Internet scams reach Orange County
Recent scams circulating on the internet have caught the attention of local citizens and police.
Bill Willis, a Deweyville resident and employee at the Penny Record, was online when he received an instant message from someone claiming to be Dave Sayer with the Prize Patrol at Publisher’s Clearinghouse.
They informed Willis he had won $18,000 for placing second place in the December Bonus Raffle. They also inquired if he was at home for delivery of the check. But, before Willis could receive the check he would have to go to Walmart or Walgreens and purchase a Green Dot card with $385 deposit on it. The person on the Internet then requested his phone number. Willis complied and they promptly called him.
Willis informed them he did not have $385 and asked it there was another way such as cashing the check and then paying them the fee, but the caller refused. It was then Willis told the caller he thought it was a scam.
“I told him I thought it was a scam and he slammed down the phone,” Willis said.
Willis added he later checked the Facebook page and it had been removed.
Information from Publisher’s Clearinghouse warns of the scam.
Publishers Clearing House does not send emails notifying consumers they have won a major prize. If anyone should win a major prize in the sweepstakes, the PCH Prize Patrol will contact them in person. For smaller prizes of less than $1,000, winners are notified by overnight delivery services or email in the case on online giveaways.
PCH does not send emails requesting personal banking or financial information in connection with a prize. If anyone does receive an e-mail seeking their bank account, checking account, social security number or other financial information, they are warned to be beware.
If contacted about winning a prize and required to buy something, pay a fee, tax or processing cost, people are told to stop and not purchase anything because they have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes and it’s certainly not from the “real” Publishers Clearing House officials.
If people believe they are the victim of a “Fake Check Scam” using the Publishers Clearing House name or logo, they are asked to contact PCH immediately by calling their toll free number at 1-800-645-9242. Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. No matter whether mail, phone or email, remember no purchase necessary is the only sweepstakes rule winners need to know.
Another scam circulating on the Internet is a virus involving a pop-up made to look like it is coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI Moneypak virus is ransomware which uses a Trojan to lock computer systems. The FBI virus alleges the computer user has been involved in illegal activity such as downloaded or distributed copyrighted material or has viewed child pornography. The page demands a penalty fine of up to $200 to be paid in order to unlock the computer system within the allotted time of 72 hours by use of pre-paid Moneypak cards or GreenDot cards. The FBI Moneypak ransomware virus also states on the fake FBI screen the computer owner may see jail time if the fine is not paid in time, according to information from the FBI.
Officials warn the malware and claims made by the virus are not real. Paying the fine will not fix the malware problem. In fact, an activation number to remove the FBI virus can lead to further intrusions.
Chad Hogan of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Internet scams have been problem in Orange County.
“Please don’t buy a moneypak card to send them money,” he warns the public.
He added, if someone does receive the FBI pop-up, he recommends people re-boot in safe mode and run a virus program. This has been known to work.