Sunday, March 13, 2011

Things that are certain

I am going to guess that most of you have heard the quote from Benjamin Franklin who said, "The only things certain in life are death and taxes."  Well Ben, I would like to add one more thing to that list . . . scams.  No matter what the season, reason or situation, scams will continue on.  The scammers may change the story, but once you peel back the layers of the story, the scam that remains is the same.

Here is an example of what I am talking about.  This is an email telling the recipient that they overpaid in their taxes and are entitled to a refund.  

Overpayment Notification
Date of this Notice: MAR. 06, 2011Taxpayer Identifying Number: xxx-xx-xxxxForm: 1040
Tax Period: DEC. 31, 2010

Subject: Taxpayer Overpayment on Tax Refund
Dear Taxpayer:
Our records show you were overpaid on your Federal Tax Refund under Social Security Number xxx-xx-xxxx, therefore $380.00 of the overpaid Tax Refund must be returned.
This memorandum serves as notification of an overpayment of Tax Refund that you received and the subsequent repayment that is your responsibility.

The overpayment totals $380.00 for 1040/2010 filing period you were overpaid in error because of an incorrect Tax Adjustment causing an incorrect refund.

You are offered the following options of repayment within five (05) business days from today Mar. 11, 2011. Failure to respond timely will result in the immediate recovery of the overpayment, fines, and possible criminal prosecution.

If you disagree with the amount listed below, you have the right to an immediate Pre-decision Meeting with a person who has direct access to the agency appointing authority for this purpose.

A summary of the overpayment is as follows:

Here are your Re-payment Options:   1. Submit payment within five (05) business days of the "date of demand" to the account:    Name(s) on Receiving Account: C    Street:    City:     Zip Code:     State:     Country: United States    Bank name: FIFTH THIRD BANK
    Bank Account Number:     Electronic ABA Routing Number(ex. Direct Deposit/Automatic Payment):    Wire ABA Routing Number:     Bank Address:348 Lincoln Highway,    North Versailles,    PA, 15137    Bank phone #:1-800-972-3030
   2. Write on transfer reference: "Payment of Erroneous Refund" and your SSN.   3. Failure to comply within the given time frame will result in stiff penalties and interest accruals in excess of what is owed.

Sincerely yours,

WILLIAM C. MALAHAI19-06693Tax Assessment Supervisor

Friday, March 11, 2011

Internet Crime Complaint Center's (IC3) Scam Alerts

The Internet Crime Complaint Center is the BEST place for people to report Internet Scams to, since it is connected to several other agencies and can channel the information on to the right places.  It also allows for the IC3 to gather information on new twists in old scams and then update consumers through their newsletters.

Here are some recent updates from the IC3


The IC3 has received several complaints regarding a romance scam originating via a dating website. Generally, in romance scams, the subject claims to be out of the country for a business trip and in need of money. The subject asks potential victims to wire funds for various reasons including paying for a hotel, returning to the states, or paying for a lawyer.
Recently, the scammers have added a layer of supposed law enforcement involvement in an attempt to convince the victim the scam is legitimate. In one such IC3 complaint, the "investigator" says he is using his private e-mail because the IC3 database is under maintenance. To convince the victim to wire the requested funds, he claims to be assigned to the case and assures the victim that the subject has been "interrogated and investigated" and that he is a safe, "legit business man."

Other complainants reported having difficulty canceling their membership to the particular dating site, which reportedly offers a "3-day free membership" for their service. The membership is reportedly "automatically" renewed after the three days unless canceled. Complainants reported that the website renewed their membership and charged their credit card over $59 despite the complainant's attempts to cancel the membership. Some complainants said the company did not answer their calls, e-mails, or voice mail messages, while others claimed the company admitted the "error" and offered them free service, but refused to refund the charges.


In October 2010, articles were posted online warning consumers about phishing e-mails purportedly from the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) claiming the recipient's federal tax payment was rejected. The IC3 has received over 150 complaints reporting this matter. Although different versions of this spam campaign exist, many complainants reported that the e-mails they received were titled "LAST NOTICE: Your Federal Tax Payment has been rejected." E-mails stated, "the problem is that system doesn't process your company ID on holidays and we moved your tax payment batch to a waiting list." Recipients were then directed to click on the link provided to obtain more details about their company's status and tax payment batch file. Some complainants reportedly use the electronic system to pay their estimated quarterly taxes, so the e-mail appeared relevant.

Other related phishing e-mails claimed, "the identification number used in the Company Identification Field is not valid." Recipients were directed to visit hxxp:// and "check the information and refer to Code R21 to get details about your company payment in transaction contacts section."

A recent complaint filed with the IC3 reported the same type of phishing e-mail except this time, the e-mail directed the recipient to open an attachment contained in the e-mail. The e-mail was titled "Your Federal Tax Payment Notice." Like the others, it claimed, "the identification number used in the Company Identification Field is not valid." To entice the recipient to open the attachment, the e-mail stated, "check the attached information and refer to Code R21 to get details about your company payment in transaction contacts section."


The IC3 has received several complaints from victims who reported a telephone scam in which the caller purports to be an employee of a major online company, which develops, manufactures, and supports software along with other products and services. Victims reported that a caller with an Indian accent claimed their computers were infected with viruses. The caller advised the victims they were sending the viruses to others via the Internet, and instructed victims to go to websites such as hxxp://,hxxp://www.go4support.orghxxp://, and hxxp:// When the victims navigated to one of the websites, they were further instructed to click on live support or live connect for assistance in removing the viruses. Some victims were instructed to download a program once they were on the hxxp://www.ammyy.comwebsite. After the victim clicked on the link or downloaded the program, the caller gained control of the victim's computer. Victims watched as the caller explored personal files, pointing out files that were infected. Some victims reportedly believe the caller copied their files and obtained their personal information. In some cases, the caller tried to sell the victims' software. Many victims reported loud background noise during the call, indicating a possible boiler room-type operation. Some victims reported the scam to the online software company. The company has an alert on their website warning consumers about this matter.

For more information regarding online scams visit the IC3 Press Room page for the most current Public Service Announcements.

Powerful Words

"Grandma . . . I need your help."

These are powerful words.  Grandparent's will often do ANYTHING for their grandchildren, even if they know that it might not be the best idea . . . letting them stay up late, eat something that Mom and Dad say they can't have, or watch a movie that they shouldn't watch.  They do these things because they are Grandparents and they will do anything for their grandchild.

So what happens if this Grandparent gets a call in the middle of the night that their grandchild has been arrested and needs money for bail?  Many of these Grandparents will do what they always do with their grandchildren . . . react to fix things and help and then figure out the details later . . . their grandchild is all that matters!

This is what gets so many into trouble with the Grandparent Scams, like the one that hit the elderly couple in this story.  When I was reading the story, I noticed that the Grandmother stated that after she wired the money she called her grandson to verify that the got the money . . . she realized she had been scammed when her grandson did not know what she was talking about.

This is why we need to teach everyone, especially our Grandparents, that if they get a call like this the first thing that they need to do is tell the caller they will call them right back, then hang up the phone and call their grandchild.  If it was really their grandchild on the phone, they will answer the phone and Grandma and Grandpa can still be there to help them out.  If it was not their grandchild, the worst thing that will happen is that they will be waking them up in the middle of the night, but at least that way they can go back to sleep knowing that their grandchild is safe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Your Family’s Money Matters: Make the Most of Your Finances In Tough Economic Times
Saturday, March 26, 2011
8:30 – 11:30 A.M.
The Wilder Center
451 Lexington Parkway North, Saint Paul
Choose from workshops about:
  • Financing a small business
  • Planning for Retirement
  • Getting the most from your tax return
  • Creating healthy financial habits
  • Preventing home foreclosure
  • Understanding your credit report
Space is limited! To register, send an e-mail to or call (651) 221-1016. Please indicate which two workshops you would like to attend.
Workshops will be presented by partnering organizations:
AARP, AccountAbility Minnesota, Lutheran Social Service, The Minnesota Home Ownership Center, U.S. Small Business Administration, WomenVenture.
Senator Franken will give opening remarks.

Below is the link to the flyer for this event.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Let your voice be heard

Are you one of those people who will stand up and say something about an issue that you think is wrong?  How do you go about finding others who also feel the same way that you do?  Blogs and social networking sites can be a great way for you connect with like minded people so that you can join together to try and make an impact to change the issues that are important to you.

Since I have a Twitter account I get a notification when I get a new follower, and I always check out that new follower's page to see if they are connected to any resources that might be a good fit to team up with.  Here are a few recent ones that I wanted to share with you.

 LoanFraudVictim - This Twitter user has a website at detailing the story of her battle to hold Wells Fargo accountable for the damage they did.

NetWatchDog - This Twitter user is from the website which is filled with information on internet scams and fraud.

WFmortmodscam - Working to keep Wells Fargo Home Mortgage or another lender from stealing your home? It's time to fight back! Blogging at

BanksGoneBad - Florida mortgage pro who has seen banks fraudulently foreclose on homeowners as well as perpetrate fraud on investors and bond holders. I'm helping 2 fight back