The dark web of consumer fraud!


by Charles McShan




spider web in close up photographyHello everyone

Charles McShan with Century 21 Universal, as the above photo symbolizes a web. This is no ordinary spider web but a dark web where consumer fraud operates on a grand scale. A standard spider web has a spider waiting for an insect to get caught in the web, and then it will consume the sides of its prey. Welcome to the dark web of consumer fraud. A human dark web’s primary purpose is to maneuver con and swindle unsuspecting consumers looking to purchase products legitimately. These people are professional scammers. They set traps or set up traps so they can deceitfully access credit card and financial statement information and drain a person’s account of funds or sell their personal information on the dark web for profit. They do not care what trauma and lasting effects their victims have. Welcome to the dark web of consumer fraud.

This blog post is not about real estate. This blog post is about humans trying to mistreat humans. This post is about protecting yourself. Protect yourself against what? Fraud, yes,  consumer fraud, is out of control with no end in sight. Scammers are everywhere. Not only in Amercia but worldwide. Welcome to the dark web. Let’s explore the main scams that affect the majority of people.

Phone and text scams!

Take the telephone, for example. I am getting over 20 spam calls a day. What about you? They will not give up. I also get text messages saying hi! Are we on for tonight? They want you to respond by saying who are you? I do not know you. They need you to engage with them and let your guard down, and if they succeed, they will swoop in for the kill. Be it by telephone or texting, the catch is to lure you into giving them your personal information so they can go online and clean out your bank account. Or they will sell your information on the dark web to the highest bidder. So do not respond to text calls you do not know. And please do not click the link that says to click stop to reply. That is only permitting them to try again at a later time. Yes, consumer fraud is everywhere.

In regards to phone scams, they can run the gamut. Many scammers try to lurk you with smooth words to get you to acknowledge something by saying yes! Enough of these yes will allow them to superimpose your yes onto a document giving your permission for something you did not sign up for. So if you engage with one of these telemarkets by mistake, and they keep asking you questions that steer you into saying yes, hang up immediately.

Now, let me put this disclaimer out here. Many advertisers use the phone to sell products that benefit the masses. For example, the Medicare application season will soon be upon us. People need to know what service will help them and the changes in Medicare programs this year. Real Estate agents like myself also call on expired listings and see if they wish to place their homes on the market. If the house is on the do-not-call list, I  must follow the law and not call them. Ethics demand that we use our real names and phone numbers when a realtor calls someone. As you know, when a telemarketer calls, you then use fake names, and they use devices that mimic your area code to make you feel that the call is coming from your local area, but it could be a call from anywhere in Amercia or overseas.

Barcodes and gift cards!

The very good scammers will practice their consumer fraud in department stores’ gift card sections and place fake barcode stickers over the actual stickers. The unsuspecting cashier will scan the fake barcode at the checkout, directing your money into the scammer’s card account. You can protect yourself by taking your time when purchasing a gift card. Do your due diligence.

Rub your hand over the package to check for rips, tears, or if the box looks tampered with. If the barcodes do not match the numbers on the packing, do not buy that card. Yes, purchasing a gift card for friends and family can be alluring when you are on vacation at the mall, but keep in mind these places are where the consumer fraud experts lurk. Like spiders looking for prey, they want to draw you into their evil web.

Other types of scams!

I cannot list every scam on the market, but you always see various versions on your phone and computer. Some say you have a FedEx or UPS package, and they cannot deliver it unless you contact them. These consumer fraud people are so good at creating email sites that look like they originated from your bank, impersonating your local bank.

Please do not click on the links in the ads. If you click that link, they could download malware onto your computer to access your passwords and account information. You know if you have placed an order online. They will let you know the carrier and give you a tracking number to monitor the delivery. Always contact them directly.

Credit card skimming. I got recently burned by this form of scamming. They charged an item called Chinese beanies on my Bank account to see if it would go through, which it did. Then, as I was in the carwash, they tried to ram a $300.00 plus bill from Microsoft. I saw and went next door to my bank and issued a stop payment. I always inspected the credit card device for looseness, but somewhere, it did not, and I got burnt and paid the price.

Other consumer fraud scams are so-called utility workers or home remodelers showing up at your door wanting to sell you their services, providing you let them look around your home. Do not let them into your home. Other consumer fraud scammers also come to your door trying to sell you discount services, providing you sign on the line immediately.

Real Estate Fraud Scams!

As a Real Estate Agent, I have encountered many scams in my industry. Consumer fraud hackers will create fake email templates mimicking legitimate Real estate Brokers’ or financial lenders’ email sites. They are duped into believing their Broker or Lender wants them to send a wire fund transfer directly to the supposedly home seller’s bank account ASAP. Never wire anything without first talking to your Realtor, lender, and Attorney. The safe way to transfer money in this day of fraud is to do it the old-fashioned way. Drop it off at the Broker’s office and get a receipt. I hear you.

You say we are in 2023, and we have too much technology. Yes, but with all this technology, many people are still being conned even after you warn them. Once these crooks rip you off your money to purchase that home, your ability to close on your property is over. Business is cold-hearted;  you can cry, but no one is interested in your tears. So yes, we live in a high-tech digital world, but the consumer fraud hackers out there are waging a war to rip off first-time home buyers. As a Real Estate Broker, I want you to be made aware of this, and I have included an article that addresses this point>>click here

These scammers also try to target real estate agents. They try to get us to list other people’s properties online under the guise that they are the owner. Why? If a licensed Agent advertises the listing, they can dupe the client into thinking they are getting a deal. So, we agents have to be on guard. We must do our homework and meet people claiming to be owners who must show proof of ownership. This chart shows what we Agents must be on the lookout for regarding scams. Click here.

There are countless scams of apartment-seeking dwellers being duped by people claiming to be the homeowner or landlord who will rent you the property for $ 3,000 or more upfront. They have the keys in hand and will give you the keys. This scam also works on homes, and once the tenants move in, the real homeowners have to take them to court to evict them. Look at your local news. If you need to read examples of spotting this con, please click here>>.

Last but not least, package theft. It is not a scam but a simple robbery. You can counter this by trying to be at home when your package arrives or have the parcel delivered to a store or someone’s house you know will be at home.

How do you protect yourself?

Consumer fraud is costing Americans and businesses millions of dollars. So, how can you defend yourself against these crooked people?

First things first. Routinely check your credit for unusual activity. If you see something unique, check it out immediately. Then, contact your financial institution and cancel that card. In this day of carjackings and robberies demanding your phone and wallet, try leaving most credit and medical cards at home.

2:Make time weekly to review every transaction on your credit cards, no matter how small.

3:Turn on two-step notifications on your computers, laptops, and cellular phones

4:Speaking of cell phones, you can turn on spam detectors on your cell phone. They will catch most spam calls, but these companies keep rotating new numbers daily, so you can’t block them all.

5:In regards your email, many bogus emails automatically get redirected to your spam folder, and you can set it up so that emails from certain companies automatically go into your spam folder. Do not open file attachments from people and companies you do not know. Malware is often planted inside email attachments. That is hard to do when you operate a business, and people you do not know will constantly email you to solict your business. Do you wish to learn more about this subject?>> click here


6:In regards social media, there are settings and privacy levels, and you must decide on the level you wish. The catch is to remember that people on social media are looking to attract as many people to their sites as possible. That is the primary mission of the invite key.

7: Online shopping is at an all-time high. Scammers know this and are targeting you online. They created a fake URL similar to your favorite site with a letter off from the original, and they hope you do not spot it or catch it. When you type a URL to your chosen location, look at how many misleading sites try to lure you in. Please read this article. click here

Special Attention!

People the world over are being scammed daily. What can you do when someone you know and love has been ripped off their life savings? There is not too much you can do. But please do not scold them. Listen with compassion; listen with empathy. And please do not shame or blame them. They have met the most evil people on Earth. If the victims were elderly, Help them get through it. This article could be a benefit to you and them. click here


In summary, A lot of people want your money. Many will try to obtain your money the right way, the legal way. On the other hand, Consumer fraud hackers will always be there trying to get your money in any way they can. It is up to you to be on guard. You do not have to answer every phone call, respond to every text, or open every email you receive. Trust your instincts. If it does not sound right, don’t believe the hype.

This blog post was written because people are getting ripped off their hard-earned money. Old and not too old are being targeted. We are about to enter the season of one holiday(Labor  Day) followed by the next and the next until the year’s end. Mixed in between those days will be Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays. This is the time of the season when the dark web spiders want to get your credit and financial information so they can sell it on the dark web for money. They, too, have to buy gifts and care for their families. As a consumer, educate yourself first and then your children and the elderly you love second. The government cannot protect you from consumer fraud. That is it for now. I hope you found value in reading this. Thank you for your time. I will post another Real Estate blog post very soon.       

                                                            Take care for now.

                                                              Charles McShan


                                                              [email protected]

                                                              [email protected]

                                                             Website http://www.charlesmcshanchicagolandrealtor.com


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