Common scams circulating in California, here’s what to look out for

A series of scams have infiltrated the Golden State causing the California Department of Justice to provide ways to stay protected.

Here’s a list of scams circulating California and how to avoid them:

$20 Bill Scam
The $20 bill scam involves a stranger pretending to return a $20 bill that they say a potential victim dropped, according to the Yuba City Police Department. This usually happens after a scammer learns of the victim’s debit card pin number by watching them at an ATM.

Moments later the scammer will get the victim to open their wallet and ask for the money back. During the process, the victim gets distracted while the scammer(s) steal the debit card right from under the victim’s nose without them knowing.

Officials advise people to use caution when using a debit card or providing personal information in a public place. It’s also recommended to pay close attention while handling financials in the presence of strangers.

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or new idea or business by raising money from a large number of people. The DOJ reported that it is often done through online platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and YouCaring.

California’s DOJ said to “learn all you can about the organizer before making a contribution.” Use Google and LinkedIn to look up the organizer. Ask questions such as, “Does the organizer have the expertise in the area the campaign concerns? Does it look fake? Are the friends real? Are there real-time comments? Be suspicious of pages that were created right before the campaign started. Also, search social media such as Facebook for validity.

Scams directed at seniors
Scam artists target seniors because they believe they have money to be taken and may be less careful in their dealings with strangers, according to California’s DOJ. While this is not always true, seniors and those who love them should still be on the lookout for scams directed toward older members of our community.

One common trick aimed at seniors is the “Grandma I’m in Jail,” scam. In this scenario, a senior citizen will get a phone call from someone saying, “This is your grandson, I’m traveling, and I’ve been arrested. Help, I need $500 for bail. Go to Walmart and send the money to the following….”

The DOJ says not to panic. First, ask questions to determine if it really is your grandchild. If they called you “Grandma” don’t say “Is this Michael,” ask “Who is this?” Ask him the name of his parents. Check with your son or daughter to find out if your grandchild is even traveling. Ask where the child is being held and confirm the information on the internet.

For more information on scams targeted toward seniors visit

Charity Scams:
It’s common for scammers in California to pose as representatives of a charity in hopes that good Samaritans will donate. Before forking over any cash the DOJ suggests that you check the organization’s validity.

Charities operating and soliciting donations in California are required to register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, according to the DOJ. They are also required to file annual financial reports. Confirm that the charity and fundraiser are registered and up-to-date with their financial reporting by searching the Attorney General’s website for their records at

Job and Business Schemes:
Sometimes you need a job, sometimes you want a new job, and sometimes you’d like to go into business for yourself. There are lots of legitimate resources out there to help, but there’s also a lot of scammers out there looking to take advantage of you, the DOJ reports.

To stay protected California DOJ said to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The state says job seekers should insist on getting the details of any business offer in writing. They should also get independent references and check them out.

Another recommendation for people applying for jobs is to check out the business or job placement service with the Better Business Bureau. Search for reviews online by typing the name of the business or promoter into an internet search engine with the words “scam,” “complaints,” or “reviews.”

The DOJ also recommends not to let yourself be rushed into a business or job opportunity. They say if the opportunity is legitimate, there should be time for you to think about it and do your homework.

For additional information about common scams circulating in California visit

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