26 Oct PAYPAL SCAMS and MYSTERY GIFT 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.
PAYPAL SCAMS and MYSTERY GIFT SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
It’s November 2023, and the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is coming up at the end of this month, and Daylight Savings Time comes to an end on Sunday, November 5th. That means we turn the clocks back one hour and hopefully get an extra hour of sleep! It also means, however, that scammers will be out in full force, looking as they always do, to develop new and exciting ways to steal your money, identity, property, and well-being during the fall and winter holidays. So, as we navigate this holiday time, let’s raise our awareness about scams that target seniors. First and foremost, remember — If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! And, if a gift from a person or company that you don’t know shows up suddenly in your mailbox, be suspicious. In that regard, here’s what happened to my friend, Julie (not her real name).
Julie’s Scam Story – Part A
In late August, Julie received a small package in the mail. The unordered mystery package was shipped mid-July to Julie from a midwestern state via USPS Ground Advantage by Family Medical LLC, 214-15th Ave., Bayside, New York 11360. The package contained only a USB charger with 3 plugs. No paperwork was included in the package, e.g., nothing indicating the contents were a gift for being such a good customer, or that it was a gift from a friend, etc. NOTE: According to reports online*, other people received the same unsolicited gift package in states such as Georgia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois. Pic below is from: https://safelyhq.com/incident/received-a-package-i-did-not-order-from-family-medical-llc-bayside-queens-ny-usa#gallery996369
Julie briefly plugged the UBS charger into her I-Phone, and then thought better of it, and removed the charger. Subsequently, APPLE checked Julie’s phone, and fortunately, no malware was found. The free/gift phone charger, however, is designed by scammers as a tool for “juice jacking” your cell phone. It looks like it’s a gift to you to use to charge your phone when you’re out and about or away from home. But, in reality, it’s a “gift that keeps on giving” in that it will install malware on your phone to steal your personal identity. It’s not “free” and it’s not really a “gift” at all! Fortunately, Julie realized this was a scam before real damage was done.
Julie’s Scam Story – Part B
A couple of weeks before receiving the “juice jacking” phone charger, Julie got an email from what she thought was PayPal; it had the usual PayPal logo on it. The email said it was from Kratochvil FQ Group at PayPal and appeared to be an invoice of some kind. The email stated that there was a problem with her PayPal account and provided a phone number for her to contact them to resolve the situation. Julie called the phone number which looked legitimate. She was told that the problem could be resolved if she would allow them to take control of her computer screen. Julie said the person she spoke to was very professional and sounded like he knew what he was doing, so she gave permission for them to take control of her computer screen. But oddly, they were not able to gain access to Julie’s computer, so they said they would disconnect and call her back. In the meantime, Julie contacted PayPal by the number of their office online and was told that there was nothing wrong with her account and that the people she had been dealing with were likely scammers! The scammers did call Julie back, but she did not communicate with them. Instead, she blocked the number, froze her credit accounts, cancelled her Debit / Credit cards, and ordered new cards, changed her passwords, and reported the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Julie also reported the mystery gift scam to the FTC. She said that reporting these scams to the FTC was quite easy. All she had to do was fill out the form online. She received a confirmation number letting her know that these scam reports had been received. Julie feels it’s really important to report scams to the FTC. And regarding the “mystery gift scam,” Julie wanted me to share this message with NBY readers – “Buyer Beware! If you didn’t buy it, don’t open it!”
Common PayPal Scams
Per PayPal, some common PayPal scams are — Phishing email/message, Invoice and Money Request scams, Advance fee fraud, Overpayment scam, Prize winnings, High profit – no-risk investments, Fake charities, Shipping scams, Prepaid shipping label scam, Package rerouting scam, Business/job opportunities, Reshipping packages scam, and Employment scams.** To find out more about these PayPal scams and what you can do to avoid them, visit PayPal at https://www.paypal.com/us/cshelp/article/what-are-common-scams-and-how-do-i-spot-them-help201
Mystery Gift Package — “Brushing” Scams
According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)***, “Brushing” scams are popping up all over the country. This is how a brushing scam works –
“A person receives packages or parcels containing various sorts of items which were not ordered or requested by the recipient. While the package may be addressed to the recipient, there is not a return address, or the return address could be that of a retailer. The sender of the item(s) is usually an international, third-party seller who has found the recipient’s address online. The intention is to give the impression that the recipient is a verified buyer who has written positive online reviews of the merchandise, meaning they write a fake review in your name. These fake reviews help to fraudulently boost or inflate the products’ ratings and sales numbers, which they hope results in an increase of actual sales in the long-run. Since the merchandise is usually cheap and low-cost to ship, the scammers perceive this as a profitable pay-off.”
To protect yourself from brushing scams, here’s what the USPS*** says you should do if you receive an unexpected package in the mail.
- Don’t pay for the merchandise.
- Return to Sender. If the package has a return address, and is UNOPENED, you can mark it “RETURN TO SENDER” and USPS will return it at no charge to you.
- Throw it away. If you opened the package, and do not wish to keep it, dispose of it in the garbage, as long as it is safe to do so.
- Keep it. If you opened it and you like it, you can keep it. By law, you can keep unsolicited merchandise and are under no obligation to pay for it.
- Change your account passwords. Your personal info may have been compromised.
- Monitor your credit reports and credit card bills closely.
- Notify retailer. If the package came from Amazon, eBay, or another 3rd party seller, file a fraud report with the company’s website, and ask them to remove any fake reviews under your name.
Be Empowered. Find Your Voice. Speak Out About Fraud!
Take 5 / Tell 2!
Make a commitment to yourself to take 5 minutes to chill, and talk to 2 people,
before you respond to an unsolicited text message, email, phone call that is alarming.
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.
RECENT SSSAP EVENTS
On October 4th, SSSAP presented its education program at the Culver City Senior Center. An audience of approximately 50 seniors were in attendance! Seen above (left to right) are Sherry McCoy, SSSAP writer / actor; Culver City Police Officers Chris Aguilar, Jaime Zuckerman, and Kieran Rock; and Ann Stahl, SSSAP Educator. Seen below (left to right) in our new skit “Whack That Scam!” are SSSAP actors Beverly Weir, Irma Derrick (w/puppet, Mrs. Beasley), Kimberly Mark (w/sign), HaRa Beck (w/wig) and Sherwin Cherry.
SAVE THE DATE!
On Wednesday, November 15th, from 11am – 12:30pm, SSSAP will be presenting its education program at the Palisades Branch Library. For further information, please contact Librarian Barbara Birenbaun, 310-459-2754, 861 Alma Real, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
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.