Friday, April 3, 2020

Grandparents: be aware of new twist on old scam

Several years ago, the "family emergency" scams--also known as the "grandparents" scam based on the use of elderly targets, started making the rounds and creating significant monetary loss for our old folks. The grandparents would receive a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild; the caller then set them up with a dramatic story about being in trouble with the law and needing upwards of $3,000 cash wired right away to pay legal fees.

One of my mom's neighbors fell for this a few years ago and lost $2,800. Once the money is wired, you can never get it back. For more information on the original scam, see

Today, with the world coronavirus pandemic in play, there's a new twist on the old scam: The imposter "grandchild" caller urgently claims that he/she is sick and/or stuck overseas and needs money wired immediately to get healthcare or transport home.

Here is the full story on the Federal Trade Commission web site

Here are some tips from the FTC to know about in case you receive a panicked phone call, email or text from a purported family member claiming to be in a dire situation and needing cash fast:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
  • Call a phone number for your this "family member" that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Do not wire money; do not send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
  • Report possible fraud at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

How to lose your life savings by trusting too much

This is how easy it is to lose your life savings if you are not vigilant about security online:

This scam boils down to a one-character difference in the real domain name versus the fake domain name (.corn instead of .com), which in certain fonts can appear identical at first glance:

.corn vs. .com (Serif)
.corn vs. .com (Arial narrow)

Always be extremely vigilant about *any* email that contains a link or attachment, even if it appears to be from someone you trust, and even if it is expected. If the email is related to finances or other sensitive information, be vigilant about verifying it before acting on it. Also:
  • DO NOT CLICK links until you've validated it is legit by hovering over the link and/or reaching out to the sender via a separate communication channel. 
  • DO NOT OPEN attachments until you've done the same.

I see these sad stories every day. Feel free to share with friends and family. Be careful!