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Identity theft and online scams targeting our community - Special Alert

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August 2022

Two weeks ago, we received an e-mail from one of our community members stating that his parents were going through a difficult time coping with the consequences of suspected mail theft.  The older couple living in Bloomfield Hills returned after a two-week vacation expecting the US postal service to deliver the “Held mail” on July 13, 2022.   But there was no mail in the mail box. However, the mail carrier said that she delivered it.  It appears that their mail was stolen. Someone knew the exact date when the mail was to be delivered and stole it during a short window of a few hours. Now they have started seeing fraudulent activity on their bank accounts.  This could happen to any of us.  

We have published a few special reports warning our community members about scams, online fraud and more.  We want to reiterate the need for everybody to be on the alert for identity theft and online scams.
There are several incidents of Michigan Indian community members falling prey to scams.  The elderly and residents on student and temporary visas continue to receive threatening phone calls from imposters posting as police, IRS agents and/or Immigration officers.  Immigrants are a prime target.  Be aware and let your friends know too.  In America, no Government representative will make such calls.  It is best to immediately disconnect such calls.

Cellphone text scams
Never click links sent from unknown numbers offering a gift or prize.  It will give the scamsters access to your phone data.  Also, you may receive a fake text from your friend, relative or boss asking for gift cards urgently.  The text will have their name but will not be from their phone number.  NEVER respond to requests for gift cards from ANYBODY.  

e-mail scams
e-mail scam is very prevalent these days. Never click attachments or links from unknown sources. 
Recently, there was a news report that a hacker accessed an e-mail conversation between a home buyer and his real estate agent.  Using a fake e-mail ID, that looked official, the crook convinced the buyer to wire $500,000 in funds to his bank account. Since the hacker had access to all the background information, he easily created a convincing document with all the details but a fraudulent bank account. 

Never make these mistakes:
1. Check the e-mail ID from a sender ,before opening it.  Sometimes the  sender's name may be familiar but upon close examination you will that the e-mail is fake. Sometimes just one letter will be missing. Spelling mistakes are possible too.
2. Never open a link or an attachment from an e-mail you don’t trust. In other words check the sender’s e-mail before clicking a link or opening an attachment.  If in doubt please call the sender to validate.
3. Install a good security software on your computer
4. Ignore any call threatening you with dire consequences.  No Government agency will contact you by phone.
5. NEVER wire money or send numbers of gift cards or money cards.  it is a 100% guarantee that your lose your money. NEVER do it.
6. Never accept a check for selling any of your products on the web.  Crooks typically mail a fake check for an amount higher than the selling price. They ask the seller to send a part of the excess amount to the bank account.  Their check will bounce after a few days and seller will be out of luck. Don’t ever wire money or buy gift cards and share the numbers.  Just don’t do it.
7. Register with ID protection services offered by your bank or other companies.  
8. Never give your social security number to anybody on the phone.  It is ok to reveal the last 4 digits, if you know for sure that you are dealing with a trusted person working for a well-known company.
9. Use complex passwords. Don’t use the names of your family members or their dates of birth.
10. Sad truth - Once you wire the money, there is no way you will get it back. These crooks are from overseas including India (sad but true).  Police or FBI can’t help much, other than taking your report.  However, lately the FBI has busted overseas operations but the money is gone.

Please take this risk seriously. Be safe from cyber crooks.  Save and share this information.

Here is a special report Farmington Police that was published on miindia.com some time back.

Please protect yourself be being vigilant every single day!  
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