Spoofing is one of the latest tricks scammers have up their sleeves, and they’re getting seriously good at it.
Spoofed phone numbers and websites that look exactly like the real thing are tricking people all over the country. A recent example was so effective it even drew the attention of the FBI. Tap or click here to find out what sparked this FBI alert.
Now we’re learning about sham websites that are ripping tons of people off. A bunch of fake government websites claim they can provide services they can’t actually deliver. Have you been scammed by one of them?
Beware: Sham government sites everywhere
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint a few months ago against a bunch of websites that were claiming to offer basic government services. They would charge for things like registering your car, applying for a fishing license or renewing your driver’s license.
The problem is, they don’t actually have the ability to follow through with those services.
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Once a customer enters their credit card information to pay for the services they believe are legitimate, the sites would provide documents that are already available to the public from official government websites.
The shady sites were also tricky with the names they used. They had web addresses like floridadriverslicense.org and texasdriverslicense.org.
The good news is the FTC was successful in its complaint and a federal judge has ordered the companies to stop making claims they can’t back up.
The court order said that while visiting these sites, customers “were not clearly informed that they could not obtain the government service they were misled to believe was available.”
This elaborate scheme seems to have started back in 2013 and more than 200 websites associated with it were created. A few companies behind the sketchy sites named in the FTC complaint include On Point, Dragon Global, Eagle Media, Skylar Media and many more.
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Some of the misleading sites encouraged people to sign up for Section 8 housing and other government services like food stamps or unemployment.
The court order explains:
The websites were cleverly designed so that, even though disclosures appeared on many or most of the pages, consumers attention would be drawn to links and language in larger, more colorful font that directed them to the service they were seeking.”Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Potentially more bad news is the information customers were handing over to sites like these. They would typically ask for personal information like birth dates, employment status, health insurance data and phone numbers.
Since we already know you can’t trust the people running these sites, who knows they were actually doing with that personal information.
If you ever did business with sites like these, you might want to keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit report to make sure nothing fishy is going on. If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately.
If you’re worried about identity theft, it’s a good idea to sign up with an identity theft protection service like Identity Guard.
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