Prosecutor Mike Feuer distributed a warning Friday to Los Angeles residents to beware of scammers this holiday season – including a Santa Claus trick that tries to exploit the children’s wishes.
“It starts with an email – an unsolicited email – offering to sell you a handwritten letter from Santa Claus to your child, usually priced at $ 19.99,” said Fire. “Don’t click the link as it will take you to a website that promises to sell you a custom letter from Santa Claus. At best, you’ve just lost $ 20 – at worst, you’ve just given your credit card information to potential fraudsters who could now use it for identity theft. ”
Another scam that takes place via email and social media in the form of a gift exchange begins with a “convincing invitation,” according to Feuer. People are invited to sign up for something that might be fun but actually mischievous. When people provide names, addresses, and other personal information, and then mark some of their friends for gift exchange, that information is added to a scammer’s shopping list with strangers on the Internet.
“Next, it’s your turn to send an email or social media invitation, but send a humble gift or bottle of wine to a stranger along with family, friends, and contacts, and the cycle continues” said fire.
“You have to buy gifts and send them to people you don’t know in the hope that the favor will be returned and you will get the promised number of gifts in return.”
“Unfortunately it doesn’t happen that way. As with any other pyramid scheme, it relies on people recruiting to keep the scam alive. Once people stop participating in the gift exchange, the gift supply also stops, leaving hundreds of disappointed people without their promised gifts. ”
Individuals can report suspected fraud online at www.lacityattorney.org/consumers.