Security and Fraud Alerts

Date Posted: 10/18/17

Romance Fraud Scams

BE AWARE

What is a Romance Scam?
Romance scams target victims, who may be emotionally vulnerable, with companionship and friendship. The goal of the criminal(s) perpetrating the crime is to get the victim to send them funds, which they claim are for a wide range of necessities such as travel, medical care, or a business opportunity.

How Does It Happen?
The fraudster, who is often located internationally but portrays themselves as American, will contact the victim through social media networks, online forums, or dating sites. After making contact, the fraudster will attempt to develop a deeper relationship with the victim.

Who is Targeted?
While men can be targets, the victims of romance scams tend to be women over the age of 50. The criminals tend to target widows, retirees, divorcees, or single women. Very often victims are emotionally vulnerable.

Romance scams are an emotionally devastating crime that impact victims far beyond monetary damages.

BE OBSERVANT!
While the fraudster may attempt to quickly deepen a relationship, it can also develop over months as the fraudster works to build the victim’s trust. At some point in the “relationship” the fraudster will make a financial request. Any number of reasons may be used, but the fraudster will claim to need the money for:

  • funds to cover the cost of traveling to see the victim;
  • emergency medical expenses for the fraudster or a family member — typically a child; or
  • a business opportunity that will allow them to live together comfortably.

In the beginning, the amount of money requested will often be small but increases as the fraudster becomes more and more successful in building the “relationship” and tricking the victim.

There were almost 15,000 complaints categorized as romance scams/confidence fraud reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3) in 2016, with the victims suffering over $230M in losses.

If you believe you may be a victim of a romance scam, please contact your local authority.

Date Posted: 01/13/16

PHOENIX  In coordination with the state revenue departments and the tax industry, the Internal Revenue Service has released the first in a series of YouTube video tax tips designed to provide people critical information to help protect their tax and financial data.

 
The videos, part of the continuing Security Summit effort combating identity theft and refund fraud, is part of an ongoing effort to educate taxpayers and provide them tools to stay safe online.
 
The first of the Security Awareness YouTube videos (https://www.youtube.com/) includes tips from four state officials reminding taxpayers to check online accounts for problems, look for secure sites when shopping online and be careful to avoid phishing scams. 
 
The videos will be released daily over the next week.
 
“These are important reminders for all of us to protect ourselves online,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “These videos reflect the continuing collaborative work between the states, the tax industry and the IRS to protect taxpayers. We are jointly implementing major new procedures to protect taxpayers, but people can help by taking some precautionary steps to help us work to prevent identity theft.”
 
The six videos feature the heads of several state revenue departments from across the country, including:
  • Alabama. Julie Magee, Alabama Revenue Commissioner.
  • Connecticut. Kevin Sullivan, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.
  • New York. Nonie Manion, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
  • South Carolina. Rick Reames III, Director of the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
  • Vermont. Mary Peterson, Vermont Commissioner of Taxes.
 
The “Taxes. Security. Together.” campaign  a joint effort announced late last year between the IRS, states and the private-sector tax industry  is designed to raise public awareness that even routine actions on the Internet and personal devices can affect the safety of financial and tax data.
 
The education campaign will complement the expanded series of important new protections the IRS, states and tax industry are putting in place for the start of the 2016 filing season to address tax-related identity theft.
 
To learn about additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit www.irs.gov/ or www.irs.gov/identitytheft.

Date Posted: 11/30/15

ALBUQUERQUE ― Last week, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a scam alert to warn New Mexicans about a dangerous new scam preying on New Mexicans who are having trouble paying their mortgages.

“Do not pay Ocwen mortgage payments by MoneyGram in response to 'Making Home Affordable' offer letters or calls,” Balderas said. “This is a scam and if you receive one of these letters or calls please contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General at 505.222.9100.”

Details about the scam:

    • The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division learned that New Mexico homeowners are being asked to send money to individuals by MoneyGram.
    • Ocwen has investigated the matter and determined that third-parties are posing as Ocwen employees to obtain payment from consumers. 
    • Consumers receive a letter advising them that they are being offered a “trial payment plan” or loan modification and then the consumer is directed to call a person to make the payments.  An example of such a letter is attached. 
    • The callers will at times “spoof” an Ocwen phone number so that it appears that the person calling the consumer is calling from an Ocwen phone number often in the area code “214.” 
    • The United States Postal Inspection Service is working with Ocwen to investigate this matter as mail fraud.
    • If consumers have questions about their home loan, they can contact the real Ocwen at 808.746.2936.
    • Further, consumers who suspect they have been harmed by this scam, have received a suspicious mailing, or have any questions can contact Assistant Attorney General David C. Kramer at 505.222.9100 or 505.222.9134 for assistance.

Attorney General Balderas is committed to protecting consumers from deceptive or unfair business practices, and to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. The Office of the Attorney General sponsors the “Keep Your Home New Mexico” program to help consumers avoid foreclosures and save their homes. Homeowners can call a statewide hotline for free housing counseling and other information. That number is 855.664.6630.

Date Posted: 10/27/15

ALBUQUERQUE – Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a Scam Alert regarding scammers using the Office of the Attorney General’s name to trick consumers.

The scammers may know the last four digits of your Social Security Number, may have caller ID information that appears to be a government agency calling, they may send bogus e-mails to you, and they may call back numerous times. “Do not be fooled by this phone scam and do not give out any personal identifiers or financial information over the phone. The Office of the Attorney General does not call you, or hire people to call you, to collect debts or threaten arrest,” Balderas said.

Scammers are calling New Mexicans and telling them the following:

  • Consumer is told they owe a debt.
  • Caller identifies themselves "BCDM Processing".
  • Caller then states they are working on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Caller states that they have a bench warrant issued by the Office of the Attorney General and the caller will be arrested if they do not pay the debt immediately.
  • Caller insists that the consumer must go get a prepaid card and give the number to them immediately over the phone so they won't be arrested.

The TRUTH is:

  • The Office of the Attorney General does not collect debts nor does it employ any company collecting debts.
  • The Office of the Attorney General is not/does not/will not take actions like this and no government agency will either.
  • No government agency will require an immediate payment over the phone to prevent you from being arrested. 
  • Anytime a caller is asking for payment over the phone by prepaid card it should be a red flag that it is a scam.
  • While this scam is new using the Office of the Attorney General’s name, scammers are also still inundating New Mexicans with fake IRS calls in a similar scam.

Do not give out personal information or credit card, debit card or bank account numbers over the phone. If you receive this phone scam, or any others, hang up and report it to the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 505.222.9000 or visiting www.nmag.gov.