Scamwatchers and the FBI are on the trail of two types of scammers who are trying to trick American consumers. One angle is a GeekSquad “subscription” scam; the other is a “tech support” scam that begins with a pop-up message on your computer.
If you're not careful, you'll be about $500 poorer before you know it. Here's everything you need to know:
The GeekSquad scams
A GeekSquad "subscription" scam first appeared on the scene about a year ago. And it must've been lucrative because now there are three GeekSquad scams that have reappeared.
The first scam is an email titled “Your GeekSquad Invoice” – one that goes on to inform you that it’s “successfully renewed” your subscription with the company for $489.99. Then, comes the gotcha: “To deactivate your auto-renewal, please call now” and then includes one of several phone numbers the scammers use. Sometimes, $399.99 or $417 is used instead.
Of course, if you call that number, there’s someone on the other end who will do their best to get you to divulge personal and financial information, then apply that towards breaking into financial accounts and more.
TechScammersUnited shared two other new GeekSquad scams. One, a fake “Geek Squad Anti-Malware membership” that looks like this in an email:
Subject: We’ve got your order
Dear Valid User
Congratulations! Your Geek Squad Anti-Malware membership for the next five years has been successfully renewed and activated.
We prioritize your safety and are proud to have served over 2 million satisfied customers this month, including you. Your satisfaction is our top priority.
This message is regarding the renewal of your membership, set for 2023-09-06. A charge of $460.60 will be applied for the next 5 years, unless you decide to cancel. For queries: call +1(888) 656-2078”
The third dirty deed is about “computer protection.
“Dear Valid User
Thank you for subscribing [to] Geek Squad Secured for your computer protection for the past 5 years. Just a friendly reminder, your membership with automatic renewal will be charged at $405.05 on 2023-09-06. Call +1(888) 656-2078 for details.
No action required if you wish to maintain your current plan. Your billing details are up to date. If you have made any changes, we’re here to help you out.
If you have any query, please call our 24-Hour Call Center at +1(888) 656-2078.”
The tech support scam targeting seniors
The FBI’s IC3 division says it’s seen an increase in tech support scams, especially ones targeting older adults and directing victims to send cash through shipping companies. This con is a bit weird, but apparently working. In this scam, scammers ask victims to send cash, wrapped in a magazine(s) and sent via shipping companies.
“Tech support scammers usually initiate contact with older adult victims through a phone call, text, email, or pop-up window purporting to be support from a legitimate company. The scammer informs the victim of fraudulent activity or potential refund for a subscription service,” the FBI explained.
“Subsequent emails, pop-ups, and texts contain a phone number for the victim to call for assistance. Once the victim calls the number, a scammer tells the victim they have a refund for the victim. However, the only way the money can be sent is by connecting to the victim's computer and depositing it into the victim's bank account.”
Then, the scammers go in for the kill. They tell the target that they can aid with the refund and persuade the victim to download a software program that will allow the scammer remote access to the victim's computer. Once a connection is established, the victim is convinced to log on to their bank account.
“The scammer then supposedly transfers an amount to the victim's bank account but ‘accidently’ deposits a much larger amount than intended,” the FBI explains and, at that juncture, the scammer points that "error" out and tells the victim to return the extra money or the scammer will lose their job.”
The last step is where the scammer tells the victim to send the money in cash, wrapped in a magazine(s), or similar disguise, and send it to a certain name and address via a shipping company.
“Most recently, scammers have instructed victims to ship packages containing money to pharmacies and retail businesses that are equipped to receive shipping company packages,” the agency said.
Protect yourself, please
The FBI has a list of protections specifically designed to protect consumers against this scam. Their suggestions include:
Never download software at the request of an unknown individual who contacted you.
Never allow an unknown individual who contacted you to have control of your computer.
Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email links or attachments. Do not contact the telephone number provided in a pop-up, text, or email.
Never send cash via mail or shipping companies.
If you get contacted by anyone who’s trying to pull one of the ruses off, contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. Be sure to include as much information as possible:
The name of the person or company that contacted you.
Methods of communication used, to include websites, emails, and telephone numbers.
The address where the cash was shipped and the recipient's name(s).