scam http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/268/all en-US Are You Being Had? Learn From 5 Crazy Ponzi Schemes http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/scam-78773706-small.jpg" alt="scam" title="scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you call them &quot;Ponzi schemes&quot; or &quot;pyramid schemes,&quot; one thing you definitely don't want to call investment scams is &quot;something I fell for.&quot;</p> <p>So take a look at a few of history's biggest and boldest schemes &mdash; each illustrates something to keep in mind when weighing your own investment opportunities. And each is a good reminder: scams like these are very real, and a wise investor must be very vigilant.</p> <h2>1. Chinese Ant Antics</h2> <p>Businessman <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-penalty-for-chinese-ant-farm-scammer/">Wang Fengyou's pyramid scheme</a> was nothing if not creative: he convinced investors (generally individual farm workers) to buy ants &mdash; yes, ants &mdash; from his company, feed them a special diet for three months, and then sell them back to his company for a profit. The insect livestock, it was said, would then be turned into pharmaceuticals.</p> <p>Amazingly, people bought it, and within a decade Wang's company had a billion dollar annual turnover, until 2007 it is, when the company collapsed after investors started demanding returns on their investment. Even more amazingly, though, is the fact that over <em>1 million</em> people invested. The takeaway here? The amount of investors in your same boat doesn't mean said ship will stay afloat &mdash; don't let the illusion of safety in numbers influence bad investment decisions.</p> <h2>2. 'N Scheme</h2> <p>Lou Pearlman was the larger than life producer behind 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys in the 90s. In 2006, he added another huge production to his resume: a $300 million ponzi scheme in which he persuaded banks and individuals to invest in &quot;Trans Continental Airlines,&quot; a purely fictitious company. Though Pearlman plead guilty and is currently serving a 25-year sentence, his investors are only <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2013/07/19/the-broke-and-the-beautiful-lou-pearlman-edition/">just now starting to recoup their losses</a>, and will likely only be paid out four cents on the dollar.</p> <p>Interestingly, Pearlman had been suspected of operating a pump and dump scheme decades earlier, so perhaps the takeaway here is that even though everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, allegations of foul play (even unproven ones) should make you think twice about investing with someone.</p> <h2>3. The Pyramid Pastor</h2> <p>In September of 2003, longtime Scientology minister <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB101718484270953360">Reed Slatkin</a> pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering after the FBI launched an investigation uncovering $240 million he had swindled out of investors. Much of the money went to the Church itself, which eventually agreed to repay millions of ill-gotten funds. Slatkin sold himself as a financial whiz, and while of course there's nothing to say that a minister can't also be an excellent investor, the case may give you pause before investing with someone who's head isn't 100% focused on getting big return on investment.</p> <h2>4. The Minnesota Money Man</h2> <p>Talk about &quot;Minnesota nice&quot;: <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/06/us-petters-ponzi-idUSBRE9B50Q620131206">Tom Petters</a>, a St. Cloud man with deep roots in the state, raised nearly $4 billion, making the third largest Ponzi perpetrator in US history. He's currently serving 50 years in Leavenworth, but that doesn't necessarily put money back in the pocket of his victims, many of whom were senior citizens. The elderly are often seen as potentially easier prey, meaning you should:</p> <ol> <li>Be weary of investments aimed at them.</li> <li>Make sure to help your parents be equally weary!</li> </ol> <h2>5. Madoff Madness</h2> <p>You know the name, you know the scheme. But what you may not know is that former NASDAQ chairmen Bernie Madoff generally took investments from (and thus defrauded) people and organizations making very sizeable (multiple million) contributions. Meaning that being financially elite &mdash; unlike the Chinese ant-farmers or elderly folks taken for a ride in Minneapolis &mdash; is no insurance against being had. It just means you have more to lose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-protein-water-scam-kellogs-special-k2o-can-do-anything">The Protein Water Scam: Kellog&#039;s Special K2O Can Do Anything!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs madoff ponzi pyramid scam scheme Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:00:26 +0000 Joe Epstein 1141812 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid Phishing Scams http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-phishing-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-phishing-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014773673Small-2.jpg" alt="Burglar" title="Burglar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="134" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I offer up advertising space on some of my websites. Most transactions are fairly simple, and there's no need to exchange personal information.</p> <p>Recently I received an initial email, and after following up with my standard rates and services, things took a little bit of an unexpected turn. First, the woman emailing accepted my first offer, which rarely happens. I always offer a price higher than what I expect to settle for. By offering a high rate, I leave room for some negotiation that will result in a fair price. While it's not typical, that alone wasn't enough for me to get concerned. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/conversation-killers-what-s-holding-you-back-from-negotiating">What's Holding You Back From Negotiating?</a>)</p> <p>The deal was for a one-time payment of $250, but along with the agreement was a request for me to fill out a W-9 (which requires my social security number and address) so they could send me a 1099-MISC at the end of the year. This wasn't an absurd request, and with companies based in the U.S., it's expected at times. What was strange was that the requirement typically kicks in after receiving $600 or more from a company, and since we were at less than half of that, it raised a question in my mind &mdash; could I be getting scammed?</p> <p>After several emails back and forth, it became apparent that it was simply company policy and the company was a trustworthy one, so in this case, there was nothing to worry about.</p> <p>While this woman was working for a legitimate business, though, phishing scams are a very real concern. In fact, phising was listed as one of the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=238262,00.html">2011 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams</a> that the IRS puts out each year. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing">According to Wikipedia</a>, &quot;phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.&quot;</p> <p>Here are some tips on how to avoid phishing scams.</p> <h3>Be suspicious of any requests for your personal information.</h3> <p>Banks and credit card companies will never ask you for your personal information (because they already have it), especially via email or phone, so if you receive something asking you to verify your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft">identity</a>, stay away!</p> <h3>Don't click on links from people you don't know or trust.</h3> <p>If the Prince of Africa tries to contact us, we all know to stay away. But the same thing should be true of an old friend you never thought you'd hear from again.</p> <h3>Don't be scared of emails.</h3> <p>If there really was an issue with your bank account or your home being foreclosed on, you would get something via snail mail. Even urgent messages likely won't be coming via the Internet, so be cautious.</p> <h3>Use truly secure websites.</h3> <p>Most of the time, if the URL begins with <em>https</em> instead of <em>http</em>, you are on a secure website. However, phishers are getting more sophisticated and can forge certificates in order to fool people, so also <a href="http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST05-010.html">check the site's security certificate for validity</a>. If it's not valid, stay far away!</p> <p>Whenever someone requests your social security number or address, whether it's a part of a business or some other transaction, always think about why they want the details and be sure to confirm that they are who you think they are.</p> <p><em>What other tips do you have for avoid phishing scams?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-packer">Daniel Packer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-phishing-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-protein-water-scam-kellogs-special-k2o-can-do-anything">The Protein Water Scam: Kellog&#039;s Special K2O Can Do Anything!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs personal security scam social security number Thu, 14 Jul 2011 10:24:06 +0000 Daniel Packer 600085 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4450137156_30a02d6d67_0.jpg" alt="ATM skimmer" title="ATM skimmer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you don&rsquo;t yet know the term &ldquo;skimmer,&rdquo; put it in your vocabulary. The skimmer is becoming more and more widespread, and most of us will, sooner or later, come into contact with one. If you don&rsquo;t have your wits about you, it could cost you a bunch of cash.</p> <p>As technology gets more advanced, so do the crooks trying to take advantage of it. And, in turn, us. The ATM has always been a prime piece of real estate for thieves. You&rsquo;re exposed, you&rsquo;re handling money, and you have your back to the world. But it&rsquo;s a dangerous game for criminals to play, as they too are exposed and risk being caught, or being seen.</p> <p>These days, it&rsquo;s far better to use those advances in technology to do the dirty work for them. The skimmer is the direct result of it.</p> <p>A skimmer is usually composed of two sections. The first attaches to the card slot, usually covering it completely. The second is a camera, which can be very close to the card slot or some distance away, at the top of the ATM. The card reader records the electronic data from your ATM card, which the thief can use to make an exact copy of it. The camera is there to record your PIN. Whichever one the thief employs, they are not impossible to spot. In fact, some are downright clumsy. But, just like fake money, you need to be aware at all times.</p> <p>Below is a picture of a typical skimming device. There are hundreds of different varieties out there, made to match different machines.</p> <p><img src="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/skim1-2.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo courtesy of </em><a href="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/2010/01/would-you-have-spotted-the-fraud/"><em>Brian Krebs</em></a><em>. For more photos, check out these two additional posts, <a href="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/2010/02/atm-skimmers-part-ii/">here </a>and <a href="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/2010/03/would-you-have-spotted-this-atm-fraud/">here</a>, from <a href="http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/">Krebs on Security.</a></em></p> <p>As you can see, it can be quite convincing. To be fair, some are fairly sketchy, others have been molded professionally and look very good. But they never look perfect (at least, not yet) and that&rsquo;s something you have on your side. But what you also need is some basic, honest-to-goodness suspicion. Remember, this is your money and you should never take any ATM at face value. Here are some tips I&rsquo;ve collected from various news sources, both local and national (CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX), and sites including Lifehacker, The Consumerist, Boing Boing, eHow, and Gothamist.</p> <p>(What&rsquo;s even more disturbing is that when I typed in ATM Skimmer, Google tried to finish the sentence with &ldquo;for sale,&rdquo; meaning an AWFUL LOT of people out there are trying to buy them. They&rsquo;re available for as little as $2000, and I could buy one right now. Google also returned results on how to make an ATM skimmer, which I am not going to print here, obviously. But with the internet giving thieves access to all the information they&rsquo;d ever need from the comfort of home, you need to double the guard.)</p> <h3>1. Trust your instincts.</h3> <p>If anything, anything at all, looks out of place on an ATM, don&rsquo;t use it. If you see a wire poking out, or the plastic on the card reader doesn&rsquo;t quite match, or there appears to be some unusual wear and tear around the card slot, walk away. It could be fine, but why take a risk?</p> <h3>2. Look for mirrors, leaflet holders or anything else around the ATM.</h3> <p>The machine should be free from anything like that, so add-ons are another huge red flag. They hide cameras behind these devices.</p> <h3>3. Guard your PIN carefully.</h3> <p>As most skimmers require two pieces of information from you, the PIN is something you can at least stop them from getting. You may seem a little paranoid to anyone waiting in line behind you, but who cares? Just cover your actions by cupping one hand over the numbers as your other hand enters them. It&rsquo;s rudimentary but it works.</p> <h3>4. Take advantage of the debit card &ldquo;cash back&rdquo; feature.</h3> <p>When you&rsquo;re running low on cash, and a grocery or convenience store will give you cash back if you pay for your purchase with a debit card. Simply hit the amount of cash you need. It&rsquo;s free, saving you the $2-$3 ATM fee, and it&rsquo;s safer.</p> <h3>5. Become a creature of habit and use the same ATM each time.</h3> <p>This won&rsquo;t protect you from encountering a skimmer, but you&rsquo;re much more likely to notice something fishy if you are familiar with the machine.</p> <h3>6. Look for ATMs with video surveillance.</h3> <p>These machines have extra security and this additional level of protection deters thieves from installing the skimming devices.</p> <h3>7. Beware of ATMs that are off the beaten track.</h3> <p>The thief will have more opportunity to install a skimmer on a machine that&rsquo;s out of the way. If you can, use an ATM inside the branch &mdash; these are almost impossible to manipulate. The portable ATMs, like you find in gas stations, are also very easy to mess with. I stay away from them unless I have no alternatives.</p> <h3>8. Don&rsquo;t be afraid to poke and prod the ATM.</h3> <p>If something looks odd, investigate. These skimming devices are designed to be removed easily an quickly. If the thief can take it off, so can you.</p> <h3>9. NEVER use an ATM if someone is offering to help you with it.</h3> <p>That may seem really obvious, but thieves can dress as technicians, bank tellers, or pose as another customer. Imagine an old lady asking for help, maybe asking if she can see how you use the machine so that she knows what to do. Or a guy in a very official uniform telling you the machine has just been cleaned, inspected, or refilled. These are all signs that you should walk away.</p> <h3>10. Finally, if you do suspect something, let the local branch, gas station, or store know.</h3> <p>It may be a false alarm, but you could prevent someone being ripped off who isn&rsquo;t as vigilant as you are.</p> <p>Snopes also has some great information on <a href="http://www.snopes.com/fraud/atm/atmcamera.asp">ATM skimmers</a>. And The Consumerist offers the <a href="http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/consumerist/2009/04/Skimmer_presentation_v1_230109_ppt_1__01.pdf">following pdf</a> that outlines many more skimmers and the ways you can look out for them. I advise you all to read it and pass on the information in it, and this article.</p> <p>Please, be careful, and if in doubt, walk away.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam">Tips for Avoiding a Foreclosure Prevention or Loan Modification Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Consumer Affairs ATM debit card scam Wed, 07 Apr 2010 14:00:09 +0000 Paul Michael 6261 at http://www.wisebread.com Tips for Avoiding a Foreclosure Prevention or Loan Modification Scam http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/foreclosure.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Rising home loan delinquencies and foreclosures have made con artists very&nbsp; busy.&nbsp; These scammers use the public records to find homeowners who are in trouble, and then use a variety of schemes to take the homeowners'&nbsp; money and property in the name of helping the homeowner avoid foreclosure.&nbsp;&nbsp; If you have late payments on your home loan then it is likely that you will be targeted. The following are some warning signs that you are dealing with a possible scammer.</p> <p><strong>Unsolicited contact </strong>- If you receive an unsolicited call or letter promising help, verify that the person promising help is actually from your lender or servicer.&nbsp; Technically only your lender or servicer has the power to modify your loan.&nbsp; Scammers use the public records to find out the default status of homeowners, and some of them<a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-mortgage-fraud6-2009jul06,0,6867637.story"> pretend to be the lender holding the lien</a>.&nbsp; However, you can usually verify if the offer for help is real by contacting your lender's public customer service line.<br /> <strong><br /> Pretending to be from the government</strong> - We all know that there has been several federally sponsored <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/details-of-obamas-mortgage-plan-released-will-you-benefit">loan modification</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-more-questionable-aspects-of-the-housing-bailout-bill">bank&nbsp; bailout programs</a>.&nbsp; However, these programs ask homeowners to contact their lenders for help.&nbsp; If you receive unsolicited contact from someone saying they are affiliated with the government then it is a warning sign it's a scammer trying to sound legitimate.</p> <p><strong>Great promises </strong>- Con artists are usually very good salesmen, and many of them promise that they can get the homeowner out of trouble with certainty.&nbsp; If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.</p> <p><strong>High pressure </strong>- If the nice promises do not work, some scammers go straight for the vulnerability of those in trouble.&nbsp; For example, they would ask a person if they really want to live on the streets.&nbsp; If you feeling pressured or threatened by someone promising to help then it is a sign to walk away.</p> <p><strong>Advanced fees&nbsp; </strong>- If a company asks you for a few thousand dollars to start&nbsp; the process, it's most likely a scam.&nbsp; When a legitimate lender modifies or refinances your loan they add up the costs at closing. Once you hand over the advanced fee there is really no guarantee that the company will do anything. There are legitimate housing counselors that charge fees for their services, but consumers should make sure that they have actually received the services before paying.</p> <p><strong>Diverted mortgage payments</strong> - Some scammers tell a troubled homeowner that they already negotiated a lower mortgage with the lender and that the homeowner should send the lower payment to the scammers instead of the lender. Even though this scheme is fairly easy to verify through the lender, sometimes troubled homeowners do not figure out that the lender is not receiving any money until months later.</p> <p><strong>Suspicious advice</strong> - Scammers often give advice such as &quot;stop talking to your lender&quot; or &quot;you are not obligated to pay your loan.&quot;&nbsp; They want the troubled homeowner to talk to them only.&nbsp; Make sure to communicate with your actual lender.</p> <p><strong>Property transfer</strong> - Many scammers ask troubled homeowners to sign over the property so that they could make the mortgage payments.&nbsp; The fact is that the scammers do not have to make mortgage payments on the property, and often times they use the properties to defraud&nbsp; lenders.</p> <p><strong>Power of attorney </strong>- Some scammers ask troubled homeowners to sign over the power of attorney to another person.&nbsp; This basically allows them to act on the homeowner's behalf on many legal documents.&nbsp; Giving away the power of attorney is actually worse than signing away the home.</p> <p>If you suspect that you are being scammed you should definitely report the details to the <a href="https://tips.fbi.gov/ ">FBI </a>or the <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/ ">FTC</a> as well as your local consumer protection agencies.&nbsp; If you really need help dealing with your lender then there are <a href="http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hccprof14.cfm">legitimate housing couselors available at the HUD </a>and their services do not cost thousands of dollars.&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Have you been contacted by a scammer or have you been scammed?&nbsp; What did you do?&nbsp; </strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure">What can renters do if their landlords are in foreclosure?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/must-watch-video-for-new-real-estate-investors">Must Watch Video for New Real Estate Investors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-downsides-of-a-reverse-mortgage">5 Downsides of a Reverse Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing foreclosure loan modification scam Fri, 10 Jul 2009 16:00:09 +0000 Xin Lu 3372 at http://www.wisebread.com Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2046188221_dbd7640faf.jpg" alt="Scam" title="Scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Any long-time readers of Wise Bread know that I like to keep up-to-date on hustles, scams and con jobs. They change all the time, and new ones are invented daily. A US version of the UK show The Real Hustle has been trying out some very simple but effective cons on the American public, and they&rsquo;re getting away with some serious money. Watch, learn and stay alert. One of these could catch you out the next time you leave the office or home, even if it&rsquo;s just to grab some quick cash from an ATM or a small bite to eat. </p> <p><strong>The ATM Hustle</strong><br /> Here, two ways to grab your cash at an ATM are outlined, and in both methods you never even know you&rsquo;ve been the victim of a scam. The second version is more prevalent and has many variations as it requires no technology. Street teams work areas in busy cities, I was victim to a version of the second one about ten years ago in London. When using an ATM, keep your wits about you and if anything looks or feels suspicious, walk away. </p> <p><embed width="425" height="350" src="http://www.trutv.com/video/embplayer/truPlayer.swf?PID=C_EaYT7pkYZfjPgmhgnE57YCh1go1VlX&amp;feedPID=NkdkaqXR_sXW88L24x_8SJ9lQiETubcc" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent"></embed></p> <p> <strong>The Laptop Switch-Off</strong><br /> Right now I&rsquo;m on the hunt for a used laptop for my wife, so this one really caught my attention. If you&rsquo;re a fan of Craigslist, you may be tempted by a used laptop at a great price. In this case, a $1000 Macbook for $500. But listen to that voice in your head, and realize that deals too good to be true usually are. When you buy a laptop, keep your eye on the machine at all times, test it thoroughly and most important, don&rsquo;t hand over your cash until the actual laptop is in your possession. </p> <p><embed width="425" height="350" src="http://www.trutv.com/video/embplayer/truPlayer.swf?PID=dyGkeqs6THGTxkqGCmcLNLsMm19mUzSf&amp;feedPID=NkdkaqXR_sXW88L24x_8SJ9lQiETubcc" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent"></embed></p> <p> <strong>The Caf&eacute; Manager Scam</strong><br /> This one is all about questioning authority, or in this case, never questioning it. In most cases, we believe what we are seeing and hearing because we have no reason not to. When a guy in a suit approaches you in a caf&eacute; or restaurant and says he is the manager, why wouldn&rsquo;t you believe him? Big mistake. It just goes to show how far confidence can get you (hence, con man). At a restaurant table, there should be no reason at all to hand your credit card before the start of a meal, even if you&rsquo;re ordering drinks. And if you want to open a tab with a card, do it at the bar.&nbsp; </p> <p><embed width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.trutv.com/video/embplayer/truPlayer.swf?PID=Jy0t_nuDRWTy3DNakCWiJZGJhjlTvr8X&amp;feedPID=NkdkaqXR_sXW88L24x_8SJ9lQiETubcc"></embed></p> <p> <strong>The Bag Snatch</strong><br /> So simple and yet so effective. All it takes is a small distraction, just a conversation or someone asking the time, and your valuables are gone. Never put your bag down in a busy place, or if you do, keep one foot on the handle or strap. </p> <p><embed width="425" height="350" src="http://www.trutv.com/video/embplayer/truPlayer.swf?PID=DB___c28VZ3ynJgcHSthwfi9PWsBgfxM&amp;feedPID=NkdkaqXR_sXW88L24x_8SJ9lQiETubcc" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent"></embed></p> <p> <strong>The Distract &amp; Conquer Con</strong><br /> Here, the con artists take advantage of the Good Samaritan syndrome. BY posing as tourists and asking for help, they&rsquo;re able to get close to people and walk away with some very nice valuables. Again, keep these items on you, there&rsquo;s no need to have a cell-phone laying out on the table when jacket pocket will do the job just as well. </p> <p><embed width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.trutv.com/video/embplayer/truPlayer.swf?PID=hBld8p5_222dCFFr3t8NCMzinTi_bbhY&amp;feedPID=NkdkaqXR_sXW88L24x_8SJ9lQiETubcc"></embed> </p> <p> You can find many more examples of hustles and con jobs at <a href="http://www.trutv.com/shows/real_hustle/">TruTV.com, under The Real Hustle</a>. Stay safe and aware folks.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-determine-someones-creditworthiness-by-his-or-her-looks">Could you determine someone&#039;s creditworthiness by his or her looks?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs General Tips ATM cash con hustle police robbery scam theft Thu, 07 May 2009 19:50:17 +0000 Paul Michael 3138 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/151935241_495a6ff0c9.jpg" alt="Craigslist" title="Craigslist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you love <a href="http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites">Craigslist</a>, and use the free section to either post products or get great deals, you really need to read this. Because there&rsquo;s a dirty secret to Craigslist that most people don&rsquo;t know about it, and the free section gets hit with it most.</p> <p>As with all services or products used en masse, adaptations arise to evolve the idea. With eBay, it was <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snipe-an-ebay-auction-save-a-fortune">bid sniping</a> (which is legitimate in my book). With free software trials, product key generators hit the market, turning free trial software into the full-blown product. And now, with Craigslist, there&rsquo;s something called Auto Flagging Software, and it gives the people who use it a very sly advantage. </p> <p>Now, it turns out that Auto Flagging Software originally had a good use. The idea was to use it to blast SPAM and ads for sexual services, clearing out the trash from Craigslist and keeping customers safe from bad deals and illicit offers.</p> <p>But other people saw a use for this software, and it is being used by two distinct sets of Craigslist users. </p> <p>First, anyone who has competitors on Craigslist (this can be people offering similar services or selling similar products) are using Auto Flagging Software programs to flag the competition, thus giving themselves more of a chance of getting business.</p> <p>Second are the users who want a particular product and don&rsquo;t want anyone else to have it. This most often manifests in the free section, where great deals are be had and kind people will often just give away something with inherent value to a needy person.</p> <p>When the sly Craigslister with Auto Flagging Software spies a real bargain, they pounce. The software does two jobs; it will send an email to the Craigslist poster requesting the item; then, it sends flagging signals to Craigslist about that post using multiple IP addresses. This will automatically trigger the ad to be pulled from the site. And voila, the underhanded Craigslister has eliminated anyone else from responding by pulling the ad, giving him or her the best chance of getting your deal. These pieces of software are most often used by people looking to make a profit be reselling cheap or free items.</p> <p>I <a href="http://techdirt.com/articles/20080502/1518221012.shtml">did a little digging</a> round and found several instances of the software (I won&rsquo;t be posting any links here, for obvious reasons). I also found people <a href="http://www.getafreelancer.com/projects/NET-Script-Installation/craigslist-flagging-software.html">requesting custom-built versions</a> of the software for their own nefarious purposes. </p> <p>So if you do frequent Craigslist, especially as someone who regularly gives products away&nbsp; in the free section, please monitor your post and don&rsquo;t just give the product away to the first person who responds. It could be that Auto Flagging Software was involved and someone who genuinely needed the product was shut out be someone else just looking to make a quick profit from your generosity.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/double-coupons-they-could-cost-you">Double Coupons – They Could Cost You!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting Consumer Affairs Shopping Technology Internet online scam software warning Mon, 13 Apr 2009 21:50:40 +0000 Paul Michael 3043 at http://www.wisebread.com Swoopo - great auction deals or great scam? http://www.wisebread.com/swoopo-great-auction-deals-or-great-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/swoopo-great-auction-deals-or-great-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/swoopo.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="239" height="86" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today I stumbled upon a site called <a href="http://swoopo.com">Swoopo</a>.&nbsp; It is touted as a new auction site that combines shopping with entertainment.&nbsp; I took a quick look and it seemed like many items were selling for very low prices.&nbsp; For example, <a href="http://www.swoopo.com/auction/1-ounce-gold-bar-31-10g-/157805.html">an ounce of gold recently sold for only $187.96</a> when it is worth around $1000.&nbsp; How is this possible?</p> <p>Apparently, users have to pay 75 cents for each bid, and each bid increases the auction price by a very small amount.&nbsp; In the case of the gold bar, each bid only increases the price by 1 cent since it is a penny auction.&nbsp; This means that there were a total of 18796 bids by all the users with a total value of $14097.&nbsp; If you subtract the value of the item from $14097, Swoopo still made a handsome profit of over $13000 on this single auction.&nbsp; The winner of the auction placed a total of 213 bids so he or she did get a good deal on the gold bar, but the rest of the bidders pretty much lost their money.</p> <p>A rather fishy part of the site is that many of the winners who &quot;win&quot; these auctions use something called a BidButler. It is essentially a bid sniping bot that bids in the last few seconds of an auction.&nbsp; However, each auction's time left is supposed to go up by a few seconds so that others have a chance to bid.&nbsp; The BidButler allows people to basically schedule bids and get hundreds of paid&nbsp; bids for Swoopo in a short amount of time.</p> <p>Finally, just as an experiment I sat down and watched a couple auctions.&nbsp; It was definitely exciting to watch the clock going down to less than ten seconds as a frenzy of bids poured in, but then suddenly the clock gets extended by 10 to 20 minutes and the waiting game starts all over again. There is a final end time on each item, but before that final date the clock is basically controlled by Swoopo and they could extend it as long as they are getting people willing to throw their money away. They know that every time they bring the clock close to 0 they will be raking in cash, and they can do that countless times before the final end time.</p> <p>As the old adage goes, &quot;if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is&quot;.&nbsp; Swoopo basically lets people gamble that noone else will make another bid for a ridiculously cheap item, and in the process Swoopo profits.&nbsp; If you are into finding deals via auctions, I would definitely stick with sites like eBay<br /> &nbsp;where you do not have to pay to bid.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/swoopo-great-auction-deals-or-great-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-scoring-the-best-price-when-buying-on-ebay">7 Secrets to Scoring the Best Price When Buying on eBay</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-awesome-alternatives-to-groupon">5 Awesome Alternatives to Groupon</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-march">What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in March</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping auction deals scam shopping Mon, 06 Apr 2009 20:57:51 +0000 Xin Lu 3012 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 ways to spot a social media snake oil salesperson http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-spot-a-social-media-snake-oil-salesperson <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-spot-a-social-media-snake-oil-salesperson" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/confused-beauty.jpg" alt="Confused Beauty" title="Confused Beauty" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="348" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Technology has given <em>you</em> plentiful opportunities to better your life. Especially if you're looking for work, even amidst the economic slump of the omni-stated recession, there are knowledge worker jobs opening up that didn't exist but a decade ago. Unfortunately, that's not to say all of these jobs are actually useful: just like pyramid schemes attract the greedy and fad diets interest the desperate, <strong>many social media snake oil salespeople are out there, ready to sucker you</strong>.</p> <p>Social media is about people being able to talk to each other easier through computers. Yes, Wikipedia has a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media">much more extensive definition</a>, but part of a slick sales strategy is dressing up what's old in new clothes. That's why even though there's an immense amount of value in word-of-mouth networks and empowering good causes through our machines, <strong>the tough thing is in distinguishing who's genuine from who's a quack</strong>.</p> <p>If you take a quick look on, well, <em>any</em> social network &mdash; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you name it &mdash; you may have run across packs (appropriately) of people who dub themselves social media consultants, gurus, strategists, etc. All claiming to help you improve your online presence. Other variants like &quot;lifestyle designers/architects&quot; (derived from the teachings of one Tim Ferriss who in turn <a href="http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/">repackaged</a> the Pareto Principle) and other very trendy-sounding titles exist. They exist to sound impressive and sell <em>to</em> you, but as <a href="http://www.whatsnextblog.com/archives/2009/02/my_article_in_businessweek_debunking_six_social_media_myths.asp">B.L. Ochman astutely declared</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>How many of them have actually created a successful campaign for clients using social media tools? I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find half a dozen with real track records.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's why, like sound science, it's important to do the research, be skeptical, and debunk fluffy claims before buying into the bull: <strong>substantiate <em>who</em> are you dealing with here?</strong></p> <p>Like so much self-help hogwash which obscures <em>actual-but-not-so-fast </em>solutions, the <a href="http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2005/08/28/kevin_trudeaus_snake_oil_empire.php">Kevin Trudeaus</a> of the social media world are here to sell you a false dream. Those scammers hate to hear it, but it's true. And here's <strong>7 ways you can spot them</strong>:</p> <h2>1. Buzzword-laden pig slop</h2> <p>If a hotheaded social media <em>whatever</em> comes to sell your company a &quot;comprehensive transparency strategy&quot; consisting of &quot;Web 2.0&quot; <em>this</em> and &quot;personal branding&quot; <em>that</em> and <em>can't</em> explain what they mean in simple English, they're full of it. And by &quot;it&quot;, I mean lies. It's unfortunate that scammers make the good souls look bad &mdash; just as a lot of crackpot pseudoscience misuses the established formulations of quantum physics. Like pig slop, it's a mess. And you deserve better.</p> <p><strong>Always insist on <em>substantiation</em></strong> &mdash; focusing on actions, disproving the fallacies behind the words, and showing there's followup to grand announcements. For example, if a social media usability firm (they really exist) is brought about because they say they can greatly enhance how your customers experience your product, don't just let them give you a feel-good keynote presentation and glossily-designed PDFs with &quot;The Master Plan&quot;: work closely with them to carry out small, lightweight tests and assure whether it <em>actually</em> has an effect. This may seem obvious; not so much if they're baffling you with buzzwords.</p> <h2>2. Lack of diverse interests</h2> <p>Case in point: I believe in the power of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_branding">personal branding</a>. But like &quot;social media&quot;, it gets thrown around a lot in an <strong>ironic attempt to camouflage <em>lack</em> of personality</strong>. There's now a cottage industry of of &quot;personal branding consultants&quot; who talk starchy like bad 80s cartoons; they try to sell &quot;Brand You&quot; packages on their websites and are shockingly one-dimensional. Specifically, they can't show what they've done for themselves outside of, well, elevating their profiles by trying to take your money. (It's like being <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famous_for_being_famous">famous for being famous</a>.)</p> <p>I'm not asking for a &quot;I got rich and these are my beautiful women and houses&quot;-type deal, although Donald Trump is a master of that &mdash; and what I'd consider a real personal branding &quot;live by example&quot;. He trumps (heh) some of it up to make it look more glamorous than it really is, but he's definitely one of the strongest personal brands without using that buzzword. Like how <strong>repeatedly calling yourself &quot;cool&quot; negates itself</strong>. If you find Trump disagreeable, how about Richard Branson or Felix Dennis? (Wild hair seems to be a commonality.)</p> <p>People who have interdisciplinary skill sets and&nbsp; unorthodox fields of interest are a great asset because they possess perspectives no one else does: there's <em>no</em> substitute for that variety of firsthand experience. There <em>are</em> legit personal branding helpers out there, but they don't sit around all day blogging about how to improve your personal brand. They involve other elements in the mix.</p> <p>If you're interested in getting a personal branding expert to help you, find out what else they do. Outside of work, as well as odd jobs they've taken on. But don't just rely on their friends, because of&hellip;</p> <h2>3. Inbred testimonials</h2> <p>Strength in numbers, right? It's no secret that when social media yahoos are struggling to attain credibility, they'll vouch for each other. One will write a foreword for another's book they haven't really read, and yet another still will put forth glowing praise that can be inserted in the author's blog sidebar.</p> <p>Again, like everything else I'm saying here, there are earnest examples of this being done, but they're rarities amidst all the soundalikes in the so-called <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_chamber">echo chamber</a>. Reverb gives a musical instrument space, but do you know what happens when there's too much of it? The signal becomes washed out and indistinct, and nothing stands out.</p> <p>I'm all for friends helping each other succeed, but the problem with &quot;imbred testimonials&quot; is that they don't include any <em>external</em> perspective, such as that from satisfied customers (like resume references you can verify).</p> <p>Even though Seth Godin (whose tight style has been copycatted from here to Mars) said, &quot;It's not about you. It's about them&quot; &mdash; <strong>it's really about <em>us</em>, meaning you <em>and</em> them</strong>. After all, it's not a relationship, and definitely not &quot;social&quot;, unless it goes both ways.</p> <h2>4. No failed experiments declared</h2> <p>Yes, no one likes to put their dirty laundry in the same place as a job pitch. But social media is unique, since <em>being human</em> (authentic, transparent, etc.) is at the heart of it. Since personality can be measured in qualitative and quantitative ways, you don't know until you test: social media snakes like to proclaim case studies of how X company did a great thing while Y company sucked, but how many risks of their <em>own</em> have they taken, then trumpeted about it &mdash; even if it was a miserable failure? And <strong>how can you trust someone to help you or your company's reputation who won't put themselves under the microscope?</strong></p> <p>This doesn't mean false modesty. It <em>does</em> mean acknowledging those mistakes as valuable data to be used towards future gains, as <a href="http://www.jimkukral.com/presentation-im-a-huge-failure-are-you/">Jim Kukral</a> and <a href="http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/weblog/2008/11/the-making-of-p.html">Rohit Bhargava</a> have.</p> <h2>5. Long lists of stuff they haven't done</h2> <p>This one's a relevant tangent: ever see those blog posts that go &quot;50 Must-Have Social Media Tools&quot; or &quot;100 Must-Do Tips to Improve Your Personal Brand&quot;? Mostly, they're baloney. Lists are a popular blogging format to catch people's interests, but let's get to the core: <strong>ask the author if they're really tried all the tools/tips/etc. and can vouch for them directly</strong>. Probable confession: &quot;Uh, no.&quot;</p> <p>Understand it's great to compile info from different sources, and I grok flavor in headlines, but it shouldn't be sensationalist drama that gets you high on a social media sugar rush, then plunges you back down into despair. That's like those supermarket magazines that sell you a different diet every month. (If it was so good, why keep switching?)</p> <p>There's <strong>much more usefulness in <em>empirical context</em></strong>: someone who notes &quot;I haven't tried this yet&quot; or &quot;I got great results but only after I stuck with it for awhile&quot; while recounting <em>how</em> they're applying a tool or tip to their life.</p> <p>If the social media &quot;expert&quot; you want to hire has been spotted making thoughtless lists, beware.</p> <h2>6. Stupid simplicity</h2> <p>Whenever a trend exists by name, you can bet unscrupulous folks will try to capitalize. Ever heard of Shaolin Kung Fu? Whether it's through <em>Kill Bill</em> or Wu-Tang Clan, it's been a hot martial art term. Problem is, if someone wants to learn &quot;Shaolin Kung Fu&quot;, they first need to understand <a href="http://www.shaolin.com/StyleContent.aspx?Style=Styles">there is <em>no</em> single style</a>. Any &quot;teacher&quot; who insists otherwise is being deceptive.</p> <p>There is <em>no</em> single style to social media success. Some people can work it in a suit and tie, while others have to wear chicken suits. Some speak louder than Jim Cramer, others have a calming effect. And hey, it's okay to be low-key! Personal brands aren't for everyone, and personal brands are as diverse as the people behind them. This is why <strong>I hate seeing people forced to join social networks and mingling but getting no substantial benefit out of them</strong>.</p> <p>A <em>bona fide</em> social media maven (always look beyond labels) <strong>must be able to teach you how they get results, and how this will be applied to you</strong>. How concepts, even simple ones, are expanded into day-by-day actions. A programmer who creates cleanly-commented code is more prized than one who arrogantly dismisses the value of showing others the path, and fails to make their peers better.</p> <p>Mantras (and buzzwords) can boost confidence, but they're a mere hint of effective results. Like a map is not the destination, a word is not what it refers to. <strong>Don't rush into any communications plan without understanding </strong><a href="http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/wiio.html"><strong>Wiio's laws</strong></a>.</p> <h2>7. Unshared egos</h2> <p>Social media is all about exchanging resources, be it knowledge or tangible goods. And notice how I didn't say &quot;big egos&quot; &mdash; if you're going to be a social media rockstar, you may very well have a big ego! I've a fave saying:</p> <blockquote><p><strong>If I'm good, it's because I've made you better.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Consider <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/magazine/02rubin.t.html?em&amp;ex=1188964800&amp;en=c39103cf9c12a7a8&amp;ei=5087%0A">Rick Rubin</a>, who recently produced Metallica's return to form, <em>Death Magnetic</em>. With his unkempt beard and piercing eyes, and stripped-down essentials approach to music, he's definitely got a distinctive personal brand. Yet he doesn't cast a shadow over the bands he works with: he channels them like a shaman so they are <em>better!</em> One specific way he does this is getting them to consider stylistically incongruous options. It may make the band temporarily uncomfortable, but as Rubin's landmark bridging of hip-hop and heavy metal has shown, he's a uniter, not a divider.</p> <p>Someone may be blasting out dozens of tweets a day on Twitter, but if they're not sharing their ego to brighten other human beings' day &mdash; and this comes <em>before</em> selling their services &mdash; then their motives are in doubt, because they want to succeed at your expense. That is an <em>opposite</em> of social media.</p> <h2>Snakes on a web</h2> <p>Perhaps it was a &quot;customer-centric research analyst&quot; your company brought in, who blathered on (with empty buzzwords as mentioned above) but left you no richer in financial and happiness terms. Maybe it was a &quot;pro blogger&quot; who sold you training DVDs on how to sell yourself on the Internet, only for you to find out their steps were too convoluted and impractical to follow. These are the snakes among us.</p> <p>One of the most beautiful things about social media is how it empowers <em>you</em> &mdash; if you choose to use it &mdash; with a voice you wouldn't have had in years previous. Just like the Wise Bread Team draws attention to consumer problems you should be aware of, the same awareness needs to be extended to those promising solutions, but are just full of&hellip; snake oil.</p> <p><strong><em>Have you ever had to deal with a social media snake oil salesperson? Do you have your own ways of spotting them? Let us know in the comments.</em></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-spot-a-social-media-snake-oil-salesperson">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation">6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-immediately-after-a-credit-card-breach">Here&#039;s What to Do Immediately After a Credit Card Breach</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building brand branding buzzword cheat consulting expert fraud guru lie media personal scam snake social strategy Sun, 15 Mar 2009 01:10:45 +0000 Torley Wong 2931 at http://www.wisebread.com So, will Cash4Gold offer me cash to kill this story? http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1565420749_283e7c15ed_b.jpg" alt="Pirate gold" title="Pirate Gold" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="rteindent3">You&rsquo;ve seen the tacky ads; you&rsquo;ve been entertained by Ed McMahon and MC Hammer; but hopefully, you haven&rsquo;t fallen for any of it. Cash4Gold has a simple promise; send them your unwanted gold (and we all have a ton of unwanted valuables lying around I&rsquo;m sure) and in return they&rsquo;ll pay &ldquo;top dollar&rdquo; for it.&nbsp; But as you&rsquo;ll see from over 260 complaints to the <a href="http://www.seflorida.bbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=16000679">Better Business Bureau</a>, top dollar certainly doesn&rsquo;t mean what it used to.</p> <p>The Cash4Gold operation is at best misleading, and at worst is more like a sophisticated version of highstreet robbery. What they ask you to do is hunt around in your home for gold that you no longer have a use for, and pop it into an envelope. In return, Cash4Gold will estimate its value and send you an offer for it. You can choose to accept it or turn it down. And as the offer is usually well below market value, most people reject it and get a slightly better offer. <a href="http://www.insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyID=2588">This from Inside Edition</a>:</p> <p><em>INSIDE EDITION's Senior Investigative Correspondent Matt Meagher asked master appraiser and jewelry expert Don Palmieri to assemble a collection of gold, 23 pieces in all, to sell to the company Cash4Gold. Each piece was weighed and analyzed with precision instruments to determine exact gold content, and laser etched for identification purposes. Based on the going rate for gold at the time of INSIDE EDITION's investigation, Palmieri and a second independent expert said we should get between $975 to $1,200 for the 23 pieces of gold in our collection. So we sent the gold off to Cash4Gold to see how much they would pay. About a week later, a check came for just $209.81. Expert Don Palmieri laughed when he saw the amount. &quot;It's not a very good offer,&quot; he said. When INSIDE EDITION called to turn down the offer, Cash4Gold nearly doubled it instantly to more than $400, still much less than the experts said it was worth.</em></p> <p>The ads are generally aimed at certain sectors of society, which is clear from the times and channels where their advertising appears. They want people who are at home during the daytime, usually retirees or people down on their luck. And they&rsquo;re hoping people will be ignorant to the current market value of gold. A great story I read at <a href="http://www.cockeyed.com/citizen/goldkit/cheat.shtml">Cockeyed.com</a> highlights one guy&rsquo;s encounter, Brent, with the Cash4Gold lowballers. Here&rsquo;s an extract: </p> <p><em>The pawn shop prices were as follows:
$10 per DWT for 14K gold.
$8 per DWT for 10K gold. With these prices, Brent's booty was worth $198.
He had $110 worth of 14 K gold plus $88 worth of 10 K gold.<br /> Brent had initially noted prices on the Cash4Gold site as:
$15 per DWT for 14K gold.
$13 per DWT for 10K gold. Better, but all any prices had been removed from the Cash4Gold site by the time he was ready to send in his gold.<br /> Cash4Gold operates in a manner similar to GoldKit. They send you an envelope, you send your gold to them in it. They determine the value and cut a check for that amount. If the amount meets your expectations, you cash it. If not, you have 15 days to return the check and get your gold back. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. He also noticed that Cash4Gold offers a &quot;fast cash&quot; scheme to forego the paper check and deposit their payment directly into your checking account within 24 hours. This setup would be faster, but gold sellers would give up their chance to examine and renegotiate their offer. And that, it turns out, would be a huge mistake for anyone selling gold to Cash4Gold. Brent did not use the FAST CASH option, he wanted to see what they would offer, and was willing to wait to see how much it was. The offer check from Cash4Gold arrived, for $60! Brent called Cash4Gold and immediately and asked for his stuff back. They made a new offer on the phone: $178!</em></p> <p>I think the phrase that resonated most strongly for me from the article was this one; &ldquo;How can you offer someone one price, then TRIPLE it, and not call the first offer a rip-off?&rdquo;</p> <p>How indeed?</p> <p>At this point I would usually warn you all to stay as far away from Cash4Gold as you can, and bid you a good day. But there&rsquo;s now an interesting new twist to this sordid tale. As it turns out, some of the many people out there who are writing bad things about this shady outfit are getting noticed; they&rsquo;re appearing in the top searches on Google. And in turn, that has the Cash4Gold guys getting pretty nervous. </p> <p>An article I found on <a href="http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/03/rob-cockerham-writes.html">BoingBoing </a>tells the story of a guy, not unlike myself, who tries to keep consumers informed. And his story on Cash4Gold was met with an offer from them to pull his story in exchange for cold, hard cash. I wish I were making it up. Here is one of the letters Rob Cockerham received:<br /> <em><br /> Rob,<br /> I work with Cash4Gold on the reputation management. Your article is ranking #3 on their brand term. They would really like to make it worth your while to take it down or make it more positive. They did something similar by joining (OTHER CONSUMER AFFAIRS WEBSITE)&rsquo;s advocacy program. Is it worth a few thousand to take it down? If not, maybe a donation to your favorite charity is more to your liking?<br /> Feel free to call me anytime to discuss further.</p> <p>Thanks, <br /> Joe Laratro 
<br /> President 
<br /> Tandem Interactive - Trendy Online Marketing Solutions <br /> Hollywood, FL 33020</em></p> <p>This is a new low. And what&rsquo;s even more concerning is that other sites with your interests at heart have taken the bribe and pulled the story. Outrageous is too small a word. I popped over to The Consumerist to see what they had on Cash4Gold. And yes, they had plenty, including <a href="http://consumerist.com/5144296/10-confessions-of-a-cash4gold-employee">this article in which a former Cash4Gold employee tells all</a> (no doubt to repair a very bruised conscience). I advice you to read the full article, but here's an extract:</p> <p><em>I am a former employee of Cash 4 Gold. I did not know much about the company before being hired. On my first day of being hired, I was taught the &quot;Cash 4 Gold Scam&quot; from beginning to end. </em></p> <p><em>5. We do offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee or your jewelry returned, BUT THE CATCH IS, that the guarantee is to contact us within 10 DAYS from when your check is DATED. (This begins with the time it took for the accounts payables dept. to ISSUE the check and also including the TRANSIT TIME for you to receive your check in the mail. **** NOTATE THE COMMERCIALS THAT INSINUATE THAT YOU GET YOUR CASH IN 24 HRS.*** If you request (sign) for FAST CASH (direct deposit) you automatically WAIVE your rights to have your items returned, EVEN if you are not satisfied with amount of your deposit.</em></p> <p><em>6. You generally receive your check around the &quot;7th-10th&quot; business day, AND majority of the time Customers are outraged when they lay eyes on the amount of their check. Some Customer's even receive a check for 0.01 cents.</em></p> <p>So, Wise Bread readers, spread the word. Let everyone you can know that Cash4Gold is not only a very shady organization with whom you shouldn&rsquo;t trust you valuables, but it&rsquo;s also one who will attempt to pay off people who try and tell the truth. If I do get an offer from the Cash4Gold people to pull my article, I'll let you know. And of course, I would never take it anyway, even for my favorite &quot;charity!&quot;</p> <p>And folks, if you want money for your gold, try your local pawn shop. If you don&rsquo;t like their offer, walk away with your gold; perhaps sell it on eBay or Craigslist. But never pop it in an envelope and mail it to this company&hellip;you may never see it again, or be offered a paltry amount of money in return. <br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Cash4Gold con gold money scam warning Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:49:37 +0000 Paul Michael 2816 at http://www.wisebread.com The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned. http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/292246_5528 copy.jpg" alt="House Trap" title="House Trap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="194" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="rteindent4">It seems like new variations of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud">Nigerian 419 scam</a> pop up every week. The one that caught my attention recently involved renting a home, and it&rsquo;s a nasty trick that could take anyone by surprise. But if you know what to look for, you can avoid it. </p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been looking around for a home rental recently. There are several resources out there for home renters, but the first place I tried was Craigslist. It seemed like an easy way to cut out the middleman and deal directly with the family renting out their home.</p> <p>One home that I found seemed way too good to be true. For $1200 a month inclusive, I could rent a beautiful 5-bedroom home with wooden floors, new appliances, a finished basement and even a whirlpool tub. That&rsquo;s a whole lot more house then we have now, for a whole lot less than our current mortgage payment.</p> <p>I emailed asking for details. I expected a reply saying &ldquo;sorry, it&rsquo;s $2200 a month, my bad,&rdquo; but the reply I actually got was more than a little weird. The English used in the ad was perfect, clearly stripped from a different listing; the English in the email was broken and awkward. Here&rsquo;s the reply:</p> <p><em>Hello Dear,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Thanks for the email. I own the house and also want you to know that it was due to my transfer to (West Africa, Nigeria) that makes us to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible person and God fearing person who can take very good care of the house in our absence.we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in West Africa and will be staying here for the next 4 years in our new house and also with the keys of the house for rent, we try to look for an agent that we can give this documents and the keys before we left but could not find, and we as well&nbsp; do not want our house to be used any how in our absence that is why we took it along with us. I and my Wife came over to Africa for a missionary work, so i hope you will promise us that you will&nbsp; take very good care of the house. So get back to me if you know you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of $1200 per month and the security Deposit is $600.Get back to me for the rental application. You can go and view.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Here is my contact number: +2347058014164 or 0112347058014164</em></p> <p>Alarm bells instantly started ringing in my head. What was with the &ldquo;Hello Dear&rdquo; opening line? Why the constant references to God and missionary work? And how come they still had the keys and no agent? </p> <p>This all sounded like the classic Nigerian 419 scam, right down to the broken English and references to religion. So I did a quick search for the exact term &ldquo;Craigslist Rental Scam Africa.&rdquo;&nbsp; It turned up over 259,000 hits, including<a href="http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/dec/03/new-scam-out-africa-rents-denver-homes-craigslist/"> this one</a> about the very same ad I had seen. </p> <p>After a little more digging around, I found out that this scam has been around for years but is rapidly on the rise due to the rotten economy. Some people, like myself, are looking for a bigger house to rent until we can sell our smaller one. Other people want out of a big house payment, or have bad credit and can&rsquo;t get a mortgage. </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_072008_news_rental_scam.74080660.html">Associated Press </a>reports: </p> <p><em>Because of tighter restrictions on financing for home buyers, many are renting instead. And the rising cost of gas is pulling people closer to work, transportation or schools. Jim Kight, past president of the Rental Housing Association of Greater Portland, says renters bidding for good homes have helped drive up rates at his rental properties as much as 15 percent from a year ago. &quot;This rental market isn't hot; it's beyond that. It's steaming,&quot; Kight said. &quot;The sad part is that this kind of market opens it up for these kinds of scams.&quot;</em></p> <p>Regardless of the situation, the market has been flooded with people looking to rent a home; and when that happens, scammers come out of the woodwork. </p> <p><strong>The Scam</strong></p> <p>There are variations on the theme, but the basic premise is the same. Scammers will take a legitimate listing for a home, complete with pictures, and repost it on Craigslist for a lower price. This gets way more people to bite, people are eager to find a great house for a small payment. </p> <p>The scammer usually replies with a story about quickly moving out of the country to work as a missionary. References to God and missionary work are supposed to instill a basic level of trust in the potential tenant; if it&rsquo;s a man of God, he can&rsquo;t be a bad guy, right? </p> <p>The scammer will ask for a month&rsquo;s rent and a deposit, plus a completed rental agreement. This, of course, is the key to stealing your identity. You may be asked to mail it to someone and the keys will be returned to you. Or, you may get a more sophisticated scammer who will give you a tour of a home first. In the latter case, the con artist may have actually rented the home for a month and plans on scamming many people in one or two days before disappearing. </p> <p>You may think you&rsquo;d be too smart to fall for one of these scams, but there are many people who have already fallen victim to this crime. It&rsquo;s easy enough to dismiss someone speaking pidgin English and asking for money to be sent to Nigeria. 99% of us would spot it. But, what if it was someone with a greater grasp of English, who gave you a tour of the home and had all the right paperwork? </p> <p>As <a href="http://www.10news.com/news/13962225/detail.html">10 news </a>reports: </p> <p><em>&ldquo;According to authorities, the scam has recently popped up because the type of locking system on most homes for sale needs an access card. However, the glut of available homes on the market has reduced the supply for the access cards, so many agents have been forced to use older systems.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>So now, the scammers don&rsquo;t even need to rent the home themselves. They can gain access to a home for rent, and look like a legitimate landlord or agent. So what can you do? How do you know if the rental property is legit?</p> <p>Unfortunately, this crime hasn&rsquo;t appeared on the Craigslist sams page yet, but with enough media attention it should make the page soon enough. But a site called <a href="http://rentalscams.org/">rentalscams.org </a>has some great information, like the warning list below.I highly recommend checking it out if you&rsquo;re in the market for a rental property. </p> <p><em><strong>There are commonalities with all rental scam emails. Below are some tips when dissecting a rental scam email.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; 1. Does the email start out with Sir / Madam?<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 2. Are there misspellings in the email?<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 3. Are there character mistakes in the email? i.e Hello,my nameis Susie.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 4. Is there excessive capitalization?<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 5. Does the email reference God, UK, Cashiers Check, Doctor, Nigeria, Reverend, etc.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 6. Is the email from a free email provider. i.e gmail, yahoo, aol, hotmail.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 7. Does the email refer to another person or agent?<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; 8. Does the email reference wanting to move in site unseen?</em></p> <p>If the email has a majority of these commonalities, then the chances are very good it is a scammer. If you are unsure, it is best to not reply to the email.</p> <p>Scammers aren&rsquo;t just targeting tenants though. If you&rsquo;re a homeowner planning on renting out your property, you may also be conned; a site called <a href="http://www.fraudguides.com/tips/august7.asp">Fraud Guides </a>offers the following sound advice.</p> <p><strong><em>Rental Scam Warning Signs</em></strong><em><br /> </em></p> <ul> <li><em>You are contacted via email regarding a property. You may have posted on Craigslist, for instance, so email is hardly unexpected. </em></li> <li><em>Be on the lookout for poor grammar or comments that make no sense.<br /> </em></li> <li><em>The request comes from outside the country. This may turn out to be a legitimate inquiry but once you know it originated from somewhere overseas proceed with caution.<br /> </em></li> <li><em>There is a sense of urgency. If you feel pressured to act quickly because of some immediate need, be especially cautious. Scam artists count on decisions made in haste.<br /> </em></li> <li><em>Third parties become involved. If the person wanting to rent your property needs to use a friend or someone else as an intermediary in order to pay, you should be at your own highest alert level. This is a common Nigerian Scam ploy.<br /> </em></li> <li><em>You will be over-paid. This is one of the tricks these scam artists use to get money out of you. Normally, you would be the one receiving cash in a transaction. In this case, however, the check or money order is made out for more than you requested. Oops. Now they'll want you to wire the extra amount back to them. Once you do, they back out of the entire arrangement and days later you will find out that the check or money order was a forgery and you're stuck with the loss.</em></li> </ul> <p><em><strong>How to avoid Nigerian rental scams</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em>Only deal with landlords or renters local to you.</em><em><br /> </em></li> <li><em>Do not let someone pay more than you asked for.<br /> </em></li> <li><em>Do a web search for the renter's name to see what comes up.</em><em><br /> </em></li> <li><em>If the payment arrives in the form of a money order, inspect it carefully in case it's a counterfeit. Despite your best attempts to determine its authenticity, it may still turn out to be a forgery.</em><em><br /> </em></li> <li><em>Do not let someone else use your name or Social Security number to buy a property, especially if they offer to pay you for using it.</em><em><br /> </em></li> <li><em>Don't do anything until the money order or check clears the bank. You could be pressured to act sooner and you might even receive threats. </em></li> <li><em>Don't give into anything. Nigerian scams depend on you sending money to someone before the money order clears the bank.</em></li> </ul> <p> So whether you&rsquo;re looking to rent a home, or rent out your home, you really need to keep your wits about you folks. Stay safe. Be vigilant. And if in doubt, back out. </p> <p>Further reading:</p> <p><a href="http://www.therealestatebloggers.com/2008/09/12/warning-craigslist-rental-scam/">http://www.therealestatebloggers.com/2008/09/12/warning-craigslist-rental-scam/</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2008/02/11/2008-02-11_craigslist_scams_targeting_renters_despe-2.html">http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2008/02/11/2008-02-11_craigslist_scams_targeting_renters_despe-2.html</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.419legal.org/blog/2008/06/02/craigslist-rental-scam/">http://www.419legal.org/blog/2008/06/02/craigslist-rental-scam/</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/291192/how_to_spot_and_avoid_a_rental_scam.html">http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/291192/how_to_spot_and_avoid_a_rental_scam.html</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Crimes/InPerson/MajorPerson/rent_scam.htm">http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Crimes/InPerson/MajorPerson/rent_scam.htm</a></p> <p><a href="http://paulm.com/inchoate/2004/06/419_rent_scam.html">http://paulm.com/inchoate/2004/06/419_rent_scam.html</a></p> <p><a href="http://berealct.wordpress.com/2007/05/21/rental-scammers-using-craigslist-to-target-landlords/">http://berealct.wordpress.com/2007/05/21/rental-scammers-using-craigslist-to-target-landlords/</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/CraigsList_scams.php">http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/CraigsList_scams.php</a></p> <p><a href="http://activerain.com/blogsview/199990/Beware-Rental-Scams-Operating">http://activerain.com/blogsview/199990/Beware-Rental-Scams-Operating</a></p> <p><a href="http://7r3y.com/2008/05/06/craigslist-rental-scam/">http://7r3y.com/2008/05/06/craigslist-rental-scam/</a></p> <p><a href="http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2008/08/craigslist-rental-scam.html">http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2008/08/craigslist-rental-scam.html</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Nigerian/room_rentals.htm">http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Nigerian/room_rentals.htm</a><br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles">419 baiting – keeping online scammers running in circles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-10-scams-of-2006">Top 10 scams of 2006</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing 419 con craigslist fraud Nigeria scam Mon, 05 Jan 2009 19:17:04 +0000 Paul Michael 2704 at http://www.wisebread.com The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you? http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/444587257_9b5e0ec86f.jpg" alt="jury duty phone scam" title="jury duty phone scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="374" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My wife forwarded me one of those &ldquo;hey everyone, don&rsquo;t fall for this&rdquo; emails this morning. I get one from a friend or relative at least once a week, and usually they&rsquo;re well-meaning but filled with gross inaccuracies or are just completely untrue. However, when I looked to my source for all things BS, snopes.com, I discovered this one was 100% true. It&rsquo;s called the Jury Duty scam. It&rsquo;s a smart, simple con that could clean you out.</p> <p>This scam has been around for a while (2005), but is relatively new compared to the Nigerian email scams and other similar cons. The premise is simple. Here&rsquo;s the write-up from <a href="http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/juryduty.asp">snopes.com</a> :</p> <blockquote><p><em>The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you&rsquo;ve failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>Allow me to break in here for a second. That last statement is incredibly powerful because it throws you completely off guard. You&rsquo;re now on the defensive, and in those situations you&rsquo;re more prone to do what you can to make things right. Now, part two of the scam:</p> <blockquote><p><em>The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for &ldquo;verification&rdquo; purposes. Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim&rsquo;s Social Security Number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information &ndash; exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>If you live in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon or Washington State, you&rsquo;re in a state where this scam has already been reported. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean you&rsquo;re safe from this in any other town or city. </p> <p>Personally, this scam would never get to me because I know I&rsquo;m ineligible for jury duty. I&rsquo;m a Green Card holder, so I&rsquo;d already be clued in that something was wrong. You may also be someone who would just never fall for something like this. But the point of these scams is similar to the principle of junk mail and spam. For every 99 people that don&rsquo;t fall for it, 1 person does. If you have an army of people making dozens of calls every hour, you could walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars as an ID theft scammer in just one day. </p> <p><strong>What can you do? Arm yourself with knowledge. </strong></p> <p>First and foremost, the FBI issued a <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel05/092805.htm">warning</a> that states &ldquo;the judicial system DOES NOT contact people telephonically and ask for personal information such as Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers.&rdquo; The only time you will ever be called by a court system about jury duty is AFTER you have mailed back a completed questionnaire, and that is a rare occurrence. </p> <p>So, if you are called out of the blue and someone is demanding your personal info, just hang up the phone. Don&rsquo;t even get into a debate with these scumbags.</p> <p>In fact, this is a good rule of thumb for any phonecalls that you do not solicit; NEVER give out personal information to verify records of any kind. If someone insists on &ldquo;verifying&rdquo; information, they should already have it&hellip;so, you can ask them to read it out and give yes or no answers. If it&rsquo;s a scam, they clearly won&rsquo;t have it. </p> <p>Obviously, this does not apply to banks or credit card companies that YOU call, they should do an in-depth verification system before letting you have access to your accounts, with good reason. </p> <p>You&rsquo;d be well-advised, regardless of this scam, to keep an eye on your credit/debit cards and accounts for any unusual activity. And request a free copy of your credit report from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp">annualcreditreport.com</a> , you&rsquo;re entitled to one from each of the credit reporting companies every 12 months. This is not to be confused with freecreditreport.com, which in my honest opinion is just a big, but perfectly legal, scam. </p> <p>You can also put a fraud alert on your credit report for further safety, although there is still some debate about how this affects your credit rating. I have one on mine, I like the higher level of protection. Bottom line folks, this is a scam that really works and it&rsquo;s only going to snag more people. Keep your wits about you, and have a safe day.</p> <p><strong>Other reading:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf">http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317">http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317</a></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story">So, will Cash4Gold offer me cash to kill this story?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-the-phrase-we-can-cut-your-debt-in-half">Beware of the Phrase &quot;We Can Cut Your Debt In Half!&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs credit fraud ID theft illegal scam warning Thu, 14 Aug 2008 21:25:23 +0000 Paul Michael 2331 at http://www.wisebread.com The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune. http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/686558_debt_and_demand_5.jpg" alt="debt" title="debt" width="224" height="300" /></p> <p>For many years now, thousands of folks have been earning a little extra cash by doing Mystery Shopping (aka Secret Shopping). You probably already know what’s involved, but here’s a quick rundown from the FTC:</p> <blockquote><p>Some retailers hire marketing research companies to evaluate the quality of service in their stores; these companies use mystery shoppers to get the information anonymously. They assign a mystery shopper to make a particular purchase in a store or restaurant, for example, and then report on the experience. Typically, the shopper is reimbursed, and can keep the product or service.</p> </blockquote> <p>Sounds good. And it is, when it’s genuine. Mystery shoppers get to eat for free, try new products (and keep them) at another company’s expense, and basically get paid for doing do what they were going to do anyway. Sweet deal.</p> <p>However, once again the con artists have found another avenue to practice their trade, and it’s costing people a small fortune. </p> <p><strong>The scam</strong><br />It’s a combination of employment fraud and a wire-transfer scam. Unfortunately, it preys on people who actually need money the most. Mystery shoppers tend to be folks who need a little extra income to make ends meet, and the promise of good money for little effort is way too tempting.  What’s more, as I pointed out earlier, this is a legitimate way to make money. So spotting the real shopping assignments from the fake ones can be tough (more on that later).</p> <p>You may answer an ad in the newspaper, or get a piece of mail, but the premise is the same. It involves a cashier’s check (warning sign #1) and a simple assignment. You’ll probably receive the check in a very official-looking employment packet, along with instructions on what to do with it. Usually, you’ll cash the check, say for $3000, and then wire the sum of $2600 to an address provided. You will keep the remaining $400 and submit a report on the whole process. Was it good? Did it go smoothly? How was the customer service?</p> <p>Other versions of the scam ask you to cash the check, use the Western Union service at a local store, such as a WalMart, and then send some of that money to a given address. Again, you keep the difference for yourself. </p> <p>The “shopper” is also put under extreme pressure to do the whole assignment in 2 days or less, for obvious reasons. And you can guess what happens. The cashier’s check bounces and the mystery shopper is left out of pocket. Sometimes, it can be five-figure damage. You may think &quot;Ha, I&#39;d never fall for that!&quot; Good for you. But hundreds of other people have said the same thing and have also been scammed. These guys look and sound like the real deal, complete with corporate stationery and professional websites. </p> <p><strong>So, how do you tell the real assignments from the fake?</strong><br />The FTC has some good advice, listed below, on spotting the real firms from the scam artists. Read it carefully.</p> <p>First, how to spot real companies:<br /> <blockquote>Search the Internet for mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications. Legitimate companies don’t charge an application fee. Many accept applications online.</p> <p>Do some homework about mystery shopping. Check libraries or bookstores for tips on how to find companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.</p> <p>Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at <a href="http://www.mysteryshop.org" title="www.mysteryshop.org">www.mysteryshop.org</a> for information on how to register to be a mystery shopper with a MSPA-member company, a database of available jobs, and additional information on the industry in general.</p></blockquote> <p>And be skeptical of mystery shopping promoters who:<br /> <blockquote>Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email. While it may appear as if these companies are hiring mystery shoppers, it’s much more likely that they’re pitching unnecessary — and possibly bogus — mystery shopping “services.”</p> <p>Sell “certification.” Companies that use mystery shoppers generally do not require certification.</p> <p>Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.</p> <p>Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.</p> <p>Sell directories of companies that provide mystery shoppers.</p></blockquote> <p>I think the best advice I can offer is NEVER accept a cashier’s check from someone you don’t know and trust, and never wire money to strangers. Legitimate mystery shopping companies will never ask you to disburse money from your own checking account, so that should be a warning sign for you.</p> <p>And of course, the golden rule always applies. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your wits about you folks.</p> <p><strong>Some helpful links:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/mysteryalrt.shtm">From the FTC</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.snopes.com/fraud/employment/shopper.asp">From Snopes.com</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.myfoxcolorado.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=C7AB5478A68358CAF8BE6025468C3A41?contentId=3530869&amp;version=2&amp;locale=EN-US&amp;layoutCode=TSTY&amp;pageId=1.1.1">From my local news station</a></p> <p><em>Photo by <a href="http://www.sxc.hu/photo/686558">The Stock Exchange</a> </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story">So, will Cash4Gold offer me cash to kill this story?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-protein-water-scam-kellogs-special-k2o-can-do-anything">The Protein Water Scam: Kellog&#039;s Special K2O Can Do Anything!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs cashiers check con money order mystery shopping scam secret shopping wire transfer Tue, 19 Jun 2007 20:12:24 +0000 Paul Michael 759 at http://www.wisebread.com $6500 repair bill to remove a stone from a moon roof http://www.wisebread.com/6500-repair-bill-to-remove-a-stone-from-a-moon-roof <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/119367935_d18568af8e.jpg" alt="Merc" title="Merc" width="320" height="241" /> </p> <p>How many times have you felt like someone was ripping you off? Hopefully, you can trust your gut instincts, just like the guy in this video below.</p> <p>You can watch the full 7 minutes for yourself, but the basic story is this. He went to a Mercedes Benz repair shop complaining of a problem with his moon roof. The shop took a look at it and said he needed a complete new moon roof. </p> <p><strong>Total charge from Merc = $6500 </strong>(remember, this is Mercedes so it&#39;s going to be high, but gee whizz).</p> <p>Being a customer worthy of Wisebread status, although I hope he got that Merc on a discount, he went elsewhere for a second opinion. I presume one of those smaller shops that don&#39;t have such huge mark-ups. You can imagine his surprise when he discovered the moon roof was simply jammed due to a small rock in the mechanism. </p> <p><strong>Total charge from other shop = $143 </strong></p> <p>All it took was a pair of tweezers to remove the offending pebble. So, armed with a hidden camera our seriously ticked-off customer goes back to the dealership. Here are the results.</p> <object width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://embed.break.com/MzEyNDQ5" /><embed src="http://embed.break.com/MzEyNDQ5" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p><font size=1><a href="http://www.break.com/index/mercedes-dealership-tries-to-screw-customer.html">Car Dealership Tries To Screw Customer</a> - Watch more <a href="http://www.break.com/">free videos</a></font> <p><strong>Moral of the story:</strong> A second opinion is worth its weight in gold. Oh, and as I have said earlier, be wary of dealerships. They&#39;re not all bad, but some are just out for maximum profit. </p> <p><em>Main photo by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/saschaaa/">Saschaaa</a> (with a new plate by me) </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6500-repair-bill-to-remove-a-stone-from-a-moon-roof">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-buy-scamming-customers-with-intranet-updated">Best Buy scamming customers with Intranet - UPDATED!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam">Tips for Avoiding a Foreclosure Prevention or Loan Modification Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs car dealership consumer rights deception Mercedes rip off scam service center Thu, 14 Jun 2007 20:05:52 +0000 Paul Michael 738 at http://www.wisebread.com Pet lovers beware - there's a new scam in town. http://www.wisebread.com/pet-lovers-beware-theres-a-new-scam-in-town <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/484053721_34b7c95747.jpg" alt="big eyed pup" title="big eyed pup" width="317" height="187" /></p> <p>If you thought those <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud">Nigerian scammers</a> could not sink any lower, think again. It was reported today by <a href="http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/13455297/detail.html">WTAE.TV</a> that there&#39;s a new scam making the rounds, and this time the scammers are praying on the good nature of pet lovers.</p> <p>It&#39;s a simple enough set-up. Someone either emails or posts an ad (often local, so beware of Craigslist and MySpace) featuring a beautiful free puppy. Many reasons are given for the free giveaway, ranging from a poor environment to lack of funds to keep the little pup. The correspondance tugs on the heart strings like a professional harp player, hitting all the right notes. And then when you reply saying you&#39;d like the free puppy, the con begins.</p> <p>First, they&#39;ll ask for the hefty shipping fee to be sent, something like $160. If you bite, and send the fee, then all of a sudden the shots for the pooch will need to be administered. And guess what, they&#39;re not cheap. Before you know it, you&#39;ve sent several hundred dollars to someone you don&#39;t know. Most likely the dog doesn&#39;t even exist, and cute pictures of helpless puppies are not exactly difficult to come by online (see main picture). </p> <p>If you really do want to adopt a dog and give a homeless animal a good life, go to your local Humane Society or animal adoption center. They are legitimate, you&#39;ll need to pay a few fees for adoption, but at least you know everything is above board and the money is helping real animals. The people who commit these crimes are animals of an entirely different kind. </p> <p><em>Main photo of a beautiful pup by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/shuck/">Shuck</a> . Thanks, it&#39;s wonderful. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pet-lovers-beware-theres-a-new-scam-in-town">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles">419 baiting – keeping online scammers running in circles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6500-repair-bill-to-remove-a-stone-from-a-moon-roof">$6500 repair bill to remove a stone from a moon roof</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-adoption-affordable">5 Ways to Make Adoption Affordable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-your-dog-is-ruining-your-credit-score">3 Ways Your Dog Is Ruining Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance adoption deception dog dogs email fake Nigeria puppy scam Wed, 06 Jun 2007 22:08:35 +0000 Paul Michael 706 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 more ways to hustle free drinks. http://www.wisebread.com/5-more-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-more-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/free drinks.jpg" alt="free drinks" title="score more free drinks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My favorite scammers from The Real Hustle have been busy. I know over 130,000 of you enjoyed (and hopefully tried out) the friendly scams in my <a href="/top-5-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks">last post</a> . Well, the hustlers have come up with a whole bunch of new ways to grab some free booze. There are some great new cons here, some require props, others a little practice, but I guarantee any one of them will get you something for nothing. What I do like is the justification behind them, which I never thought of before but it works every time.</p> <p>&quot;If you lose and buy me free drinks, you can play this trick on your mates and get free drinks bought for you.&quot; Great! It&#39;s like Pay It Forward in reverse. At some point everyone in the world will get a free pint of ale or a wee dram of scotch. What a wondeful world that will be.</p> <p>So, here&#39;s your new ammo. Take notes people and have fun.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1 - On a roll: The Beer Bottle and the 20</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/acSCYFohO0U" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/acSCYFohO0U" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p>2 - Chain of fools: The escaping ring</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/OfzoTkTJj_w" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/OfzoTkTJj_w" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p>3 - Balancing act: The impossible stack of coins</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/eovwCWG6T8c" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/eovwCWG6T8c" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p>4 - Swipe it: The hand is quicker than the dough</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/kyOlaUH64vM" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/kyOlaUH64vM" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p>5 - Hole truth: The note and the coins</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/kmo23yS846Q" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/kmo23yS846Q" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350"></embed></object><p></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-more-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-cool-bar-tricks-that-anyone-can-master">SIX cool bar tricks that anyone can master.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-companies-that-pay-you-for-referring-friends">10 Cool Companies That Pay You for Referring Friends</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks bar bets con free free drinks free stuff games hustle proposition bets Real Hustle scam tricks Mon, 28 May 2007 21:47:49 +0000 Paul Michael 684 at http://www.wisebread.com