Scams

itunes gift cards
401(k)2013 | flickr | 401kcalculator.org

Beware of scammers who’ve discovered the convenience of iTunes gift cards, warns the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

It’s just a new version of an old song: Thieves ask for iTunes entertainment cards to pay for counterfeit or nonexisting merchandise, or even to settle debt. The goods and services are bogus, and the consumer is out of luck.

Joe the Goat Farmer | Flickr

Congratulations! You've just clicked on what could be the most SHOCKING/INFORMATIVE/FRIGHTENING news that you will read Today/Tomorrow/ForTheRestOfYourLife: Those IQ and personality quizzes that your friends are sharing on Facebook could be scams, according to the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

Max Wehlte / Wikipedia | goo.gl/qoytTF

Scammers have been targeting artists, and it’s not a pretty picture, says the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

The scam is a twist on the “fake check” or “overpayment” schemes that have been around for years.

derekGavey | Flickr

While technology has changed, at least one thing has remained constant: Scammers are always looking for new ways to exploit those who are easily victimized.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging says, tech-support scams are “confidence scams, pure and simple.” In comments prepared for today’s hearing, McCaskill says “if there’s one thing many seniors are not confident about, it’s technology. So it makes perfect sense that these fraudsters would cling to a senior’s insecurity about technology to swoop in under the guise of assistance.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has promised to help get a contribution limit measure on next year's ballot. But other Democratic officials have promised such a move and haven't delivered.
Courtesy of Claire McCaskill's Flickr

Last year the Consumer Protection Division of the Missouri attorney general’s office received 57,000 complaints about a wide variety of scams and fraud, ranging from illegal debt collecting practices to identity theft, according to Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand. 

“However, the No. 1 complaint of Missourians – by a significant margin – is about unwanted and illegal telemarketing calls,” Missouri's Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand told the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging today.

social security card corner
file photo (Kelsey Proud/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated March 12, 2015 with a response from I Am My Sister’s Keeper

According to the woman behind I Am My Sister’s Keeper, Bella Beaudreux, the organization is not a scam.

“I got into this because I just wanted to help women who were in trouble,” Beaudreux said. “I never gave anybody information that wasn’t true. I said this is where we are and this is where we want to go.”

Beaudreux first said that individuals applying for jobs filled in their social security number as part of the application. When pressed about the fact that most employers don’t collect social security numbers until the first day of work in order to fill out tax paperwork, Beaudreux paused and then said that maybe her applications didn’t ask for social security numbers after all.

“Then maybe I’m wrong then,” Beaudreux said. “My mind is boggled right now. But I know this: I did nothing wrong. I never even looked at the information.”

Beaudreux said that anyone who filled out an application is welcome to come and pick it up or request that it be shredded. She said that she still feels called to help women who have been abused but doesn’t know whether the safe house will become a reality anytime soon.

“Maybe it won’t be tomorrow; maybe it won’t be a year from now. But I won’t give up,” Beaudreux said.

Beaudreux said she has not collected donations from anyone and never promised payment for attending meetings.

She also said that she is not responsible for the I Am My Sister’s Keeper website incorrectly stating that it was a member of the United Way because she did not build the website. The website has since been taken down.  

Original story:

An organization claiming to be opening a safe house for abused women in St. Louis may be a scam. The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis issued a warning Wednesday about “I Am My Sister’s Keeper.”

burn whistle logo
Proided by Nathaniel Carroll

Our recent reports about assorted consumer scams brought an interesting response from a Saint Louis University law student who is developing an online website to help centralize efforts to fight fraud.

Nathaniel Carroll and his associates came up with a catchy name — Burn Whistle — and eye-catching graphics for a blog they’ve launched. Their slogan is “Fight Fraud With Fire.”

sxc.hu | creationc

Reporting on scams is like pulling weeds. Report on one, and two new ones pop up in its place. Here are some new scam alerts for area residents:

The Jury Duty Scam

A person pretending to be a St. Louis police officer has been calling St. Louis residents and claiming they missed jury duty, according to the St. Louis Circuit Court of Missouri.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Ring ... Ring ... This is a very important message about your current credit card accounts. This is your second and final notice to lower your credit card interest rate and payments. Press 1 now to find out the terms, conditions and associated changes before the next billing cycle. Again, this is your final notice as it relates to the financial stimulus. So press 1 now to take advantage of this today ...

Target Brands, Inc.

In the wake of a massive data breach committed against the Target retail store chain, con artists may be targeting victims of the scam in Missouri and elsewhere.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

An email scam directed towards Saint Louis University employees compromised private information to an unknown user, including the personal health information of about 3,000 people.  

A subset of SLU employees received an email in late July asking them to disclose their log-in and password information on a phony website posing as SLU’s log-in portal. 40 SLU employees responded to the email, and 20 email accounts were accessed by the unknown user.

Flickr/Nate Steiner

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is warning consumers about a pesticide telemarketing scam.

Farmers, gardeners and others have received phone calls from salespeople claiming to offer high quality herbicides at below market prices.

The products have turned out not to be properly registered or labeled.

An agriculture department spokesperson declined to say what exactly was in the purchased products, what company ― or companies ― are involved in the scam, or whether the fraud extends to other states.

(via Flickr/Rojer)

Midwesterners are often known for their kindness and, unfortunately, some people take advantage of it, especially during the holidays.

Host Don Marsh talked with Bill Smith, an investigator for the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

They addressed ways to avoid becoming the victim of so-called “grinches,” including these twelve tips to outsmart scammers.

Mo. Atty. Gen. office

The latest scam designed to separate Missouri residents from their money involves phony letters from the State Attorney General’s office, the IRS and other government agencies.

The letters include a fake government letterhead, and state that the recipient has won a million dollars or more in prize money.  Attorney General Chris Koster (D) says the intended victims are then informed that they owe thousands of dollars in taxes and fees on the winnings and are instructed to pay them via Western Union.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Two St. Louis residents face sentencing in October after pleading guilty to a scam targeting retirees from across the country.

Authorities say 32-year-old Andre DePass and 24-year-old Jayneise Hampton pleaded guilty Monday to several charges. A third suspect, 33-year-old Nollis Hudson of Montego Bay, Jamaica, remains at large.

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron_0350)

The St. Louis-based utility company Ameren is urging customers to watch out for a scam aimed at illegally obtaining Social Security numbers.

Ameren says utility customers in several states, including Ameren customers in Missouri and Illinois, are being falsely told that the federal government will provide a credit or directly pay utility bills. The scammers seek the customer's Social Security number as part of the fraudulent effort to obtain the credit or payment.

Clint Zweifel
(via Missouri State Treasurer's Office)

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel has issued a warning to Missourians regarding an email scam related to the collection of unclaimed property.

Zweifel has made a point of returning unclaimed property to Missourians recently.

Here are the details of the scam, as described in a release from Zweifel:

(via Flickr/iChaz)

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) is warning citizens to beware of several threats to those seeking to invest their savings.

Carnahan says one such threat is called affinity fraud, which is used to target church congregations, senior centers and social networking websites.