30 Apr JUICE JACKING AND LOTTERY SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.
JUICE JACKING AND LOTTERY SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
Welcome to May 2023 – It’s time to celebrate Older American’s Month and National Senior Fraud Awareness Day! As of this writing, plans are underway for the LA City Council to pass a Resolution making May 15th Los Angeles Senior Fraud Awareness Day. And similarly, the U.S. Senate is in the process of passing a Resolution to designate National Senior Fraud Awareness Day. These Resolutions reflect the growing importance of our consciousness about scams that target seniors. In an effort to increase our awareness about senior scams, let’s take a look at a couple of popular scams that seem to be on the rise. – “Juice Jacking” & “Lottery Scams.”
What exactly is “juice jacking?” According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), https://www.fcc.gov/juice-jacking-dangers-public-usb-charging-stations, “juice jacking” is a cyber-theft tactic used by criminals to steal your personal information from your cell phone, tablet, or other electronic devices. When you’re out and about shopping or traveling, it’s tempting to use a free USB port charging station to juice-up your cell phone if the battery is running low. But the FBI warns against doing that, because scammers have found ways to install malware and monitoring software in public USB port charging stations, which are often found in airports, hotels, shopping malls, etc. https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/news/fbi-issue-warning-about-juice-jacking-when-using-free-cell-phone-charging-kiosks/ Criminals may also intentionally leave infected cables at charging stations, or give away infected cables as promotional gifts, in order to gain access to your personal information and thus steal your identity.
HOW TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM OF ‘JUICE JACKING’
In order to protect yourself from “juice jacking” criminals, consider these FCC guidelines when you’re away from home to do shopping, or while traveling:
- Avoid use of public USB charging stations. Instead, use an AC power outlet.
- Take your own USB cables, car chargers, etc. with you when you’re traveling.
- Bring an external battery or portable charger with you when on the road or out shopping.
- Consider carrying cables that are “charging-only.” This will prevent data from being sent or received while charging is going on. Use “charging-only” cables from trusted suppliers only.
- If you do plug your device into a public USB port, and a message appears asking you if you want to “share data”
or “charge only,” always select “charge only.”
Lottery scams have been around for quite a while. But recently, it seems that lottery scammers have been upping their game. I share the following story with you about what happened to a 96-year-old woman who fell victim to a lottery scam. I’ll call her by the name of Betty (not her real name).
Betty lives independently in a senior housing complex. She received a phone call from the “American Cash Award Sweepstakes and Lottery Company (ACASLC)” congratulating her for being the winner of $3M sweepstakes prize, and the winner of a brand-new Mercedes! Betty didn’t remember entering into a sweepstakes lottery but was told that she had been entered automatically. The caller told Betty that the new car with the $3M inside would be delivered to her via flat bed truck. The caller knew Betty’s first and last name, and her address, and told her not to tell anyone just yet about the prize, but to wait till they delivered the car. The caller said all her neighbors would be so jealous when they saw that new car arrive!
In order to receive the $3M and the new Mercedes, the caller said all Betty had to do was go to CVS and get $300 in gift cards to pay for the delivery charges. Once Betty got the gift cards, she was instructed to call the “gift card coordinator” (a man whose last name implied he came from a similar ethnic background to Betty’s) and give the gift card numbers to him. Betty followed these instructions and paid the $300 in gift cards.
The next day, Betty was again contacted by the “gift card coordinator” at ACASLC and told that more money was needed i.e., several thousand dollars, to receive her unique claim # for the sweepstakes prize. At this point, Betty hesitated, and called her adult daughter, Marilyn (not her real name), and told her what was going on. Marilyn came to Betty’s residence and contacted the “gift card coordinator” to discuss the matter further. The “gift card coordinator” told Marilyn that he knew there was a CVS just a few blocks from Betty’s home, and that if Betty wanted to collect her $3M sweepstakes prize and the new car, she needed to go to CVS and buy gift cards.
At this point, Betty realized this was a scam and she went with her daughter Marilyn to report the matter to the police. It is currently being investigated as “elder abuse theft by fraud.” Since Betty had used a credit card to buy $300 worth of gift cards, she also reported the scam to her credit card company. NOTE — The credit card company discovered that the criminals involved in this fraud had deposited all of Betty’s money into a PayPal account!
Sadly, Betty still finds it hard to believe that this situation was a fraud. She wanted so much to surprise her family and loved ones with the big news – that she had won $3M and a new Mercedes Benz. She thought it would make them happy.
HOW TO AVOID LOTTERY SCAMS
According to the FTC, there are 3 “red flags” or signs that you’re dealing with a “prize scam.” Here is what the FTC says, verbatim at https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/fake-prize-sweepstakes-lottery-scams
- You have to pay to get your prize. But real prizes are free. So if someone tells you to pay a fee for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize, you’re dealing with a scammer. And if they ask you to pay by wiring money, sending cash, or paying with gift cards or cryptocurrency to get your prize, don’t do it. Scammers use these payments because it’s hard to track who the money went to. And it’s almost impossible to get your money back.
- They say paying increases your odds of winning. But real sweepstakes are free and winning is by chance. It’s illegal for someone to ask you to pay to increase your odds of winning. Only a scammer will do that.
- You have to give your financial information. There’s absolutely no reason to ever give your bank account or credit card number to claim any prize or sweepstakes. If they ask for this information, don’t give it. It’s a scam.
Be Empowered. Find Your Voice. Speak Out About Fraud!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
For questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, contact Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080.
U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
“‘Juice Jacking’: The Dangers of Public USB Charging Stations,” April 11, 2023, https://www.fcc.gov/juice-jacking-dangers-public-usb-charging-stations
“FBI issues warning about ‘juice jacking’ when using free cellphone charging kiosks,” Madeleine Wright, April 11, 2023, CBS Philadelphia, https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/news/fbi-issue-warning-about-juice-jacking-when-using-free-cell-phone-charging-kiosks/
“Fake Prize, Sweepstakes, and Lottery Scams, May 2021, https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/fake-prize-sweepstakes-lottery-scams
SSSAP’S NEXT PERFORMANCE!
In honor of Los Angeles Senior Fraud Awareness Day, SSSAP is proud to announce that it will be performing, free of charge, on May 18th at 2pm at the NoHo Senior Arts Colony Apartment Complex, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. We want to thank the NoHo Senior Arts Colony for hosting the event and thank LA City Council President Paul Krekorian for presenting the Resolution designating May 15th as Los Angeles City Senior Fraud Awareness Day.
RECENT SSSAP EVENTS
In March this year, SSSAP held a live performance at the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library. The event was well attended and was a great success! Seen in the picture above are (from left to right): Ann Stahl, SSSAP Educator; Barbara Fleeman, Librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library; and Sherry McCoy, actor / writer for SSSAP.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.