Thursday, November 12, 2015

SCAMS- Update on the Latest Scams

Here is an update of some of the latest (and some of the oldest) scams currently going around:

Secret Sister Gift Exchange- Facebook and Instagram users have been seeing posts for a “Secret Sister Gift Exchange.” In this scheme, someone makes a first post inviting 6 friends to participate with a list of secret sisters. If you receive this first post, you are supposed to send a $10 gift to sister number 1 on the list provided by the person who invited you. Then you move sister number 2 on the list to position number 1, place your name as number 2 and invite 6 of your friends to take part. Theoretically, your 6 friends would invite 6 of their friends and you could receive 36 gifts.

The problem with this scheme is that it is a “pyramid scheme” like old chain letters that you might receive in the mail before the internet. Pyramid schemes and chain letters are illegal according to federal law. So, ignore any invitations to participate. For more information about this pyramid scheme, go to:


US Postal Inspection Service:

Holiday Scams- The AARP Fraud Watch Network is warning the public about holiday scams that are likely to occur this Christmas season.

·         For example, scammers will be posing as charitable organizations to take your money. Some may give only a small percentage to a legitimate charity while keeping the bulk of the collected proceeds for themselves; others will just keep all of the money for themselves. The Fraud Watch Network recommends that before giving money that you make sure the charity is registered with the Washington State Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-332-GIVE or online at

·         A great way to for a fraudster to take your identity is through public Wi-Fi. In middle man attacks at your local coffee house, hotel or airport, the potential ID thief can capture your ID, passwords, and account information if you check your bank account or purchase items online using the available free Wi-Fi. This is true even if you connect securely by https. The best action is to do your online banking or purchasing from your own secure network at home.

·         When making any kind of purchase use your credit card, not your debit card. This is true if you are at a restaurant, a brick and mortar store, or online. With your credit card, you are only liable for the first $50 of a fraudulent transaction. With a debit card you have no recourse and the fraudster can have unlimited access to all of the funds in your bank account if he obtains your debit card account number. Leave your debit card in your safe at home.

·         The holidays are the time of year when we often give gift cards to family and friends from specific stores. Often we see racks of gift cards at grocery stores there for our convenience. Some scammers have been known to surreptitiously collect the account numbers of these cards on the racks and then check online to see if someone has purchased the cards and activated them. If they have been activated, the fraudster quickly drains the card of all of its funds. If you want to give a gift card to someone, purchase the card directly from the restaurant or store.


AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Scams that target older Americans- The elderly are often targeted because scammers assume that they probably have money and/or they may be easily confused or persuaded. This recent article from lists several scams to watch out for:



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