Scam Tracker helps identify and avoid ripoffs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Better Business Bureau provides an interesting way to view the myriad hoaxes, cons and attempted swindles happening wherever you live.

The organization calls it Scam Tracker, and a link can be found at the top right corner of the regional BBB webpage, If you click on the embedded map, you’ll get a list of reports for that area, including type of scam, details of the incident and amount of money lost. There’s also a spot for reporting scams.

A review of all reports submitted to Scam Tracker nationwide last year showed something surprising: People became less susceptible to fraud the older they got. The analysis found that 37 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reporting a scam had lost money, compared to 12 percent of those 65 and older.

However, those in the older group who did get conned lost more money per incident – a median loss of $390 – compared to the amount lost by the younger group – $200.

Investment scams were the most common type reported to the BBB by men, while online purchases were the most common for women.

Thank you, President Trump.

An Albuquerque resident reported losing $3,500 to a scheme that offered an ATM card with access to $35.5 million, according to Scam Tracker. The person first, though, had to pay for “the certificate for the card to leave the country,” according to the report.

Such a deal – and it was supposedly pre-approved by the president himself, who allowed the card to be released, the scammer said.

This is a clear case of the “If it’s too good to be true…” warning when it comes to scams.

Rest assured that no one is going to offer you an unsolicited ATM card with $35.5 million. Especially the president of the United States.

People around the country have been reporting calls that appear to come from a Department of Homeland Security hotline, the agency says.

The callers claim to be from “U.S. Immigration” and demand details or verification of personal information. Sometimes, they’ll tell you that you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

The calls appear to be coming from 1-800-323-8603, which is the hotline for Homeland Security’s inspector general. The agency says it does not make outgoing calls from that line, which is used to receive reports of internal fraud or mismanagement.

Homeland Security advises not answering the phone if a call comes from that number, and says to report the incident at the hotline number.

Here’s a Paypal scam that’s come to town recently.

A local reader made a purchase on Ebay using Paypal. Immediately afterward, she got an email that claimed to be from Paypal, telling her she needed to update her account. The emailers wanted her credit card and Social Security numbers to do the job. Fortunately, she caught on to the ploy and did not become a victim of identity theft.

Paypal says it doesn’t send out emails asking for this kind of personal information. Nor do its emails contain attachments or ask you to download or install any software.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

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