Category: Fraud

Synthetic Identity Fraud

Until recently, identity theft involved the criminal getting enough of your personal details to be able to pretend to be you and open accounts in your name, take out loans, credit cards etc.

Now, we have synthetic identity theft, which is where the criminal combines real and fake information to create a new identity. These fake identities are then used to open accounts, make purchases etc. but also apply for unemployment benefit, duplicate accounts etc.

These criminals steal identity information e.g. social security number, passport number, identification cards etc. and couple that with false information such as names, addresses, birth dates etc.

They now have a whole series of synthetic identities to use for criminal purposes.

People who commit synthetic identity fraud may use these fake identities straight away or keep them for weeks or months and build up a track record in each of lawful usage. This makes it easier to use them at a later stage without drawing attention to their lack of transactions and credit history.

It can be difficult for the financial institutions to recognise this as fraud as there may not be any victims e.g. if for example, a criminal uses a stolen social security number but fake name and address.

Synthetic identities are often used by organized crime rings, which set up many such accounts to use for money laundering and dispersion of money to members.

For people caught out in this fraud, it can be difficult to make sense of.

Imagine you contact your bank about your personal account and they ask you which one. It appears you have two personal accounts in your name but with different addresses and other details.

This has happened.

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The Blessing Loom Money System

This is an old scam that comes up in new forms every so often.

It is generally known as “The Blessing Loom”, but also sometimes as “The Infinity Loom” or “Giving Circle”.

The basic idea is very simple.

The originators recruit new members who pay an entry fee and then recruit further members to pay in. Meanwhile the originators take these entry fees and can back out of the scheme whenever they want to.

It is a form of Ponzi scheme (a.k.a. Pyramid scheme) where new members pay earlier members and the cycle of recruitment continues.

Eventually the scam goes away, only to resurface at some later date.

In 2020, the state of Utah had significant problems with The Blessing Loom as large numbers of people fell for the scam and lost a lot of money. The main version in circulation charged women $100 to join and had the promise of an $800 pay-out.

The picture of an octagon at the top shows 8 names. The idea is that you pay to get one spot and in time your name moves into the middle then all 8 people sent you the money. But, as always with these schemes a few make money and everyone else loses. You cannot make money appear from nowhere except by conning people.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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The Expert Bets Scam

An email pops up titled something like “The Betting Experts team”.

But it’s from which means it’s a scam as “.faith” internet addresses are obviously meant for Churches and other faith organisations. Betting does not qualify.

The email says
“ I’m so glad you opened this.

The Betting Experts have just opened their doors to new members and you don’t want to miss out.

These guys consistently bring in$120,000 – $160,000 per year – and it’s no surprise with their combined expertise”

It goes on to promise you can make $2,400 in your first week. And they have just 50 spots to release.

So, it’s a typical “Something for nothing” scam but in fact you get nothing for your money.

There’s lots of ways they can make money out of this – the simplest being to take your money and provide nothing but the more cunning ones do give you something, in order to get more from you.

Imagine you pay just a starter fee and in return get a list of winning bets to make each week. If you lose then tough luck but if you win, then you have to pay them 10%

Sounds like you can’t lose. Of course you can as it’s really only they who cannot lose.

The recommended bets are just random chance – you can do better on your own.

And paying them 10% if you win – is money for nothing.

No wonder they claim to make $120,000 – $160,00 per year. It’s from idiots who buy into their scheme where the only winners are the scammers.

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Radiation Protection Phone Shields

Scammers spread fear over the possibility that your phone emits radiation that can cause illness or even death.

Scientists are still researching the long term effects of electromagnetic (EM) radiation, but there is no evidence of any such problems caused by the radiation from phones or other screen based devices.

It is true that these devices emit EM radiation – that’s how they work. No radiation means they cannot work.

Scammers want to cause fear and offer a solution to it by selling various devices, covers, stickers, addons etc. None of these have been shown to have any positive effect.

Some offer a phone cover that supposedly absorbs the radiation but if that was true the phone wouldn’t work.

Others sell gadgets designed to reduce the radiation, but if that was true then it would just mean the phone would have to increase its output signal to counteract the dampening and so that would be counterproductive.

Some offer little stickers that supposedly stop all radiation – these are simply fake and do nothing at all.

Spending time sunbathing can mean absorbing about 3 times as much as the maximum allowed with a mobile phone.  However, most of us recognise there is a risk with sunbathing and use sun protection.

Cell phone radiation is nonionizing radiation as opposed to ionizing radiation, meaning that it doesn’t break down atoms and molecules as does sunshine.

How to reduce Your Exposure to Your Phone

  1. Turn the phone off when not needed – such as at night.
  2. Do not have the phone near where you sleep if its turned on.
  3. Use hands free where possible i.e on speaker
  4. Use a headset if needed
  5. Text rather than talk
  6. Keep phone call length to a minimum
  7. Put your phone in airplane mode when you can

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Stupidest Spam of the Week Exotic Seeds

The world of gardening and flower creation can be competitive with people chasing down exotic looking flowers and vegetables and keeping secret anything they do find.

But there are also scammers in this market who create fake photos and videos of exotic looking fruits for example blue strawberries and sell the seeds at a high price.

There are no seeds as the fruit does not exist, but it is a simple game to colour fruit artificially or fake pictures on Photoshop to make plants look strange and then sell ordinary seeds at a very high price to unsuspecting punters.

Most of these fakes come from China and Hong Kong currently.

Don’t buy ridiculous looking fruits, vegetables or other plants. Stick with what you can get in the local garden centre or if on the Internet then only buy from reputable dealers with a long track record of sales and happy customers.

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Instant Company Rebadged Product

This is about how companies can suddenly appear and have new “fantastic” products at bargain prices.

In the UK as long as you haven’t been banned as a director then it’s an easy, cheap and quick process to register a new company. In some countries it’s even easier and people can churn out new companies as fast as they want.

Making a New Product

Inventors and designers may spend years perfecting their product, but the simple approach is to find a product that already exists, rebadge it in some way – maybe just a different colour scheme. Then you give it a new name and that’s your new product. There are patent protection laws to prevent this but scammers operate quickly and aim to have disappeared before the law catches up with them.

Lots of companies (mostly in China) will manufacture anything you want at very low prices. If it’s an item they already make and you just want a different colour or a version with your logo on – no problem.

Then comes the Marketing. Modern Marketing through email lists, social media etc. can be cheap and quick.

The Reality

The method described above is very simplified of course and it’s not really this simple, but for people who do this regularly it is quick and easy.

Here’s an example.

An email arrived titled ‘Cleaning Scrubber Works for Arthritis”

Then a sales pitch for the Hurricane Spin Scrubber.

It’s a rechargeable device with a rotating head designed to make cleaning bathroom surfaces quicker and with less effort. It comes with an extending arm so the user doesn’t have to bend down – hence the claim that it helps arthritis sufferers.

Sounds good.

Strangely the email is from although this product cannot be considered to be an aid for people with diabetes.

Following up on this shows that the product is real and does work. However, customers complain about faulty items, the difficulty of getting any money back and terrible customer service. The product itself is very cheaply made and generally not very good. The company selling this product only came into existence months ago and if the pattern is followed then is likely to disappear fairly soon, to be replaced by another similar company with a slightly modified version of the device. Then the process starts again.

Buying this kind of product may be right for you, but be aware that if there are problems – you may wish you’d invested in a reputable make with good customer service.

If you’ve purchased this kind of instant product or dealt with such companies – do let me know by email.

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