Fake DEA Scam

December 2nd, 2012 No comments

We’ve warned you before about using online pharmacies, and once again we have a warning about them. This time, the warning is about a fake DEA scam, in which scammers contact clients of online pharmacies, pretending to be DEA agents, to extort fines from them.

Basically here’s how the scam works
- Victim purchases products from an online pharmacy
- The fake DEA agent calls the client (using a client list from said online pharmacy) and informs them that they broke the law by purchasing drugs over the internet
- The fake DEA agent then informs them that they must pay a fine, otherwise they will be charged criminally
- The victim, not wanting to get a criminal record or have to deal with the law, simply pays the fine on the spot and hopes that the problem goes away

The only problem here, is that the DEA agent isn’t a real DEA agent, and real DEA agents don’t collect fines for this type of thing over the phone. If you’ve broken the law, and you’re going to be charged because of it, you aren’t going to find out about the situation over the phone. DEA agents are going to come to your house, and in the event that you’ve broken serious law, arrest you.

That being said, the DEA does not go around arresting people who purchase their heart medications online. They are interested in going after major offenders. As such, this scam is obviously fake on two accounts.

If someone calls you, trying to get you to pay a fine over the phone, regardless of which law enforcement agency they claim to be from, it is almost certainly false.

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Can you melt Canada’s new money?

December 2nd, 2012 No comments

When the Bank of Canada recently released their new series of Canadian bank notes, one of the major selling points was that they would last last longer than their traditional paper counterparts, because of improved durability. They touted that the bills could be run through the wash, without any negative impacts and that the bills wouldn’t rip, like paper bills so frequently do.

It appears that they forgot one thing… extreme heat. One clever individual on Youtube thought it would be a good idea to take a new Canadian $20 bill and pop it into the microwave. I’m not quite sure what he thought would happen, as its pretty obvious that it would melt, once it reached a certain temperature. Anyway, this guy only left it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and in that time the entire hologram portion of the bill melted and it appears that the bill was on the verge of falling apart.

Check it out below

Domains using privacy guard – Should you avoid them?

December 2nd, 2012 No comments

These days, almost all of the major domain registrars offer privacy protection services for their clients. Typically when you purchase a domain name, you have to provide billing information, contact information and admin information, which becomes publicly available to anyone who does a whois search on the internet. These days, many domain owners are opting to take advantage of the privacy protection services offered by companies such as GoDaddy and Namecheap, because it prevents them from receiving a slew of pointless emails and junk mail.

That being said, should you trust a website if they aren’t willing to provide their information publicly through the domain whois information? In our opinion, yes. Some people have claimed that if a website is using privacy protection, it should be avoided, because it is sign that the website has something to hide. We disagree. What is more important it checking whether or not the website has a good reputation (The best method is to google *company name* scam). If you find people reporting that the website is a scam, you should probably steer clear.

Another thing you should check is whether or not the website has contact information posted on their website. Some companies are fine posting their company information on their website, but don’t want to have it listed in the domain whois information, because this information is so frequently the recipient of spam and junk mail. As such, even some big companies have opted to use privacy protection when it comes to the domain name.

One other thing to consider is that someone who chooses privacy protection is probably more honest than someone who places false information into the whois information. I’d rather deal with a company that is open about the fact that they aren’t willing to post information in the whois profile than one which provides false information.

Either way, we feel that the use of privacy protection in terms of the domain whois information shows little when it comes to determining whether or a site is a scam or not.

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Is Solid Trust Pay a Scam?

November 24th, 2012 No comments

A few years ago I was speaking with the owner of Alertpay, and he stated that if I wanted to keep my money safe, I should avoid using Solid Trust Pay. He stated that the currency was ultimately unstable and had severe liquidity issues due to problems with their banks. While these issues turned out to be true, it appears that Solid Trust Pay is a better choice when comparing the two. Roughly two years ago, Solid Trust Pay did face a number of liquidity issues, primarily due to problems with their credit card processor. It is believed that the credit card processor was withholding payments for a lengthy period, while Solid Trust Pay users were attempting to withdraw their funds. This resulted in a huge backlog.

Luckily, it seems that the backlog has been resolved and Solid Trust Pay is back on track. During that time, Alertpay has become embroiled in a number of scandals, which have seen their currency blacklisted by American banks and other financial companies. To help mitigate this, they have changed their name to Payza and separated their questionable business practices from their supposedly legitimate “Payza” operations. Whether or not this ruse will fool financial regulators has yet to be seen.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, Solid Trust Pay has come out on top and seemingly has dispelled rumours that the company was going under. Despite their relatively poor customer service, shoddy website and questionable terms of service, I am confident in reporting at this time that Solid Trust pay is not a scam. That being said, it wouldn’t take much for it to shift from the realm of poor customer service to the scam category. If it reaches the point whereby Solid Trust Pay uses the excuse of poor customer service as an excuse to freeze accounts and confiscate funds, Solid Trust Pay will fall into the same category as Payza/Alertpay/Egopay.

Western Union Agent Scam

November 23rd, 2012 No comments

When it comes to Western Union scams, the scam usually involves someone trying to convince a victim to send them money using Western Union. These scams range from fake distant relatives claiming that they’re in trouble to fake items listed for sale online. In almost all of these cases, Western Union is simply the scammer’s payment method of choice.

Today the Western Union scam email that I received was a little different, in that it claimed to be from Western Union itself. Obviously it wasn’t, as Western Union doesn’t go around randomly sending out e-mails to strangers. The e-mail was addressed to Western Union agents, and may have been sent out to a mass audience with the hopes that it would reach a few actual Western Union agents. The e-mail contains no links, however it does contain a zip file that it asks you to open. I can only assume that the file contains some sort of virus, that would be used to gain access to Western Union terminals. Either way, don’t open e-mail attachments, even if they appear to come from a legitimate source.

Here’s the email:

Western Union® AgentPortal
Dear Sir/Madam,

Western Union Agent Portal notifies all its agents about urgent changes in the compensation policy and working conditions.
In order to prolong your contract you need to read the documents and sign the contract attached to this letter.

Our company is sorry to cause inconvenience. Please do not drag out the business and make the necessary actions as soon as you can.

Thank you,
Western Union Agent Coordination Center

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Using Irrevocable Digital Currencies

November 22nd, 2012 No comments

When most people think of online payments, they think of the main players in the industry, such as Paypal, Authorize.net and Google Checkout. All of these have one thing in common, and that is that they all accept credit cards. While this is great in terms of convenience, it poses a huge risk for merchants, particularly when dealing with expensive items. Furthermore, with uncapped fees of 3-5% per transaction, these payment methods aren’t exactly merchant friendly when margins are low.

What alternatives do merchants have?

There are a few alternatives on the market, and they primarily revolve around the concept of irrevocable digital currencies. The most popular of these are Liberty Reserve and HD-Money. Unlike typical payment processors, neither of these sites accept credit cards. In fact, neither of these sites accept any payments from their clients. They operate in a similar manner to a national currency, in that you must use a third party exchanger in order to obtain them.

How it works?

To purchase a digital currency, you must contact a third party exchange service (Just like the bureau de change when travelling overseas). You send the exchanger funds using your own national currency, and for a fee, they will provide you with funds in Liberty Reserve or HD-Money. Once you have your HD-Money or Liberty Reserve, you can transfer it to any other user in the system. However, be aware, that unlike credit cards, payments are final.

Fee structure

Since digital currencies are not exposed to chargeback risks, they’re able to keep their fees incredibly low. While you may be dinged with relatively large fees when funding your account, you’ll more than make up for it if you are frequently receiving payments. The fee structure for both of these sites is 1%, up to a maximum of $2.99. Therefore, if you were to receive a $1000 payment using HD-Money, you would pay a fee of $2.99. By contrast, the Paypal fee on a similar amount would be nearly $40.

Irrevocability

The main feature of these “currencies’ is that their payments are irrevocable. Many use the slogan “get paid and stay paid.” Unlike Paypal, which provides buyers the security of being able to reverse their payment at anytime, with irrevocable systems, payments are final. Use common sense when sending a payment through one of these systems, as once it has been sent, you’ll have no recourse. While this may not be ideal for buyers, it provides security to merchants who have been hit time and time again. It also reduces costs for merchants, allowing them to provide goods and services at a cheaper price.

St George Bank Phishing E-Mail

November 22nd, 2012 No comments

I’m not quite sure where St. George Bank is located or anything else about it for that matter, however I seem to be getting phishing emails for it on a near daily basis. The majority of these e-mails are coming out of Russia and have links that forward the user to various free website hosting services, also primarily in Russia. Check out this most recent email that I received.

Dear Customer,

Your account was recently accessed from a different IP Location.
Please Log on to verify and secure your account.

To login,please click here

Regards
2012 St George Internet Bank

Beware of Online Pharmacies

November 20th, 2012 No comments

Prescription drugs are expensive, and from the looks of things, they’re only going to get more expensive. Whether you’re in Canada or the US, prescriptions can run several thousands of dollars per month, even for the most common of prescriptions. The result is that many people turn to the internet in hopes of finding a cheaper solution. Unfortunately, many of those who do turn to the internet end up being scammed, and are left with no where to turn due to the illegality of purchasing regulated substances over the internet (in particular from foreign countries.)

In Canada and the United States, prescription drugs are closely monitored by the government. Regulations are in place to ensure that only quality products reach the shelves of pharmacies and regular inspections ensure that factories are clean and sterile. By contrast, other countries lack these regulations, which can result in substandard quality and safety.

Nevertheless, some people choose to risk there health in order to save a few bucks, and we’re not here to criticize that. Everyone has their reasons for trying to save money, and given the prices in the United States, I can definitely see why. However, if you do choose to go this route, there are some scams that you should try to avoid:

Fake Pills – This is a common scam, whereby pharmacies will ship you placebo pills rather than what you ordered. Since most people can’t really tell if it’s real, due to the fact that most prescriptions look the same, many people will think that they’re getting what they need. While this may not cause problems for some, it can be life threatening for others. If you need your meds to survive, don’t risk your life to save a few dollars.

Fake Seized Shipments – One way that these pharmacies make money is by claiming that your shipment was seized. When they do this, they give you the tracking number of a shipment that actually was seized. Most people won’t contact the post office to verify it, and will simply move on. On top of that, some people end up getting scammed a second time when they re-order.

Outright Scam – Some websites will just outright scam their customers. Rather than shipping anything, they’ll send excuses over and over to explain delays, until you eventually go away.

Overall, we DO NOT recommend ordering prescription medication online. It is a bad idea, and 90% of the time you’ll get burned.

BBB Scam E-Mail

November 8th, 2012 No comments

Today I received a new scam email in amongst the usual nonsense. This one claims that it’s from the BBB and that there’s a complaint against my business. As per usual, the English is poor and the email contains a questionable attachment. This one is someone clever, because the extension is .pdf.zip. This may trick some people into thinking that it’s a PDF file, when rather t’s a zip file.

Remember, never open attachments from unknown senders, even if they claim to be someone reputable.

Hello,
The Better Business Bureau has been filed the above mentioned complaint from one of your customers in respect of their business relations with you.

The details of the consumer’s concern are contained in enclosed document. Please give attention to this issue and inform us about your opinion as soon as possible.

We kindly ask you to open the COMPLAINT REPORT (attached to this email) to reply on this complaint.
We are looking forward to your prompt response.
Faithfully yours,
Dusty Young
Dispute Counselor
Better Business Bureau

Ontario’s Government Removes Service Ontario Kiosks

November 6th, 2012 No comments

For those of us who live in Ontario, being able to update drivers licence information, obtain licence plate stickers and perform other basic tasks using the Service Ontario kiosks has been incredibly useful. Rather than stand in huge line ups at the DMV (Service Ontario Location), I could walk up to the machine in most shopping malls, pop in my drivers licence and walk away with a new licence plate sticker.

Unfortunately Service Ontario’s Kiosks were put on hold a few months ago due to a fraud scare, whereby scammers would fitting the machines with credit card skimming devices to steal credit card details. While this is a serious issue, suspending all of the machines across the province seemed like overkill. ATMs are tampered with all the time, but you don’t see the banks shutting down the network. At first I thought that the issue was simply an incompetent government, however it seems that the problems with the machines were far worse than credit card fraud.

The Ontario government has now announced that they will be permanently removing all of the Service Ontario kiosks, because of a much more serious security issue. According to police, a group of men in Toronto and Peel region had been using the machines to extract personal information about Ontario residents. While we don’t know what type of information was being extracted from the machines, we do know that they contain a wealth of information regarding vehicle ownership, drivers licence records and health card information. It seems that the real reason for the original shutdown wasn’t the credit card skimming operation as we originally thought, but rather the much more serious issue of personal information being stolen from the machines.

From our perspective, we wonder why the government doesn’t simply fix the machines, so that personal information can’t be extracted and used for fraud, however Ontario residents are being left in the dark. With today’s announcement, it seems that we’ll never really know what type of personal information was being stolen, and we’ll be forced to return to the stone age method of waiting in 2 hour lineups to renew our licence plates.

Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1283216–government-to-permanently-pull-plug-on-all-serviceontario-kiosks