Category: information

Raffle House Website Review

The website is https://rafflehouse.com/

It is literally about people raffling houses. This might seem a foolhardy thing to do but sometimes for whatever reason it may seem too difficult to sell a property the normal way and perhaps selling a great deal of raffle tickets can solve the problem. The winning ticket gives its owner the house and the sellers get the ticket money which may be more than the value of the property.

However, you can instantly see all sorts of problems with this idea – the most obvious one being that unless enough tickets are sold, the sellers are onto a loser.

There are fake house raffle websites but this one does seem to be genuine.

It is linked with Sterling Lotteries as running a raffle of this kind is really a form of gambling and Sterling Lotteries have the licences for that.

Their terms for the raffles state that If enough tickets are not sold by the end date then the end date may be moved so the raffle can continue.

If not enough tickets are sold when the raffle ends then the winner may get a cash prize which could be 75% of ticket sales minus costs.  There may be runner-up prizes as well.

It is not easy on the web site to discover how much the raffle company makes from the raffle process so if you intend to sell a house this way – do get all the relevant information before signing anything.

You will find other websites raffling houses, but most are one-offs created for just one sale.

If you choose to try this  – buy a ticket and you may be lucky but don’t go buying thousands of tickets expecting to win – that’s not how raffles work.

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The Clone Company Scam

The clone company scam is where scammers make use of a real company’s name and reputation and trade on that to convince victims that they are legitimate. The actual company generally knows nothing about this until they start to get complaints.

City Watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority has increasingly been issuing warnings about this fraud (142 warnings in first half of 2019). Many of the companies involved are in the financial sector such as wealth managers, pension funds, mortgage companies, loan providers etc. but it can happen to any company.

Fraudsters may copy the company’s website, letter head etc. – anything to convince the victims for long enough to steal their money.

The big advantage for fraudsters in using someone else’s company name is that and potential victims checking online will find a reputable business.

If you are interested in any kind of investment or loan, do verify that the company is legitimate – check the FCA financial services register at  www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register or call their consumer helpline on 0800 111-6768

Never trust cold callers – anyone calling from a company you don’t already do business with, to offer any kind of investment or loan will likely be a scammer.

Never click on links in emails from people you don’t know.

Stay safe.

If you have any experiences with this scam do let me know, by email.

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The Price of Stolen Data

Hackers go to great lengths to get a copy of people’s confidential personal information – passport, driving licence, credit card details, bank details, logins and passwords etc. because these can be sold to scammers for a lot of money.

For example, typical values are below:-

  • Credit and debit card details of US citizens sell for $5 to $30 depending on the bank balance etc.
  • Credit and debit card details of UK citizens sell for $20 to $35
  • Bank login/password sells for $190 for a balance above $2,200
  • Bank login/password for UK bank accounts sell for $700 – $900
  • Login/password for Paypal sells for $20 – $300 depending on the balance
  • Login/password for Netflix sells for $0.55

(data is from a report by McAfee)

You can see how a hacker who can get access to this information for a lot of people can make a lot of money. Your confidential information is worth a lot to a hacker but a great deal more to you to keep it safe.

Do not publish anything confidential on social media or similar and do not give out such information to a caller unless you are sure who it is.

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Email Authentication Failure

You may receive emails that class themselves as being Spam.

Your Internet provider will have software analysing incoming emails and trying to weed out anything dangerous and mark anything that looks like unsolicited email from someone not in your contact list or white list as “Spam”.

Usually you have a range of options with your email from “block message from anyone you don’t know” (very safe option) through to “let everything through” (unsafe option).

You may also get a more interesting message on a spam email that says something such as “This email has failed authentication tests set by Walmart”.

Walmart is one of many large companies that use an extra layer of security for emails whereby they set up information on a public server and when emails claiming to be from Walmart arrive at your Internet provider they can automatically authenticate this against Walmart’s instructions (e.g. only a set IP address at Walmart is allowed to send out emails).

If the message fails, then it may be rejected but more likely to be classed as Spam and allowed through for the recipient to determine what action to take.

This extra layer of security is very useful but requires more work and is typically only used by large companies, banks etc. This is usually based upon the DMARC standard which is used by Google, Facebook, Apple, Craigslist, Virgin Media, British Airways, Dropbox, Amazon and many more.

Read the post at https://fightback.ninja/dmarc-email-authentication/ for more information on DMARC.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know, by email.

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NatWest Warn of Money Scams

Many scams continue year after year with little change and some others rise or fall in popularity. Below are the ones NatWest Bank reports as the most common.

  1. Social media spying: People can be very open posting information on social media and not realise how much they’re giving away, but to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam. E.g. A fraudster might spot a post from someone about moving to a new house and know it’s likely they will have funds from their previous property hitting their bank accounts soon. This could result in the fraudsters impersonating their solicitor and requesting for funds to be misdirected to them.
  2. Malicious software on smartphones: An emerging threat is how malware will appear in mobile banking on smartphones. This can be used by criminals to spy on the victim’s Internet activities.
  3. Bogus Brexit investments: Consumers should be wary of attempts from scammers to use Brexit to push fake investment opportunities. For example, scammers may email customers, warning Brexit will decimate their savings, and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product, safe from any potential Brexit fall out.
  4. Sporting Events Tickets and Travel: Some sites will sell tickets that are either fake – or will never arrive. It is also expected that counterfeit package trips to Japan for the Olympics in 2020 will be sold by fake travel companies. These trips will never materialise, and the money will have disappeared into the pockets of criminals.
  5. Money mules: Scammers trawl social media for potential targets – particularly poor students in university towns are often targeted – and use them to unknowingly launder money. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and wire the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves. But this is illegal as it is money laundering.
  6. Wedding Scams: As the cost of weddings increases, experts fear brides and grooms are becoming easy prey for scammers who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices. Scammers can set up fake websites within minutes for elements of the big day like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that can look exactly like the real thing. Fake wedding planners will take people’s money and disappear.
  7. Romance Scams: More than 16 million people were using dating apps in 2017. Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims. They use the messaging functionality to get personal details – where a person lives, a pet’s name, favourite sports team – and steal the customer’s identity and open credit cards and take out loans in their name. Alternatively, they work to build a trusted relationship with their victim. Just when the victim thinks they’ve met the perfect partner the scammer asks for money – for example; they need money to pay for travel to visit. The scammers who do this often have dozens of such relationships on the go at a time.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know, by email.

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How to Spot a Romance Scam

Running romance scams is a full-time job for some scammers and they can be very good at it. In the first three months of 2018, New Zealanders reported losing $7.9 million to romance scams – and the real figure is probably much higher as most people don’t report such scams, due to embarrassment and blaming themselves for falling for a con.

A scammer pretends to be in a relationship with someone online in order to scam them out of money. This is most commonly through dating websites and APPS but also through social media, other websites and APPS where they can find targets. The scammers setup fake accounts on the dating website or wherever needed and usually use other people’s identities and photos as chosen to give them the maximum appeal to their intended victims.

They will have a fake backstory, family, friends and job and usually they’re scamming multiple people at the same time. Once they’ve worked to gain the trust of the person they’ve targeted, they will use various stories to get money or details from that person. They may start by requesting small sums of money to test the waters, and then build up to requesting larger amounts. Sometimes they won’t actually ask for money, but they will talk about problems that can solved by money, because they know that the target will offer financial assistance. In some cases the scammer may try to get the person targeted to unknowingly help launder money for their criminal activities.

How to Identify a Romance Scam

  • Profession of love or strong feelings within a short time of meeting the person online.
  • If your new love mentions health problems, family issues, business troubles or other issues that could be solved with money.
  • Requests for money: You should be wary of any request for money.
  • Changes in communication style: If there are several scammers taking turns to maintain the relationship, their writing styles may change.
  • If a new romantic contact is not willing to meet up or talk via video call, or comes up with a series of excuses to avoid meeting, you should be cautious.
  • Financial assistance to meet in person: Also be careful about offering or giving the person money so that they can meet you in person.

Some scammers are more than willing to play the waiting game before getting a pay off. Scammers may keep a “relationship” going for months or even longer before they begin to request money or drop hints about problems that could be solved with money.

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