October Scam Wrap-up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in October. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Healthcare Scam

An Anchorage woman reported she was contacted about healthcare services that may have been a scam. She states she got a phone call from someone asking for her Medicaid information to see if she qualified for healthcare services. The woman believed the call to be a scam to obtain her personal information and reported the call to Scam Tracker.   

Lottery Scam

A Haines man reported he received a card in the mail stating he had an unclaimed reward worth up to $100. He was told to call a toll-free number to claim the winnings or they would be forfeited. He called the number and was told he needed to pay $4.95 over the phone with his credit card. They offered to drop the price to $2.95 since he was a senior. The man did not report whether he paid the charge, but he did report the incident to Scam Tracker.

IDAHO

Government Grant scam

An Idaho Falls man lost $2,300 in a government grant scam. The man states he was told to purchase two iTunes gift cards for $299 and $1,999 and read the numbers over the phone. The caller claimed this would release $11,800, which would be placed in his account. After doing this he was told he needed to purchase another one for $1,200. He has since quit communicating with the caller.

Jury Duty Scam

A Nampa man reported he lost $189.30 after he received a call from someone claiming there was a warrant out for his arrest for not reporting to jury duty. The man believed it to be true as he did ignore a jury duty notice. The man was told to purchase a Green Dot card at Walgreens for $189.30 and go to the Canyon County Court House. He purchased the cards and relayed the Green Dot card number to the caller. The caller told him the card did not work and he needed to go back and get another one. That is when the man realized it was not a legitimate call.

MONTANA

Medical Equipment Scam

A Belgrade Montana woman reports her mother lost $350 after she was contacted by a company selling medical alert systems. The woman states her mother paid $350 over the phone and never received the system. All calls made to the number go directly to voicemail.

Advertising Scam

A Great Falls woman reports the company HS Backers tried to sell her advertising on athletic scoreboards at local high schools. The company claimed to be representing Great Falls High School and C.M. Russell High School. The woman did not purchase advertising and later learned the company does not do business with those schools.

OREGON

Malware Scam

A Salem woman reported she lost $200 to a malware scam. She states she was using her laptop when a notice appeared on her screen advising her to call tech support. Her computer froze so she called the number. The person who answered claimed to be with JRG Ventures LLC. They told her she needed to pay $149.00 for a “one-time fix” and an additional $50 to help with any further issues.  She soon realized she downloaded malware and was tricked into paying for assistance.

Puppy Scam

A Coos Bay woman reported she lost $600 in a puppy scam. She states she purchased a St. Bernard puppy from www.maxwellsaintbernards.com. After making her payment she was told she needed to send $670 for pet insurance and travel. The company refused to refund her money and she ceased doing business with them.

WASHINGTON

Online Business Scam

A Kirkland man reported he lost $30 when an online business failed to send him his product. The company website, http://www.slumber.la, ceased communication with the man after his purchase failed to arrive.

Fake Kitten Adoption Scam

A Seattle man reported he came across a fraudulent cat adoption site. The man states the site www.kittensforadoption.us is a phishing scam posting fake numbers and cat pictures to obtain customers personal information.

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Adopt a Pet, Not a Scam

Written by Michelle Tabler, Alaska Regional Manager

Puppy & Kitten Scam PR

A Pennsylvania consumer reported on BBB’s Scam Tracker: “I paid $700 for a kitten that does not exist. My kid is devastated because she was waiting for a kitten to be delivered to our house today.” Another consumer wrote: “All we wanted was a puppy to help us get over the deaths of our beloved pets.”

According to the American Humane Association, the holidays are a popular time to bring a new pet into people’s homes. Puppies and kittens often top the holiday gift list for many children. But consumers should be careful when searching for their new furry family member online which has become the new marketplace for adopting pets.

Online ads usually show photos of adorable puppies or kittens to be rehomed, sold at a low price, or offered for free if the potential owner pays “transportation charges.”  Scammers will even go so far as to send a questionnaire to the buyer asking for personal information as part of the application process. They reel you in with attractively low prices for popular breeds and promise to deliver the pet to your doorstep. The scammer may also require that “shipping” fees be paid in advance by wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. Scammers may even use the name of a legitimate transportation company but give fraudulent contact information.

Once the money is received, the seller claims the pet is on the way but requests additional funds for charges such as taxes, insurance, vaccinations, new kennels – all sorts of concocted fees to extort more money. Some emails even promise that the fees will be “refunded” once the pet has arrived.

Not only do these puppies and kittens not arrive at their destination, but they typically don’t even exist. Consumers all over the country have been scammed out of hundreds and, sometimes, thousands of dollars on each of these scams.

Potential pet owners can look for red flags that an online sale may not be legitimate. Is the seller requesting that the payment be wired or put on a prepaid card? It’s never a good idea to wire money to someone you don’t know – it’s the same as sending cash. The money cannot be traced or recovered.

Do the ad and emails contain poor grammar and misspellings? Many fraudulent schemes originate overseas, so scammers may not have a good grasp of the English language. And be wary if the seller only wants to communicate by email or text, but not by phone.

If the seller is pressuring you to make a decision right away, that may also signal a possible scam. A sense of immediacy can cause victims to act without doing proper research. One fraudulent email stated: “We urge you to make the deposit within the next 30-45 minutes before departure time at 10 am today.”

Is the price too good to be true? Be wary of any ads offering rare breeds for lower than market prices or offering the pet for free (if shipping is paid). Scammers often weave sad tales: “I’m just looking for someone to provide my kittens with care and love because my daughter, who was their companion, died a month ago and now they are lonely.” Then, be suspicious if the seller requests upfront shipping costs for a third-party transport company.

Before responding to an ad, you can do an online search by pasting the wording into a search engine. You may find information or complaints from others about the seller.

Be cautious when shopping online for a pet and look out for red flags that may indicate a scam. A good piece of advice – consider adopting locally.