Reporting David Highfield
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Don’t think you’re too smart to get taken. Some of the newest scams have twists and turns you might never expect.
Scam artists never take a break and they are always cooking up new ways to steal your money.
KDKA-TV’s David Highfield has been looking at some of the newest scams out there and has compiled a list of the trickiest so that you don’t become a victim.
The Better Business Bureau helped Highfield out with these scams. One thing to keep in mind is that scammers love Facebook and Twitter because they can reach so many people that way.
The number one scam on our list preys on your curiosity and perhaps your fear of embarrassment.
We’ve all seen the shows on television showcasing people’s most embarrassing moments.
What if you got a message making you think someone had shot video of you like that, without you even knowing?
KDKA-TV photographer Ian Smith has gotten a bunch of those kinds of messages on Twitter.
Why wouldn’t he click on the link? After all it came from a friend – Mark Rodgers. Or did it?
“No. I did not send that,” Rodgers said. “It looks like it came from my account, but I would never send anything like that.”
In fact, someone had hacked into his Rodgers’ Twitter account and sent out tweets under his name. But, what happens when you click on the link?
“A pop up comes up and says you need to download or update your version of Flash,” Caitlin Vancas from the Better Business Bureau said.
“I could tell right away it was some kind of scam,” Smith said.
Instead of Flash, you’re downloading malware or a virus, which can steal personal information off of your computer or even your cellphone.
There was never any embarrassing video. It was just a trick to try to steal your identity.
Rodgers, by the way, had to change his user name and password on Twitter to stop the messages.
Scam number two has to do with advertising as you drive around town.
When we go out to cover the news at KDKA-TV, we drive vehicles that identify the station.
So would you be willing to drive your car around wrapped in some company’s logo? What if they would pay you $400 a week?
While there are reportedly some legitimate car wrapping opportunities, there are also plenty of scams.
One online ad reads, “Get paid for just driving around,” and they’ll send you a check right away.
“You deposit the check as your method of payment for your services and then wire a portion of it back to the graphic designer, who will work with you to put the logo on your car,” Vancas said.
The trouble is there is no graphic designer. The check eventually bounces and you’re out of the cash you wired.
Red Bull has had so many scammers pretending to be Red Bull and offering car advertising deals, that it’s posted sample scam letters on its website.
April Ondulich, of Jeannette, fell victim to our third scam.
She needed a little extra cash, so took out a $200 loan.
Then, a company began contacting her claiming to represent the place she got the loan from.
“They told me if I didn’t pay it, I’d be extradited to Washington State,” Ondulich said.
So, she paid them part of the loan amount. However, she said it turned out, they had nothing to do with her original loan. They just somehow had learned she had taken one out, which means she’s out the $130 she paid them.
Sometimes people are contacted who never even took out any kind of loan and are told they have to pay it back or else.
Scammers sometimes contact them at work, and despite having never taken out a loan, victims sometimes pay out of embarrassment.
Finally, how about President Barack Obama paying your utility bills?
Letters in the mail, e-mails and even people coming to the door tell people the president would pay their utilities for a month.
While there are programs to help low-income folks with essential utilities, this is another scam.
Victims of this scam register on an official looking website providing everything from Social Security Numbers to bank routing numbers.
Of course, that makes it incredibly easy for the scam artist to get your money.
That scam seemed to be at its height last summer when air conditioning bills were high and also before the election.
If scammers start targeting you, just call the police.