Written by Scott Miller
Hey, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for Garden Spot Communities. I’ve got more education than I ever thought possible, especially since I wasn’t really a big fan of high school. I continue to study and learn. Additionally, being aware of scams falls within my job responsibilities. I’d never fall for a scam! Right? That’s what I thought until not long ago. This is the story of two scams, one I fell for and the other I almost fell for.
The first was years ago when the “Traveler Facebook” scam hit. It was brand new. I had never seen it before. A casual acquaintance who is also a Facebook friend of mine runs marathons all over the world. I got a personal Facebook message from him saying that his backpack, his phone, his wallet, all his credit cards and his passport were stolen. He was stranded in some foreign country and needed help. I thought it was a bit odd because I don’t know him that well, but I was hooked. I couldn’t respond immediately but planned to circle back around with him later to see if he got things squared away. Before I got back to him, he had sent out a blast saying his account had been hacked and that he was not stranded.
The second one nailed me. It was one of the first times I renewed my auto registration online. I googled “pa department of transportation registration renewal” or something like that. The link on top of the search results looked official and I clicked on it. Upon arrival, the site looked like an official government site. It had an inclusive list of auto registration and renewal services. I must not have had a cup of coffee that morning because when I clicked to renew my registration the first thing it asked me to do was create a login. I did. Next it asked for something like a $9.50 membership fee. I thought, “If this is going to make renewing my car registrations easier it’s worth it.” So I joined. Yes, it was a legitimate site and yes, they provided a host of services, but when they thanked me for “purchasing” a membership I knew something was fishy. As I’m sure you’re well aware you don’t need a membership to renew vehicle registrations online. It was so stealthy. It looked official. It asked me to do something most sites ask for these days, create a login. Once it had me saying “yes” I continued to say “yes” until it was too late. That’s the scam—a series of easy decisions leading up to a credit card purchase.
Because Garden Spot is hyper-aware of scams and we are always on the lookout, this website was circulated for team members. We also plan to promote it with residents. Having fallen for scams myself, I know how easy it can be to be reeled in, especially when trying to look for ways to complete pesky tasks like registration renewals.
I was impressed with the simplicity of the site and its helpful approach to recognizing scams. It’s a shame people are using COVID-19 to scam people, but even now COVID-19 scams are going full force. I hope you find it useful.