Monday, May 18, 2020

Fraudulent COVID-19 Treatments/Elderly Stimulus Checks

Shadow Puppets by Ken Harris

Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and scam prevention. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at

Coronavirus Treatment Scams

The Federal Trade Commission is not playing around. 120 companies in the U.S were issued warning letters to cease marketing products and services with claims of preventing, treating, and curing COVID-19.

From receipt of this order, these companies were given a deadline of no more than 48 hours to rectify their positions and to notify the FTC of these corrections.

You can learn about these companies from the FTC website right

Considering the high stakes on the lives of consumers this is a very serious thing.

Naturally people want life to return back to normal. When we hear on the news each day of researchers looking at potential avenues to prevent, treat and cure this disease, its seem like the public outcry for a quick resolution leads to a web of ill conceived assumptions.

This burning desire plays in the hands of fraudsters chasing headlines to make promises of a service or product in high demand. That's how they line their pockets and leaves victims hopeless and despair over the experience.

It reminds me of get rich quick schemes where the victim is eager to believe anything blurted out by a scammer to reap the huge benefits. Instead of cashing in, the unsuspecting target is drained of positive anticipation and left feeling disgusted and remorseful.

As of this writing, please understand there is no U.S authorize products or services available to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. If there was, you certainly wouldn't hear about if for the first time in an email or phone pitch.

The FTC believes that some of these Fraudsters in business receiving warnings will not go down quietly. It is suspected they will continue to market their age products and services under a new name or different website. That is why the FTC is exploring for these activities on social media and online marketplaces.

In the meantime, our health is important. Lets be careful with what we purchase for medicines. We can always verify claims with FTC at or at the U.S Food and Drug Administration at

A self made puppet by Ken Harris. Scammers can mask their true ambitions.


While we are on the subject of the US Food and Drug administration, beware of robocalls and features directing you to a website boasting of quick antibody tests. 

Fraudsters want your money and personal information. 

Victims who fell for this scam either received a phony worthless kit (results weren't accurate for those who's bodies had already fought off the virus) or didn't receive anything at all in the mail. 

The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about an antibody test and learn if your insurance provider  covers it. Both of those sources can refer you to a licensed clinic. Your local health department is also another sound way to get accurate information. 

The Better Business Bureau should be your to go place for BBB Accreditation and reviews at In this world we should be researching diligently the people and companies we are considering to do business with. 

Elderly Stimulus Checks 

Alex Midas, former business owner who lost everything to a scam

Here is a heart breaker.

According to Lois Greisman, the FTC Elder Justice Coordinator, nursing homes and assisted living facilities in states across the U.S have attempted to snare stimulus payments from elderly residents. 

Reportedly, great efforts were made in having these dependent occupants sign over their economic impact payments. 


Yes, these individuals are on Medicaid and participants in a federal benefits program. But the CARES Act considers the impact payments a tax credit. Therefore, federal law prohibits the government from taking this money. 

It cannot and must not happen. That explains why many state attorney general offices nationwide are looking into these matters with the Federal Trade Commission. 

If you or someone you care about resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility with Medicaid, know and understand this. Legally this money cannot be taken and applied as a resource for whatever program you or your loved one are in. Check out Congressional Research Service at

If you suspected you been siphoned out of this the economic impact payment, contact your state Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission to get the money back! 

More Scam Tracking Tools

I get excited overtime I learn about new scam tracking tools. The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) just unveiled a new online tool to sort and render customer's complaints about scams across the globe. 

Here, anyone anywhere can learn about financial losses and reports submitted to this vast network. It consist of written allegations  by foreign consumers against U.S. businesses along with allegations of fraud by U.S customers against foreign companies. 

Online shopping, tech support scams, romance scams, advance fees/credit arrangers, and prizes/sweepstakes/lotteries topped the list of world wide scams in 2019. 

If you have an issue with a business in the U.S, you can visit or if the business is overseas, you can file your report at

Technology is as good as we can make it. Let's use it to spread for learning and spreading cyber security awareness and scam prevention.

Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and scam prevention. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at

In the meantime, watch out for Scammers like Jester Jensen!

Stay Safe and Stay Secure! 

Ken Harris

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Common Scams to Avoid

Common Scams to Avoid

Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and scam prevention. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at

Last week, I was thrilled to become a volunteer Digital Fraud Fighter for AARP at I will be receiving recurring training and correspondence with fellow participants to spread the latest news and events to help keep you vigilant. 

I encourage you to check it out AARP's scam tracking map at With this tool, you can check for active complaints around your neighborhood, community, and everywhere! 

I wish to briefly refresh you about some of the hottest rip-offs going on during this Coronavirus pandemic. Don't get swindled! 

Employment Cons

Reportedly, scammers are preying on those are looking for work. They utilize online search tools to review submitted resumes from either fake agencies or reputable networking sites. They may even act as a prospective employer by sending you an unsolicited email. 

Regardless of their mode of operation there is a catch. In order to be guaranteed a job, there are heavy expenses incurred by this so called organization. 

This is why they mail you a fraudulent check to cover training expenses. The amount will be more than what was intended. So, they will ask you to deposit the check into your banking account and wire them back the difference or send gift cards to satisfy the fees. 

In reality, there is no offer for employment. If a check is involved, the bank will eventually discover it is no good and you will be left with the stiff tab. 

Genuine employment do not come with a price tag. Recruiters are compensated by traditional businesses. Verify the reputations of those purporting to be an unheard company with your local Business Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission at

Census Scams

Imposters acting as census takers are showing up at doors, send an abundance of emails, and initiating unsolicited phone calls to unsuspecting victims. 

They are asking for security card numbers to verify occupants of a home. They even go as far as to solicit donations for a cause. 

This year, we have seen a spiked in these criminals demanding payment of fines from victims and making threats of arrest. 

For now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Official U.S Census Bureau has only suspended person to person visits. If someone comes to home claiming to work for the Census, it's not true. 
Do not provide any details about yourself or anyone living there! 

Election Scams

Be mindful of fake political ads posing as political action committees, pollsters, and campaign volunteers. 

By purporting to be collecting fundraisers, they seek to get information about your banking card numbers. They are so desperate, they may even ask you to make a donation by gift card or wire transfer. 

These type of attacks can materialize by phone, email, and even social media posts. 

Steer away from donating to a candidate on the basis of an unsolicited pitch. Reach out directly to the campaigns you support. Do the best you can do keep personal information off social media that can influence a scammer to zero in on you. 

Medicare Fraud

Have you ever received a phone call or email from a company offering free DNA swab tests for cancer, medical devices, or other services?

They want your Medicare number! 

These criminals may even come directly to your house with a too-good-to-be-true sales pitch. 

Only share your health conditions and Medicare information from trusted providers. 

The desires of these criminals are either to bilk the system for money for items that you may not need or nondelivery of services or products at the expense of taxpayers and your time lost. 

Phishing Scams

Computer criminals chase headlines. For example, in 2019, they shipped an estimated 3.5 billion packages. 

As a result, fraudsters have taken up the roles of Amazon representatives in the form of emails. 

They will contact you about a package intended for you that needs "confirmation" of your credit card number before it can reach you. 

Millions of these unsolicited emails are sent. The content includes a link that places malware on your operating system to pry out sensitive information. 

This is how fake tech support scams are often run. Some may even impact a virus into your computer and charge you for removal. They may also have you pay for a worthless computer maintenance program. 

COVID-19 Scams

Since the outbreak, Americans have lost over 10 million dollars to theses type of scams. Once again, cyber attackers are following world wide trends along fear and uncertainty to line their pockets. 

Naturally, people want to believe there is a cure or treatment for what is plaguing the world. Apparently, emails offering vaccines or access to critical medical equipment is transforming hopeful people into believers. 

Such high urge for preferable outcomes has seen victims surrender credit card information for products that never arrives. The technique of phishing is a preferable practice in this fraud as scammers are unleashing links in the body of emails to install malware and steal passwords. 

Always visit official state and federal government websites for updates! Don't rely on any unsolicited email claiming to have good news about treatment or cure for this diabolic disease. 


With all that said lets be weary of the following.
  • If you are or suspect you have been victim of fraud, don't be afraid to contact someone you trust about it. Reach out to reputable agency like the Federal Trade Commission at, AARP Fraud Watch Network at, or your local Better Business Bureau. 
  • Avoid Medical product claims. Research questionable companies through official government websites and  nonprofit organizations.
  • Be weary of offers sounding too good to be true. Look for honest reviews online from safe websites you trust. 
  • Be smart and aware. Consider using a password manager for your accounts. Change passwords often and never share with anyone. Enable two or three step verification when possible. 

Funny video but educational as well! Ransomware: a subcategory hazard of malware! 

Thank you again for visiting my blog!

Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and scam prevention. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at

Until next time my friends stay safe and secure!

Ken Harris

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Email and Phishing Scams

Email and Phishing Scammer

 Thank you for visiting my blog! With scams soaring like never before since the COVID- 19 outbreak, I hope this content serves you well in being proactive against scams.  

Please sign up for my free monthly digital safety newsletter at

Email and Phishing Scams

Last year in the U.S alone, an estimated 16 million victims lost 17 billion dollars to identity theft. That’s just one type of scam! 

I’m sure if AARP, the Better Business Bureau, and other organizations intended to protect the financials security of Americans, combined all their figures from reported swindles, the final tally would be mind-blowing. 

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic creating fear and uncertainty everywhere, con artists are conjuring up new ways to squander people’s finances and personal information. This gives them motivation to reach out with offers too good to be true and the impersonation of government agencies to steal personal information. 

Email and phishing cons are just some of the tactics these criminals apply. Cyber attackers sends thousands, if not millions of emails daily. They are not sure who get these messages; but their objective is to trick a victim into some call of action. It includes the following.

  • ·     Clicking on a link
  • ·     Opening an attachment
  • ·     Completing a form

Taking either of the above actions can get you tangled in a spider web of deceit!

Some Common Methods by Criminals

Since scammers are attempting to “phish” as many victims as possible, their messages are usually directed to “Dear Customer” or other generic greeting. 

The bad guys creates a strong sense of urgency or curiosity to the receiver. They pretend be an official organization like a bank or may impersonate a local, state, or federal agency. 

Generally, these fake senders will have grammar or spelling mistakes in the content of these email messages. 

Another clue to look out for is if the email originated from a personal email account such as an address. Also, by looking at the top left, the “From Email Address” line may appear like it generated from an official organization. But the “reply to-address” is someone’s personal email account. 

Here are some other clues that should raise red flags.

  • Messages requesting highly sensitive information like credit card number or password.
  • You receive a message from someone you know but the tone or message does not sound like him or her. 

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

It is easy for a scammer to create an email that appears to be from a friend or coworker. 

If the message includes a clickable link, you can hover your mouse cursor over it to
reveal the link’s true destination. Make this a common practice to confirm if you being directed to a legitimate website. 

Even on many mobile devices, pressing to hold the link will also show the true destination. Instead of clicking on a link, you can type the website address directly into your browser. Why respond directly to a suspicious email claiming to be your bank when you can use the browser? 

I wouldn’t open any attachments I wasn’t expecting. The last thing I want is opening an infected attachment and subjecting my computer to malware. Not all antivirus can detect malware. 

Also Keep In Mind...

Take care to not expose sensitive information when using email or messaging. 

Email features, such as auto complete, make it easy for you to mistakenly email the wrong person. Once you send an email out, you cannot retract it. 

Also, be careful with the “Email reply all Feature” thread as you may not want to respond to an entire group of people who received the same email. 

Cyber Brats

In this short educational web-series video I created, check out the consequences for being too trusting to an unsolicited phone regarding Medicare fraud scam on a fictional radio show. These types of threats are common. 

You can check out more of these educational videos at

Did you know Shark Tank Star and Investor Barbara Corcoran nearly loss $400,000 to a scammer. Yes, this could happen to anyone! Check out the podcast on the AARP website at

Beware of Fake Census Questionnaires

The completion of census questionnaires are required by law. Scammers know this and uses this headline to plant seeds of trouble. 

Keep this in mind if a suspicious person claiming to work for the Census reaches out to 
you via email, phone call, or in-person visit. 

  1. A real member of the Census will never threaten you with arrest for any reason.
  2. If you are asked to make a payment for anything, that should raise red flags. 
  3. In-person interviews have been temporarily suspended by the agency due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, keep in mind census mailings have a return address of Jeffersonville, Indiana which is the site of the National Processing Center. If you hear or see another address, then run!

We have to be careful out there as these scammers may also contact you by phone, email, and Home visit. Their eager to fool you by present themselves as an official agency tasked with prying information out of you. 

To confirm if any census communications are true, contact the Census Bureau’s national Processing Center or the regional office in your state directly . 

Be wary of trusting caller ID on your phone. Scammers can use “spoofing tools” to make it look like it’s coming from an official department phone number. 

Report any suspected scams to your Census Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission online or at 877-382-4357. Also, you can contact the AARP Fraud Watch helpline to report fraud at 1-877-908-3360. 

Resource and Tools

AARP has a useful scam tracking map to learn of and report scams in your area. I find this a highly efficient resource. Check it out on their website at

In addition, AARP has the Fraud Watch Network Guide and other free educational booklets available for download. I encourage you to look at all what they offer to keep you safe. 

Connecting Point has an informative video about scam prevention below.

Thank you again for visiting my blog. It would be an honor to serve you with more informative news to help keep you and your family safe from schemes. I would greatly appreciate it if you sign up for my free safety digital newsletter at

Stay safe and secure!

Ken Harris

PS Beware of scammers like Jester Jenson!

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