Scam Alerts

In the News

Fraudsters and criminals are always thinking of new ways to steal your money or your identity.

Don’t let the fraudsters take what belongs to you! Keep informed of their latest scams:

The Skinny on Phony Weight Loss Promises

You get an email from a friend, with a link and a message: “Hi! Oprah says it’s excellent!” But did your friend really send this message? And what’s so excellent?

Millions of people get emails like this one, but not from their friends. Instead, according to the FTC, marketers hired by Sale Slash sent spam emails from hacked email and social media accounts. Why? To trick people into thinking the messages came from a friend. And, of course, to sell stuff.

The links in the messages led to fake news sites promoting Sale Slash’s weight loss products. Everything about the news sites was fake. Endorsements from Oprah and The Doctors’ TV show? Fictitious. Reviews from news reporters? Phony. Testimonials from people with dramatic weight loss stories from using diet pills? Bogus.

Also false, according to the FTC? Claims that Sale Slash’s products would help people “melt away” extensive amounts of belly fat without diet or exercise. Just not true.

So here’s the skinny:

    • Even emails that seem to be from a friend might not be. Stop and check before you click any links or open any attachments.
    • Just because it looks like a celebrity or news reporter endorses a product, that doesn’t make it true. And it doesn’t mean that the product really works.
    • Anyone who claims you can lose more than a pound a week without diet and exercise is probably lying.     (

 NCUA Text Message Scam

More than 40 consumers around the country have received a scam phone text message purporting to use a National Credit Union Administration phone number, the agency announced Wednesday. Consumers who receive a text from 703-518-6301 asking for personal information should contact the agency’s Consumer Assistance Center hotline at 800-755-1030. The NCUA’s privacy policy states that it will never request personal or financial information from consumers.

According to the NCUA, the perpetrators are able to mimic a telephone number to generate text messages. The messages may warn of a debit card reaching its limit or use some other trick to persuade individuals to provide personal information or go to a malicious website.

Consumers should not click on links in the message, provide information to any websites referenced in the message nor attempt to conduct any financial transactions through those websites.

This attempted fraud scam is classified as “spoofing” by the Federal Communications Commission.

Vacation to ….Nowhere?

With winter almost over, are you itching to get out of town? As you search for your perfect getaway, you might come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing. Unfortunately, some “steals” are posted by scammers trying to steal your money. They’ll leave you with a vacation to nowhere.

Scammers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves: fake websites that look legitimate, post gorgeous photos of homes and condos — real and fake — on property sharing sites, and get your attention with super low rental prices. You may be asked to wire money – a full or partial deposit. Either way, you arrive at your vacation destination to discover it doesn’t exist and your money is gone.

Here are some tips to help you avoid a vacation rental scam:

  • Search online for the owner and listing with words like review, scam, or complaint.
  • Check that the address of the property really exists.
  • Consider using a credit card to book your rental.

Check out tips to avoid other travel scams at, and have a fun and scam-free vacation!  (

Scammer Faces Slammer!

For years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams: the imposter who convinces you that you’ve won the lottery (you didn’t) – and all you have to do is pay some fees to collect your millions (you won’t). And for years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams that originate in Jamaica, where telemarketing lottery scams became a cottage industry in some parts of the island.

The Federal Trade Commission, which has helped criminal law enforcers investigate these types of cases, reports that the Department of Justice recently extradited a Jamaican man on charges that he was part of an international lottery scheme targeting older adults in the U.S. He’s the first person to be extradited in this kind of case.

According to the indictment, a 28-year-old Jamaican man, Damion Bryan Barrett, called people in the U.S., spoofing phone numbers to make it look like the calls came from the U.S., and often claiming they were calling from the IRS or Federal Reserve, or a well-known sweepstakes company. Barrett, the indictment says, told people they had won cash and prizes – which they could collect if they sent up to thousands of dollars in “fees.” Then, Barrett and his colleagues allegedly told people to send money to middle-men in southern Florida, who sent the money on to Jamaica. But, says the indictment, not a single person actually got any money from their – ahem – winnings.

If he’s convicted, Barrett faces prison time, a fine, and mandatory restitution to the victims of his scam. But whatever happens in court, this extradition shows how serious the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are about cracking down on people who try to defraud American consumers. That’s good news for all of us.

Meanwhile, if you get a call or email that you’ve won something, follow this advice: never send money. And report the call or email so we can help in the fight against these scammers.(Source: Lois Greisman, Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, FTC)

Anthem Aftermath

No sooner had word gotten about that Anthem, a health insurer for more than 80 million customers, had been hacked than the scam artists started sending phony “Anthem” emails – pretending to help while phishing for personal information. Designed to look as if it comes from Anthem, the email will ask customers to click on a link, or open an attachment, for free credit monitoring or “credit card account protection.” Forward the message to the Federal Trade Commission at and then delete the message from your inbox.

Anthem says it will contact current and former customers by postal mail with specific information on how to enroll in credit monitoring. Anthem also says it’s not calling customers about the data breach or asking for credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone.  (

Impersonating IRS Officials

Criminals impersonating IRS officials were on the rise last year, as was tax-related identity theft, according to a new report.

The Federal Trade Commission disclosed that tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft reported to the FTC in 2014, while the number of complaints from consumers about criminals impersonating IRS officials was nearly 24 times more than in 2013.

IRS impersonation scams typically consist of an individual contacting a consumer by phone, claiming that they are an IRS agent and that the consumer owes the IRS money, the FTC explained in a release. “The callers suggest to consumers that they pay by wiring money or loading money on a prepaid debit card. The callers often threaten arrest or legal action, and their calls may appear to originate from Washington, D.C., phone numbers; scammers may even know a consumer’s full or partial Social Security number, lending credibility to the scam.”

Consumers should remember that IRS employees won’t call out of the blue and threaten arrest or demand specific methods of payment.               (

Package Delivery Scam- in Your Inbox!

The Federal Trade Commission has learned of a phony “delivery failure notification” email making the rounds that looks like it’s from the U.S. Postal Service — but it’s not. The email is bogus and there is no package. And if you downloaded any attachments, or clicked on any links, you’re likely to end up with a virus or malware on your device.

So how do you tell what’s legit and what’s a scam? Here are some ways to spot a bogus email:

  • It tells you to click on a link or download an attachment;
  • It urges you to take immediate action; or
  • It asks you to “re-confirm” personal or financial information.

Another sure sign an email is a scam? If you hover over the link in the email, it won’t show the official website of the supposed sender — in this case, the U.S. Postal Service website.

If you have questions about a delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, visit or call 1-800-ASK-USPS. (Source:


Find the details on more scams here.