Category: Scams (Page 1 of 7)

Caller ID Spoofing

caller id spoofing

Caller ID spoofing, or phone number spoofing, is important to understand. If you’re not familiar with this practice, let me explain:

Caller ID Is Fallible

When you receive a phone call, most phones display some identification about the inbound call. You may see:

  • First Name, Last Name, Area Code and Phone Number
  • Business Name, Area Code and Phone Number
  • Private
  • Unknown Caller

You need to know: The info shown on your Caller ID can be altered. Both the number and the name on your Caller ID display could be inaccurate or untrue. It is easy and often free for someone to change (spoof) their Caller ID info.


Phone call spoofing, as a practice, is legal in our country. But using spoofing to defraud or cause harm is illegal. If this gives you some pause, if you’re wondering why spoofing is legal at all, consider some possible legitimate uses:

  • Law enforcement may need to alter their identity as they investigate crimes.
  • Collections agents might spoof their Caller ID info so that a debtor won’t avoid their calls.
  • A doctor or counselor may spoof their number when calling a patient to maintain a crucial level of privacy.
  • Friends might use Caller ID spoofing for pranking each other, without causing harm.


Of course, the main point of this post is to talk about scams, and make you alert to them. Scammers love to use Caller ID spoofing when they call their potential victims. They know that people tend to believe what they read, especially when it flashes by quickly. Robocallers and spammers also use phone spoofing, but the biggest danger is from scams like these:

  • Caller ID shows the name of a US Court System or the IRS, and the caller says you need to pay off your fine/charges now, or be incarcerated.
  • Apple/Microsoft/Amazon/Facebook Support shows on the Caller ID, and a robocall tells you that your account has had suspicious activity on it. Press 1 to be connected to an agent who will help (steal) your account.
  • Your bank shows on the Caller ID, and they are calling to reset your PIN and password, as someone has tried to hack into your accounts.

To be absolutely clear, the above examples are scams. The IRS, Microsoft, your bank, etc. are NOT going to call you for account changes or payments. Please hang up if you ever answer a call like these!

Scams of all kinds use spoofing to make their calls show the same area code and exchange as your number. This is called Neighbor Spoofing. They make their number look very close to your number, so that you think it is someone local to you and might answer more quickly.

It is also possible for someone to spoof your exact phone number. This can be done to confuse you and get you to answer. But it can also be done to deflect blame to you. If you ever get angry calls from other people, telling you to stop with the spam calls, understand that a bad actor may be using your number in their spoofing scheme.

How to Defend Against Call Spoofing

You’re doing it right now. Maintaining awareness that Caller ID is not to be trusted is the best defense against Caller ID spoofing. After that, you can consider some extra tactics:

  • Talk to your phone provider and see if they offer/recommend any particular call screening options or apps with spoofing protection.
  • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Don’t answer unfamiliar numbers. Let every unexpected mystery call roll to voicemail.
  • Report persistent spoofing problems to your phone carrier and/or the police.

Commonplace Facebook Scams

There is no end to the scams I see on Facebook. I know I’ve posted at length about specific FB scams, but in this post, I want to run down quickly on a bunch of commonplace Facebook scams. Watch out for these, don’t fall for these, definitely report these:

(Don’t) Buy This Shirt!

This offer may tug at your heartstrings, because they’ve mentioned their son is autistic. But there is no son, and the poster is from another country. The URL will take you to a web-storefront, where you can pay money for a shirt. But it’s at an online marketplace where anyone can quickly open up a shop and have shirts printed:

commonplace facebook scams

You might actually get a (lousy) shirt, but please realize that you’re giving your card info to a stranger who may be halfway around the world. The big risk here is getting mystery charges on your card, later on.

Neon for Free

Want a neon sign? You’re not going to get one from these jokers. Their plan is to privately message you, gently guilt you towards making a small donation, and then disappear with any money you’ve sent them.

Vendor Fee for Non-Existent Fair

Looking to sell your hand-crafted art in your region? Community fairs and festivals are the way to go, but beware generic scam posts as shown below.

While at first glance, these may look legitimate, it’s a lie and a trap. The poster has used Google to find an address commonly used for public events. Any email or phone number provided is not connected to the stated address; they go straight to the scammer. They’ve crafted this post so that people will contact the scammer and not the venue. And if you contact the scammer, they’ll take your “reservation fee” and disappear with it.

Egg Sales

I’ve picked this scam apart before, but it deserves a mention, since I’ve seen it often this month. It’s similar to the above scam, in that they want to privately message you and get an advance payment for eggs. But you’ll be sitting by the door waiting forever for that henfruit. The poster is just using a sock puppet account, as they sit in an internet cafe in Kenya.

Giving Away a Gaming Console

Those PS5’s are super-expensive, so seeing someone giving away one for free on Facebook may seem like a miracle. And even more convincing is to see someone local, someone believable!, posting about how you can have their unwanted video game hardware:

But this type of scam is usually carried out using a stolen Facebook account. If you contact them for the console, they’ll say that they moved to another state, but can Fedex the device to you, as long as you cover their shipping. Once again, if you send them any money, they’ll ghost you and you’ll never get anything in return.

Moving, Everything Must Go

If a real person has to move and sell off a lot of stuff, they’ll give you an address to visit, and a phone number to reach them at. But some posts only lead to private messages, where you are urged to pay a small amount to “hold” the item for you. I think by now you know what’ll happen if you give them any money.

And other “moving” posts lead you to other weird websites or private Facebook groups, where you’ll meet with other scams and attempts at collecting your personal information.

Fake Job Listing

If you think you’ve found your dreamjob on Facebook, think again. Many of them are traps:

A real job listing should state a well-known company name, and will refer you to or some other corporate website. This scam job listing has no real contact info, and will only lead to a fake job interview over chat, and then they’ll try to get your bank account info or worse.

Telltale Signs of a Facebook Scam

  • The poster has a locked account, or has turned off Comments to their post.
  • They need you to pay them a little bit of money first, to prove that you are not scamming them!
  • They won’t meet you in person for a transaction.
  • You cannot call to speak with them.
  • They want you to use Venmo or CashApp instead of a credit card.
  • You meet with resistance when asking for basic info, like a website URL or address or phone number.
  • They comment a link to a website, but the URL shows a Google sites address, or something that just doesn’t look relevant.

Rental Scams

rental scams

Rental scams are common on the internet. And they pertain to those looking for a place to rent, as well as landlords looking to rent out their property. Consider this info and be careful out there!

If You Are Looking to Rent as a Tenant

When you reach out to a landlord and inquire about a rental, pay attention to how they communicate and what they offer. There are a lot of warning signs for a rental scam:

  • The listing photos have a watermark from another website (because the pictures have been copied/stolen)
  • They ask to send you a code, for you to repeat back to them, “to prove your identity.” This is either the Google Voice Verification Scam, or an attempt to steal your Facebook or other social media account. Do not give any verification codes to anyone!
  • They ask you to make a deposit:
    • urgently, immediately, before other offers come in!
    • before you can tour the property
    • before you’ve met the owner/landlord face-to-face
    • through a wire transfer or gift card purchase
    • by going off-platform. Example: you’ve responded to an AirBnB listing, and the owner asks you to pay him through Venmo for a lower price
  • The rental price is too-good-to-be-true
  • They don’t check your background or credit history

Please understand that rental listing scams are very easy to concoct. You may encounter them on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, AirBnb and other public sites. Cybercriminals can easily look over legitimate real estate listings, and copy them in very convincing ways. Sometimes, they’ll copy every single detail from a listing, and then only change the phone number and email address.

If your gut tells you something, listen to it and do your due diligence before handing over any money. And if you feel like you’re in over your head, find a real estate professional. A seasoned Realtor® will protect you from all the scams out there, and many will help you find your next place to live without charging you for their service.

If You Are Renting Property as a Landlord

Landlords also have to watch out. That person reaching out to you about your apartment? They could be a scammer, too.

  • Don’t accept payment for more than the agreed-upon amount. If someone wants to send too much money, so that you can refund them the overage, that’s an overpayment scam.
  • Run the credit/employment checks yourself. If the tenant offers their own copies, that might seem kind of them, but those could be fakes. Trust but verify!
  • They ask to send you a code, for you to repeat back to them, “to prove your identity.” This is either the Google Voice Verification Scam, or an attempt to steal your Facebook or other social media account. Do not give any verification codes to anyone! (Yes, landlords have to deal with this, too!)

Traptops in 2023 v2.0

Traptops in 2023, v2.0

Just last month, I went on at length about traptops on this blog. I’m sorry to say that I have to return to this topic, as people are bringing to my attention some even sneakier traptops. Let’s pull open the drapes on these shenanigans, so fewer people get taken by this trickery. Here we go with Traptops in 2023 v2.0:

I Was Almost Fooled

This new type of traptop almost fooled me. I recommend you check out this listing over at Amazon. Here’s another comparable listing, also on Amazon. If I go digging, they’re on Wal*Mart, as well. I had to stare at these for a few minutes; I truly doubted my spidey-sense at first, because these products really look good. They feature:

  • a big name brand (HP)
  • shipped quickly through Amazon’s Prime program
  • sold as a New item, with Windows 11
  • tons of storage space and RAM
  • a reasonable price

But I think the tip-off to me was that these computers sport too much RAM. 8GB is enough, 16GB is a lot, but you don’t typically see 32GB of RAM in a $500 computer 32GB of RAM is only expected inside of professional-grade or top-tier gaming computers.

Next, I noticed the processors: Intel Pentium and Silver CPUs. The same bargain-basement, ultra-low-powered chips found in those sub-$200 traptops I’m always going on about. The combination of amazing RAM/storage with a low-rent processor caused my facial tic to act up. So I dug in further.

The Plot Sickens

Reading the finer print, other details stuck out to me:

  • These computers are sold by mystery companies (Oydisen, Snow Bell, etc.) and not HP or Dell.
  • They are “new” in the sense that no other consumers have used them before. But these computers have been opened, unboxed, dissected, and “upgraded” with components from other sources.

I had to sit with this and imagine the path of one of these computers, from its birth to arriving at my doorstep. Here’s my hot-take on how this happens:

HP manufactures too many computers, and they are left with some extra pallets of traptops from last year. They sell them off cheap through remainder programs or other ersatz methods, to companies like Oydisen. These fringe companies crack open the laptops, take out the 128GB SSDs and swap in 1TB SSDs, take out the 4GB of RAM and put in 32GB, slap it all back together and try to move them on Amazon, eBay and Wal*Mart, where the return policies will discourage anything from being sent back. The newish computers are then sold off at a big profit, and they also get to sell off the harvested parts in bulk, too.

If I had to guess, they likely bought these 2022 traptops for less than $200 a pop. If they buy the SSDs in bulk, they could be less than $40 apiece. And RAM also can be found cheaply, for under $50. All told, these outfits could be moving $250 computers for $500 or more.

Now, I don’t want you to get angry about them making money. This is America, and everyone marks up every piece of merchandise. What I want you to focus on are the problems and dangers with the computers they’re cranking out.

What Can Go Wrong

As I’ve detailed before, traptops are built to go wrong. They’re underpowered, deliberately hobbled, have insufficient cooling and are largely non-upgradeable. Adding an unbelievable amount of RAM and massive storage does not change this.

In fact, it increases the risk of problems. More RAM creates more heat. The laptop was designed with its original hardware in mind, and it may not be able to exhaust the heat created by the upgrades heaped upon it.

Please consider also: What happens if you have any hardware problems with this computer? Are you going to call HP Support? Let me stop you right there: HP will not help you with this “new” computer. The warranty was voided by the company that cracked the seal and removed the HP parts. If you have any warranty, it’s now with Oysiden or whoever sent you the computer.

And if you are upset or disappointed after buying such a computer, the deck is stacked against you for returning it. Even if you are well within the return-window, Amazon or Wal*mart may resist accepting the computer back. Because: Can you truly prove there’s anything wrong with it? They’ll help you with defective merch, but not with anything they think is buyer’s remorse.

And finally, good luck tracking down these seller, for support or complaints or anything. I went looking for Oydisen and never found a website or phone number. I can find their warehouse in Delaware, and their awful BBB profile, but no sensible way of calling them. Another seller, Snow Bell, tracks back to a lovely $1M residential home in Fairfax, VA, but I have a feeling they don’t welcome customers or calls there.

Stay Safe Out There

  • Buying from big box stores is generally safer than buying from Amazon, Wal*Mart and eBay. When you buy from a big name store, the computer is coming from them. But Amazon and Wal*Mart consider themselves “marketplaces”, where anyone can sell anything. And they don’t take much responsibility over what their marketplace sellers’ behavior.
  • If you do buy from Amazon, take special note of the Sold By info in the product details. “Ships from and sold by” is safer than “Sold by Hot Mess Express Tech Deals”.
  • I recommend you choose new computers over refurbished/renewed/open box systems. And read the fine-print to make sure they are truly new-in-box, unmolested, all quality seals intact.
  • Know where your computer warranty lay. If you buy from Costco, that’s where you go with warranty questions and tech help. Best Buy, Staples, MicroCenter will steer your warranty concerns to the original manufacturer’s number. If you find out that the warranty is through some unknown third-party, that should raise a red flag.
  • Please feel free to email or call me about any computer purchase you are unsure of. I will quickly offer an opinion about any PC you send me details about.

The Facebook Edited-Post Scam

Anyone who posts to Facebook can edit what they’ve posted. You simply go to the post and click the 3-dots button in the corner, and then select Edit Post. It’s a pretty handy tool, but it’s also being abused in what we can call The Facebook Edited-Post Scam.

Innocent Beginning

The scams starts with some harmless-looking posts, usually appearing in Facebook groups. Here are some examples:

These posts don’t seem to ask for much, so they aren’t likely to trigger your spidey-sense for scams. Sometimes they ask that you care & share, others just encourage you to comment with “Got It!” And many people do what is asked, and then move on.

The Switcheroo

But some time later, the scam develops. After the post has been spread through multiple Shares, and/or after many people have commented “Got it” underneath, the scammer makes a big change. Using the Edit Post function, the bad guy deletes the photo of the hurt dog or missing kid, and inserts something altogether different. They also delete the original text and enter in new verbiage:

The benefit (to the scammers) here is that the post retains all of its comments and Shares. That lost puppy post has metamorphosed into a money-lure scam, that has been shared to many other groups and still has many positive comments underneath it. It can really look convincing!

But please know that all of these things are scams. If you interact with the posting account, they will strive to steal money from you. Please don’t play their game. Report them and their posts to Facebook and the group admin or moderator.

How to Defend Against These Scams

One good thing is that you can check for the switcheroo-edit. Remember the 3-dots button in the corner of each post? Click that and select Edit History. That reveals any and all changes that have been made to the post. It becomes very obvious, if you know to use this tool.

That 3-dots button also holds your reporting functions. You can first report the post to Facebook, but don’t expect much of a response. Their bots usually get back to me to state that they saw nothing wrong with the post. What’s most important is that you report the post to the people in charge of the Facebook Group. Those mods and admins are usually good people who care about the group, and will yank the post once they get your report.

If you are in a group where the moderators do NOT fulfill their duties, leave the group. You will know when this is the case, because the group will appear to be overrun with scammy posts! Sure, you can report the group to Facebook, but they will not respond. Your best bet is to save yourself and not be a part of that chaos.

If you’ve accidentally Liked, Shared or Commented on a Facebook Edited-Post Scam, try to undo that action. You can always unLike a post and delete a comment or Share. Having trouble finding what you’ve been doing on Facebook? Use the Activity Log to locate your Likes, Comments and more. And if you see that a friend has interacted with a scammy post, reach out to them to let them know. Encourage them to undo their actions, so that they’re not contributing to the spread or success of the scam.

Last thing: When someone tells you to what to share or type on Facebook, be suspicious. Share and comment what you want to, not when a stranger pushes you to.

Facebook Winner Scams

I imagine most of you have encountered Facebook Winner Scams by now. These posts usually show an eye-catching puzzle, and suggest that if you have the answer, you can comment or PM the poster for some free money. Again, this is a scam.

Facebook winner scams

Using a stolen Facebook account, the scammer is looking for trusting or naive people to contact them. They’ll ask for your CashApp or Zelle account, as if they are going to send you some cash. That’s the ruse. If you cooperate with them, they’re ready to confuse the situation and trick you into exposing your funds.

Do not fall for this and do not reveal your CashApp or other payment account information to these people! Report Facebook Winner Scams to Facebook and the Facebook Group Admin.

After reading one of these sus posts, I had to check things out a little further. Using a sock puppet account, I contacted this scammer:

They clicked my fake CashApp link, which immediately showed me that they were in Lagos, Nigeria. Then I asked them about their location. They responded with a bad word in Yoruba and then blocked me.

An Even Sneakier Variant

Sometimes the scammer alters the post to make this scheme even harder to spot. How this scam works is:

  1. The scammer posts the silly puzzle, telling everyone to search for the hidden item in the picture, and they ask everyone to comment “Got it!” when they find something.
  2. They wait for the comments of “Got it!” to pile up under the post.
  3. They edit the original post, to say something different and show a new photo. The edited info says how you can visit a website for free money or financial aid.

This scam-variant is especially tricky, as the altered post retains the comments from earlier. It shows a lot of replies — from real people, possibly people you know — commenting “Got it!” to this new fake offer for cash. To a trusting first-time viewer, it may appear that all of their friends are truly getting free money.

If you see this, don’t believe it, and definitely report the post. And you might reach out to anyone you recognize in the comments. You can let them know that they might want to delete their comments and report the post, too.

Service Scams on Facebook

I have previously blogged about all of the duct cleaning scams on Facebook. And while I’ve gone on at length about that particular scam, it seems that duct cleaning scams are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a myriad of service scams on Facebook. Here’s what I’ve been studying and want you to know about:

Various Types of Service Scams

The service scams on Facebook come in different flavors. You might encounter:

How These Scams Play Out

These scams are carried out differently from other tech operations. Services scams on Facebook can actually result in service! Whether you ask for your ducts or your cars to be cleaned, the scammer will schedule with you (over Facebook Messenger), and someone will come to your address.

But the problems occur after the person arrives. Someone who has gone through with the contracted service might notice:

  • The service was not performed well, or the worker made mistakes and damaged things.
  • The work provided was carried out without proper licensing or insurance.
  • The bill presented was significantly more than the estimate or proposal.
  • Service was paid for, and problems with it were discovered later. Requests for follow-up were ignored, and the scammer later blocked the victim on Messenger.
  • Extra charges were made to the credit card without warning.

Protip: When hiring anyone for services, know the name of company you’re dealing with. When they arrive, that company name should be evident, either on their vehicle or on business cards/printed materials or their uniforms. If you’ve hired a company, but the worker at your door can’t name that company, something fishy is going on.

Why I Call This a Scam

Sometimes people actually get acceptable service from one of these Facebook posts. This being the case, you might argue: Is this really a scam? Or is it just luck of the draw, whether you get a good service provider or a bad one? I say it is a scam, and here’s my take on it:

The Facebook posts for duct cleaning or car detailing are deceptive. No company name is offered. The posting account is designed to show an American-looking name and a good-looking North American person or couple. They claim to be new in your town and just starting up a business. But it is all a charade. Everything is arranged using sock puppet accounts.

I’ve chatted with several of these service-scammers, to learn more about their schemes. I’ve sent some IP logging links to them, and for those that click, it typically shows me that they are in Pakistan. If I point this out to them, they block me instantly.

Ultimately, all of this deception puts you the consumer at risk. When you hire one of these service-scammers, you are paying money to some untraceable agent halfway around the world. S/he refers the job to someone in America, who then appears at your door to perform the task. And because the worker is not connected to a local or licensed employer, any of the aforementioned problems could occur. And should you call the police, the worker and the Facebook scammer are ready to vanish. All consequences will be evaded.

How to Recognize and Avoid These Scams

These scam Facebook offers can closely resemble legitimate service posts. It can be tricky to discern the crooks from the honest people trying to make a living. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Ask for the company name, phone number and website. Legitimate service providers will offer this as soon as you ask, if not sooner. Scammers will be cagey and dodge your question, or just give you an out-of-area number.
  • Nowadays, scammers use great English! But there are still “tells”. If they type “kindly” in a sentence, or if the language feels a bit off, ask if you can call their office to schedule, or simply move on.
  • Select and copy (Ctrl+C) the first sentence or two from their post. Then, click into the search field that Facebook offers. Paste (Ctrl+V) the verbiage from the post and see what turns up in search results. Many scam posts are duplicated all over the country, and this tactic quickly exposes many FB scams.
  • Look at the Facebook account that posted the offer. If the profile is Locked, then they are not from the USA, as that option is unavailable in America. If the account has many friends from other parts of the world, then that account may not be from a local. And scammers often click Like their own photos, so that should be another tip-off.
  • Find your needed services through personal referrals. Your friends and neighbors are unlikely to steer you towards one of these questionable outfits.

Other Dos & Don’ts

If you recognize a Facebook post as a scam, report it! Click the 3-dots next to the post and use the Report options to report it, first to Facebook and then also to the admin of the FB group. Just, don’t get your hopes up about Facebook’s response.

When paying for any kind of service, a credit card is best and protects you the most. Debit card transactions often cannot be reversed, and Cash App/Venmo/Paypal may not be able to help much after you’ve paid someone.

Microsoft Support Alert Scams

Microsoft Support Alert scams are very common on the internet. Please review these details, in case you meet one. Foreknowledge will help you avoid becoming a victim!

What This Scam Looks Like

Support Alert scams appear as you surf the internet or open email. They are a type of pop-up, but don’t present like an advertisement. Check out this screencap of a recent support alert scam:

Microsoft Support Alert Scams

You can also safely see it in action this YouTube video. But there are some other critical details to this scam when it appears:

  • A loud tone may play, followed by a robotic voice. It may announce alarming things, like “Your computer has been locked”, “Do not shut off your computer”, or “Your identity has been compromised”.
  • All other windows that were open may be hidden and inaccessible.
  • The mouse cursor may disappear.
  • The X buttons and other elements will not respond to clicks or keyboard entry.

How You Might Meet this Scam

Here are some examples of how and when you might be accosted by this particular scam:

  • Clicking on a Sponsored Post or Ad on Facebook
  • Viewing a Celebrity Death Hoax article on social media
  • Visiting a Sponsored link or deceptive website from search engine results
  • Misspelling or mistyping a URL in the browser address bar
  • Clicking a link sent to you in a spam email or unexpected private message/text

Microsoft Support Alerts also originate from adware and malware installed on a computer. If this scam pops up frequently, then the computer may be infected!

What to Do When You Meet This Scam

Many people encounter this scam and feel helpless. The mouse doesn’t respond, the ‘X’ buttons do nothing, and the robovoice is urgently insisting to call the number before doomsday begins. But this is all part of the psychological ploy to get the victim to make the wrong choice (calling the number leads to an immediate remote control scam). Never call the number shown on these messages. Here are the right things to do:

  • Turn down your speakers, if the noise is too much for you.
  • Press CTRL + ALT + DEL on your keyboard, and then click the power icon to the lower-right. Choose Restart.
  • Or, press AND HOLD the power button on the computer, until it turns off. Let go of the power button and press it again to turn the machine back on.
  • When your computer is power back up, open your browser and see if you can use the internet normally again, but do NOT click Restore Pages, if asked. If you click Restore, you will resurrect the scam popups!

The messages on-screen may specifically tell you to not turn off your machine, but that is part of the scheme. Please do not believe it. Rebooting the computer is key to getting away from this scam!

How to Protect Against This Menace

This type of scam is powered by basic web pop-ups, so most antivirus programs won’t help. But there are other tactics & tools to lessen the likelihood of seeing this pop up:

  • Install an ad-blocker in your default browser. I like AdBlockPlus best.
  • Install Trafficlight in your default browser to reduce bad results in your searches.
  • Consider using FB Purity, if you spend a lot of time on Facebook.
  • Go into your browser notifications settings, and select “Don’t allow sites to send notifications”.
  • Resist clicking on any salacious news items, lotteries & giveaways or offers that are too-good-to-be-true.
  • Never click links in spam (email, texts, private messages).
  • Be careful when typing in any URL from scratch, as cybersquatters are ready to capitalize on your typos.

Despite all of these protections, you may still see a Microsoft Support Alert scam on your system someday. The creators of this are devious and determined to get around all barriers, and get better at their efforts everyday. So be ready to reboot, and you’ll be OK!

The McAfee Renewal Scam

Like so many other email-borne schemes, the McAfee Renewal Scam is just a fake message, asking you to call a number linked to criminals. Don’t pick up the phone! And don’t reply to the message. Check out these details, so you can react safely to this sort of email.

Here’s a recent example of the McAfee Renewal Scam:

the mcafee renewal scam

For many, this is an obvious fake, but I’ll still list out the giveaways:

  • The email came not from McAfee, but from some gobbledygook Gmail address.
  • Grammar mistakes abound: “successive transaction” and the use of commas in dates.
  • McAfee does not sell anything so expensive ($716.16)!
  • They used the word “kindly”.

If this shows up in your inbox, the truth of this matter is this:

  • There is no charge to any of your bank cards.
  • The order numbers are meaningless and all made up.
  • The phone number does not belong to McAfee. It rings somewhere in Scamdinavia, where cybercriminals are standing by for your call.

Anyone calling the number will speak with an eager agent who will seek to connect to your computer through remote control apps. Then they’ll press to access your bank website or other financials, to process a refund. But that will be a sham, where they will steal your money, through quick transfers and shell game switcheroos.

The good news is that this is easily dealt with, once you recognize the scam. When you get this kind of message, just delete it or mark it as spam. If you need further peace of mind, feel free to login at the real McAfee website, to check your account standing. And review your bank statements to see that no strange charges are there.

Arrest Warrant/Court Scams

arrest warrant court scam

Arrest Warrant/Court scams have been around for many years and still claim victims: An email or phone call or text informs someone that they are in trouble with the law. “A federal court has issued an arrest warrant in your name! An officer will be at your door soon to take you away.” Or it may be a hefty fine for some missed jury duty. In any case, if you pay the caller or emailer now, then the charges will go supposedly go away and they will call off the arrest.

If you get this kind of call/email, please know that US courts and officers will never contact you urgently for immediate payment. No one is actually coming to arrest you. The charges are made up and do not exist. Disconnect from any call resembling this scheme. Delete/mark as spam any email you receive about this. Contact your local police station if you have any doubts.

Hallmarks of this Scam:

  • The caller pressures you to pay now, before the officer gets to your house to cuff you and stuff you. High pressure tactics are common with scammers. The US Court System is slow as molasses, and would never do this to you.
  • The scammer asks for payment using Google Play cards or Walmart gift cards. No government entity wants these things! Anyone demanding a store card like this is always a scammer.
  • “You are welcome to satisfy your court debt using Zelle or Cash App!” Again, these payment methods are not used with the government. These quick-pay methods are for use with friends and family only.
  • The person trying to convince you to pay insists you may stay on the line with them. They won’t let you off the phone. They don’t want you to call anyone else. They warn you not to tell the salesperson why you are buying gift cards. They do this to keep you under their spell. They know that as soon as you talk with someone else, the scam will fall apart.
  • The supposed charges are for outlandish things you know you haven’t committed, like Illegal Drugs in New Mexico or Vehicular Manslaughter in NYC.

Also please consider:

  • Arrest Warrant and Court Scams may employ call spoofing, and your CallerID may show something convincing, like IRS, US Federal Courts or Attorney General’s Office. Please do not believe your CallerID!
  • Scammers often have your full name, address, phone number and other sensitive info. They’ve acquired it from public info websites or from data breaches. They may “confirm” that info with you as an intimidation tactic.
  • If you are emailed any convincing-looking “court summons” documents or citations, feel free to bounce them off of your local police or court officials. Do not call any numbers from the documents or email. Find their contact info through other means, or just stop by the local police station.
  • Real court summons and citations will arrive via the USPS, and look boringly official and officially boring.
  • Feel free to Google any phone number you see in such a suspicious email. Googling a scammers number will either turn up nothing, or many results showing that others have been scammed by that number.
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