CHICAGO (CBS) – In a low-key Oakbrook Terrace office, special agents from the US Department of Homeland Security are investigating cyber fraud, the kind of scams that cost Americans millions every year, the kind of scams CBS 2 reports every morning.
Morning insider Tim McNicholas was given access to this building to ask agents what you should be looking for.
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There’s Al, the heartbroken Joliet man thanks to a fictional online lover / crook in real life.
“We were supposed to get married, and all the money I sent, she was going to repay me for the $ 200,000 inheritance she had in Canada,” he said.
Or the senior man at Carol Stream who learned that an alleged Amazon fraud alert was actually from a scammer.
“I would hate to use the term gullible, but I guess in this case I certainly was,” said Mick McNeil.
The Morning Insiders have shown time and time again that the World Wide Web is full of surprises.
“Anyone can be anyone on the Internet,” said Special Agent Aaron Urbaniak, who has seen it all and more.
“Bad guys buying personal information from the dark web,” he said. “We have a great deal of phishing going on. “
“Dating scams are definitely at the top of the list,” he added.
Urbaniak said the pandemic had occupied the US Department of Homeland Security’s Chicago Cybercrime Task Force.
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“There is more opportunity, and a better excuse for these people not to want to meet, especially on dating sites. They don’t want to meet in person and they have a valid excuse, ”Urbaniak said.
And this excuse works. Federal investigators say Americans have lost more than $ 133 million to romance scams in the first seven months of this year.
The total for last year? A record $ 300 million.
“You just have to be wary of the fact that they will start asking you for money and not providing your personal information to people you meet on the internet,” Urbaniak said.
But these aren’t the only scams that will break your heart.
As the holiday season approaches, Urbaniak urges shoppers to take a close look at any emails or messages you receive.
Scammers often pose as online retailers, or even banks, claiming that there has been fraud on your account; only to get you to disclose valuable personal information.
“Go straight to that bank, go straight to your app,” Urbaniak said. “Call their customer service to verify legitimacy. “
Retail experts are predicting record online sales this holiday season, and all of those freebies could confuse your banking records.
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Urbaniak says you should always watch your transactions closely and report anything unusual to your bank, or you could end up saying bah humbug.