EverSafe Scam Watch

Protecting Your Financial Health

Overseas Scam Has Musicians Singing the Blues

The fraud began in May when Sam Ash Music announced it will be shutting down its 42 shops around the United States after 100 years in the retail business. Almost immediately, scammers began posting slick ads on social media offering expensive guitars at huge “going-out-of-business” savings.

The ads steered victims to fraudulent websites where the prices were too good to be true. But the carefully designed pitch – aimed at aging musicians with money to spend – was devastatingly effective.

Wall of guitarsFraudulent ads on Facebook and Instagram, for example, offered electric guitars such as the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, which often cost thousands of dollars, for $120. These realistic-looking ads featured “Shop Now” buttons that led consumers directly to PayPal and credit card apps. Victims, eager to grab the savings before instruments ran out, sometimes ordered more than one.

A woman described a typical case in a PayPal community forum: “My husband found out that the Sam Ash Music stores were closing and saw an ad on Facebook to buy equipment at highly discounted prices. It took him to a website with the Sam Ash logo and he ordered 2 guitars. It went through PayPal but when the charge came up, it was from a scammer in China.” In a different discussion online, a Sam Ash employee warned the public: “I work for a Sam Ash store, and the number of calls I get daily about this is almost unbelievable.”

As the frauds proliferated, Sam Ash put out a statement: “All Websites Claiming to be related to Sam Ash other than www.samash.com are Fraudulent. Most are operated outside the US and will take your money but are unable to fulfill your order. We are not responsible for orders placed on them.”

Hollywood Spotlights the Revenge of Scam Victims

Scamming has become so widespread in modern life that two new movies feature victims taking revenge on scammers. The Washington Post says that scammers are having a “cultural moment,” as concern about frauds has filtered deep into public consciousness.

Elderly woman on a cell phoneIn “Thelma,” a summer movie that opens on June 21, an elderly woman flees her nursing home “on a mission of revenge after she is ripped off in a telephone phishing attempt,” the newspaper reports.

That movie comes on the heels of “The Beekeeper,” an action thriller that opened in January. The beekeeper, a former agent in a mysterious organization, burns down a call center when his elderly friend commits suicide after a scammer steals her life savings. The movie’s action-packed narrative unveils the widespread nature of dishonesty and fraud in today’s world.

While these movies are intended for entertainment, experts say they can serve a valuable purpose.

“If ‘The Beekeeper’ sparks conversations about cybersecurity and makes users more cautious about unsolicited emails and links, then it will have made a valuable impact beyond just thrilling audiences,” writes Fizen Technology, an IT support company.

Be Wary of Toll Collection Text Messages

Perhaps you just took a road trip, or you rented a car on vacation. A few months go by, and you get a text that says you have a small outstanding toll amount due, and if you don’t pay, you’ll face a $50 late fee. There’s a link to settle. Be forewarned: It’s a scam.

Fake text message on cell phoneThe FBI says it received more than 2,000 complaints about the toll scam in March and April, and the calls keep coming. It warns that the scam is moving from state to state across the country. The toll scam is based on “smishing” – using text messages to trick you into sending money or personal information through your phone including your driver’s license number and credit card data.

With 700 miles of toll roads in the state, Florida is especially prone to such a scam, officials said. Officials there closed 10 fake websites in May that mirrored its SunPass site, which monitors toll payments across the state. The scam has also been reported in New JerseyNew York and Michigan, and the summer travel season is now in high gear.

To avoid becoming a toll scam victim, the FTC suggests that consumers:

  • Check with the legitimate toll agency in whatever state is at issue to see if the message is authentic. But don’t use the phone number from the text. Find the real one.
  • Use your phone’s “Report Junk” option to label the texts as spam. The FBI says you can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov, that includes the phone number where the text originated and the website it listed. Delete the text when you’re done.Don’t react immediately to a text.
  • Slow down and read it carefully. Check online to see if others have reported a similar scam. Crooks expect you to act fast without thinking.

Be aware that most late toll notices come by mail, not by text. If you do become a toll scam victim, be sure to let your credit card company and banks know so they can monitor your accounts for identity theft.

Cyber Attacks are Hurting Patient Care

Evidence is mounting that cyberattacks aimed at hospitals hurt not only those institutions but are harmful to patients who need their care.

Hospital cyber attack illustrationOne recent study found that hospitals may take up to 16 percent fewer patients in the aftermath of a cyberattack. During such episodes, hospitals have been known to cancel elective surgeries, lose access to electronic health records, and avoid use of costly imaging equipment. As a result, they may steer patients elsewhere, according to researchers.

Criminals have targeted many hospitals with ransomware, in which they take over computer networks and then demand money to free them. U.S. health care institutions, including hospitals and clinics, reported more than 370 such attacks from 2016 and 2021.

In May, the St. Louis-based Ascension network of 140 hospitals in 19 states disclosed that a cyberattack had disrupted an array of patient services including “various systems utilized to order certain tests, procedures and medications.”

Hospitals are continuing to struggle with these computer attacks, which as noted by Politico, “have become a growing concern for health system leaders and policymakers because of the threat they pose to patient care.”