Every week at the BBB, we receive inquiries from people asking us whether we think a call or email they received is truthful or if it’s a scam. Unfortunately, sometimes those calling have already fallen for a scam and lost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
Every once in a while, we hear of unusual scams that pop up around the world, but most scams are variations of schemes that have been around for a long time. You can be sure if it works in one spot, con artists will eventually try it elsewhere. Even though these scams are occurring in other places, each of them can happen anywhere, whether you live in Sioux Falls, London or Lima, Ohio.
• Wedding performer scam. This happened to a band in Ireland. A person posing as an about-to-be-married man contacted the band, wanting to book them for the wedding. A 50 percent upfront deposit was agreed to, but the would-be “groom” sent a check for nearly twice the amount, then asked for a refund making up the difference. Soon after, the man emailed the band, saying that the wedding had been called off, and he wanted all the money back. The check seemed to have cleared the bank after three days, so the band sent back a total of $2,500. Of course, the “groom’s” check bounced, and the band was out $2,500.
While a band was the victim this time, it can easily happen to photographers, caterers, reception venues, or anyone else.
• The hitman scam. I can’t imagine anything scarier than receiving a death threat from a hit man in an email. Such emails recently panicked victims in Grand Forks, N.D. The ominous emails told victims they were the target of a $650,000 contract killing. Victims were informed they would be killed unless $15,000 was paid.
These emails were found to have been sent out in bulk, which means you can be sure no one paid a hit man to eliminate all those receiving the emails. Think about it… who would pay $650,000 to have an anonymous person killed, and why would a hit man want just $15,000 not to kill them?
• Car wrap advertising scam. We had a call in our office this past week asking about the validity of this money-making offer. Our caller received an email offering to pay big money to put advertising in the form of a wrap on his car. All he had to do after the car was wrapped was drive around, and they’d send him money.
Once a victim replies, the company explains they will send a cashier’s check to cover the first month’s payment of $300 as well as the cost of installing the wrap. The victim is to deposit the check, keep $300 as their earnings and send the rest to pay their guy who wraps the car. The check from the company eventually bounces after victims wire the “installer” their own money.
• Jury duty scam. This series of identity theft scams popped up in Lima recently but is widespread in several states. A scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and says the victim has failed to report for jury duty. The scammer then asks for the victim’s birthday, Social Security number, credit card numbers and other private information, that, when provided, easily allows the scammer to steal their identity.
Remember, these scams can happen anywhere, so be suspicious and if in doubt give us a call.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.