Scams This Week 2/21/22

February 21, 2022

Social media sites were created to help you easily connect with people you know. But many have turned to these sites to try and make money. Here are a few scams that our investigators have noticed an increase in over the last several weeks.

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Advanced Money Scam:

This scam is based on a promise of free money to pay off education, home repairs, Covid relief, or financial needs like that. In order to get this money. you have to fill out a questionnaire where you provide all of your personal identifying information and they pay the upfront fees, many times with gift cards, Peer to Peer, or cryptocurrency.  These opportunities usually come through Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat from a friend’s account who has been taken over, or catfished.

It's important to look at every interaction you have on social media with a cautious mindset, especially if you receive a "cold contact." If it is out of character for your friend reach out, call them, contact them in a different way than the possible compromised account. Never send money to anyone and believe you will get more money in return. And remember to block and report scams profiles.

Account Recovery Scam:

This scam is often combined with the Advanced Money Scams. The scammer poses as someone you know or even the Social Media Platform you're using, with the idea of gaining access to your account. They may ask to use your account to contact Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media platform you're using. They may say they need access to recover your account. In reality, you are actually being induced into providing the scammers with total control of your account. At this point, they will begin to send out the free money or advance money scams from your compromised account.

Each social media platform has a little different target audience so the scam is also slightly different. Facebook may be for scams related to paying for Bills, Home Repairs, or just free money, whereas Instagram has been known for scams related to paying off student loans, and employment. Snapchat targets free grant money, free education, and employment scams.

These may also be presented as investments. The scammer convinces you that you are putting funds in and investing in something for a return versus paying money to get free money.

Rental Scam:

Often, the scammer poses as the landlord or rental company for the home and posts it on Craigslist or Facebook. The listing is complete with pictures of the home that were taken from a legitimate rental site. The address is legitimate and the ad encourages renters or buyers to visit the site and peer through the windows. If you see other rental or for sale signs in the yard, reach out to the listed rental company directly. 

Even if you can get in through a lockbox, that doesn't make it legit. The average person can sign up for and gain access to a lockbox through a legitimate rental company. Criminals are taking advantage of this by signing up themselves or having the victim sign up.

Be wary of any listing on free sites like Facebook or Craigslist. The "landlord" will likely say they can't meet in person or speak over the phone, so all communication is over text, email, or IM. No legitimate company will ask you to pay through gift cards, wire transfers, or cash apps. There may also be a sense of urgency and the scammer will make it seem like a now or never deal. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

With the housing shortage, these will likely never go away.  Please always google the address, and do a search of the address before sending any money or anyone claiming to be the landlord. Try and talk in person or over the phone. Do not just rely on messaging. Don’t send money to someone you haven’t met and try not to use peer-to-peer payment platforms, especially if you're being asked to send money to a different person not associated with the residence.

Find more scam prevention tips on our website.

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

(208) 570-6180 | BPDMedialine@cityofboise.org

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