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Scam watch: Twitter, Steve Jobs, government grants

October 9, 2011 |  4:46 am

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

Twitter hacking – The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to take precautions to avoid being tricked into giving away their Twitter passwords in email phishing scams. Most important, the agency said, is to avoid clicking on links that arrive by email — even emails that appear to be from someone familiar. In one common scam, an email says, “I saw a real bad blog about you, you seen this?” and includes a link. If the victim clicks on the link, it leads to what appears to be the Twitter login page, but isn’t. Consumers who enter a user name and password on that page will have their accounts compromised. The Better Business Bureau suggests that you be suspicious of any link sent by email. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t click.

Steve Jobs’ death – Scammers have tried to take advantage of the recent death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the Better Business Bureau said. One scam was promoted briefly on Facebook with the phrase, “In memory of Steve, a company is giving out 50 iPads tonight. R.I.P. Steve Jobs,” followed by a link. Instead of directing users to an iPad giveaway, the link led to a survey. The orchestrator of the scam was probably paid a fee every time it directed people to the survey page, the Better Business Bureau said. Facebook has shut down the scam. Be wary of clicking on links through email or social media sites because the links could contain malware, the agency said.

Government grants – A federal judge has ordered a woman to re-pay $1.68 million to consumers victimized by a scam that offered tips about obtaining government grants –- for a fee, the Federal Trade Commission said in a news release. Meggie Chapman was accused by the FTC and attorneys general from Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina and Illinois of promoting the scam through mass mailings. Victims received post cards that promised $25,000 in government grant money. When they called a telephone number on the cards, victims were offered a book on grant writing for $59. Victims who paid the fee rarely were awarded grants, the FTC said. More than 8,000 people were victimized since 2007.


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-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: A screenshot of a Twitter account page. Credit: Associated Press