The Investigators

Dec 17, 2013 1:59 PM by Tom McNamara

Holidays are prime-time for online crime

Here's a holiday warning from the News 4 Tucson Investigators: Don't let fraud spoil good times with family and friends.

Authorities say the holidays are prime-time for rip-off artists. It isn't just thieves trying to steal items from your car in the mall parking lot, or by breaking in to your home while you're gone. Instead, these tech-savvy criminals can con you right in the comfort of your home. The danger is just a few clicks away. It can be on your desktop, tablet, or mobile phone.

The sounds of the season and all that holiday cheer can cause you to let down your guard, and let criminals into your wallet. While you're online searching for that perfect gift, others are on-line too, finding ways to rip you off.

UAPD Officer Joe Bermudez tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators "the scammers will try any means possible. They'll usually look for the most appealing item that might be offered during this time of year. They'll use that to lure someone into clicking on that item, which will lead them somewhere else."

Bermudez says even tech-savvy students aren't immune when it comes to things like fake delivery schemes, with e-mail alerts sent from what appear to be legitimate businesses.

"They'll say that they have a package that could not be delivered for whatever reason, and that that email recipient to enter personal information so they can get that package to them. Again, if you haven't ordered anything, that should be a red flag there," Bermudez says.

It's not just online where con-artists look to make a quick buck. There have also been some recent reports of fake or expired gift cards being sold at rock-bottom prices in store parking lots.

Nick LaFleur, with the Better Business Bureau tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators "If you're going to get a gift card, buy it from the store. If there's somebody out in the parking lot saying they're giving discounts on gift-cards, that's a red flag. I'd probably want to stay away from that."

You should definitely think, before you click on that e-card, even if it *appears* to come from a family member, co-worker, or long-lost friend.

"It works, really well around the holidays, because people are expecting to get e-cards from people. They're expecting, you know, cards in the mail, cards over email. So, they're more likely to click on it than they would say, in the middle of June," LaFleur says.

Just this week, the BBB issued a warning about phony websites pretending to be Overstock. com, or other major retailers.

It's all the more reason to be extra cautious, when you're searching for that perfect, last-minute gift.
If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson investigators to look into, email us, at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson investigators tip-line at 955-4444.

Click here for the Tucson BBB website

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