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.

Predator threatens minor, wants money

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A recent report from an underage boy who was lured into participating in a graphic video chat online, then extorted by the stranger who recorded it on her own computer, highlights dangers that can befall unsupervised children with internet access, according to local law enforcement.

The boy, whose name and age are not publicly available because he is younger than 18, contacted the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office last week after the female predator told him she would post the video of him online if he didn’t send her money, according to a report.

The boy said the woman convinced him to participate in the graphic video chat by threatening to physically hurt his family, a threat she made more real by telling the boy she could find them using location information he had posted online. He said the woman who appeared in the video chat looked nothing like the person in the profile picture.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Megan Terlecky said the boy was courageous for finally coming forward, but that law enforcement views the situation as a cautionary tale of what not to do.

“This is what we tell kids not to do when it comes to the internet,” Terlecky said. “Don’t talk to anybody you don’t know on the internet.”

Internet users should be leery of profiles that have just been created and don’t have much of a history, Terlecky said.

In the recent Mesa County instance, the predator contacted the boy using a Facebook account under the name “Samira Dupon,” and appeared to have been created the same day she contacted the boy.

“Those are more than likely just created, just to be scams,” Terlecky said.

But no matter who users are talking to, Terlecky said the idea that internet or cellphone activity will remain private should go out the window.

“There is no such thing as privacy on the internet,” she said. “It’s really important to be aware that whatever you do put out there is going to be out there forever.”

Those who do fall victim to internet predators and extortionists should fight through their embarrassment and come forward, Terlecky said, like the boy in the recent case.

“They are counting on you not to speak up and not to step forward because you’re embarrassed,” she said. “But still, even if you made a mistake by sending a photo or by engaging in a video … you still have the right to not be a victim.”

Victims shouldn’t let their feelings stop them from reporting extortion to law enforcement, she said.

“We’re not going to judge you,” Terlecky said. “We’re here to help you.”

Nobody has been arrested in the recent Mesa County case. The deputy who responded told the boy and his parents he would “most likely not be able to locate the suspect.”

However, Terlecky said she would urge anyone who has been victimized or extorted online to come forward and speak to law enforcement by either coming to the Sheriff’s Office at 215 Rice St. or calling the department at 970-244-3500.

Parents need to talk with their children about what they’re doing online, she said. They should be aware that their children might be embarrassed or afraid of having their device taken away.

“Kids are smart. Kids are sneaky. But you really need to have that open line of communication,” Terlecky said.

Warning signs for kids being taken advantage of or even bullied online can include general emotional withdrawal, she said.

Parents should check their children’s internet use history if they suspect something is amiss

Information via Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Handling a child’s terrible mistakes online

If you’re a parent, you’ve most likely already dealt with an issue regarding your child online. So many mistakes can be made without even realizing it. Anything from enticement, personal information distribution, to suggestive material can turn into a real nightmare. So what’s a parent to do in these situations?

Step One: Discuss what happened

Don’t yell, but be firm. Your child probably won’t be comfortable or willing to speak on the matter, but whatever occurred has to be discussed in depth. Any situation involving enticement to images in sexual nature, shall be addressed and brought to the attention of the local authorities immediately. Unfortunately, so many parents fail to do this in a timely manner or at all. If your child has become a victim, make a police report immediately.

Step Two: Confiscate their phone

This one will most likely lead to arguing, fighting and hateful words. Kids are strongly attached to their phones, but as a parent, you must know exactly what your child is involved in and stop possible issues from occurring, especially after an incident. After you’ve made a police report, offer the phone as a form of evidence. You are the parent, do what you feel is right and best for the situation.

Step Three: Cooperate with police

When police become involved, it’s never a positive day. Question after question, searching through phones, accounts and possibly even the house make it seem like your privacy is gone. Let the police do their job and refrain from asking them to leave. Once they’re involved, they can’t just stop their investigation. They will be your best ally in the case.

Step Four: Learn from the experience

Once all problems have ended, police have ended their case and are no longer a hot topic, discussions with the family are the best. Discuss what happened, how to prevent it and hope they’ve learned from the hard lesson.

As a parent, you’re completely responsible for all of the activity your child participates in and observes online. There’s nothing wrong with asking your child what they’re doing and periodically going through their device. Furthermore, ensure the applications on their device are safe in nature and do not pose a security risk to anyone. If you spot questionable content, such as older friends not in their age group, don’t hesitate to block them. After all, we’re talking about your child’s safety here.