Archive for the ‘Scams’ Category

Service of While We Were Distracted by Stormy, Omarosa, a $15K Jacket & Michael Cohen…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Photo: nationofchange.org

Cable and social media are obsessed with Stormy, Omarosa, the $15K Paul Manafort jacket, the Cohen admissions and other almost daily forehead-slapping bits that distract from and mask crucial changes by the current administration none of which are topics around the water cooler.

Daniel Nelson wrote in sciencetrends.com that the administration cut out the yearly budget for NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which measures greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and “will likely stymie efforts to combat global climate change.” The savings was $10 million/year. [By comparison, the Mexico wall is estimated to cost $70 billion to build and $150 million/year to maintain.]

Photo: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

According to Nelson, “Kelly Sims Gallagher, the director of the International Environment and Resource Policy Center at Tufts University says that the decision was ‘a grave mistake.’”

The program supported research big and small. It:

  • ensured that countries adhered to the Paris climate accord because it measured reductions in emissions
  • provided data for 65 projects to understand how forests keep carbon out of the air
  • prevented deforestation of tropical forest in developing nations
  • tracked dissolving carbon flowing from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean
  • helped Providence I. reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile Betsy DeVos was busy unraveling consumer protections in another sector—for-profit colleges. [Examples: chains which train automotive mechanics, cosmetologists, cyber security techs and, like the now defunct Trump University, real estate investment specialists.]

Photo: economicdevelopment.org

According to Erica L. Green, DeVos “formally moved to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs.” In her New York Times article, Green described the sector as “scandal-scarred” noting that the now rescinded gainful employment safeguard was made during the previous administration.

Photo: autotraining.edu

The rule under Obama “revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools” where graduates were left drowning in debt with poor job prospects. Green reported that since 2010, when the Obama administration began to tighten the rules, almost half the career programs and schools have closed and the student population shrank by more than 1.6 million. The president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s trade group, admitted “The sector today is so much better.”

Who will be left holding the bag to pay defaulted loans under the DeVos change? Taxpayers.

“‘The Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,’ said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move ‘outrageous and irresponsible.’”

Attorney generals of 18 states have sued to delay enforcement of the DeVos reversal.

Here are the reasons her department gives for rescinding the gainful employment rule:

  • Research ignored by the Obama administration “undermined the ‘validity of using the debt and earnings comparisons.’”
  • They found that “‘a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates’ that ‘could mislead students in making an enrollment decision.’”
  • It was “burdensome” for schools to disclose their data.
  • “the Obama regulations ‘reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.’”

Maybe someone can explain these arguments to me.

Is there a chance that these reversals—and their negative impact–will be part of voter decisions at the November midterm elections? Do you think that they are widely known? Are the extraneous headline-grabbing distractions deliberate to keep our eyes off the many far bigger birdies? They sure are working, don’t you think?

Photo: pinterest

Service of a Pet Scam: A Sleazy Twist on Leasing

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Photo: dogtime.com

This post might have enhanced “Service of Did you Know That When You Bought or Rented It?” published early in July. Actually it slips in between. It’s about customers who thought they’d bought something that is usually purchased or given away but was actually rented to them.

Nancy Coleman wrote “Just Bought a New Puppy? It Might Be a Rental.” It shocked me because most pet people I’ve met are kind. Like millions, I fall in love with my animal family members and once ensconced in the household, they are there to stay.  A company structured to pull a fast one over people willing to adopt a pet is sick. With the exception of a movie production company, why would anyone want to rent an animal?

Photo: health.com

Leasing company Wags Lending thinks they do or at least that someone will fall for its scam. In her Wall Street Journal article Coleman wrote that the company, headquartered in Nevada, leases pets. The 20-something woman in her story inadvertently leased her Chihuahua, Remi, from an upstate NY pet store. She said to Coleman that “An employee at The Pet Zone, told her Remi’s list price was about $1,900, but according to the contract, the puppy would have cost more than twice as much—$4,370—after two years of paying about $180 a month.”

Photo: justpuppies.com

The victim ended up paying $540 for three months plus $1,900 for Remi plus a $300 leasing fee. She wasn’t alone. “Her story—documented in records from a fraud case brought by the New York Attorney General’s office in May against the pet-store chain, and recounted to the Journal—isn’t unusual. At least six other customers gave similar accounts about The Pet Zone, which has four outlets in New York, in depositions for the same continuing lawsuit.”

Like furniture and car leases, pet leases usually run from one to three years, and like furniture and cars, pets cost more at the end. However, should the pet die or run away, the lessee is still obligated to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the FTC has twice warned about this business model in blogs; a bill banning pet leasing is waiting for N.Y. Governor Cuomo’s signature—California and Nevada already have such a ban–and Coleman reported that Wags Lending’s parent company, Bristlecone Holdings, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Coleman wrote: “There are certain compliance requirements under the Consumer Leasing Act that come into play when stores advertise a leasing option, said Lesley Fair, a senior attorney in the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. The language used to explain the lease needs to be ‘clear and conspicuous,’ and understandable for consumers, she said.

“Businesses also specifically need to disclose how much consumers will have paid at the end of the leasing term and details about monthly payments.”

The pet industry, already at $86 billion, is expected to grow. No wonder there are bottom feeders poised to take advantage.

Have you run into a situation where you thought you were buying something but were actually leasing it? Do you agree that pets should not be leased from pet shops, period?

Photo: allpetsplace.com

 

 

 

Service of Too Good to be True II

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Photo: depositphotos.com

I’ve followed highlights of the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos criminal case for a while in newspaper and radio coverage and a few things nag at me:

  • How did high profile investors, partners and board members get duped by a machine and service that never worked?
  • Even though “Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes and the blood-testing company’s former No. 2 executive,” news focus brushes over life-changing damage done to patients who think they are OK when they’re not.

The charges allege “that they defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and also defrauded doctors and patients.” This quote and the one above made up the lead to John Carreyrou’s recent Wall Street Journal article.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

“The blood test machine her company created doesn’t work — and never has,” Scott Simon wrote recently, capturing an interview with Carreyrou on NPR’s Morning Edition that he hosts. “She raised almost a billion dollars from investors, including Rupert Murdoch, Carlos Slim Helú, and the family of Betsy DeVos, and signed contracts with Walgreens and Safeway, by lying to them.” Carreyrou’s original coverage led to the 2½ year investigation.

He also wrote a book about the scandal, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” and the test that was expected to revolutionize the industry by costing less and using blood drops from a finger pin prick.

Simon continued quoting Carreyrou: Holmes and “Sunny Balwani, who was the number two of the company, knew as they were rolling out the blood testing services in Walgreens stores in California and Arizona that the blood tests were faulty, and yet they still went ahead with the rollout. And there were, I came across personally in my reporting more than a dozen patients who had health scares because they received bad results from Theranos.”

Photo: pehub.com

This was the most in-depth comment I could find about the patient victims of the scandal. Others mostly referred to them though in his New York Times coverage, Reed Abelson wrote that the so-called tests endangered lives.

So how did Holmes get away with bamboozling five star board members along with all the rest? Carreyrou told Simon “she capitalized on this yearning there was, in Silicon Valley and beyond, to see a woman break through in this man’s world in Silicon Valley.” In addition, he said, the investors based their decision on the Walgreens contract, figuring the company had confirmed the accuracy of the tests. This was a false assumption. Holmes refused to show the equipment claiming she was afraid the competition would discover the secret sauce.

About venture capitalists Abelson shared the prediction of Lakshman Ramamurthy, a former FDA official, now with Foundation Medicine, who “is not certain investors have learned their lesson. Companies like Theranos, which offered little hard evidence that its tests worked to its investors, ‘have their own rules,’ he said. ‘That hasn’t changed. The Silicon Valley hubris remains.’”

According to Ken Sweet’s AP article, referring to Holmes and Balwani: “If convicted, they could face prison sentences that would keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and total fines of $2.75 million each.” At one point the company, built on lies, was worth $10 billion +. I wonder if the fine covers the damage to investors sufficiently.

Surely lawsuits will follow should patients prove they were harmed either because they weren’t properly diagnosed or were damaged because they were given harmful medicines they didn’t need. Are you surprised that such high profile businesses, canny investors and high profile board members were deceived by the old “I can’t show you the goods” trick so soon after Bernie Madoff played the same card?

Photo: harp-onthis.com

Service of Wacky Things People Do

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Photo: balunywa.blogspot.com

In quick succession I became aware of some screwy things people do–mild in comparison to what is happening in the photo above.

Homemade Floods

Photo: hiawathasewer.com

The note slipped under our door at the high-rise we live in warned that the water would be turned off the next day from 9 to 5 and to please make sure “when leaving the unit to turn off all the faucets.”

I asked the morning doorman, who has worked at the building for decades, about the reason for that odd faucet request. He said that when learning of a water shutdown some of the tenants turn on all their faucets before leaving for work. Then he smiled and shrugged.

We’ll Learn to Read Next Week

I was waiting for a test at a doctor’s office in a cubby-size space in which patients change to a hospital gown and wait their turn. I was pacing and couldn’t help notice the giant sign on a hamper to hold used gowns [photo, left] and a few steps away, a trash can. On closer inspection, I saw trash in the gown hamper. The garbage can was empty.

Don’t Look Now

Did the person installing the Vanderbilt Ave. detour sign [photo below, right] bother to look at the direction of the traffic? In addition, this sign is right off First Avenue, blocks and blocks away from Vanderbilt Avenue. I feel very sorry for out of towners driving in NYC.

Sticky Mail Boxes

Some unscrupulous people fish for mail.

Lindsay Gellman wrote “Sticky Fingers Fishing” in The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town.” In it she identified the “most pressing crisis” for the USPS, noting that it’s not what the president identified: He blamed Amazon for using the service as its “delivery boy.”

People are stealing credit cards, checks, cash, gift cards and money orders from mail boxes using a low tech method. They put rat glue on a small juice bottle and tie a shoelace to its neck, creating a mail fishing device. Phil Bartlett, in charge of the postal service’s New York inspection division, shared how the thieves transform checks to reissue them to someone else. He told Gellman: “There’s products out there, things like Ink Away, or sometimes nail-polish remover. Or they soak them in a solution containing brake fluid.” Or they take bank and account numbers from checks and make counterfeit ones.

The post office’s solution is to replace or retrofit the 7,000 traditional mailboxes in and around NYC with ones with thin slits [photo below]. I haven’t seen anyone fish for mail, but I imagine they do it late at night.

Have you observed or read about any wacky things that people do?

Photo: riverdalepress.com

Service of Reporting a Major Scam to the USPS: Little Help to Stamp Out Crime

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Photo: flickr.com

Reporting a scam to the proper authorities, with the goal of punishing and putting the nasty people out of business, wasn’t simple. It impacted me in time and anxiety and I have no idea if anything will come of my efforts.

I made a big mistake: I responded to an offer on Facebook that appeared to have come from a “friend,” to be a secret shopper. “What fun!” I thought, to check out businesses in my neighborhood: I do this anyway and it would be worth a post, at least.

I got a Priority mail letter this week sent from Philadelphia with a check inside from a Vacaville, Calif company, the TBWS Group, for $3,450, and a sheet of convoluted instructions [photo below right]. I was to deposit the check immediately; report my activity at an online address to confirm receipt of the check and instructions and promptly visit the nearest Walmart to buy $3,000 worth of gift cards.

If the awkward word choice in the headline—“Secret Surveyor Evaluation,” and errors in the copy didn’t catch my eye, the useless information they wanted to know about the gift card buying process blew an orchestra’s worth of whistles. In addition, the promised “stores in your neighborhood” was bunk as there are no Walmart stores in NYC—the closest being in NJ.

My colleague, David Reich, confirmed my impression as a few years ago he’d been approached with a similar con involving money and his checking out the services of Western Union. Google also helped verify that this is a scam.

I had proof—the envelope with return address, the check, an email from Sandra Wayne from a gmail account urging me to proceed with the project–so I wanted to share it with the postal authorities. These were the steps I ended up having to take:

  • I went to the Grand Central post office near my office. The policeman stationed there said he hears about these scams every few days, and to either rip up the evidence or go to window 24 if I wanted to report it. I did the latter.
  • The lady at window 24 gave me the phone number of the postal inspector. It wasn’t correct—the area code turned out to be wrong–so I had to look up the number.
  • I spoke with two people—the first thanked me for my interest in helping get the perpetrators and the second, in the criminal investigator’s department, was bored, didn’t want to hear about it and wouldn’t give me the link to the online form to fill out. Instead, she said I should find it on Google!
  • As I don’t trust such links taken from Google in today’s climate–there were several listed—I fished around the official USPS website until I found it and filled it out. My case didn’t quite fit the questions and there were no opportunities to fine tune responses.

There must be thousands of people who knock on the USPS’s door and I’m not the only one bent on reporting a potential wrong, but there should be an efficient way for people to communicate details of a scam to the postal service. To start, the woman at window 24 should have handed me a printed page with the link to the form and the correct phone number.

Would you have bothered to report this or would you have predicted it would be a waste of time? Have you been frustrated in reporting a scam to any large entity? Do you think that capturing the scofflaws is hopeless?

Service of Scour Your Emails Before You Act

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Photo: vimeo.com

My junk file picked up this obvous scam sent yesterday from Woodrow Nash, telling me “I need to send some money to Philippines through money gram but can’t send out from here as I am traveling on a cruise ship. Don’t know if you can help me with the transfer, will look for how to get the money back to you as soon as possible.” Woodrow—a stranger–must be kidding. Delete! Nevertheless unsettling that he has my email address.

Here are two recent sophisticated examples that again warn folks to “stop and think” before clicking a link or responding to what looks like a legitimate email. Because one happened to me and another, to a good friend, I had to share.

Being Too Social Can Get You Into Trouble

Some friends, colleagues and clients are in competition to collect the most friends and contacts on their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. Predators are taking good advantage of this competitiveness and the fact that people move through emails in a rush.

Big mistake: Scoundrels format requests to link and invitations to befriend that look right…but aren’t. Before clicking read carefully.

I thought it odd when the so-called “president of Magazine at Meredith” asked me to link in with him from Florida [photo right]. Last I heard Meredith is headquartered in Des Moines with offices around the country–not West Palm Beach. The photo of the man in the request had fake written all over it. So I wrote an acquaintance at Meredith to report this person, who is actually on LinkedIn as “President of Magazine at Meredith Corp.” The real Jerry Kaplan left Meredith some 10 years ago said the corporate executive. This was clearly an imposter.

Don’t Bank on It

I alerted friends about a warning of a new Cryptolocker virus. One wrote: “Thanks for the heads up. My default position is to be suspicious of attachments, and even of links. We all have to be so diligent these days.”

She continued: “The weirdest thing happened to me. I misplaced my Chase VISA card so I called the company to put a hold on the account while I dig around for it (it’s probably in a pocket or buried under a stack of papers). I confirmed that no unauthorized charges had been made using the card. Everything seemed fine so I exhaled. But then, within an hour of calling the company, I received an email saying that suspicious activity was seen on my account, [Photo below, right].

“It was easy for me to tell that this was a fraudulent message. Have you ever known a bank to use the word ‘earnestly’ in any communication? And since when is ‘online’ two words? The sender’s email address– secur@fraus6.chas.com–also was a giveaway, as was the fact that they didn’t address me by name. Even the indent on the first line was out of place. Clearly, this was the work of a rank amateur.

“Here’s the thing: Is it a coincidence that this arrived in my email box within an hour of calling to report my Chase card missing, or is something more sinister going on? Did the agent I spoke to during my initial phone call record my info and pass it on to an unauthorized person? I’ll never know. All the nonsense going on in the White House has made me half crazy and might be turning me into a conspiracy theorist! Anyway, as I said before, you can never be too careful.”

Have you identified any email oddities that could lead to trouble? What good is it to a scoundrel pretending to be someone else to have people link in with him? Do you think that my friend’s email from a faux Chase bank rep was coincidence or something more threatening? How do you protect your computer and your identity?

Photo: blackenedroots.com

Service of It Must Work Because I Keep Hearing It

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Some commercials have always irritated me and they don’t get better with time. The adverts must do well or they would either be pulled or changed. For me they cause one action: I change stations.

I never again want to hear about My Pillow. While clearly a great success—bloomberg.com reported that Michael Lindell has sold 26 million of them at $45 or more each and has a workforce of 1,500–I’m not tempted and I’m clearly alone. According to Josh Dean in “The Preposterous Success Story of America’s Pillow King” “…a huge number of them [are sold] directly to consumers who call and order by phone after seeing or hearing one of his inescapable TV and radio ads.”

FortuneBuilder seminar Photo: pinterest

In the Flip This House commercial you learn that the company is looking for “a few good people,” to join them. By now, in the NY Metro area alone, they must have found thousands or, based on years of hearing the same ad, they are really selling something else, like classes, which they are. FortuneBuilders is the name of the company that produces free 90 minute seminars offering the opportunity for more that you pay for. The Central Texas Better Business Bureau president Bill McGuire, with 22 years as a banker under his belt, told Brooke West, a reporter at theeagle.com “‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Most of the folks [who will attend the seminars] are regular people interested in making money, and that’s what their focus is,’ McGuire said. ‘But these [FortuneBuilder representatives] are going to get into their back pockets.’” ‘Nuff said.

I haven’t heard lately the incessant jingle for “Kars4Kids.” This might be related to recent publicity. I read on nonprofitorquartely.org Ruth McCambridge’s article “Kars4Kids: What the Jingle Leaves Out,” that first appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She wrote “…. how many among the general public know that Kars4Kids is directly affiliated with—and sends 90 percent of those proceeds that go to charity to—Oorah, a single youth charity in New Jersey which, according to tax forms, is “a Jewish outreach organization for the purpose of imparting Jewish education, values, and traditions, as well as guidance and support, to Jewish children who lack access to these fundamentals?” Key words in this quote are “that go to charity.”

Photo: youtube.com

McCambridge continues to share the findings of a 300 page report by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. For example: “out of $3 million raised in that state from 2012 to 2014, less than $12,000 went to children’s services in Minnesota…. She additionally found that though Kars4Kids reports spending 63 percent on mission, in actuality, of the $88 million raised nationally from 2012 to 2014, only 44 percent was given to charity, with $40 million going to Oorah. (When it comes to car donation programs in general, that 44 percent probably puts it on the high side, actually.)”

Do some commercials that you’ve heard for years drive you up walls? Have you bought anything after you heard or saw an ad for the billionth time? Does Genucel’s Chamonix cream really remove those bags under your eyes?

Photo: parenting.com

Service of Swindles

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Hang up the phone

This is the 12th post I’ve categorized under “scam.” Here are some more new to me.

Pay to Stay

A reader forwarded news from the MountKiscoDailyvoice.com,State Attorney General Warns of ICE Scam.” Zak Failla and Jon Craig wrote:On the heels of a nationwide sweep by U.S. Immigration and Customs [Enforcement] that led to the arrest of five Hudson Valley residents, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is cautioning residents to be wary of a scam involving unauthorized agents asking for money.”

In addition:According to Schneiderman, the Attorney General’s office has recently received an increased number of reported scams in recent weeks, where agents demand money in exchange for not deporting possible immigrants.

ICE logo“Schneiderman noted that no actual ICE agent would ask for money or threaten detainment or deportation if they are not paid. They also do not have the authority to enter one’s home without a warrant signed by a judge.”

No Information—Hang Up Fast

The next one, a phone swindle, has been around since 2003 and news of it was last updated on www.Snopes.com in April 2015 and yet I’d not heard of it; a friend just sent it to me. The caller identifies him/herself as representing your Visa or Mastercard account’s security/fraud dept. The caller asks if you’ve recently purchased something and notes the amount and knows your credit card number.

The objective is to get you to reveal the pin number on the back of the card. The caller says, ‘I need to verify you are in possession of your card.”  He’ll ask you to “turn your card over and look for some numbers.” Do not provide them. Credit card companies wouldn’t ask you for this information.

Let’s Face It—Is it or Isn’t It?

An email recently arrived from Facebook telling me “The balance on your ad account Jeanne Byington is empty. As a result, any active ads have been turned off. Please add money to turn them on or to create new ads.” The s on Ads in the signoff was a potential tell that this wasn’t from FB: “Thanks, The Facebook Ads Team.” More important, I’ve never bought an ad on Facebook.

I got a second email from the same source a few days later. “Earlier this week, we accidentally sent you an email that said your ad account is empty. Please disregard that message, which was sent by mistake. We’re sorry for sending incorrect information, and we’ve resolved the problem that caused you to receive it.”

If someone from Facebook really sent this, they’d best get another team member to write their emails. They didn’t send me incorrect information about my “ads” account, I don’t have and never had an account. While they’re at it, if real, they should select another name for the team: Facebook Ads Team irritates me.

Have you noticed these or any new scams and swindles lately?

 Is it real

Service of Too Good to be True

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

F rated

David Segal, “The Haggler,” wrote in The New York Times about Lola Backlund’s experience with exorbitant shipping and handling fees—almost $50–after purchasing a $10 bottle of furniture scratch remover featured in a late night TV commercial. She estimated that the box might have cost $12 to wrap and send. While the Tarrytown NY marketer of the product claims it will refund money for its products, customers won’t see a cent back for its sky-high shipping charges.

Segal investigated and learned that the Better Business Bureau gave the marketer, SAS Group, an F rating and posted 169 similar grievances. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office ordered SAS in 2011 “to pay restitution to consumers who said they were overcharged for shipping and handling fees after buying as-seen-on-TV products.” In addition, it “was prohibited from making false and misleading statements in future.” No more promoting a free product when it wasn’t really: Shipping and handling charges count.

SAS returned Ms. Backlund’s money immediately after the Hagglerreturning money intervened. But the point is that they—and others like them—continue to entice gullible viewers with claims of miracle products which may not be [though Ms. Backlund didn’t mention whether the scratches are gone from her furniture] and cheat on the transport charges. By the way, rubbing olive oil into a scratch or stain on wood will often tone down the wound.

We all wish for a phenomenal product that dices and slices, dusts and irons, sews on buttons and makes dinner in 10 minutes for $19.99 and sometimes we fall for the pitch. Have you? Were you sent shipping or other charges that were more than anticipated?

Shipping boxes

Service of There’s a New Scam Every Day: IRS’s Latest

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

IRS

Most working people pay Federal taxes, [even if a prominent presidential candidate apparently doesn’t], which must be why there’s yet another IRS scam in the land. The number of potential targets is huge and boy is it profitable. According to Laura Saunders in “The New IRS Email Scam,” in The Wall Street Journal, since 2013 almost 9,000 people have forked over $47 million +.

We’ve previously written about the phone swindle that threatens jail and worse if the prospective victim doesn’t respond immediately to a voice message and pay up. Saunders wrote: “Just recently, a new scam has started involving fake tax bills tied to the Affordable Care Act.” If you get an email CP-2000 notice you’ll know it’s fake because the IRS doesn’t communicate with you that way.”

However, the clever scammers are also mailing printed notices via standard mail which is how the IRS communicates. “Genuine versions of such notices are computer-generated letters asking for payment based on a mismatch between a taxpayer’s return and what’s reported by a third party, such as interest on a bank account. The fake notices typically ask victims to pay a balance due in connection with Affordable Care Act health coverage for 2014. Taxpayers without proper coverage owe a penalty.”

Saunders reported that CP-2000 notices are usually six to sevenFederal Taxes pages while the fake, in one instance, included a payment voucher and was three. Language and typeface mimic the real ones. Another crucial difference: The fake asks victims to make out checks to I.R.S.; the legitimate to the U.S. Treasury. Some IRS scammers ask to be paid by prepaid debit card or iTunes gift card!

According to Saunders the IRS warns anyone who receives such an email not to reply or open any attachments or links but should forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

The threatening robocalls followed us from upstate New York to Manhattan where we received another one as recently as a week ago but we don’t know anyone who got a fake CP-2000 tax notice email or letter so far—and you?

Phishing

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