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Scammers striking close to home this summer


Special to the Miami Herald

My mother-in-law and my father were confronted with two different scams recently. I just want to tell you about them.

My father was outside in front of his house in Miami Beach. A young woman approached him and said she was collecting for an organization, something to do with the United Nations. My father is so giving—let’s just say that all the homeless people in Miami know him by his first name—so he went inside and told his wife to give the woman a check for her organization.

As his wife was talking to her, she asked what organization she should make the check out to. Guess what? They do not take checks. The woman explained that they wanted their bank information and would withdraw the money directly from their account for deposit into their organization’s account. They told her to leave.

My mother-in-law was looking for a parking spot at the Navarro in Sunny Isles Beach. She noticed a motorcycle about to leave a handicapped space and she drove near the spot to wait.

As the biker pulled out, he told my mother-in-law to roll down her window. She did, and he accused her of hitting his motorcycle. She was waiting for the spot, so she was never near his cycle.

He asked for her papers, and she wouldn’t give them to him. He said he was going to call the police, and she said "good idea."

So she waited and waited; he approached her again and said the police were taking too long, that she better stay there and he would come back with the police. After a while, a Navarro employee asked what’s wrong, she told him and they called the police.

We think he was trying to see if my mother-in-law would give him money so he wouldn’t "call" the police. The biker never came back, and the police, who came pretty quickly, said they never got a call about this.

Just when you think you heard it all, here is a scam that came to me from, the online complaint resolution platform:

With many people moving during the downtime of summer months, scammers are exploiting this confusing time by offering unnecessary “change of address” services. Third-party companies claiming to represent the U.S. Postal Service offer to help consumers register a new residential address, resulting in unexpected monthly charges of $17 to $24.

Scambook has received over 300 complaints about "change of address" sites from consumers across the country, centralized in Florida, California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington state and Texas.

Individuals are receiving an initial processing charge of $1, followed by unwarranted monthly charges for additional services they did not knowingly purchase. Many have also experienced difficulty contacting the sites’ customer service departments to cancel the unwanted subscriptions.

To avoid doing business with these third-party services during a move, Scambook recommends consumers only to use the official U.S. Postal Service change of address site by visiting

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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