Scam Alerts: Ooops, They Sent Wrong
Check ... Hacking Your PayPal Account
Mar. 4, 2009
You work hard for your money. So do crooks – to get your money, that is. Two new scam reports keep us vigilant:
The first, recently experienced by voice actor Ed Victor, is a variation on the familiar “You’ve Won The Nigerian Lottery” theme – just toss in a foreign VO gig.
The second scam, which snagged a student of voice-over coach and branding expert Nancy Wolfson of Braintracks Audio, hits PayPal – a favorite scammers’ target – and is an eyeopener for people who have both a PayPal and a Skype account.
Read on and beware …
REQUEST FOR A QUOTE
From Ed Victor (www.edvictorvo.com):
Recently, I was asked to quote on a voice-over job for a "relaxation video".
The email was sent from Aaron Bergomo, asking me to quote on voicing a one-and-a-half page document. I obliged and sent back an email with my price.
He wrote back and said he did not have a PayPal account for paying me, and asked if it would be OK if I waited for a certified bank draft.
Aaron said: “I will instruct my client to make a payment of $325 USD to you tomorrow. Send the following details to make payment to you immediately: Receiver's Name, Address, Postcode, Cell.“
Whatever. He wrote me again, asking for the address to send the check to. I gave him my address and didn't hear from him for about a week. He then emailed me and said the bank draft was on its way.
OOPS! SENT WRONG CHECK
The next day, he wrote again and said that the company he was doing the project for inadvertently sent his check to me - I could cash the check and take my money and send him the balance.
Also, he would be unavailable, as he was currently in Berlin.
YEAH RIGHT. I told him:
“Please understand, I am a professional voice actor. I make thousands of dollars through my agents. This has been one big misunderstanding after another. It’s not worth it to me to make $325 with this much aggravation and effort. Please find someone else. This has con job written all over it. Do not contact me again.”
FAKE CHECK ARRIVES
But Aaron persisted. He wrote:
“No need for alarm. I will see what I can do from here to reverse the mistake …”
My final reply to him was: “Contact your client and have them cancel the check. I don’t really think this is legit."
Well the check arrived anyway. No return address - postmarked from Indiana. Aaron had claimed he was in Germany on business.
I took the obviously fake check (which had a fake Wells Fargo logo) to my bank, and they are proceeding with an investigation.
PAYPAL & SKYPE USERS
From Nancy Wolfson (www.braintracksaudio.com):
I had a chat with one of my students this morning and was alarmed by her story. If you use Skype as well as PayPal, then read on....
From the student to Nancy:
This past weekend, my PayPal account was accessed by an unauthorized user and several small transactions were used to steal approximately $100 USD from my linked checking account.
While one should always be on guard for fraudulent spoof/phishing emails, I hadn't actually done anything to give the baddies access to my PayPal username and password.
My computer is firewalled and has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs installed, and I perform regular scans to ensure my PC is safe (these are things you should be doing, if you're not already).
The fraudulent activity started when my PayPal account was used to fund a Skype account that's not mine. Turns out, a lot of Skype users have experienced similar PayPal hacks in the past year.
If you use PayPal (and especially if you use Skype) follow these steps to reduce your risk:
Monitor your PayPal account! PayPal will send you an email every time you send money or perform account maintenance. If you get an email from PayPal, don't click on any links in the message itself. Open your browser and type in the PayPal URL. Log in and check your transaction history. If you see fraudulent activity, immediately notify PayPal and your bank.
Consider linking a checking account to PayPal that contains only limited funds. Better yet, de-link your bank account and only use credit cards with PayPal.
Request the SecurID key fob from PayPal. They'll charge you $5 USD for this nifty device that generates a random 6-digit PIN every 10 seconds. Once they've added it to your account, the only way to send money is to input the SecurID's current PIN.
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