Sen. Martin Heinrich is not trying to reach you through Facebook Messenger.
Heinrich alerted the state Attorney General’s Office after he learned that someone using his name was trying to solicit consumer information from an individual in exchange for a bogus financial award.
The messages included a photo of Heinrich, a Democrat from Albuquerque, “and therefore could have appeared genuine – at least at first glance,” according to the AG’s alert.
The gist of the scam was that Heinrich was considering giving the person an $80,000 grant but first needed personal information. The person was not to tell anyone because the gift was supposed to be a secret.
“Luckily, the consumer became suspicious and ended the text communication,” the alert said. “If he had gone further, he could have exposed himself to identity theft and financial consequences.”
A tipoff was the usual: the scammer was grammatically challenged, and the message would not have passed muster by any self-respecting elementary school teacher.
“Scammers and robots constantly attempt to communicate with unwitting consumers, trying to get into the consumer’s bank account,” AG Hector Balderas said in the alert. “They can appear to be real, or even – as in the case of Senator Heinrich – official, but they cannot be trusted.”
◊ ◊ ◊
This week’s rich file of local scam reports features two that came via cell phone, one bringing job opportunities and another threatening “four serious allegations pressed on your name.”
The employment call claimed Amazon is “hiring up to 23 people in your area.” If you bite, you will be allowed to work “from the comfort of your home,” the caller says.
You are supposed to go to internetprofit.org to “finish your application,” which presumes you already started filling one out.
Don’t start and don’t finish because this is not a legitimate offer.
As for the threatening call, that one involved a female robo-caller saying local police were ready to take the person under custody. It mentioned the four supposed offenses and left a phone number “so we can discuss about this case (sic) before taking any legal action against you.”
◊ ◊ ◊
Looking for a fast and easy way to get a copy of your birth certificate?
The Better Business Bureau is warning of online sites created by con artists that promise to send an official copy for a fee.
The organization, in a scam alert, didn’t list any particular sites, but said they can show up in a Google search.
The sites will ask you to fill out a form that appears to be from a state health department and ask you to enter your payment information to complete the transaction.
“However after several weeks of waiting, your birth certificate never turns up,” the BBB said. “You may try to contact the company, but they are suddenly unreachable. Your money and personal information have been compromised, and you never even received a copy of your birth certificate.”
Here’s how to avoid birth certificate scams, according to the BBB:
• Be wary of third party sites. Non-government websites that promise to get your birth certificate or other official documents for a fee can well be scams.
• Guard your personal information carefully. If you need to request a document, be wary about submitting sensitive personal information online. Double check that you are on an official government website with a secure connection before submitting personal details.
Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at email@example.com 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.