a few examples of some of these emails - and some red flags - 

    • the subject could say "stimulus" or some version - and could be incorrectly spelled
    • the email address "from" has nothing to do with the government or stimulus checks
    • the email asks you to fill out a form or click on a link (never do this)
    • the grammar is strange
    • spelling errors  

    Sample #1:  note red flags in red

    Tanya <newsletter@refinanceset.com>

    REMINDER: This wiIl end soon...
    Have you been affected financiaIiy by the 2020 pandemic?
    If so, you may be eIigible for new stimuIus help
    FiIi out this quick onIine appIication to quaIify----spelling error and link - please do not try this link
    Time is of the essence
    Have a great day, 
    Notice Dept

    Click here to unsubscribe

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Sample #2:  note the "from" is from Equifax but the address is "nicestshops

    Equifax/Update <Hannah@nicestshopss.live>

    this email was full of links for you to click on to get your credit info. 

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Sample #3:  note Shirley is from "sales@realsolutions4all - she is not affiliated with any government assistance

    Shirley Martin <sales@realsolutions4all.com>

    Americans are being urged to check their approvals status for new Gov't assistance.  There are new programs as well as existing ones which many people simply have not applied for.  In order to assure attainment of your full check due, complete your submission  (note - they want you to click on this link but its not for government assisted programs)

    Happy Monday

    Click here to unsubscribe
    Your News Now, 3501 Jack Northrop Ave, Suite #ANI067, Hawthorne, CA 90250
     

    ______________________________________________________________________

    I am also hearing about the Craig's list rental scam being active - please remember - NEVER pay for a rental (or anything else) via Velle, Venmo, money cards, wire transfer, etc.  If you do, you will not see your money again.  This is why scammers use these methods - because you have no protection if it's a scam.  Once you pay them your money is gone and cannot be traced.  Also, never pay for rentals until the person renting can show you the property in person - this is another tool for scammers - they will say they are out of town and can't show you the property.  Once you go to the property to move in (after you have lost your deposit and first months rent) you find the owner of the home wondering why you arrived at their doorstep since they never put their home on the rental list.  

    Please  pass this along to your friends and family - with the pandemic scams, PPE scams, stimulus scams, Craig's list scams, etc. the more information we can get out to everyone the less the scammers can take our money.  Our web page is  https://www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams.  You can easily share any of the scam info via email and social media directly from the website as well.  

    Wishing you a scam-free new year, along with love, joy and laughter throughout 2021.  Stay safe, sane and healthy.

  10. Merry Christmas to you all!   Normally I wouldn't be sending out another newsletter in December, but there is a new scam hitting Larimer County.
     
    DISTRAINT WARRANT LETTER SCAM:  There is a new scam popping up and we wanted to warn you about it.  It appears similar to an actual Distraint Warrant you might receive but this is a scam.  If you call the number listed in the letter, you may speak to a pretty aggressive person demanding you pay this or else.  According to Irene Josey, Larimer County Treasurer, Larimer County does not have a  "Tax Processing Unit, Public Judgment Of Records".  We will put a scam card on our website shortly with more details, but wanted you to be alerted to this scam that is hitting many residents.
     
      The mailing envelope looks like this:
     
    image.png
    The actual letter states:
     
     

    image.png

     
     
     
    In addition to this scam, please also  be aware of the many scammers targeting Christmas online shopping and COVID.  Check our website for more information and always feel free to call or email me to check on a possible scam.  Also, feel free to send this to family and friends - it is not just happening in our county.
     
    MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you from our Scambuster team.  We wish you a blessed holiday and peace, love and joy in the coming year!
  11. Hi all -
     
    We hope this finds you all healthy and in positive spirits.  This year is coming to a close, and I think we are all taking a deep breath and hoping things will get better as we move into a new year.  
     
    As we near the Christmas holiday, scammers are even more resourceful and busy.  I just want to highlight some of the active scams for this holiday season to be cautious of.  
     
    First - a little overview of cool things you can do from our website https://www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams.
     
    Details of  scams are on our website - along with all the ScamBuster Newsletters toward the bottom of the page.   Each of the scam cards are easily shareable from the webpage - to the right of each scam card you will see.....

    Share

    Email  Facebook  LinkedIn  Print Twitter
    so you can share or email the scam card to friends and family to keep them educated about scams.  These are not only happening in Larimer County - but all over the country so feel free to share with anyone you know.  The more the merrier.
     
    Also feel free to share any or all of the newsletters.  
     
    Now for a few scams to be on high alert during this holiday season - you can find more details on our website.
     
    Facebook ads -   these are not certified by Facebook - many are from overseas - delivery times are very long - the item you purchase may not be the same as you receive - or you won't receive it at all.  Buyer beware!  
     
    Ebay bait and switch - You order something from an Ebay seller - they call you directly and tell you they can give you a better deal if you cancel through Ebay and buy directly from them.  Buyer beware - you have no buyer protection if you don't go through Ebay and give this seller your credit card directly.  You may never see your product and you have no backing from Ebay.
     
    Charity scams - Tis the season to be giving!  If you want to give, make sure you initiate the donation to the official charity of your choosing.  Do not donate over the phone or via email.  
     
    Amazon Prime renewal - If you have purchased Prime for Amazon. they will not call you and ask for money on the phone for your renewal!  Go to your official Amazon account and deal directly with them.  
     
    Covid scams - unemployment scams - Covid vaccines - therapies - PPE supplies --- bad actors are using Covid for many ways to take your money or get your personal information.  Filing false unemployment claims in your name - promising early vaccines if you pay for it now - fix-all therapies -- fake N95 masks (note - N95 masks are always marked on the mask as N95 certified) -- and US Bank Relia cards for unemployment benefits when you didn't request them.  Check our website for info on these scams.
     
    Utility bill scams - phone call telling you they are going to shut off your electricity in 30 minutes if you don't pay them over the phone.  
     
    On-line ordering - in this age of Covid - many of us are shopping on-line to stay out of crowded stores.  Protect your credit and banking info when you purchase on-line - stick with companies you trust - never provide your info in email or on phone.  
     
    My apologies for such a lengthy newsletter - but I want you to be aware of all the various traps the scammers have placed to take advantage of us during the pandemic and holiday season.  Also know that no one is spared from these scammers - we are all targets for these bad guys.  
     
    On a happy note -- we want to wish you the merriest Christmas and the hope for a wonderful 2021.  Stay alert, vigilant, safe and healthy!  
     
    Share this and anything on our website to everyone!  
     
  12. Greetings all -
     
    Let's just add one more thing to 2020-  aside from Covid, raging fires, and an election ---  let's add scammers to the list!
     
    Lately I have been hearing a lot of scams from Craig's List- multiple people have fallen for the rental scam - either by renting a home  or vacation rental property.  The red flags are - 
    • you may not be able to see the property because the owner is out of town but they can collect the money via Venmo, bitcoin, money cards or your credit card.  
    • they are the property manager for the property but can't show you in person
    • the rent is much lower than expected
    • you have to fill out an application online before you see the property
    The most recent scam event was when 5 different people showed up to the door of someone's home one evening saying they rented the home for $210 per night and had a contract.  The listing on Craig's List used the property description and pictures from a Air Bnb ad the owners had used in the past and the scammer copied and pasted everything.
     
    I am also hearing the Xcel Energy scam regularly calling residents - saying their electricity will be turned off in 30 minutes if they don't pay.  If you get this call - just hang up.  Xcel does not operate that way.
     
    Grandparents scam is active again.
     
    Craig's List overpay scam is active as well.  This is where the buyer offers you more money than you were asking and sends a check to you to deposit.  Then you are to give the overage mount to the person that picks up the item.  Then the check that they sent turns out to be bogus.   If someone offers you more than you asked, it is a scam.  
     
    Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fire - If you had damage to your home in these fires, please be aware that the bad actors (scammers) are always looking for vulnerability.  If you get a contractor contact you that you didn't request, be cautious.  If you need a contractor - check with Better Business Bureau for reputable and local contractors with references and make the call to them directly.  Many of the door to door contractors could be scammers and will take your money and never do the work.  
     
    It is not always easy to determine who is legitimate and who is a scammer.  It definitely pays to be very cautious and guard your personal information.  It is certainly a Buyer Beware world now.
     
    Take care, stay safe, and check out our scam webpage for more information.
     
    Barb
  13. Hello all,

    It isn't enough that we are dealing with Covid, a major fire, and desert like heat - we have to deal with these creeps that have nothing better to do than to try to bilk us out of our hard earned money - one way or another.  Over the last few days I have had two people call me on craig's list rental scams - losing a total of almost three thousand dollars and a place to rent.  I have also heard about N95 mask counterfeits in addition to a lot of Facebook ad scams.  So this newsletter will highlight these three scams - and you can get more information by going to https://www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams.  

     

    CRAIG'S LIST RENTAL SCAM

    The scammer lists property (house, apartment, vacation rental) for rent - sometimes showing pictures they got from the internet, sometimes without pictures.  They can't show it to you (they are out of state, etc.) and they urge you to wire them money (or pay with cash app) because others are wanting it and you may lose out.  Here are some tips directly from Craig's List website -- 

    personal safety  |  prohibited  |  recalls  |  forum

    Avoiding Scams

    Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

    • Do not provide payment to anyone you have not met in person.
    • Beware offers involving shipping - deal with locals you can meet in person.
    • Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) - anyone who asks you to is a scammer.
    • Don't accept cashier/certified checks or money orders - banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.
    • Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a "guarantee".
    • Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, paypal account, etc).
    • Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing "deal" may not exist.
    • Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.
    • "craigslist voicemails" - Any message asking you to access or check "craigslist voicemails" or "craigslist voice messages" is fraudulent - no such service exists.

    Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

    United States

    If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.

    If you suspect that a craigslist post may be connected to a scam, please send us the details.


     

    COUNTERFEIT N95 MASKS SCAM

    Some scammers are selling "N95" masks but they are counterfeit.  They charge more since they are supposed to be N95.  Counterfeit masks will not have any NIOSH certifications on the mask and packaging.  Here is what an legitimate N95 mask will have showing its certification.  This is directly from the CDC.

    https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html  

     

    Check the respirator approval markings (graphic below) or the Certified Equipment List to verify your respirator is NIOSH-approved. Additional information is available on the NIOSH Trusted Source page.

    Example of the Correct Exterior Markings on a NIOSH-Approved Filtering Facepiece Respirator

    Sample of a generic filtering facepiece respirator with appropriate markings.
     
    Page last reviewed: August 7, 2020
     
    FACEBOOK ADS SCAMS
     
    Some sponsored ads on Facebook are either bait and switch - or the ad describes a product and the quality you receive is junk - or you never receive the item - or they say they delivered it but you never got it.
     
    Be aware of all ads sponsored on Facebook.  BUYER BEWARE is the key phrase for these - many times the sellers are a distributor of products from China - they might even say FROM AMERICA.  
     
    Bait and switch - you order an ultrasonic mini clothes washer -- you get a cheap bowl - no ultrasonic about it.  You order a "rug" and get it in an 11x14 envelope.  You order masks and it takes 2 months to arrive if at all.  
     
    Check out the vendor's website and ensure it is legit before you order anything from them.  Search for the company name followed by "scam" and see what comes up.  
     
    I hope you each stay wary so we can beat these scammers!  If you have any questions, please give me a shout.  And keep checking our website because we add new scams regularly.  Always feel free to pass this along to friends, family, enemies, local and afar!  The more we know about these scammers - the safer we will be from them.
     
    Hoping you have a safe, fun and happy summer weather!  
     
    Barb
  14. Hello everyone -
     
    Alas - the scammers are ramping up -- so just want to alert you to some that I am hearing about right now in addition to those on our website --
     
    1.  Xcel scam - caller sounds very official and legit - says your power will be shut off in the next 30 minutes if you don't give them your credit card info to pay the bill.  This tap into the fear of losing power and you don't have enough time to check directly with Xcel even though you don't think you missed a payment.  The reason they give you such a short time to pay  is because they want you to just give them your credit card right then.  They know if you hang up they have lost out because you will find out you don't owe.  Xcel does not operate this way.  Please remember that no service provider will call, ask for payment under threat of losing your service unless you give them your credit card, and want you to stay on the phone to pay.  Also remember - NEVER give any personal information to anyone on the phone or email.  
     
    #2.  Unemployment benefits scam - you get a card in the mail you never requested.
     

    Method

    You receive a Relia visa card from USBank for your unemployment benefits to be loaded on.  

    Requesting

    Call in to validate your card and your benefits will be deposited on the card.

    Red Flags

    You didn’t apply for any unemployment benefits.

    Your Action

    Call the number for USBank Relia and deactivate  the card.    

     
    3. Here is a link to an article from FTC regarding phony PPE sales --  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/08/scammy-ppe-sellers-exploit-covid-19-fears?utm_source=govdelivery
     
    4.  Work from home job opportunity - the company hires you as a marketing person working from home.  Will pay you $4,000 a month in salary plus a percentage of their bitcoin sales.  They want you to open a bank account with some money so they can deposit to this account.  They put in several thousand dollars and ask you to use the money to buy bitcoins and send them on to various locations.  Then your bank tells you the deposit has been reversed and you are in the hole.  You ask the company to refund the money - they refuse and threaten you if you don't continue to work with them.   Red flags - they want you to open a bank account - they send you funds and ask you to withdraw the funds and send elsewhere.  These can be off-shore companies and once you send any money they deposited it cannot be tracked nor will you be able to get reimbursed for what you lost.  
     
    5.  Buying products from Facebook ads - there might be a few legit vendors selling on facebook, but there are a lot that are not legit.  They either market something (e.g., N95 face mask, or really cheap designer brands, or other type of products) and when you receive it - it is not what they promoted.  Counterfeit N95 mask, cheap version of what they portrayed in the ad, or maybe you won't ever receive the product.  Typically these products will ship from China and can take months to arrive, if at all.  Be sure to check to see if the product is available from a trusted vendor in the US and check to see if the company offering the product is a legit company.  
     
    Please continue to check our new scam website for details on the many scams out there.  And continue to be alert and let's ScamBust these scammers!
     
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!  Visit us on 
     
    Barb
  15. Hello everyone -
     
    We hope you are staying well during this crazy time.  We have been busy updating our scams and fraud website on larimersheriff.org and hope you find it more informative than before.  Please check it out at    https://www.larimer.org/information/frauds-scams and let me know what you think.
     
    Going forward, I will continue to send out these emails to alert you about trending scams and will update the website with new scams as they pop up.  We will also post these newsletters on the website.  Please feel free to forward this newsletter and our website information to friends and family anywhere.  The more we can educate everyone about these scams the less vulnerable we will be.  
     
    This newsletter highlights three scams -
     
    1.  Business Financial scam - A high level manager sends someone in the finance department a request for a new vendor to be set up and money wired for services rendered.  It provides the vendor banking info and requests the funds to be sent to that bank account.  Or this high level manager requests that his direct deposit account number be changed and provides the new direct deposit account info. If you get an email like this - personally ask the manager if this request is legitimate. More info on this scam on our website.
     
    2. Facebook Ads - Social media (Facebook)  - a sponsored ad offering name brand items for low prices. Sometimes these ads are legit - and sometimes they are from overseas companies using an export company . Two concerns - one is that the product never arrives, and two - the product quality is below par and not what was shown on the original ad. Be cautious when ordering from one of these sponsored ads. Always check to see if the product is available from a US company instead, and check out the link from the company to see if it is legit. Use caution when ordering from one of these sponsored ads.
     
    3. USBANK RELIA debit card - This is used to deposit unemployment benefits on this card. The issue arises when you receive one of these cards and you never applied for unemployment benefits. If you receive this card, call USBANK to deactivate and monitor your credit cards and banking activity.
     
    There are many other active scams right now - including the COVID 19 scams - but these three are ones that are newer. Please check out the website for info on the rest of the active scams.
     
    If you have any questions, or wish to be removed from this newsletter, please contact me. In the meantime, please be safe - and be an active ScamBuster!
     
    Barb