3D Graphic Rendering of a Blue Dart Hitting a Black and White Bullseye Target

3D Graphic Rendering of a Blue Dart Hitting a Black and White Bullseye Target

Section:

2012 in Review: The Scambook Blog’s Top Trends

2012 was a very busy year for scammers. The bad guys thought up devious ways to exploit consumers via social media and cell phones, then reached new lows by using national tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and the recent school shooting in Connecticut to prey on innocent people.

Suffice it to say, we’ve had our hands full over the past twelve months at Scambook. Let’s review the top complaint trends covered by the Scambook Blog in 2012.

 

1. Smishing: Fake $1000 Gift Cards from TargetContests.com and BestBuyWin.net

 

Sites like TargetContests.com, TargetWinner.com and BestBuyWin.net exploited hundreds of thousands of consumers with text message spam.

2012 was the year of smishing. In case you’ve forgotten, smishing is scam shorthand for SMS phishing. Spammers select thousands of cell phone numbers, usually via randomizing computer software, then blast a text message promoting the bogus $1000 gift card prize. They use stores where most people shop, like Target and Walmart, then create websites that mimic the real company’s brand.

If you visit one of the Gift Redemption Program websites mentioned in these texts, you risk identity theft, computer viruses and other consumer threats. Remember, real companies like Target, Walmart and Best Buy are not affiliated with these schemes and the $1000 gift card prize isn’t real. If you get a smishing text, we advise you to delete it right away.

Read More:

TargetContests.com: Watch Out For New Text Message Gift Card Scam

Scambook Predicts Massive Best Buy Text Message Scam This Holiday Season Causing Damages Over $40k

Scambook Case Study about $1000 Walmart gift card smishing.

 

2. Unauthorized Credit Card Charges: Premier Memberships Club

 

In 2012, sites like Premier Membership Clubs charged consumers for subscription services they didn’t know they had signed up for.

In 2012, Scambook received thousands of complaints about organizations like the Premier Membership Clubs, which charged consumers a mysterious monthly subscription fee. Scambook users report being hit with these charges after pursuing payday loans online, but they weren’t aware they were signing up for PMC.

This exemplifies a shady business practice where consumers automatically “opt-in” for a paid service when they agree to a free trial. It’s why you should always read the fine print.

Read More:

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION The Premier Membership Clubs Mystery: Who Are They and Why Are They Charging You?

How to Dispute Unauthorized Credit Card Charges and Get Your Money Back

Exclusive: Free Credit Report Scam Revealed

 

3. Social Media Hacking: Diet Products like Raspberry Ultra and HCG Ultra

 

Diet products, including HCG Ultra Drops and RaspDiet.com, were associated with Facebook and email hacking in 2012.

This year, we discovered a trend where hackers hijack your Facebook profile or email account to promote diet products. We received complaints associated with two specific products, HCG Ultra Drops and Raspberry Ultra Drops. Each of these products (and the alleged hacking) followed the same pattern. Users would see a Facebook post, or receive an email, directing them to a website mimicking FoxNews.com. The Fox News page is an advertisement for the diet supplement, disguised as a real Health News report.

Scambook users say they received links about Ultra Drops, clicked them, and found that their own accounts were hacked afterwards. Others reported that they ordered a free trial of the product, were billed immediately, and couldn’t return the product or cancel their order subscriptions.

Read More:

Is Raspberry Ultra Drops Hacking Your Facebook Account?

HCG Ultra Drops Linked to a Fake Fox News Page

How to Tell If You’ve Been Hacked on Twitter, Facebook and Gmail

 

4. Counterfeit Tech: The Fake Apple iPhone 5

Apple launched the latest generation of iPhone in 2012. As always, the counterfeiters were waiting to jump aboard and start peddling fake iPhone 5s to unsuspecting consumers. We reported on the threat of accidentally buying a fake iPhone 5 from a third-party on sites like Craigslist list and eBay, but we also got our hands on a Chinese Android phone designed to imitate the iPhone 5.

Watch our video reviews of the Hero H2000+ iPhone 5 knockoff and read about the warning signs of a fake iPhone 5.

Read more:

Fake iPhone 5 Full Review of the Hero H2000+

Fake iPhone 5 Exclusive Unboxing of the hero H2000+

How To Spot a Fake Apple iPhone 5: Warning Signs to Watch Out For Before You Buy

 

5. Fake Charity Fraud: Scammers Exploit National Tragedies

Earlier this year, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast and caused an estimated $62 billion in damages. Last week, in Newtown, Connecticut, a school shooting claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 people at Sandy Hook Elementary. There is no bright side to these devastating incidents, yet national tragedies often bring out our charitable side. Millions are eager to provide whatever aid they can, including donations to charities.

Unfortunately, crises also bring out the lowest of the low. Scammers always prey on our emotional vulnerability and our desire to help in the wake of such tragedies. They assemble fake charities to steal your donations and prevent them from going to the real victims, or they exploit the victims even further via insurance fraud. If you want to help, visit CharityNavigator.org before you donate to any organization.

Read more:

3 Ways to Avoid Hurricane Sandy Charity Scams

Scambook Warns Against Fake Charities Asking for Donations to Help Sandy Victims

How To Avoid Insurance Fraud After Superstorm Sandy

 

Tell Us About Your Year!

So that was 2012 here at Scambook. How was your year? Share your stories and remember to submit any complaints you may have.

Image sources

StockMonkeys.com
Web

Got a complaint? Report it to Scambook!

Author:

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for Scambook.com, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

Comments

  1. Laura Bate

    I am so happy I found Scambook. I placed a complaint recently; I can’t believe how much you guys are doing to help me!!! I had placed a complaint already with the BBB online, and they didn’t do nearly as much! What a terrific service. Thanks for sticking up for the “little people”!

    Laura

    Reply
  2. sharon

    I HAVE NEVER POSTED ON CRAIG’S LIST BUT MY HUSBAND BOUGHT A BEAUTIFUL GOLDWING TRIKE OFF CRAIGS LIST 2 YEARS AGO..I POT ALL THE INFO ON CRAIGS LIST FEB. 12…..I DID NOT PUT MY PHONE NUMBER…..SO FAR I HAVE GOTTEN OVER 132 HITS & WHEN I GOGGLE THEIR E MAIL IT COMES UP WITH A LIST OF SPAM EVENTS ON THAT NAME !!!! I AM SO DISHEARTENED WITH ALL OF THE FRAUD..I DO HAVE A PAY PAL ACCOUNT BUT CALLED THEM WHEN AT LEAST 6 PEOPLE WANTED TO BUY THE BIKE SIGHT UNSEEN & ASKED ME TO SEND MY PAY PAL INFORMATION….THEN WHEN I KEPT GETTING THEM I WOULD GOOGLE THE EMAIL & IF SCAMMING WAS REPORTED I SENT A COPY OF THE SCAMMING REPORT AND SENT IT TO THE EMAIL , PAY PAL & CRAIGS LIST…I HAVE THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR FRAUD….DO YOU HAVE A E MAIL SO I CAN REPORT IT TO YOU AS WELL….THIS IS SO WRONG AND I DONT THINK I HAVE GOTTEN 1 LEGIT OFFER SINCE I POSTED THE BIKE….ANY ADVISE FOR SELLING WOULD HELP…..I HAVE LEARNED A LOT SINCE I STARTED !!!!!! THANK YOU FOR LETTING MY VENT !!!!!!!!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please read our Comment Guidelines before posting.
If you wish to file a complaint on Scambook, click here instead.
Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>