Scam Alert: The Rise of Deceptive Schemes Targeting Digital Consumers
As technology evolves, so do the tactics of scammers looking to exploit unsuspecting individuals. From concert ticket fraud to cryptocurrency ATM scams, a growing array of deceptive schemes has emerged in recent times. Let's delve into the intricacies of these scams, shedding light on the warning signs and providing valuable insights to help you stay vigilant and protect yourself from falling victim to these increasingly sophisticated ploys.
1. Concert and event ticket scams
Concert and event ticket scams have been on the rise, targeting eager fans excited to see their favorite artists like Beyonce and Taylor Swift during their summer tours. These fraudsters employ various tactics to deceive unsuspecting fans, such as setting up fake ticket sale websites with last-minute URLs just hours before sold-out events, often providing creative excuses for their surplus tickets. Additionally, some scammers pose as legitimate sellers on well-known ticket platforms, making it challenging for consumers to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent listings. The sense of urgency created just before a concert further complicates the situation. Due to the increasing prevalence of these scams, officials like California Attorney General Rob Bonta have issued warnings, urging consumers to remain vigilant.
2. Vacation lodging scams
Travelers looking for vacation lodging or services in popular destinations have become targets of vacation lodging scams, potentially leaving them without accommodation and out of pocket. These scams often involve fake listings that deceive vacationers. Some scammers have taken their deception to the next level by counterfeiting company logos to make their vacation rental sites appear legitimate, as reported by Visa. These fraudulent listings may include profiles that combine real attributes, making them seem credible to the public. However, they ultimately lead to deceptive listings, putting consumers in jeopardy. Given the growing prevalence of such scams, attorneys general have issued warnings to alert travelers to remain cautious.
3. Apartment rental scams
Apartment rental scams are posing a significant threat, especially to college students seeking off-campus housing or anyone in tight rental markets hoping for a good deal. Scammers are tricking apartment seekers into sending money for application fees or security deposits, all before realizing that the advertised listings are fraudulent. Recently, New York Attorney General Letitia James, in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), successfully obtained $1.6 million in restitution from Roomster, an online apartment search platform, and its owners. They were held responsible for defrauding millions of U.S. consumers by promoting unverified apartment listings and fake reviews. This legal action is part of a joint effort by six states, in addition to the FTC, to sue Roomster for its deceptive practices. Roomster has yet to respond to these allegations. In response to this victory, Attorney General James emphasized the importance of protecting renters from the stress of apartment hunting and the added burden of falling victim to scams involving fabricated reviews and non-existent apartments.
3. Student loan forgiveness scams
As the commencement of federal student loan repayment in October approaches, there's a growing concern about scams offering easy loan forgiveness options. Many debtors, seeking a way out, could fall victim to these deceptive schemes. Scammers often aim to gather personal information, which they can exploit for identity theft. While not all private, unaffiliated debt relief companies are fraudulent, the Federal Student Aid Office has cautioned against seeking unverified services, as this can often lead to student loan forgiveness scams. Signs to watch out for include overly aggressive advertising language, extravagant promises, and requests for sensitive personal information like login credentials.
4. Google Voice scam
Imagine you've posted an online notice, perhaps selling an item or seeking a lost pet, and you've shared your phone number. In this scam, the perpetrator will give you a call, expressing interest but claiming they need to confirm you're not a scammer. They'll mention that a Google Voice verification code is on its way to you and ask you to read it back to them. But here's the twist: They're setting up a Google Voice account under your name. "This allows them to carry out scams while impersonating you and evading law enforcement," warns Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
5. ‘Favor for a Friend’ Gift Cards scams
Picture this scenario: You receive an email from a friend, asking for a small favor. She explains that she's experiencing issues with her credit card or a store account and, frustratingly, can't purchase a gift card she urgently needs for a birthday gift. She requests that you buy the gift card and then call her with the numbers on the back. She assures you she'll reimburse you. However, be cautious, as this seemingly innocent favor is often a scam. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it's typically an imposter sending the request. If you comply, you're likely to lose your money because gift cards lack the protections associated with debit and credit cards.
6. Cryptocurrency ATM payment scams
The latest payment scheme favored by scammers involves cryptocurrency ATMs appearing in various locations such as convenience stores, gas stations, and large retail stores. These fraudsters pose as government officials, utility workers, or sweepstakes agents and instruct you to make payments, supposedly for fees, bills, or handling charges. They demand that you send cryptocurrency, obtained from these ATMs, to an untraceable digital wallet. "Once done, it's irreversible, and there's no recourse to recover your money," warns Lisa Cialino, an attorney associated with the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.
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