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 toBBB’s Scam Tracker.
In September, Central Ohio consumers reported losing a total of $6,844.00 to scams.
BBB analyzed 44 Scam Tracker reports from September 2017 to shed a spotlight on three scams affecting our Central Ohio community:
Facebook Messenger Scam: A Westerville, Ohio senior citizen reported a loss of $6,000 after receiving a Facebook message from a scammer who had hacked her next door neighbor’s account. The message said she had won a sweepstakes prize, but had to wire $1,000 in fees six different times to receive it. After wiring money from Walmart on six different days, she was then told that the FedEx truck with her winnings got into a wreck, and they would not be able to get into the box with her winnings unless she paid more money for a key.
She became suspicious that she was being scammed, but then received a text from someone named Nakia Jannette Sicard who claimed to be a grant writer for Facebook. Sicard said the consumer would get the prize money, 100% guaranteed, but later asked for $500. The consumer did not send any more money, and also never received the prize money.
How to spot this scam:
Be wary of your friends' tastes online: Your friend or family member may have impeccable judgment in real-life. But online, email messages, social posts and Facebook Messenger chats could be from a hacked or impersonated account.
Trust your gut. If a close friend or family member sends you a message that seems suspicious, give them a call or ask them in person to confirm that it really came from them before responding or clicking on any links.
Report scam accounts and messages to Facebook: Alert Facebook to fake profiles, compromised accounts and spam messages by reporting them.
Ignore and block unsolicited messages concerning government grants. The United States Government will not contact you directly for loans, or require that you pay any sort of fee.
Advance Fee Inheritance Scam: A woman from Worthington, Ohio was contacted by someone claiming to represent the “Grace Davies Humanitarian Project”. The scammer claimed that a Ms. Davies wanted to give all of her money away before she passed, and she had been chosen to receive $8 million dollars. The scammer sent detailed emails calling the woman “my beloved”, and asking for fees to cover the “insurance premium on a Certificate of Deposit”. She paid $720 by Western Union, and never received any inheritance money.
BBB urges consumers to consider these types of fees a red flag - you should not have to pay money in order to receive money. Legitimate law firms, executors of wills and others who are distributing estate funds to rightful heirs normally will not request you pay any sort of fee to find out about your share or receive your share of an inheritance.
Protect yourself by speaking with your relatives about any recent familial deaths and by checking bbb.org to see if a Business Profile or Charity Review exists for the organization that is contacting you.
Phony Employment Offer Scam: A Whitehall, Ohio woman applied for a job online and received a check in the mail for $1,830.00. She was asked to deposit the check, and send back a portion of the money to the “employer”. The check was counterfeit, making her responsible for paying all of the money back to her bank.
Fake checks are often sent with names of real companies and are drawn from national, recognizable banks like Chase or Wells Fargo Bank. If you are dealing with someone who requires you to deposit money and wire back a portion, this is a red flag that you are being scammed.
Unexpected job opportunities on sites like Craigslist should be fully researched to verify that the position actually exists and the business is hiring. If a job posting is claiming to be from a reputable company, but the listing is not on their actual website, then it is a scam.
While applying for jobs, always protect personal information. Job seekers should never give their social security number until they have confirmed the legitimacy of the position. Additionally, job seekers should not supply bank account information for a direct deposit set-up until they have officially been hired.
Consumers are encouraged to report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others in the Central Ohio community.
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 atbbb.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.