Everyone loves to shop around the holidays. They also love to give and help those in need. This is part of the American spirit and what makes America great. But with every good motive, there comes a dark reality. Criminals love to tap into the generosity and love that people have. Except they are not seeking to help people.
They only want the money for themselves. Every year the criminals have devised new and deceptive ways to scam people out of their money. The FBI is pushing hard to alert and educate people. And they are working even harder to stop these criminals from destroying the spirit of the holidays for generous and loving people.
Most of the shopping for the holidays happen in the last two months of the year. This is the time when the crazy criminals are going to be the most active. This is also the time of the year when much faith-based organization sends out their offering letters. Criminals know this and love to ripoff givers as well. Many schemes show up and the shopper and giver must be alert and ready to recognize the evil plot of the criminal mastermind.
The sad part for people is that if they do not recognize the scam upfront it will take two or three months for them to see it later. One FBI stated it this way “The money is in your personal account inside on your gift card is on your credit card. So the criminals rather than going to the bank to get the money, but they need is for you to give them the information, and they just take it from the comfort of their living room.”
The criminal does not even need to put on snow boots to come and rip off their victims. They simply drain the bank accounts while watching holiday movies on their stolen televisions. They are smart and they know what they are doing. But the FBI is smarter and it is only a matter of time before they are caught.
Another FBI agent said, “Tis the season to scam; it is the holiday season as well for scammers.” These would-be thieves are targeting people all around the country. One way that the criminals are taking people’s money is by using a fake online storefront. They post pictures of items for sale and wait for the money to be paid. They quickly move the money into a separate account and then never mail out any merchandise. Before long the customer realizes it too late and can never find the person or website again.
The FBI is warning people to look at the site before they shop. One agent stated that “If a website has a lot of misspellings, it doesn’t look quite right or act quite right those, are red flags. It’s a warning sign. If you are not making sure it is secure first, https as opposed to http, it is an issue. Your information can be intercepted and compromised as well.” Simply taking one minute to research the company can save a person a lot of headaches and holiday hurt.
Other criminals are using used up gift cards. The customer pays online a fee for the card, and they receive an empty used card for all their joyful giving attempts. An FBI agent also said that “So what you didn’t do as you didn’t go to the back of the rack and pull something from the back. You didn’t check to make sure that the number hadn’t been scratched off and perhaps been replaced with another sticker. You didn’t examine the card to make sure that it looked as though it had just come from the factory.” Thousands of reports are filed every day with the FBI from people that have been scammed.
The best thing for people to do is be careful and alert. Watch statements and change passwords are the best line of defense. Any suspicious activity should be alerted to the financial center to minimize losses. The FBI works hard to protect the country from people that seek to harm them. They are another brand of heroes that amazingly serve their country.