Scam-o-rama: Police catalog known frauds, ripoffs and schemes

Criminals are continually crafting new scams geared toward separating you from your
savings, Eugene Police said.

They do this by tricking you into handing over your cash, personal I.D., checking account numbers, and credit card information any way they can.

If someone asks you for your cash, credit card numbers or other personal information—especially if you don’t know them well—the safest move is to refuse their request and check with the police.

The list below covers some of the most common scams we’ve seen in our area, but new ones are cropping up all the time.

Good-cause scams – The offender fraudulently claims to represent a good cause—widows, orphans, police or firefighters for example-- and asks for money. Or they misrepresent a cleaning product, or offer magazine subscriptions that never pan out, for sale. Often the sales are supposed to help with a worthy cause: sending kids to camp, or supporting a halfway house. These may be carried out door-to-door, over the phone or via the internet.

Get rich schemes – These involve pyramid schemes, investment scams or other get
rich quick scams. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s usually because it’s not true at all.

Foreign Lottery -- No foreign country is going to go out of its way to give their money to someone overseas, but it’s even less likely when you never bought a ticket in the first place!

Home Improvement Schemes – This commonly involves someone showing up at your
door who noticed your roof or driveway needs attention. They claim to be working in the
neighborhood, and have leftover materials so they can give you a really good deal, but
you have to decide right now. Once they have your money they disappear, or they coat
your driveway with something that does nothing to improve it.

Internet-based Romances – Although many people legitimately meet through dating
services and chat rooms, there is no shortage of scam artists working this angle. They may post a false photograph, biography and age and it’s nearly impossible for you to confirm or disprove its accuracy. They then spin a convincing tale of woe and you feel noble sending them money—not realizing you’ve been scammed. In some more elaborate schemes they actually do come live with you, only to fleece you in other ways once they arrive!

Found Money –
Someone claims to have found some money – a lot of it. They want
you to hold it while they find the owner. But first you have to give them some hard cash to boost their faith in you. Once this happens they switch bags, leaving you with a sack full of worthless paper.

Nigerian scams – There are no widows, orphans, oil ministers or anyone else overseas who is legitimately going to reach out to a complete stranger and give them millions of
dollars.

Relatives in emergency situations overseas – This usually involves a variation on this: “I’m your long lost nephew, you’re my last hope, I’m in big trouble, don’t tell my
parents, just wire some money or they’ll lock me up and throw away the key.” Hint: the caller is NOT your long lost cousin, or anyone else you know!

Bank fraud examiner – In this scam you receive a call from an alleged law enforcement professional or a bank fraud examiner with your bank. They claim to be investigating an employee and they need your help. They need you to withdraw some money and pass it to the examiner for tracking purposes. Of course, you never see the money again.

There are many more schemes similar to the above. Many try to reach you through
email. They may look like the following:


“Phishy” emails.
The most common form of phishing involves emails pretending to be
from a legitimate retailer, bank, organization, or government agency. The sender asks to “confirm” your personal information for some made-up reason: your account is about to be closed, an order for something has been placed in your name, or your information has been lost because of a computer problem. Another tactic phishers use is to say they’re from the fraud departments of well-known companies and ask to verify your information because they suspect you may be a victim of identity theft! In one case, a phisher claimed to be from a state lottery commission and requested people’s banking information to deposit their “winnings” in their accounts.

Phishy phone calls. Some scammers call you on the phone to try to talk you out of
personal information they can use to run up charges on your credit cards. In March,
2013 a local hotel reported calls to their front desk asking to be transferred to random rooms. The scammer would then pretend to be the front desk clerk having trouble with the customer’s credit card. Could they repeat the number, including the security code?

Don’t click on links within emails that ask for your personal information. Fraudsters use these links to lure people to phony Web sites that looks just like the real sites of the company, organization, or agency they’re impersonating. If you follow the instructions and enter your personal information on the Web site, you’ll deliver it directly into the hands of identity thieves. To check whether the message is really from the company or agency, call it directly or go to its Web site (use a search engine to find it).

Do not click on email attachments you’re not expecting, even if they’re from people you
know
(or look like they’re from people in your contacts – sometimes email addresses ar
e “spoofed” to look like they’re from your contacts). Lots of viruses are associated with specific types of websites, particular those featuring pornographic material. Stay away from porn sites and you reduce your risk! Also be aware that, even if they aren’t asking you for personal information, they may be planting a virus for “pharming” purposes:

Beware of “pharming.” In this latest version of online ID theft, a virus or malicious
program is secretly planted in your computer and hijacks your Web browser. When you
type in the address of a legitimate Web site, you’re taken to a fake copy of the site
without realizing it. Any personal information you provide at the phony site, such as your
password or account number, can be stolen and fraudulently used.

Beware of “ Vishing.” If you receive an e-mail asking you to call an 800 number
related to a banking issue, don't call the number. Your credit card has a phone
number on the back as do your account statements. Be safe, don't call a phone
number listed in an email; instead, look up the number on your account statements.
Sign up for the national “do not call” registry . It’s easy and it’s free! Call (888) 382-
1222, TTY (866) 290-4326 from the phone number you want to register. Unfortunately,
registering by phone may not work if you live in a residential complex that uses a PBX
phone system. But you can also register online at www.donotcall.gov. If you don’t have
a computer, use someone else’s. You’ll need Internet access and a working email
address. The “do not call” system will send a response to that address with a link that
must be clicked on within 72 hours to complete the registration.

If you are interested in something, have them send you information in writing. Do NOT
give them any personal information. Check with police or other trustworthy sources.
 

When in doubt, always check it out! If the possible scam is at your door, call Eugene Police
Dispatch at 541-682-5111.

For more crime prevention information, call EPD at 541-682-
5137.