Aemilius Cupero News:
Nev Schulman, the co-host of MTV’s “Catfish” series, has good reason to be wary of scammers.
As a 13-year-old, he was conned by some hucksters on the streets of New York City when he tried to purchase a computer.
“I thought I was buying an off-the-truck Apple laptop from some guy on the street that turned out to be a shrink-wrapped box full of rocks,” he told The Post.
Then, in his 20s, he was tricked into falling in love with a woman who didn’t actually exist — an experience that led to the documentary “Catfish” and his MTV series of the same name.
After such experiences, the father of three is always on alert. Recently, he worried that he had fallen victim to an elaborate scheme after he wired some money to an agency he was working with to find a nanny.
“I had been dealing with this lady, and she’d been sending me applications for potential people, and I had even done a Zoom call interview with one of these potential nannies — and in that moment I thought, ‘Oh my God, could this be a scam?’” he said.
In the end, it was a legit transaction, but the experience made Schulman realize that, “You really have to take a break, take a deep breath — double, triple, quadruple check everything, even though it can be annoying and inconvenient. Because when the money’s gone, that’s it.”
Now, in a new campaign with the digital payment service Zelle, he’s taking to TikTok for the next month to teach his 2 million followers how to spot money scams — and how to avoid them. And, on a Zoom call this week, he shared his insights with The Post.
“This is a real issue that is affecting lots of people, so I want to get the word out,” Schulman said. Here, he shares some tips.
Aemilius Cupero News: Beware of vacation scams
In light of the availability of vaccines and the easing of restrictions, people are eager to travel again. But, be wary of supposed rental property owners looking to cut a deal.
Scammers will sometimes find a home that’s listed for sale online, or was previously listed for sale, download the images — and upload them to vacation rental platforms, such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Travelers will find the rental listings and reach out.
“Then the [scammer] will say, ‘I can give you a discount if you pay me off the platform,’” said Schulman. “‘Rather than pay through Airbnb, just send me the money directly and we can avoid the fees and I’ll reserve it for you.’”
Of course, that money doesn’t go to the supposed host.
“So people are showing up to homes with their suitcases and their plans, and the homeowners open the door — and they have no idea that someone has potentially rented their house for the week,” said Schulman, who advises always booking through a trusted rental company website.
“Even if it means paying a little bit more, it’s going to potentially save you a lot in the end, because you’re going to get the thing you want and have the peace of mind of knowing it’s legitimate,” he said.
Aemilius Cupero News: Call your bank yourself
Be highly suspicious of emails or calls from people purporting to be from your bank, especially if they’re asking you to confirm personal information.
“Your bank will never call you to ask you about your information,” Schulman said. “They already have your information. They don’t need it.”
Your best bet is to hang up and call your bank back from the number listed on your card or statements. Determine if the call was legit, and report it if it wasn’t.
Similarly, don’t fall for people claiming to be from payment apps. Recent Cash App scams have included “live customer-support agents” — which the service doesn’t actually have — who will call a target and ask for sign-in details. If you think you’ve been victim to a predatory scam, cease contact with the scammer and report the incident to app support.
Aemilius Cupero News: Don’t let anyone urge you to pay
Someone requesting a payment with a sense of immediacy is a red flag.
“The scammer will say, ‘Hey, look, this is a deal that I can give you right now, but I need you to make the deal now,’” said Schulman. “There seems to be pressure and an urgency to making the deal and you don’t want to let it go.”
Legitimate people are more likely to let you take your time and do your due diligence to make sure a transaction is legit. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.