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Rebuilding Japan, Xbox 360, laptop theft: Your weekly ScamWatch

May 8, 2011 |  5:14 am

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Rebuilding Japan - The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is cautioning investors to be leery of marketing for the stocks of companies that purportedly will profit from the rebuilding of earthquake-stricken Japan. Con artists have been issuing false or misleading news releases about opportunities to invest in companies that supposedly sell earthquake-resistant building materials or products to clean up nuclear waste, FINRA said in a recent investor alert. Many of the companies are shams, and scammers are hoping investors will drive up the stock price so the scammers can sell for a quick profit, leaving investors with worthless holdings, the alert said. Investors should ignore unsolicited investment recommendations and question the source of any investment advice, FINRA advised.

Modern warfare – Microsoft Corp. is warning gamers to watch out for a scam targeting players of the Xbox 360 game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The company issued a warning on an Xbox 360 support page that said “phishing” attempts have been made through the game’s messaging system. Phishing scams are attempts to acquire personal information, including user names, passwords and credit card information. “We are aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issue,” Microsoft said in the alert.

Laptop theft – Consumers should take several steps to protect their laptops from theft while traveling, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In an advisory on its website, the FTC said cars, hotels and airports are three places to be particularly cautious. The FTC’s suggestions: Never leave a laptop in a car, not even in the trunk or under a seat. At hotels, put laptops in a safe if possible. Don’t use computer bags, because they advertise what’s inside; consider a backpack, padded briefcase or suitcase instead.

-- Stuart Pfeifer

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