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It's A Love Story

Love keeps us going every day. Our love of God and His love of us is our saving grace. Our love of animals, nature, and country living is what drives us to work hard to keep what we have been blessed with. Our love of each other is what gets us through hard times and what brings us joy in the good times. Love is what keeps us pushing to get up when we don’t feel like it, when health issues take their toll, and we struggle, or we are just too exhausted to go on. Without love, we wouldn’t have a reason to do anything and the light at the end of our tunnel would have burned out long ago. It is hope that makes us take that one extra step, but it is love that gives us the strength to take that step. It is our love that makes up the true story of the Koutz Farm Family and it is God’s love, provision, grace, mercy, and blessings that will keep us going each day.

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Can You Recognize A Scammer?

November 11, 202321 min read

Can You Recognize A Scammer?

Scammers are getting smarter and the technology they use is getting better. Have you been scammed in the past? It really sucks, trust us, we've been fooled a time or two ourselves. We've even had training on what to watch out for, but sometimes we let our feelings get in the way and trust someone more than we should and BOOM, you are out $300 or worse you could have your identity stolen and no one wants to deal with that! This post is here to help you learn to recognize scammers. It isn't an all-inclusive, foolproof, list but it is a list we'll keep adding to as we learn more tips and tricks to provide here. If you have any tips or tricks we should add here, simply fill out the Holler At Us form and let us know what your sharable tips are.

Can You Recognize A Scammer?

Have A Phone? Do You Get Phone Calls On Your Phone?

Learn To Recognize Vishers

Learn To Recognize & Prevent Being A Victim Of Vishers
  • Vishers are those that commit the act of Vishing – Voice Phishing, which is the use of fraudulent phone calls to trick people into giving them money or personal information that will help them commit identity theft, credit card fraud, and the like.

  • Vishers tend to spoof numbers and Caller ID information to make you think it is someone calling in your local area or a business that you are familiar with.  Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source.

  • Vishers will call you pretending to be a bill collector, the IRS, and in our personal experience the fraud department from your bank.  We’ll tell you a story about that in a moment.  NEVER give information to someone that calls you unless you are expecting their call or know and work with them personally on a regular basis.  Instead, when they call asking for your information, ask them these questions:  1) What company are they representing?  2) What is their name?  3) What is their employee ID#? Then, write all of this down with the date and time of the phone call.  You have a couple of options at this point – the first is to tell them thank you and that you will call the main line to take care of the issue and hang up.  Then locate the official customer service number for that entity and call them – see if there really is an issue or if it turns out it was fraud – report the call to them.  The second is to have them hold for a minute, put the call on hold and 3-way in to the official customer service phone number (or fraud line).  Tell the official representative what is going on and merge the phone calls.  Introduce that person to the real company and most likely, they’ll hang up…but if not, let the company ask questions or do what they need to do — whatever you do in this situation, do not give personal information over the phone while you still have the fraudulent caller on the line.  

  • Vishers will call you pretending to want to give you money or ask you to get gift cards in exchange for more money than the gift cards are worth, a prince from a far away land that loves you and has chosen you to give his fortune to.  Again, do not give them personal information.  They may ask for your bank account information so they can deposit money into your account – when in reality they will drain your account when you least expect it and most need it.  

  • Vishers have many tactics and they change tactics as people become more aware of their schemes.  Sometimes it feels these scammers are always one step ahead, even the best of us have fallen prey to some of their tactics.  Learn from the situation – pay attention to the cues:  they are going to try and get your personal information, especially your financial information because their goal is to rob you.  They are usually pushy if you try to say no.  Sometimes they are really friendly and easy to talk to.  They prey on people through fear tactics (like pretending to be the IRS and telling you that you owe them several thousand dollars or the fraud department from your bank telling you that your account has been compromised).  They prey on senior citizens who aren’t necessarily technically inclined or aren’t savvy of the way scammers work to manipulate you.  They prey on the lonely, acting as a friend and then telling you they are down on their luck and need just a little money to get by.  They prey on the people looking for jobs, acting as job recruiters and needing your checking account information for your direct deposit.  And so forth.  The schemes change, but the theme is the same – they want your financial information.

Our Story Dealing With Vishers

To set the stage: My debit card to another bank account had been blocked by the bank for potential fraudulent activity a couple weeks prior to this story - so I was already frustrated and worried about how this could happen (we didn't lose any money because our bank caught it ahead of time, but that didn't make me feel any less violated). It is the middle of the work day and my phone rings, I see on the Caller ID that it is my bank's fraud department. I reluctantly answered the phone and this very nice gentleman on the other end of the line alerted me to a bunch of Amazon charges trying to clear my bank and they were hundreds of dollars for each transaction. I was so defeated, but as he talked I made my way online to my bank's website and none of this showed up on my account. I made my way over to my Amazon account and nothing showed up there. Red Flag. I continued talking to him, I didn't give him any of my information. All I did was listen to him rattle off my personal information. My bank account number. My address. And even though a red flag went up in my brain, I believed him...until he told me that my bank has a new system that requires him to send me a text message with a link that I need to click on. BIG RED FLAG. My bank has never done this. He assured me it was the new norm. I told him that I wasn't comfortable with it and that I needed to call the main line to confirm. He calmly told me that was fine and he understood and told me I could call the number he called me on after I talked to them and he could continue processing this to stop those charges from Amazon, otherwise those Amazon charges were enough to take all my stuff out of my bank. So, we said our goodbyes and I get the text message from him anyway. I call the main line. They transfer me to the fraud department and there of course was not a new system and there were not any Amazon charges trying to be taken out of my account. I gave the bank his number and deleted the text message without clicking on the link. I saved my phone from getting compromised. Had I clicked on the link, my phone could have been hijacked in a number of different ways, from ransomware to them hiding in the background watching everything I do and type on my phone - stealing my passwords and such. Luckily, I didn't click and I called the bank. Shortly after, unfortunately, a far-away friend of the family had the same call and their bank account was cleaned out.


Protect Your Data

Hunting For A Remote Job?

Learn To Recognize Jobfishers

  • Jobfishers prey on the unemployed or those that don’t make enough in their current jobs.  The recently terminated (or laid off) person is particularly vulnerable because emotions are high (negatively) and senses are compromised as a result, making easy targets for jobfishers to attack.

  • Jobfishers send recruitment emails from what looks like a reputable recruitment firm (that doesn’t really exist), posting jobs that are interesting to you.

  • Jobfishers often post jobs that are too good to be true, then ask you to send them money or for you to give them access to your personal and financial information.

  • Jobfishers create fake companies and post hiring ads in common job search engines.

  • Jobfishers will “hire” you to reship items for them or have you move money around for them, implicating you in their fraudulent schemes.

  • Jobfishers will offer to “direct deposit” your paychecks to you and will gather your banking information, only to commit bank fraud and empty your account(s). 

  • Jobfishers may want to send you a check to deposit into your bank account and request you to purchase gift cards for them in return.  The check is fake and by the time it is realized, you have already sent them real gift cards.

  • Jobfishers use the personal information gathered in the “hiring” process to steal your identity.  The hiring process involves you to enter your Social Security Number, Driver’s License Number and other important personal information that will help the jobfisher to open credit cards, bank accounts and apply for loans in your name.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

  • Research the company name and history without clicking any of the links that are in their job recruitment emails/ads.  Find their website through Google Search, use a map app to make sure they have a real address, and go look on social media (especially LinkedIn) to see what you can find out about the company.

  • Make sure the company has a valid history and isn’t a new startup business.

  • Always check the Better Business Bureau to make sure the business exists and is not under investigation.

  • If you receive a recruitment email,  research the company and the recruiter’s name outside of the recruitment email.  Meaning, don’t click on any links in the email.  Do all your research outside of the context of the information you were sent by the jobfisher.

  • Always be careful and think thrice about giving out your personal information online.  Make sure you research the company thoroughly before you provide them with anything personal – especially your home address, your Social Security Number and Driver’s License Number.

  • Get a VPN (Virtual Privacy Network) to protect your devices.  You can get these for your phone and computers.

  • If you receive an email and can open it on a computer, hover over the links (don’t click them) and see if the pop-up of the real linked address matches the email address provided.

  • When on your mobile devices or computers, make it a point not to open any attachments or click on any links from anyone you aren’t expecting something from.  Links and attachments can load malware and viruses on your devices and cause you a lot of major issues, especially if you get a ransomware attack.  

  • Make sure you have a Virus Scanning/Malware protection software on your computers and your mobile devices.


Do You EBay?

Learn To Recognize EBay Scammers

  • EBay Scammers like to communicate outside of the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers will “spoof” EBay templates to pretend they are from PayPal and/or EBay in order to steal your information.

  • EBay Scammers often use bad grammar, incomplete words/sentences, misspellings and incorrect English.

  • EBay Scammers may send you fake Emails from PayPal to “confirm” that payments being made went through your PayPal account when, in reality, they have stolen your information and your money.  Always confirm your payments directly in PayPal – do not rely on they Emails alone as confirmation.

  • EBay Scammers often send generic phishing Emails that look like they are from EBay but they are not.  Look for generic Email content that doesn’t mention any specific product within EBay.  Most EBay Emails about products will always have the name of the product and the ID that was assigned by EBay noted within the content of the Email.

  • EBay Scammers use phone numbers and currency in odd formats – not what you would typically see for a United States phone number or currency format.

  • EBay Scammers will also use strange formats for phone numbers, email addresses and website links because these items aren’t allowed in EBay Emails/Communication – so Scammers will be creative in the way they enter them in order to fool the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers will usually be setup as a new account in EBay with a random user name and they will not usually have any feedback in the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers advertise offers and products that are too good to be true.  Expensive nice products at really cheap – unbelievable – prices.  These are tell-tell signs of a scammer.

  • EBay Scammers often send you questions that repeat information you answered/covered within the content of your listing.

  • EBay Scammers will often use your name so that you have the same names.


Do You Shop On Social Media Marketplaces?

Learn To Recognize A Social Media Marketplace Scammer

  • Social Media Scammers are prone to stealing other people's product images from the original seller. If you see the same product being posted by different people, it very well may belong to one person and scammers stole the photo and are pretending like it is theirs to sell.

  • Social Media Scammers want you to pay a high deposit or full amount upfront, before being able to meet with them to see the product or service. Never do this, take it from us, always see the product with your own eyes in person before giving them any money.

  • Social Media Scammers like to pressure you into acting quickly and make you feel like you are going to miss out on the product if you don't give them the money upfront. They'll tell you they are moving and have to be out of their house by Friday. They'll tell you that they have other buyers and if you want it, you should pay for it right away and then go see it. Don't let them pressure you. Nothing is worth having your hard-earned money stolen from you or having your trust broken, adding stress to your life, and possibly even giving them access to steal more from you (depending on what information of yours they received during the sell process).

  • Social Media Scammers will act like they are local people to earn your trust. They may even hack into someone else's account or make a fake account using stolen information from a local person. When you see someone is from your local area, a good-standing member in the church or an elderly person in the community, you feel like you can trust them. They may even post some content or tag you on something to make you feel like you "know" them. Unless you know the person directly and can call them or meet with them about the product or service, always be protective of your data and never pay anyone you "know" online upfront.

  • Social Media Scammers will give you great "deals". Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. You may want the deal so bad, you forget your smarts and give-in to your feelings. Don't do that. Today's world is full of desperate and dark people. Evil even. They don't care about you and have no remorse for their actions against you. All they care about is lining their own pockets and they don't care who they hurt in the process. So listen to your gut and not your heart's desires when shopping online. If you feel iffy about something, you should probably walk away from it without looking back. If you must pursue it, setup a meeting with the person and take someone with you (don't go alone) before paying one single cent or giving them any information.

  • Social Media Scammers may offer to "deliver" or "ship" something to you if you pay upfront. They may offer this service for free or for an extra shipping or delivery fee. They'll ask for your address, phone number, and other personal information. DON'T GIVE IT TO THEM IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THEM AND HAVE NO WAY TO VALIDATE WHO THEY ARE! Go online to a trusted store to buy what you are looking for and have them ship it to you, rather than some stranger on marketplace. Social Media Marketplaces don't have any safeguards or fraud investigators or services to help you recoup lost costs. So if you are going to shop marketplaces like this, try EBay or use Amazon or Walmart or some place that can help you if you do get scammed.

Our Story Dealing With Social Media Marketplace Scammers

Unfortunately, we have a personal experience with a Facebook Marketplace Scammer. This was recent and fresh on my brain. Honestly, I'm mad at myself for allowing myself to fall victim to such a scam when I know better, but I let my feelings get in the way of the warning signs going off in my gut. It started almost a month prior to the time I made a purchase with what I thought was a local member of our small community. I saw this person post a list of really nice and expensive items for sell on the local marketplace. The post had a bulleted list of items with their description and prices next to them. Then had pictures of the items attached to the post. The person was moving because they got a new job and they only had a couple of weeks to get rid of everything. There were some items listed on there that ranged from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. A couple of trucks, generators, a gooseneck trailer, a fridge, a couple of different kinds of 4x4's/golf-carts, and what I really wanted - several very nice dog runs/kennels. I liked the post and then the person started tagging me personally a couple times a week on the post - with the word "SOLD" next to the items that someone else supposedly already purchased. Every post would have something new marked off the list. I looked up the guy selling the stuff on Facebook to see who they were and noticed they were friends with a lot of people from my old church and local community. TRUST ESTABLISHED. I had a few moments of wonder, my gut giving me those red flags that I immediately silenced. I showed my husband the post a few times - telling him I wanted those dog kennels. He was interested in the generator. We did some research on the prices they had posted versus the buying the items new and after looking more at the generator, my husband decided it wasn't worth it. The prices listed were pretty high and my husband made that comment to me several times that this guy wasn't getting rid of stuff because he was asking too much for everything. Then about a month later, the post that got me was the one that said "I have to be moved out by this weekend because I start my new job next week and I need this stuff sold. Serious buyers only. Deposit required to hold any item. And followed by the words Will Negotiate." So, I asked my husband again about the dog kennels. I said, if I offer him $300 for two of the kennels and he accepts that offer, can I get them. Hubby said sure. So I reach out to the guy on messenger. I said I know you are asking $200 each for those dog kennels, but will you take $300 for both? And he said yes, then started pressuring me to pay him because he had another buyer interested in them and if I wanted them I needed to pay for them ASAP. I couldn't go pick them up or meet with him til the next day and I didn't want to lose them at that great price, because you see, at Tractor Supply those dog kennels are running for $600 each right now. I wanted the dog kennels so I could use them when I start doing my wildlife rescue volunteering - and I was so excited to get them. Dumbly, I paid the guy via Cash App - which is just like handing them cash and because it is immediate, your only recourse is to report it and request your money back from the person that stole it. You know that isn't happening. So, we setup a meeting time, and oddly right before I was supposed to go meet him, his Facebook Messenger said he wasn't available on Messenger any more. I thought that was odd, but we took the truck with the trailer to the address the guy gave us and two men - 1 that we knew personally and the guy in the Facebook picture that supposedly sold us the stuff were outside. We parked and got out and introduced ourselves and they looked at us like what are these crazy people doing here - and we said we are here for the dog kennels. Immediately, the man we supposedly bought this stuff from said that we had been scammed and we weren't the only ones. We had a long conversation about the situation, go the name of an officer for the county investigating the situation already, and was told about other people that had fallen for the scam. Apparently, this man's Facebook account got hacked and he lost access to it and couldn't get back into it. This scammer acted as him and went and stole images from other Facebook Marketplace products for sell and posted those pictures as his own items. Then he started posting in the community groups, etc. So we left empty handed and I felt so defeated and dumb. Out $300 and no dog kennels. A not-so-happy husband, who was surprisingly very understanding, and a broken-hearted me.

Here is what I did after that:

  • I reported the scam in Cash App and they are investigating.

  • I asked the people at Cash App, in their chat, if they can give me the bank name of the person I made the payment to and of course for privacy reasons they refused, but then I said, "well can you at least call their bank and tell them this person is scamming people so it doesn't happen to anyone else?" and they said they would put those notes in the investigation.

  • I called my bank where Cash App pulls the money from and disputed the charge and told them what happened. They have opened an investigation up on their end, but because it was through Cash App, I don't think they can do much. They are aware of the situation though and have my account on a fraud watch, but assured me the way the transaction was done was a one-off so I shouldn't have to worry about them trying to get more money using Cash App from my account. I also sent a screenshot of the Cash App name that I sent the money to over to the man that said he was working with the officer. This way, he has it for his records as well.

  • I still need to reach out to the officer investigating the case. I haven't done that yet, mostly because I haven't had time, but I know they aren't going to be able to do anything about it anyway.

  • I am visiting my Norton 360+ Lifelock account more often to make sure other things aren't being affected. Again, my bank said that shouldn't be an issue because the way the payment was made, but now I'm being paranoid, so I'm watching everything more closely than before.

  • Lastly, I went into Facebook and posted to all my friends about the scam and to be careful in case someone tries to create a copycat account of mine, etc. and told them all I only have one account - not to accept another one from me. I reported the issue on Facebook. I found the fake account and even though they aren't on Facebook any longer, because I have the communication in Facebook with the person, I reported them there and blocked them as well.


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Koutz Farm is our beloved little 7-acre homestead in Texas. It encompasses our family, our animals, our home, and the land. We love learning to homestead - everything from growing our own food, bee-keeping, raising livestock, to enjoying (and sometimes rescuing) wildlife, finding new ways to preserve and prepare our food, and doing fun things like making soap, jewelry, and other DIY, arts, & crafts projects.


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Can You Recognize A Scammer?

November 11, 202321 min read

Can You Recognize A Scammer?

Scammers are getting smarter and the technology they use is getting better. Have you been scammed in the past? It really sucks, trust us, we've been fooled a time or two ourselves. We've even had training on what to watch out for, but sometimes we let our feelings get in the way and trust someone more than we should and BOOM, you are out $300 or worse you could have your identity stolen and no one wants to deal with that! This post is here to help you learn to recognize scammers. It isn't an all-inclusive, foolproof, list but it is a list we'll keep adding to as we learn more tips and tricks to provide here. If you have any tips or tricks we should add here, simply fill out the Holler At Us form and let us know what your sharable tips are.

Can You Recognize A Scammer?

Have A Phone? Do You Get Phone Calls On Your Phone?

Learn To Recognize Vishers

Learn To Recognize & Prevent Being A Victim Of Vishers
  • Vishers are those that commit the act of Vishing – Voice Phishing, which is the use of fraudulent phone calls to trick people into giving them money or personal information that will help them commit identity theft, credit card fraud, and the like.

  • Vishers tend to spoof numbers and Caller ID information to make you think it is someone calling in your local area or a business that you are familiar with.  Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source.

  • Vishers will call you pretending to be a bill collector, the IRS, and in our personal experience the fraud department from your bank.  We’ll tell you a story about that in a moment.  NEVER give information to someone that calls you unless you are expecting their call or know and work with them personally on a regular basis.  Instead, when they call asking for your information, ask them these questions:  1) What company are they representing?  2) What is their name?  3) What is their employee ID#? Then, write all of this down with the date and time of the phone call.  You have a couple of options at this point – the first is to tell them thank you and that you will call the main line to take care of the issue and hang up.  Then locate the official customer service number for that entity and call them – see if there really is an issue or if it turns out it was fraud – report the call to them.  The second is to have them hold for a minute, put the call on hold and 3-way in to the official customer service phone number (or fraud line).  Tell the official representative what is going on and merge the phone calls.  Introduce that person to the real company and most likely, they’ll hang up…but if not, let the company ask questions or do what they need to do — whatever you do in this situation, do not give personal information over the phone while you still have the fraudulent caller on the line.  

  • Vishers will call you pretending to want to give you money or ask you to get gift cards in exchange for more money than the gift cards are worth, a prince from a far away land that loves you and has chosen you to give his fortune to.  Again, do not give them personal information.  They may ask for your bank account information so they can deposit money into your account – when in reality they will drain your account when you least expect it and most need it.  

  • Vishers have many tactics and they change tactics as people become more aware of their schemes.  Sometimes it feels these scammers are always one step ahead, even the best of us have fallen prey to some of their tactics.  Learn from the situation – pay attention to the cues:  they are going to try and get your personal information, especially your financial information because their goal is to rob you.  They are usually pushy if you try to say no.  Sometimes they are really friendly and easy to talk to.  They prey on people through fear tactics (like pretending to be the IRS and telling you that you owe them several thousand dollars or the fraud department from your bank telling you that your account has been compromised).  They prey on senior citizens who aren’t necessarily technically inclined or aren’t savvy of the way scammers work to manipulate you.  They prey on the lonely, acting as a friend and then telling you they are down on their luck and need just a little money to get by.  They prey on the people looking for jobs, acting as job recruiters and needing your checking account information for your direct deposit.  And so forth.  The schemes change, but the theme is the same – they want your financial information.

Our Story Dealing With Vishers

To set the stage: My debit card to another bank account had been blocked by the bank for potential fraudulent activity a couple weeks prior to this story - so I was already frustrated and worried about how this could happen (we didn't lose any money because our bank caught it ahead of time, but that didn't make me feel any less violated). It is the middle of the work day and my phone rings, I see on the Caller ID that it is my bank's fraud department. I reluctantly answered the phone and this very nice gentleman on the other end of the line alerted me to a bunch of Amazon charges trying to clear my bank and they were hundreds of dollars for each transaction. I was so defeated, but as he talked I made my way online to my bank's website and none of this showed up on my account. I made my way over to my Amazon account and nothing showed up there. Red Flag. I continued talking to him, I didn't give him any of my information. All I did was listen to him rattle off my personal information. My bank account number. My address. And even though a red flag went up in my brain, I believed him...until he told me that my bank has a new system that requires him to send me a text message with a link that I need to click on. BIG RED FLAG. My bank has never done this. He assured me it was the new norm. I told him that I wasn't comfortable with it and that I needed to call the main line to confirm. He calmly told me that was fine and he understood and told me I could call the number he called me on after I talked to them and he could continue processing this to stop those charges from Amazon, otherwise those Amazon charges were enough to take all my stuff out of my bank. So, we said our goodbyes and I get the text message from him anyway. I call the main line. They transfer me to the fraud department and there of course was not a new system and there were not any Amazon charges trying to be taken out of my account. I gave the bank his number and deleted the text message without clicking on the link. I saved my phone from getting compromised. Had I clicked on the link, my phone could have been hijacked in a number of different ways, from ransomware to them hiding in the background watching everything I do and type on my phone - stealing my passwords and such. Luckily, I didn't click and I called the bank. Shortly after, unfortunately, a far-away friend of the family had the same call and their bank account was cleaned out.


Protect Your Data

Hunting For A Remote Job?

Learn To Recognize Jobfishers

  • Jobfishers prey on the unemployed or those that don’t make enough in their current jobs.  The recently terminated (or laid off) person is particularly vulnerable because emotions are high (negatively) and senses are compromised as a result, making easy targets for jobfishers to attack.

  • Jobfishers send recruitment emails from what looks like a reputable recruitment firm (that doesn’t really exist), posting jobs that are interesting to you.

  • Jobfishers often post jobs that are too good to be true, then ask you to send them money or for you to give them access to your personal and financial information.

  • Jobfishers create fake companies and post hiring ads in common job search engines.

  • Jobfishers will “hire” you to reship items for them or have you move money around for them, implicating you in their fraudulent schemes.

  • Jobfishers will offer to “direct deposit” your paychecks to you and will gather your banking information, only to commit bank fraud and empty your account(s). 

  • Jobfishers may want to send you a check to deposit into your bank account and request you to purchase gift cards for them in return.  The check is fake and by the time it is realized, you have already sent them real gift cards.

  • Jobfishers use the personal information gathered in the “hiring” process to steal your identity.  The hiring process involves you to enter your Social Security Number, Driver’s License Number and other important personal information that will help the jobfisher to open credit cards, bank accounts and apply for loans in your name.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

  • Research the company name and history without clicking any of the links that are in their job recruitment emails/ads.  Find their website through Google Search, use a map app to make sure they have a real address, and go look on social media (especially LinkedIn) to see what you can find out about the company.

  • Make sure the company has a valid history and isn’t a new startup business.

  • Always check the Better Business Bureau to make sure the business exists and is not under investigation.

  • If you receive a recruitment email,  research the company and the recruiter’s name outside of the recruitment email.  Meaning, don’t click on any links in the email.  Do all your research outside of the context of the information you were sent by the jobfisher.

  • Always be careful and think thrice about giving out your personal information online.  Make sure you research the company thoroughly before you provide them with anything personal – especially your home address, your Social Security Number and Driver’s License Number.

  • Get a VPN (Virtual Privacy Network) to protect your devices.  You can get these for your phone and computers.

  • If you receive an email and can open it on a computer, hover over the links (don’t click them) and see if the pop-up of the real linked address matches the email address provided.

  • When on your mobile devices or computers, make it a point not to open any attachments or click on any links from anyone you aren’t expecting something from.  Links and attachments can load malware and viruses on your devices and cause you a lot of major issues, especially if you get a ransomware attack.  

  • Make sure you have a Virus Scanning/Malware protection software on your computers and your mobile devices.


Do You EBay?

Learn To Recognize EBay Scammers

  • EBay Scammers like to communicate outside of the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers will “spoof” EBay templates to pretend they are from PayPal and/or EBay in order to steal your information.

  • EBay Scammers often use bad grammar, incomplete words/sentences, misspellings and incorrect English.

  • EBay Scammers may send you fake Emails from PayPal to “confirm” that payments being made went through your PayPal account when, in reality, they have stolen your information and your money.  Always confirm your payments directly in PayPal – do not rely on they Emails alone as confirmation.

  • EBay Scammers often send generic phishing Emails that look like they are from EBay but they are not.  Look for generic Email content that doesn’t mention any specific product within EBay.  Most EBay Emails about products will always have the name of the product and the ID that was assigned by EBay noted within the content of the Email.

  • EBay Scammers use phone numbers and currency in odd formats – not what you would typically see for a United States phone number or currency format.

  • EBay Scammers will also use strange formats for phone numbers, email addresses and website links because these items aren’t allowed in EBay Emails/Communication – so Scammers will be creative in the way they enter them in order to fool the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers will usually be setup as a new account in EBay with a random user name and they will not usually have any feedback in the EBay platform.

  • EBay Scammers advertise offers and products that are too good to be true.  Expensive nice products at really cheap – unbelievable – prices.  These are tell-tell signs of a scammer.

  • EBay Scammers often send you questions that repeat information you answered/covered within the content of your listing.

  • EBay Scammers will often use your name so that you have the same names.


Do You Shop On Social Media Marketplaces?

Learn To Recognize A Social Media Marketplace Scammer

  • Social Media Scammers are prone to stealing other people's product images from the original seller. If you see the same product being posted by different people, it very well may belong to one person and scammers stole the photo and are pretending like it is theirs to sell.

  • Social Media Scammers want you to pay a high deposit or full amount upfront, before being able to meet with them to see the product or service. Never do this, take it from us, always see the product with your own eyes in person before giving them any money.

  • Social Media Scammers like to pressure you into acting quickly and make you feel like you are going to miss out on the product if you don't give them the money upfront. They'll tell you they are moving and have to be out of their house by Friday. They'll tell you that they have other buyers and if you want it, you should pay for it right away and then go see it. Don't let them pressure you. Nothing is worth having your hard-earned money stolen from you or having your trust broken, adding stress to your life, and possibly even giving them access to steal more from you (depending on what information of yours they received during the sell process).

  • Social Media Scammers will act like they are local people to earn your trust. They may even hack into someone else's account or make a fake account using stolen information from a local person. When you see someone is from your local area, a good-standing member in the church or an elderly person in the community, you feel like you can trust them. They may even post some content or tag you on something to make you feel like you "know" them. Unless you know the person directly and can call them or meet with them about the product or service, always be protective of your data and never pay anyone you "know" online upfront.

  • Social Media Scammers will give you great "deals". Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. You may want the deal so bad, you forget your smarts and give-in to your feelings. Don't do that. Today's world is full of desperate and dark people. Evil even. They don't care about you and have no remorse for their actions against you. All they care about is lining their own pockets and they don't care who they hurt in the process. So listen to your gut and not your heart's desires when shopping online. If you feel iffy about something, you should probably walk away from it without looking back. If you must pursue it, setup a meeting with the person and take someone with you (don't go alone) before paying one single cent or giving them any information.

  • Social Media Scammers may offer to "deliver" or "ship" something to you if you pay upfront. They may offer this service for free or for an extra shipping or delivery fee. They'll ask for your address, phone number, and other personal information. DON'T GIVE IT TO THEM IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THEM AND HAVE NO WAY TO VALIDATE WHO THEY ARE! Go online to a trusted store to buy what you are looking for and have them ship it to you, rather than some stranger on marketplace. Social Media Marketplaces don't have any safeguards or fraud investigators or services to help you recoup lost costs. So if you are going to shop marketplaces like this, try EBay or use Amazon or Walmart or some place that can help you if you do get scammed.

Our Story Dealing With Social Media Marketplace Scammers

Unfortunately, we have a personal experience with a Facebook Marketplace Scammer. This was recent and fresh on my brain. Honestly, I'm mad at myself for allowing myself to fall victim to such a scam when I know better, but I let my feelings get in the way of the warning signs going off in my gut. It started almost a month prior to the time I made a purchase with what I thought was a local member of our small community. I saw this person post a list of really nice and expensive items for sell on the local marketplace. The post had a bulleted list of items with their description and prices next to them. Then had pictures of the items attached to the post. The person was moving because they got a new job and they only had a couple of weeks to get rid of everything. There were some items listed on there that ranged from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. A couple of trucks, generators, a gooseneck trailer, a fridge, a couple of different kinds of 4x4's/golf-carts, and what I really wanted - several very nice dog runs/kennels. I liked the post and then the person started tagging me personally a couple times a week on the post - with the word "SOLD" next to the items that someone else supposedly already purchased. Every post would have something new marked off the list. I looked up the guy selling the stuff on Facebook to see who they were and noticed they were friends with a lot of people from my old church and local community. TRUST ESTABLISHED. I had a few moments of wonder, my gut giving me those red flags that I immediately silenced. I showed my husband the post a few times - telling him I wanted those dog kennels. He was interested in the generator. We did some research on the prices they had posted versus the buying the items new and after looking more at the generator, my husband decided it wasn't worth it. The prices listed were pretty high and my husband made that comment to me several times that this guy wasn't getting rid of stuff because he was asking too much for everything. Then about a month later, the post that got me was the one that said "I have to be moved out by this weekend because I start my new job next week and I need this stuff sold. Serious buyers only. Deposit required to hold any item. And followed by the words Will Negotiate." So, I asked my husband again about the dog kennels. I said, if I offer him $300 for two of the kennels and he accepts that offer, can I get them. Hubby said sure. So I reach out to the guy on messenger. I said I know you are asking $200 each for those dog kennels, but will you take $300 for both? And he said yes, then started pressuring me to pay him because he had another buyer interested in them and if I wanted them I needed to pay for them ASAP. I couldn't go pick them up or meet with him til the next day and I didn't want to lose them at that great price, because you see, at Tractor Supply those dog kennels are running for $600 each right now. I wanted the dog kennels so I could use them when I start doing my wildlife rescue volunteering - and I was so excited to get them. Dumbly, I paid the guy via Cash App - which is just like handing them cash and because it is immediate, your only recourse is to report it and request your money back from the person that stole it. You know that isn't happening. So, we setup a meeting time, and oddly right before I was supposed to go meet him, his Facebook Messenger said he wasn't available on Messenger any more. I thought that was odd, but we took the truck with the trailer to the address the guy gave us and two men - 1 that we knew personally and the guy in the Facebook picture that supposedly sold us the stuff were outside. We parked and got out and introduced ourselves and they looked at us like what are these crazy people doing here - and we said we are here for the dog kennels. Immediately, the man we supposedly bought this stuff from said that we had been scammed and we weren't the only ones. We had a long conversation about the situation, go the name of an officer for the county investigating the situation already, and was told about other people that had fallen for the scam. Apparently, this man's Facebook account got hacked and he lost access to it and couldn't get back into it. This scammer acted as him and went and stole images from other Facebook Marketplace products for sell and posted those pictures as his own items. Then he started posting in the community groups, etc. So we left empty handed and I felt so defeated and dumb. Out $300 and no dog kennels. A not-so-happy husband, who was surprisingly very understanding, and a broken-hearted me.

Here is what I did after that:

  • I reported the scam in Cash App and they are investigating.

  • I asked the people at Cash App, in their chat, if they can give me the bank name of the person I made the payment to and of course for privacy reasons they refused, but then I said, "well can you at least call their bank and tell them this person is scamming people so it doesn't happen to anyone else?" and they said they would put those notes in the investigation.

  • I called my bank where Cash App pulls the money from and disputed the charge and told them what happened. They have opened an investigation up on their end, but because it was through Cash App, I don't think they can do much. They are aware of the situation though and have my account on a fraud watch, but assured me the way the transaction was done was a one-off so I shouldn't have to worry about them trying to get more money using Cash App from my account. I also sent a screenshot of the Cash App name that I sent the money to over to the man that said he was working with the officer. This way, he has it for his records as well.

  • I still need to reach out to the officer investigating the case. I haven't done that yet, mostly because I haven't had time, but I know they aren't going to be able to do anything about it anyway.

  • I am visiting my Norton 360+ Lifelock account more often to make sure other things aren't being affected. Again, my bank said that shouldn't be an issue because the way the payment was made, but now I'm being paranoid, so I'm watching everything more closely than before.

  • Lastly, I went into Facebook and posted to all my friends about the scam and to be careful in case someone tries to create a copycat account of mine, etc. and told them all I only have one account - not to accept another one from me. I reported the issue on Facebook. I found the fake account and even though they aren't on Facebook any longer, because I have the communication in Facebook with the person, I reported them there and blocked them as well.


References

Coming Soon


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*There are affiliate links on this page. Koutz Farm may qualify for a monetary or equivalent referral bonus if you click on the link and make a purchase from the vendor. Make sure to read our Legal Terms & Conditions for more details about affiliate links. By clicking on any one of these links, you confirm that you are in agreement with all of our disclaimers, terms and conditions. The vendor may have different legal terms, disclaimers, and agreements so make sure to read theirs as well. 

(Affiliate links don’t cost you anything to click – it only takes you to the product on the vendor’s site. If you decide to buy the product, then of course you will pay for the product like you would do if you were online shopping on your own. The only difference is, if you make a purchase, the vendor will give us a financial “reward” for sending you over to their site.  That’s pretty much all there is to it.”) 

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Meet the man of the house, Mr. David Koutz. David loves fishing and riding his motorcycle with his friends. He is a magician - I mean mechanic - and the best mechanic that ever existed if you ask us! If you have a problem, yo he'll solve it; that is why his free time is always booked up with side gigs and motorcycle rallies. Koutz Farm couldn't be Koutz Farm without him and his amazing automotive and building skills. David says he is not a carpenter, but we've put that to the test and he definitely has the skills. He keeps things working around the farm and is truly our superhero!

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