Monday August 15, 2022
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Kentuckians looking to make extra money in time for the Christmas season need to watch out for seasonal employment scams, according to Attorney General Andy Beshear.

Beshear said his office issued a scam alert after receiving multiple reports from Kentuckians who said they responded to a seasonal mystery shopper job advertisement that turned out to be a scam. A resident in Scott County reported losing $2,000 to the scam this week.

While there are reputable companies that do hire mystery shoppers Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection recommends avoiding any ad, email or website that requires an advance payment to gain access to information on how to become a mystery shopper.

“Legitimate companies do not require you to make an advance payment to obtain employment as a mystery shopper,” Beshear said. “Kentuckians must always remain vigilant about scams, especially job scams during the Christmas season when con artists are looking to take advantage of hard working Kentuckians.”

Beshear recommends that Kentuckians research and verify all job listings and cautions job seekers to watch for these red flags often associated with a variety of employment scams:

  • Asked to wire money.
    If your first task requires you to use your personal bank account to cash a check, withdraw cash and complete a wire transfer you are most likely being scammed.
  • Sounds too good to be true.
    Watch for job postings that promise a high salary to work from home and require little experience. Also, be suspicious if you receive a job offer without completing an in-person or telephone interview.
  • Immediately asked to provide personal or financial information.
    Job seekers are often asked to provide Social Security numbers and other personal and financial information as part of the hiring process. Take extra time to verify a company and application before providing sensitive data.

One of Beshear’s top priorities is to protect Kentucky families, especially senior citizens, from scams, abuse and exploitation. To sign up to receive Scam Alerts text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

To report a scam contact the Office of Attorney General at 888-432-9257 and file a complaint online.

A scam alert was issued by Attorney General Andy Beshear to warn Kentuckians about fraudulent advertisements placed in the classified section of local Kentucky newspapers and online.

Beshear said Kentuckains in several counties including Bath, Barren, Franklin and Jefferson have reported replying to classified ads for a deeply discounted John Deere tractor, Toyota or Chevrolet pickup truck that turned out to be a scam.

The complainants state that the classified ad appears normal at first and includes a price for the item and a contact phone number. Once an interested buyer places a call, however, they do not speak with anyone, but rather start receiving text messages or emails from a so-called Air Force Sergeant “Molly Carter” stationed at Cavalier AFB in North Dakota.

“Carter” claims she is selling the item at a deep discount because it belonged to her late husband, and she is leaving soon for an overseas deployment and cannot afford to keep it. “Carter” even offers to send detailed photos of the items and guarantees delivery once she receives payment.

“This scammer tells one of the cruelest stories we have heard,” Beshear said. “They lie about the death of a spouse and service to our county in order to profit off hardworking Kentucky families. While my office is working to track down this con artist, I want Kentuckians to be aware and avoid falling victim to this woeful scheme.”

Beshear’s office and the Kentucky Press Association (KPA) are working together to ensure all Kentucky newspapers are constantly on the alert for any kind of advertising that could be fraudulent and detrimental to their readers.

“We appreciate the Attorney General’s Office for being responsive to our inquiries about questionable ads,” said David T. Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association. “This is a constant concern of Kentucky newspapers and we will continue doing all that we can to protect Kentucky consumers. KPA notifies all newspapers when it is alerted to a scam ad being circulated widely, even in other states, and our Kentucky newspapers notify us when they receive a fraudulent ad. Not every single ad can be stopped, but for the ones that do end up being published there are perhaps a hundred that were caught before publication and thrown away.”

Beshear said his office has also verified with the Cavalier Air Force Base that a “Sergeant Molly Carter” is not a member of its installation. The military base also confirmed that it has received multiple complaints from across the country reporting the same scheme.

Beshear said while the current scam reports identify the name “Sergeant Molly Carter,” scammers constantly take on new identities and develop new plots, which is why verifying online private sellers is always tricky.

To help Kentuckians avoid falling victim to this type of scam, the Office of the Attorney General offers these initial tips:

Be wary of too-good-to-be-true prices
If a price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compare prices of identical goods online in order to see if you are getting a good deal verses being duped. For vehicle sales, request copies of titles and local tax receipts to help confirm the seller and vehicle’s legitimacy, and obtain the VIN number and run a vehicle history report.

Research the seller and attempt to view the product in person
Research the seller online and reject high-pressure sales tactics. Ask the seller if they are willing to meet you in a safe location to view the product in person – if they are unwilling, this is a warning sign that it could be a scam.

Only use verified methods of payment
Never wire money, use gift cards or reloadable cards, reputable sellers and companies do not use these methods of payment. You may also verify with the sales website if you are unsure of whether to proceed with the transaction.

Kentuckians who want assistance verifying a scam or reporting a scam can contact the Office of the Attorney General at 888-432-9257 or file a consumer complaint online.

To stay up to date on new and trending scams Kentuckians should sign up to receive Scam Alerts from the Office of the Attorney General. To enroll, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning about a scam that claims Kentuckians can receive tax-free, monthly payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

Beshear said his office has identified misleading online ads and received reports of scam emails claiming Kentuckians can receive monthly payments directly from the multibillion-dollar MSA. The solicitations proclaim Kentuckians, even if they “never used tobacco,” can receive thousands of dollars each month if they pay $5 a month or up to $100 a year to learn how.

Beshear said he does not want Kentuckians to be duped by ads that prey upon the nearly 20 years of positive impact the settlement funds have had in the Commonwealth.

“The ads and emails try to trick Kentuckians into believing something that is simply not true,” Beshear said. “MSA payments are made directly to states and territories, and in Kentucky they are used to boost investments in agriculture and help improve health outcomes.”

Individuals can potentially receive MSA funds through state programs or private lawsuits. Nevertheless, those who respond to the ads ultimately pay for information to learn how to purchase out-of-state bonds.

Beshear said the purchase of a bond is an investment, and Kentuckians should carefully investigate risks and benefits associated with any investment.

The MSA, reached between the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S. and attorneys general from 46 states, provides annual payments to the states ultimately worth more than $208 billion.

The funds help to compensate states for some of the medical costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses.

Since the first payment in 1999, Kentucky has collected over $2 billion, and is on pace to collect nearly $3 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement.

Kentucky’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee administers the determinations on grant applications from the agricultural fund, which aids farmers and creates sustainable farm-based businesses. Additional MSA revenues support early childhood education, health programs and cancer research.

Better protecting Kentucky families, especially seniors, from fraud is one of the core missions of Beshear’s office.

Kentuckians interested in staying ahead of scammers can sign up to receive Scam Alerts from Beshear’s office by texting the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or visit ag.ky.gov/scams to sign up with your mobile phone number or email address.

To report scams to the Office of the Attorney General call 888-432-9257 or file a consumer complaint online.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and Woodford County Sheriff Wayne “Tiny” Wright said a group of door-to-door blacktop contractors are targeting elderly residents in Woodford County, and possibly families in the Central Kentucky region.

Beshear said Sheriff Wright contacted his office after a Woodford County resident was pressured into overpaying contractors to seal her driveway. Sheriff Wright said the woman initially received a low quote of $1,400 to complete the work and after complete, she was told she owed $25,000. Ultimately, the woman paid $14,000 for a project that should have cost around $4,000.

“Thanks to the quick work of Sheriff Wright’s office payment was stopped on the check and the citizen avoided losing her money,” said Beshear. “We appreciate the Woodford County Sheriff’s Office for reporting this scam and we want to make sure more Kentuckians know the signs to watch out for when it comes to avoiding door-to-door scammers.”

“Community awareness is key to stopping these predatory scammers,” said Sheriff Wright. “Whether they offer to seal your driveway, paint your fence or any other odd job, contact your local sheriff’s office immediately if you suspect suspicious activity.”

Beshear said not all door-to-door salespersons are scammers and many are honest trying to make a living. Nevertheless, before you commit to a door-to-door sales pitch take time to follow these tips:

  • Be wary of a low price quote 
    If you receive an unusually low price quote be suspicious. Before you complete any large home improvement project, consider getting multiple quotes from different contractors.
  • Verify and check online reviews 
    Verify that the contractor or business is registered to do business in Kentucky on the Secretary of State’s website, also check business licensing requirements with your city or county government. Verify online reviews through the Better Business Bureau, and ask for ID and contact previous customer references.
  • Avoid upfront payment 
    If a contractor asks for upfront payment for a small home improvement job this should trigger a red flag. Often times, very large projects require some type of upfront payment, but only after the contractor is properly screened and a guarantee contract is signed.
  • Do not fall for high-pressure tactics 
    Do not rush into making a decision. Tell the salesperson you need to discuss with your family, or you are not interested. Ensure any agreement is in writing and tell the salesperson you will review the agreement and get back in contact with them.

One of Beshear’s top priorities is to protect Kentuckians, especially senior citizens from scams, abuse and exploitation. Beshear said the best way to stay ahead of con artists is to be aware of new and trending scams by signing up to receive Scam Alerts from the Office of the Attorney General.

Scam Alerts provide Kentuckians a direct alert, including tips on how to avoid scams reported in Kentucky. To enroll, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

To report a scam contact the Attorney General’s Office at 888-432-9257 and file a complaint online.

Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a Scam Alert to warn Kentuckians of an email scam that relies on spoof government employee email addresses to defraud Kentuckians.

Five recent reports to Beshear’s office indicate the spoof email appears to come from a current Kentucky state government employee and solicits money in order to receive a sweepstakes prize the consumer has supposedly won.

Beshear said the content of the message might also include an official request for personal or financial information or seek payment for an outstanding debt.

“By using advanced technology to spoof actual employee email accounts, scammers are adding a new twist on impersonation scams that have traditionally been carried out over the phone,” said Beshear. “A Scam Alert was issued today to help ensure Kentuckians are aware that they should be cautious of emails that appear to be from an official government employee and legitimate email account.”

In addition to the current reports, similar instances indicate con artists are also taking on the persona of employees of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service and a variety of local law enforcement agencies.

Beshear and his Office of Senior Protection recommend the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help avoid the scam:

  • Do not trust, and verify. Call the government agency or employee directly to verify the email address and information. Know that government agencies will never call or email asking for immediate payment in order to receive a prize or grant.
  • Do not provide financial or personal information. Never provide or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you are confident that you are speaking to the correct person and organization for a legitimate purpose.
  • Do not pay to win a prize. If you did not enter a sweepstakes or lottery, then you could not have won. Never pay to receive a prize or have a prize mailed. Remember, it is illegal for a sweepstakes promoter to request upfront fees, and all foreign lotteries and sweepstakes are illegal.
  • Be cautious of an email request to reset a password. Scammers often use what appear to be legitimate emails to trick a user in to resetting an email account password. Once the scammer has the new account password, they can access the information in the account and use the account to scam others.

One of the critical missions of the Office of the Attorney General is to help Kentucky families, seniors and businesses recognize and avoid scams.

Beshear said that government employees are often the subject of scammers and over the past year Beshear’s office has warned of several employee impersonation scams, including: IRS scams, jury duty scam, local sheriff’s deputy scam, federal warrant scam and a business email compromise scam.

Over the past year, more than 200 reports of impersonation scams were submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. Ten of those reports account for Kentuckians losing nearly $50,000.

Beshear said the best way to stay ahead of con artists is to be aware of new and trending scams by signing up to receive Scam Alerts from the Office of the Attorney General.

Scam Alerts provide Kentuckians a direct alert, including tips on how to avoid scams reported in Kentucky. To enroll, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Bankers Association (KBA) are teaming up to protect seniors statewide from financial exploitation by scam artists.

This is the latest in a series of partnerships Beshear has announced aimed at preventing scams targeting seniors. His office most recently announced a partnership with Kentucky’s faith-based community to help educate its senior ministries and the communities they serve on potential scams.

Through the KBA collaboration, Beshear’s office will work with member banks to host scam events across the state. Beshear’s office presented scam prevention information at KBA’s spring conference earlier this month. The AG’s Office of Senior Protection will present at the upcoming Owensboro Rotary Club on May 31 with South Central Bank in Daviess County; and will hold an upcoming training for bank tellers on the warning signs of scammers and financial elder abuse.

“Banks are an important line of defense in protecting seniors who may be in the process of falling for a scam and are requesting to withdraw large sums of money from their life savings at a bank,” Beshear said. “Now having bank employees on the front lines helping us monitor and prevent scams in their communities is monumental. I cannot think the KBA enough for its partnership with my office.”

“Senior Kentuckians are the bedrock of our communities,” said Ballard Cassady, president/CEO of KBA. “We are pleased to work with the Kentucky Attorney General to provide Kentuckians with the tools they need to prevent bad actors from taking advantage.”

“It is a privilege to bring this information to the Owensboro Rotary Club,” said David Fort, president/CEO of South Central Bank of Daviess County. “Seniors are a part of America’s Greatest Generation and through this program, we will help them guard against potential losses from those who will do them harm.”

Beshear is working to bring new solutions and ideas to address scams because of the severe harm they are having on Kentucky families. More than 3 million consumers were conned out of $765 million across the country in 2015. Seniors nationwide lose nearly $37 billion a year to elder financial exploitation.

To date, more than 100 nonprofit and retail organizations have joined Beshear’s initiative as a Scam Alerts partner, including Kroger, AARP of Kentucky, the Kentucky Council of Churches, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, the Better Business Bureau and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

To protect seniors, Beshear launched Scam Alerts last year as the state’s first direct messaging service that notifies Kentuckians of financial schemes by con artists attempting to steal a person’s money or identification.

Kentuckians may sign up for Scam Alerts by texting the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

Attorney General Beshear said a possible ring of door-to-door scammers have recently targeted the Louisville-area, with one household losing more than $70,000 over the past year.

The current scam involves someone coming door-to-door claiming to offer services related to home improvement, or simply requesting financial aid for their “business.” Once the victim makes a payment, the con artist makes-off with the money.

Then, a second con artist, likely connected to the first, comes along pretending to be an Adult Protective Services employee and claims they provide “scam recovery services” for a fee. However, legitimate Adult Protective Services employees do not charge for their services. The victim is scammed for a second time when they pay the phony Adult Protective Services employee, and receives what appears to be a legitimate receipt, to recover their lost funds.

Beshear issued a Scam Alert to make other Jefferson County residents aware of the latest threat, and to help remind all Kentuckians that home repair and door-to-door sales scams often increase during the warmer months.

“The only ‘deal’ these door-to-door imposters are offering is a scam,” said Beshear. “Our office has been made aware of a potential ring of con artists targeting the Louisville-area and we want to alert Kentuckians to help others avoid falling victim.”

Beshear said not all door-to-door salespersons are scammers and many are honest trying to make a living. Nevertheless, before you commit to a door-to-door sales pitch take time to follow these tips to help avoid a scam:

  • Verify and check online reviews
    Verify that the contractor or business is registered to do business in Kentucky on the Secretary of State’s website, also check business licensing requirements with your city or county government. Verify online reviews through the Better Business Bureau, and ask for ID and contact previous customer references.
  • Avoid upfront payment
    If a contractor asks for upfront payment for a small home improvement job this should trigger a red flag. Often times, very large projects require some type of upfront payment, but only after the contractor is properly screened and a guarantee contract is signed.

One of Beshear’s top priorities is to protect Kentuckians, especially senior citizens from scams, abuse and exploitation.

As part of his commitment to protect Kentucky families from the emotional and financial devastation con artists cause, Beshear launched Scam Alerts in 2016 to provide Kentuckians with direct guidance on how to avoid falling victim to the latest scam. To sign up for Scam Alerts text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

Beshear is also working with the faith-based community to help better protect local congregations and the communities they serve from scams. Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection will be at the Eastern Area Community Ministries in Louisville April 6 at 7 p.m. To learn more about this initiative visit, ag.ky.gov.

To report a scam contact the Attorney General’s Office at 888-432-9257 and file a complaint online.

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