Columbus, OH - Each year, one in four North American households are scammed. Because money loss and identity theft can happen to anyone, BBB encourages community members to protect and inform others by reporting any scam-related experiences to BBB’s Scam Tracker.
BBB analyzed Scam Tracker reports from April 2017 to shed a spotlight on four scams affecting our Central Ohio community:
Can You Hear Me? Scam: Multiple consumers reported getting calls asking “Can You Hear Me?” or other questions attempting to get a “yes” answer. Once the consumer says yes, their affirmative may be recorded and used at a later time to say they agreed to a payment or a product. Fortunately, none of the consumers lost any money.
BBBs across the nation have recently seen reports of a new twist on the “Can You Hear Me” scam involving scammers posing as travel companies.
BBB recommends screening your calls and only answering numbers you recognize. If the call is important, there will be a voicemail. If you receive any calls asking “Can you hear me?” or any other questions that seem to be fishing for a yes, hang up immediately.
Phony Job Offer Scam: A resident from the south side of Columbus found an accounting job offer on Indeed.com posted by a company called Wesfarmers Ltd. She responded and was interviewed via Google Hangouts. The company then sent her a check for $4,870 to buy office equipment from their vendors. She purchased a MoneyGram from Walmart for $1,400 and decided to call BBB. BBB told her the offer was a scam and she would owe her bank the money if it was too late. She quickly called Walmart, who recalled the MoneyGram, resulting in no money loss.
It’s simple for scammers to create fake company websites, emails and job applications. Many work-from-home schemes sound too good to be true and promise a large reward for minimal work. Be wary of any business that only wants to interview you over the phone or asks you to wire money for any fees or supplies.
Indeed.com has guidelines for a safe job search.
International Lottery Scam: A senior citizen who lives in Columbus received a letter from Pacific Integrated Lottery Inc, located in London, England. The letter advised that she had won a lottery and included the check she could use it to pay the taxes, insurance, shipping and handling. They requested that she deposit the check into her account and mail them the fees.
Purchasing foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States, and the federal law prohibits mailing payments to purchase any ticket, share, or chance in a foreign lottery.
Victims who have been sent information that they “won” an international lottery will receive a fake check and be asked to wire money to a different country to pay the prize fees. They may not find out that the check was fraudulent for a few weeks, but will owe the money back to the bank. BBB urges consumers not to cash lottery checks they receive in the mail, no matter how real they may look.
Facebook Scam: A senior citizen in Marion, Ohio was contacted on his Facebook account and told he had won $500,000 and a Luxury Airstream RV. They told him that in order to claim his money and prize, he had to go to Walmart and send them $500 for insurance.
BBB urges consumers to beware of a variety of Facebook scams and to remember that if you really have won something, you will not have to pay money to receive it. Be cautious of any person who asks you to wire or send them money, especially through gift cards or MoneyGram.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.