Are Reimbursement Scams the New Thing?

Everyone knows scams have always been an issue, especially since the internet has grown, but now it appears a larger scam has developed.

It starts off with a phone call. An unknown individual will claim to be with a software, computer company, advising that their company is closing down and that software was purchased by you years ago. They’ll inform you that you’ll be receiving a reimbursement of $100 or more, because you didn’t get the total amount of years covered by the warranty. Free money sounds great, but are you really going to get this money? No. In fact, you’ll be paying them. How so?

Once the scammer advises you on the amount you’ll supposedly receive, they’ll ask you for financial information to send you the money. After they claim to have sent the money, they’ll say they accidently sent you too much, or they accidently added an extra zero, making it $1000 instead of $100, and you’ll need to send the difference back. Most of these scammers will ask that you send via wire transfer or by a gift card.

Unfortunately, many are falling victim to this newer scam. If you ever receive a phone call or email, stating you’ll be receiving a refund, be sure to listen to all the details and ensure a reputable company is calling you. Most of the time, companies will not attempt to refund you, even if they’re going out of business.

Government grant scams on the rise


The rise of government grant scams have increased within the last couple of years. Individuals receive phone and email communication, stating individuals are eligible to receive grant funding for particular tasks or awards.

How exactly does one identify a scam of this sort? First, the government will always contact you by US Mail, with detailed paperwork of such grants being offered. The government typically will not offer grants unless you inquire about them.

Secondly, the government will never ask you to send money in order to receive grant money. Many victims of these scams report that the suspects involved will request a certain amount of money, in order to receive the grant funding.

If you receive any calls regarding these scams and offers, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP and block the caller. Never send any money to any individual offering grants or claiming to be part of the government.

How to safely shop on eBay!

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With today’s internet technology, you can pretty much buy anything with the click of a mouse.. literally. Companies like eBay and amazon give sellers the ability to profit off their goods, while at the same time helping others seek whey desire. Unfortunately eBay buyers and others do not fall short of becoming the victim of countless scams and fraudulent products.

We’ve come up with a list of procedures you should check before purchasing from sellers online. We hope these will be sufficient enough to make your chances of a scam, less.

CHECK THE SELLER’S COMMENTS AND POSITIVE FEEDBACK

When you’re interested in purchasing an item, make sure you check the feedback before pressing submit & pay. A lot of sellers have a positive or negative feedback on their profile. If you need more negative than positive, it might not be a good idea to proceed.

USE CAUTION WHEN PURCHASING FROM A NEW SELLER ACCOUNT

Many scammers will create brand new seller accounts, in an effort to avoid being detected. If the account is new, there is no feedback, use caution. You might want to see if there’s a better deal from another seller.

AVOID SELLERS WHO WANT TO RECEIVE PAYMENTS IN OTHER WAYS

eBay and others have strict policies on how payments can be sent to the seller. eBay mostly prefers you use their website or PayPal to send transactions. Avoid sellers who want you to take payments off eBay’s website and request money orders or gift cards.

READ THE ITEM’S DESCRIPTION BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH PURCHASE

As much as we hate to say it, many buyers have failed to read the description of items before purchasing. Scammers will add in small bits of text, saying something to the effect of “This is a PlayStation One picture”, while the buyer misses that part, believing it is an actual PlayStation One console.

ONLY PURCHASE FROM REPUTABLE WEBSITES

Avoid buying from websites that are completely unknown to you. If you search for an item and stumble across http://www.johndoesstuff.com, you might want to avoid it, especially if it cannot be proven to be reputable.

With these mentioned, we hope it’ll better protect you and your friends, in avoiding online scams!

 

Sextortion and how to prevent it

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Cyber Crime Response Agency receives many calls per week from individuals reporting that an online sexual encounter took place, with the opposite sex on camera. These situations typically result in the other party threatening to post private images of the victim online, unless that victim pays an amount of money.

A lot of the reportees we receive are worried that they’ve committed a type of crime. This could be further from the truth. As long as both parties involved understand that both are legal adults, anyone can have any type of encounter with another.

So how exactly do these suspects find their victims? Many of them search Facebook for random Facebook accounts, while others post in personals online. On Facebook, it typically starts off with a random friend request from the opposite sex. Once the account owner accepts the friend request, the suspect will then attempt to entice and encourage the account owner to come on camera, to engage in sexual activities. The threat can occur at any time, from the middle to the end of the encounter. Threats typically consist of statements that videos or pictures have been saved and will be posted or sent to family, if an amount of money isn’t sent.

Humiliating, right? So how can you avoid these types of situations? Simple! Don’t have them. Although crimes aren’t being committed by having the encounter, you have to take into consideration, the possibilities of threats. Should you fall for these types of crimes, do not make payment to anyone, for any reason, no matter how severe the threat is. In our experience, 95% of suspects to threaten, do not actually follow through with their threats. Why? Because they have nothing to gain from it.

You can make reports of these situations to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Do vigilante groups truly help against online predators?

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We’ve all heard at some point, either on the news or online, that a group of individuals have assisted or have “busted a predator” themselves. Sounds like a great way to put an end to online pedophilia, right? Well, there are negative consequences that many are unaware of.

The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” fits right into this particular scenario. Law enforcement around the country are always dealing with reports of online pedophilia. If you’ve read articles on certain online groups, you’ve probably seen the many vigilante groups and members who are getting themselves into hot water. So what exactly does “hot water” mean?

CCRA has spoken to members of many vigilante groups, who’ve admitted in some point in their online decoy operations, they’ve had negative encounters with law enforcement and civil attorneys. When asked what this entailed, they explained that attorneys have contacted them, bringing suit against them for false accusations, defamation of character, and many other areas. Law enforcement has also asked them to stop meeting predators who they meet online, in person, regardless of state or country.

When CCRA asked law enforcement about this, they made it perfectly clear that that civilians who are not contracted, affiliated, or partnered with law enforcement agencies, should not be attempting to apprehend online predators. This includes chatting with predators online, collecting their personal information for personal gain, meeting in person and recording those in person encounters.

What’s the big deal? According to our meetings with law enforcement, individuals who are not one of the following above, who do not have the authority or power to attempt to stop predators as individuals or groups, are either at risk of impersonating law enforcement, destroying an on-going investigation, and setting themselves up for civil suit, since the predator the groups are dealing with, have not been convicted in a court of law. Believe it or not, these civil suits can and will be a win for the suspected predator.

With the largely growing number of predators, how in the world is the online community supposed to support and protect their community, both physically and online? Law enforcement stated that online observations and reports to law enforcement are sufficient enough and do not pose a threat to themselves, or law enforcement investigations.

How does CCRA avoid these mentioned issues? CCRA does not perform decoy operations or interact the predator or victim. Our operations are solely visual and will remain that way, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency instructs you to do such tasks, you are then brought under their protection, which should be documented on a form, which both parties can sign.

Although it’s know that the laws have not yet caught up to the internet, all civilians should steer clear of attempting to apprehend, meet with, and communicate with predators as a decoy, as many call themselves.

Live.me user commits suicide online

Georgia – A live.me user, live-streamed her own suicide last Friday. Initial news reports stated the victim’s body was discovered with self-inflicted wounds outside her home at around 6 p.m. on Dec 30, 2016. Despite attempts to save her life, she was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. These types of videos on Live.me are becoming more and more common by the years. We’ve spoken with Matt Baumgartner, Executive Director of CCRA, who gave the following statement:

The decision of suicide is one that is never taken lightly, especially when it involves young children. Our predator detection unit, who constantly monitors Live.me, has reported multiple live suicides on the program, in mid to late 2016. We are doing everything we can possibly do to encourage the prevention of suicide, which includes contacting law enforcement, once we are able to gather the victim’s location.

It’s highly encouraged that you contact the suicide prevention center if you witness these types of videos, broadcasted on Live.me. Our agency also recommends that all parents keep a careful eye on their children, to ensure they are not observing content that would be considered harmful in nature, such as these types of broadcasts.

Detectives are working to get a search warrant for the teen’s telephone to look at her Facebook and another social media service after it was reported that she broadcasted her own death live.

Kutcher rescues over 6,000 sex trafficking victims

In 2008, Kutcher started an organization with his ex-wife Demi Moore called Thorn. It’s mission is to eliminate the sex-trafficking and child exploitation over the internet.
Since their debut, the company has identified and rescued over 6,000 trafficking victims and captured 2,000 traffickers.

The Thorn Task Force is comprised of 20 tech companies that dedicate time and resources to searching the darker corners of the internet for potential danger and fraud. These brands include such big names as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Snapchat, and Imgur.

“New innovations will always be adopted for both good and evil purposes,” says Jim Pitkow, Chairman of the Thorn Technical Task Force. “At Thorn, we tip the scales in favor of good by stopping exploitation and protecting our children.”