Posts Tagged telephone scam

The Tellows Top 3: Calls Making You Cranky This Week!

This week’s batch all want your card details if the truth be told. Fight back by quite simply not giving them up. Here are some sneaky new adversaries on the scene to look out for…

A new entrant to the IRS scam arena (someone stop these guys already!) is 5303802641. Highly active within the last week, they’ve got a tellows score of 7 (possibly due to one misunderstanding of the scoring system – remember, 1 means TRUSTWORTHY!) and have no respect for public holidays!

Dan’s got his detective hat on…

This dumb scammer calls me on Thanksgiving day pretending to be an IRS lawyer claiming that I have an ‘Tax deficiency’ issue. What kind of idiot will believe an IRS lawyer works on Thanksgiving day and will call his ‘client’??

Very true. People calling you out of the blue about a ‘legal issue’ is more often than not quite fishy!

On the other end of the credibility spectrum is the gentleman (note the irony) calling from 3362286986. This is a guy who ostensibly really takes offence to non-credit-card-owners; he really flies off the handle if you don’t give him the answer he’s looking for. We’re not sure if he’s working ‘freelance’ or is part of a larger agency but he intersperses his survey questions with other, rather inappropriate enquiries.

Darron indignantly tell us about his experience…

I finally picked up from this number and some guy wouldn’t tell me who or where he was calling from. then I asked to be taken off his calling list and was then called several names and asked to give him a kiss. he said are you drunk? he really irritated me do not listen to him!!!!!

Cold-call flirting is a new one on us but this is exactly what this guy is doing… Albeit ineptly. And angrily.

Check out the link above for a few more entertaining stories.

With a tellows score of 8, 8608227440 is offering ‘better credit card rates’ and has absolutely no explanation of how it’s doing so.

Luckily, Aurora recognised the call for what it was…

The caller talked about better interest for my credit card and wanted to have my credit card number…I left her waiting until she hung up. As if anybody would fall for that kind of scam

…well someone must be if they’re still doing it! If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it weekly, DON’T give your card details out willy-nilly!

Keep your heads up, block those numbers and report them on tellows and we’ll be back with more nerve-grating numbers next week!

Take care,
Your tellows team

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All Systems on Alert for the Medical Alert Scam!

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: scammers really do know no scruples. The scheme we’re looking at this week preys on senior citizens.

Often living at home alone, Grandma & Gramps may feel isolated or vulnerable; so when a scammer comes calling from ‘Senior Safety Alert’ with an offer of an unbelievably cheap in-house alarm system for break-ins or medical emergencies, they will probably jump at the chance.

Ironic, considering that sieges on their security are exactly what they’re trying to protect themselves against.

The call starts with a recording offering the deal: a system worth hundreds of dollars, fitted for you, on a $30 per month contract. The potential ‘scammee’ will then need to press a number to indicate their interest and will be transferred to a ‘customer advisor’, who will take their credit card numbers and personal information and scam them for all their worth.

You, faithful tellows users, seem to be on the ball enough to show these fraudsters what you’re made of. It helps that they don’t seem to have the facility to filter their target market.

User ‘vanity-affair’ got a call from 2126775122, claiming to be ‘Medical Alert Systems for Seniors’ (which might be bona fide but is suspiciously one of the names famously used by bogus callers).

I’m not a senior but the calls are still annoying. I’m not interested in buying something over the phone.

Meanwhile, ‘grandma’ is having none of it: with a dismissive flick of what I imagine to be an immaculate perm, she terms the call she got from 5412003592 as

the classic medical alert scam.

Things to look out for…

The caller will identify him or herself as an employee of a company to the effect of Senior Safe Alert, Medical Alert Systems, etc. etc. There are, of course, legitimate companies that offer these systems but they will NOT, repeat NOT, ask you for your social security number, credit card details, outline of your genetic makeup, etc. etc. during a sales call! Other warning signs include a refusal to disclose any details about the company (e.g. address) or an unwillingness to provide any authentification documents.

As always, take care of yourselves! And don’t forget to er… raise the alarm, if you get one of these calls.

Keep reporting your number experiences on tellows and have an excellent week!

Your tellows team

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Ingenious Ruses and Scams: Spoofing The IRS

The crème de la crème of cunning crooks and crafty con artists have been leading US citizens a merry dance with their latest scheme: using the Internal Revenue Service’s caller ID to make threatening calls demanding that their victims pay their ‘overdue tax’. In the aftermath of the initial bombshell, the caller will casually request that the tax be paid via debit card or a wire transfer, both methods conspicuous by their untraceability.

You may think that this scam is clumsy and glaringly obvious. As we’re about to demonstrate, we’ve seen numerous instances of badly executed IRS impersonations in the past: heavy accents, threadbare information about their potential victims and a habit of dropping the phone like it’s hot when the victims press for information…

User Dumbo proved himself not very dumb at all when he received a call from 5302385813:

A man with a thick accent said his name barely audible and claimed to be from the IRS and said that this call was regarding some debt I allegedly had. He got very rude and threatened to freeze my accounts and credit cards. The thing is, I don’t have any debt and I’m VERY sure of it. So I told him not to call anymore and, still hearing his protests through the phone, I just hung up.

‘Xaviera’, meanwhile, was pestered by 7165757391:

I was called three times in 2 hours. Each time they claimed to be IRS and they said something about taxes or debts, I didn’t really get it because he had an indian accent. Anyway, firstly I know for sure that the IRS won’t call people, it will use the US Mail service to reach the person they want. So their claim is false. And second, they wanted to talk to a different person and I told them each time that I’m not the one they’re looking for. I was informed that it didn’t matter. Now that’s a trustworthy business…

Very savvy, guys. Hang in there: we’re proud of you.

However, these guys have gone the extra step. Not only are they calling from what appears to be the IRS’s bona fide number (spoofed, naturally), they also somehow know the last 4 digits of your social security number and make it a royal flush with staff names, badge numbers and often emails with the IRS logo and format.

But they don’t even draw the line there! We covered the worrying rise in number-spoofing in a previous blog, “Who Spoofed the Sheriff?”: fraudsters can make use of technology that masks their real caller ID and replaces it either with a nonsense number (000-000-0000 being a favourite), or (oh the audacity!) the caller ID of a publicly recognised establishment. If you don’t comply, or seem doubtful, the guys behind the IRS scam will proceed to follow up the call with further harassment from the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles; number-spoofing is child’s play to these guys so prepare for a barrage of calls, all ostensibly from the correct caller IDs. Armed with this facade of legitimacy and threats of arrest, deportation or confiscation of your business or driving licence, they’ll have you listening.

However, as always, we urge you to BE WARY! IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel stresses that in the first instance, notification about due tax will in most cases be sent in the mail. Payment will be requested via cheques or bank transfers, never wire transfers or debit card! Moreover, they are an independent body and do not act in conjunction with state police or other organisations.

If you receive an unprompted call claiming to be from the IRS, we advise you to call them directly on 800-829-1040. You can also wise up using the official IRS ‘scam-alert’ web page. In the meantime, keep searching and reporting numbers on tellows and give each other a hand in the fight against scam callers!

‘Til next time,

Your Tellows Team

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Tellows’ Top 3: The Week’s Gear-Grinders

Howdy friends of tellows!

We have a mixed bag of callers for you this week; from the serious to just plain outlandish, our ‘wanted’ list always has contenders jostling for that Most Annoying award.

First up is a scam that’s becoming increasingly popular across the United States: the ‘you got served!’ call. Calling from LA on 2132609423, this fella’s not got the scam down to a fine art just yet…

User hal_t recounts:

some guy has called me literally EVERY. DAY. for the last two weeks telling me he’s bringing round legal papers and I’m getting ‘served’. not been served yet bro…

There unfortunately are more tenacious tricksters out there, who have successfully convinced US citizens that there is a warrant for their arrest out that they can buy their way out of for a couple of thousand dollars. Now, not only is it not possible to get ‘served’ over the phone, it is highly suspect that somebody would ask you to pay your way out of it without showing you any kind of documentation. Don’t let the fear surprise you out of your senses.

Second on the list, 9164698829, tries a similar tack, though much more aggressively. According to our heatmap, the perpetrators are based in Sacramento, CA, and try to accuse you, under a variety of aliases, of owing huge debts.

flynn099, who received a call from a ‘George Belowski’, was having none of it…

THREATENED US WITH A YEAR LONG PRISON SENTENCE FOR BANK ISSUES??? REAL HEAVY INDIAN ACCENT, TOLD US HE WAS FILING THE CLAIM IN AN HOUR!!!! MY FINANCES ARE TOTALLY CLEAR, THIS IS A MASSIVE SCAM!

Like flynn, you too should always be suspicious of an unprompted and unjustified phonecalls about your finances.
Last but not least is prankster and presumably Pitt-fan 8137936945, calling from Clearwater, FL. Witty user ‘monkeyingaround’ could fortunately see the funny side of the call, which cross-referenced more popular culture than your average chain-yanking caller…

‘Tyler Durden’ called me then proceeded to reference 12 Monkeys. Points for originality but stop pranking me!!!

Well, it takes all sorts folks…

Have a great week and stay cellphone-savvy!

Your tellows team

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Transatlantic Team To Wage War on Serial Spoofers

21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as the USA’s Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission joined forces with organisations in the UK and Canada to crack down on ‘spoof’ callers. This new task force aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers’ stranglehold over phonelines the world over.

The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed by President Obama in December 2010, prohibits the masking of Caller ID with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”. Working with Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulation and competition authority for communications industries, the UK-based Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the FTC and FCC have pledged to use their collective international jurisdiction act decisively and severely against the criminal act of spoofing.

Spoof calling, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, involves using some ingenious software to mask the number you’re actually calling from, preventing the recipients of your calls from locating you, or calling you back. This is naturally infurating for people plagued by anonymous calls. What’s even more infuriating is that whilst some spoofers use nonsense numbers instead of their own, others have gone the extra mile and strategically use the phone numbers of well-known organisations to execute some impressive scam manoeuvres. Let’s take a look at a couple.

Tellows users in the US reported this month that one band of tricksters have been using a phone number belonging to New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (NYSTEC) to try and pose as telemarketers. User Gerald says about his call from 5186211390:

I got this call from “NYSTEC” but I figured out rather quickly that it was scam. Someone is “spoofing” their number cause NYSTEC doesn’t make any telemarketing calls or ask for donations. Nor would it ask personal information or even credit card information in that way.

NYSTEC soon cottoned onto the fact that their number was being used by a spoof caller and released a statement on their website.

More dramatically, last week’s ‘sheriff’ blog aptly illustrates how successful a daring fraudster can be. Numerous cases of sheriff-impersonation have been springing up all over the United States, convincing vulnerable citizens to, for example, bail out a relative or pay their way out of an arrest warrant.

A non-existent ‘Donald Mack’ from Kern County Sheriff’s department (9164148678) tried to tell user Jen that there was a warrant out for her arrest. The genuine sheriff’s department, when Jen called them back, confirmed that it’s not possible to be ‘served’ over the phone. Kudos to Jen for the cool-headed approach!

Fraudsters will even impersonate a string of different people, calling you back on different, faked numbers, working their way up a disciplinary hierarchy to try and scare you into paying up.

The numbers used by spoofers range from any old number, to the very frustrating 000-000-0000 number variants, to the phone numbers of prestigious organisations. Difficulty in tracking down the culprits is increased thousandfold by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from; this means that internationally-placed spoof calls are becoming increasingly common – hence the transatlantic team-up.

The joint statement, published on the ICO’s website, avers that the six regulators

will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing.

The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work together with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes ‘misuse’ of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered and clarified, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures. And it’s not just the scam callers that are being targeted; silent and abandoned calls will be treated with equal severity.

For now though, until that distant day when spoofers and scammers have been silenced once and for all, remember to second-guess that unknown caller! Stay suspicious and have a great week.

Your tellows team

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Who Spoofed the Sheriff? Audacious Phone Tricksters Use Spoof Technology to Impersonate Officers of the Law!

The most recent spate of phone scams in the United States is an ingenious one. Criminal callers are using ‘spoofing’ technology (which allows a caller to choose which number appears on your display when they call you) to make you believe they’re calling from your local sheriff’s office.

Generally, they’ll have laid their hands on some convincing personal details about you – a loan you recently took out, perhaps, or the name of someone in your family. They’ll inform you that there is a charge against you, which you can pay a fine to waive. They’ll also have done their research on the sheriff’s office in question and will often use accurate names and information to convince you of their authenticity. After all, the number on your display is definitely the sheriff’s number – why wouldn’t you believe them?!

This is a scam that is popping up all over the USA, counting victims in Pinellas County, FL, Pima County, AZ, Spokane County, WA and Macomb County, MI to name but a few. By playing on their victims’ emotions and convincing them that they’re bailing out a relative, for example, these tricksters have made people part with thousands of dollars.

User Jen tells us more about a call she received from 9164148678

A man calling himself Don Mack claiming to be an Investigator with the Kern County Arbitration Department calls to say they have sworn affidavits and will be filing charges in the morning to of theft and fraud. He throws around all of this legal mumbo Jumbo. Does not state at the beginning of the call that the call is being recorded but later when he’s telling you how favorable the judge will be (or presumably will not be) when he hears the tape of the conversation. He throws around some figures and slides in to the conversation that you can take care of it by paying fees of out of court costs of some amount. He expressed frustration with your inability to understand what he is saying when you ask questions and also advises you to get a lawyer. He claims that you’ve been “served” over the phone and that you’ve been on a warrant dialer list.

Edward B. had a similar experience with 8558506310:

They called my wife, claiming that they had an arrest warrant for me and told her I had until 5.30 pm to turn myself in or we had to pay $1.500. When she asked for what, they said for fraud but wouldn’t specify any further.

Similar scams involve scammers posing as local law enforcement agencies trying to get payment details from victims, supposedly to pay off a pay-day loan; in another case, a caller posed as a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration, telling the victim that he was under investigation for purchasing illegal substances. Often, these calls will actually be followed up by another call from the same guy, using a slightly different voice and name, claiming to be from an organisation with a higher authority and threatening you with further action.

Spoofing, with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value” is illegal under the Truth in Caller ID Act, which came into force in 2010.

Always remember that police will never ask you for payment over the phone. Hang up immediately and report the incident to the real state police if you believe that you have been called by one of these spoof callers. You can also register these incidents at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints.

Remember to share your experiences on tellows to help protect other users from these types of scams!

Be wary of suspicious callers and have a great week!

Your tellows team

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The Devil in Disguise of Microsoft: Tech Support Scammers Strike Again

For many, the computer has become an important device to manage matters of everyday life. With useful features such as email, social networking sites, online banking and shopping, there is barely any aspect of life that you can’t organize with the help of your computer in one way or the other. As discussed on our tellows blog – both US and UK – in the past, that turns the computer into an appealing target to scammers.

The number of telephone scams aimed at receiving access to computers has been increasing as a growing number of comments such as those of tellows user Sonya, who wrote about the number 7804094786, demonstrate:

This man with a heavy accent called here, saying that he was from “Microsoft”, that my computer had sent them a error message of some sort and that he was now calling to fix the problem. This was literally a day after I had bought a new computer that was still in the process of being set up, but I figured I played along for a little while longer, just to see where they were going with this. He then said to press start and type in CMD into the search and click enter. […] Long story short: It’s a scam – so beware!

How the Scammers Operate
In most instances, the scammer posed as a representative of Microsoft or Windows Microsoft, claiming that the computer of the person called has been infected with malware causing the operating browser or computer to sent a critical error message to the supposed tech support of the corporation. The goal, to gain access to the computer and subsequently other sensitive personal information about its owner or users, is achieved by instructing the target to change current computer settings or to download rogue security software to leave the computer vulnerable.

In some cases, they also attempt to charge a fee for supposedly fixing your computer: user Mr. Swanson reported about the number 8008008200:

Total scam! The caller said he was calling from “Microsoft” and that it had come to their attention that my computer had been infected with a dangerous virus. Of course, they had the solution for my “problem” and, yes, while it might cost nearly $300, it would be a good investment and apparently really the only way to save my computer. I figured I humored them long enough, said they should go to hell and hung up. So if you’re not in the mood for playing with some scammers, don’t pick up!

Reported Scam Numbers
Several users reported other numbers connected to the scam on tellows, including the following numbers:

Detecting the Scam
In some cases, if your computer has been infected by malware and you are a customer of Microsoft, you may receive a call from a legitimate representatives of Microsoft. However, actual employees of the corporation are able to verify you as a customer and will not charge you to fix your computer over the phone.

Moreover, you should keep the following things in mind when dealing with calls that seem suspect:

  • don’t provide any information regarding yourself, your computer or your credit or bank account on the telephone (unless you can be 100% sure that you are talking to a legitimate representative of the company in question and you are a customer)
  • don’t follow any instructions that change computer settings, especially if you don’t know how it will affect your computer
  • don’t provide a third party access your computer on the telephone
  • don’t download software that you have no knowledge of, especially if you are charged for it

An ongoing issue for the company, Microsoft is well aware of the problem and has provided an information page on phone scams related to the corporation.

Reacting to the Scam
If you have already given away information and think you might be a victim of scammers, change the password on your computer as well as for other user accounts they may try to access such as email account, bank or credit card account. Run a trustworthy and reliable scan program on your computer – Microsoft recommends the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

Furthermore, don’t forget to report the scam: if you are aware of a number that is used for this type of scam, you can alert the Federal Trade Commission in the US. In order to warn others, you are encouraged to share the information you have on our tellows community as well.

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Update on Facebook Scammers: New Numbers

As we recently reported, scammers have taken to social networking sites. Seeing that more and more numbers appear to be connected to the scam committed on Facebook, we decided to give you an update on the latest telephone numbers:

  • 7145910019 from Santa Ana, Minnesota
  • 3052904905 from Miami, Florida
  • 3479604267 from New York
  • Operating under names very common in the US such as Amanda, Ashley, Jennifer, Jessica, Lisa and Nicole, the scammers attempt to get added to the contact list of Facebook members to then contact them with messages asking them to call or text to a certain number. The procedure is nearly always the same with only few details changed (such as the name and messages that ultimately lead to the request to be conacted by phone) – as demonstrated by comments such as those of tellows user Mr. Firth, who commented on the telephone number 4153668587 from San Francisco, California:

    Some girl called Lisa something contacted me on facebook – or rather sent me a friend request. I didn’t think much of it, so I added her. She then contacted me again saying that she liked my photo and that she now had to logg of but I should give her a call at this number. I’ve heard some similar story from a friend who also added someone unknown at Facebook and then tried him to get to call a certain number. I guess it’s an ongoing scam and people should beware of all Lisas, Ashleys and Jessicas who try to “befriend” them on fb.

    Using what seems to be countless name variations, accounts and phone numbers, some of our users have been contacted not only once but twice by scammers. User Robert, for instance, who had commented on a number related to the scam before, reported 9292234999 from Germany with the following statement:

    Unbelievable! This is yet another facebook scam! I just reported about one of those yesterday, a Jessica contacting me and this time it was a lisa. she asked me to call her at this address. I don’t know what that means with regards to the scammers since I figured they were a group of people – perhaps there is more than just this one group or they lost track of who they already contacted? It certainly isn’t more believable the second time around…

    So stay alert and be careful who you add to your contact list on Facebook or any other social networking site and don’t react prematuraley, especially on urgent requests by a complete stranger. If you have detected a scam, don’t hesitate to share your knowledge on tellows and help raise awareness against scammers.

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    False Friends on Facebook: Beware of the Latest Social Network Scam

    With all those possibilities concerning both your personal and your professional life, who can afford to stay away from the social media? With the highest amount of active users, the social networking site Facebook has become an important part of the social life of more than a billion members world wide. What’s more, instead of limiting their online contact list to the people they actually met in real life, for many “Facebook friends” also include a number of strangers, thus offering scammers and fraudsters a chance to creep into peoples lives without ever having met or talked to them.

    How Scammers Use Facebook
    One of those scams has recently come to the attention of our tellows.com user who reported how they have been approached by strangers on the platform. Often using a rather common name like Amanda, Ashley, Jennifer, Jessica, Lisa or Nicole, the scammer contacts people on Facebook with a friend request, sometimes even sharing a mutual facebook “friend” as in the case of user Gary who wrote on the number 8722130108:

    This actually didn’t just happen to me but some friends of mine as well. A Jennifer/Lisa/Ashley/Amanda or what have you tries to befriend you, sending a friend request, then striking up a conversation only to quickly log off again, asking you to call “her” at number xy. This is not the only number they try to get you to call or text to, but it’s all I’ve got so far. I guess that really teaches you a lesson about “befriending” strangers on facebook.

    Once added, the person contacts again, often asking some random questions or engaging in a little small talk before ending the (mostly one-sided) conversation quickly with the excuse that they supposedly have to log off of facebook and stating that the other person should text or call at a certain number. A lot of different numbers that have been reported in the past few days shared a similar story. User Stan W., who reported the number 7185139068, put what most users thought into words:

    […] It seemed odd to me – who gives out their number to strangers like that? […] I just wonder what they are trying to accomplish by it?

    Why They Want You to Call
    Scammer could want you to call for various reasons:

  • to get your number
  • to verify your number (to be used or sold to call centers, telemarketers etc.)
  • to charge you for the call
  • to forward your call to another number
  • We agree with tellows-user Peter‘s recommendation, who commented on the number 7185139067:

    […]I don’t know how it works and what they have to gain from this, but do not under any circumstance respond to their requests!

    Numbers Associated with the Scam
    The following numbers have been reported in connection to the scam as well:

  • 3233582539 from Los Angeles, California
  • 4155240634 from San Francisco, California
  • 2534444459 from Tacoma, Washington
  • If you have been contacted by a stranger asking you to call an unknown number – especially without giving you a very good and plausible reason why, it is perhaps the most sensible thing not to react and to rather be safe than sorry. If you do suspect a scam or are already aware of a telephone number that is used for scams, do not hesitate to report it on tellows and warn others. Moreover, be careful who you add to your contact list on facebook or any other social networking site.

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    Senior Citizens Frequently Targeted by Con Artists

    Targeting senior citizens, one of the oldest and most frequently committed scams is still going strong. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advises all seniors to use caution when answering phone calls from unknown numbers, especially when the caller claims to be a relative asking for money.

    This particular scam method is a rather simple one: playing on grandparent’s heartstrings, the con artists call elderly people, posing as their grandchild and claiming to be in trouble that could be solved with a money donation by their supposed grandparent. Unfortunately, some of our users have already made some experiences with these scam methods. As user Harry commented on the number 4389894013:

    Unbelievable scam! My dear mother received a call last week from a young man who claimed to be her grandson. He said he got into “all kinds of trouble”, was arrested on vacation and now needs some money for a lawyer and bail. You can imagine how upset she was when she called us to check in. Fortunately, she hadn’t done anything yet and was just happy to hear that her grandson is well – but the nerve that some people have!

    Other recently reported numbers include:

  • 5145685650 from Pierreville, Canada
  • 4387653430 from Quebec in Canada
  • 8888912113 from an unknown location
  • Reasons for Targeting Seniors

    There are several reasons why seniors in particular are targeted by scammers. Generally speaking, most seniors tend to have excellent credit and often saved up extra money for emergencies. Additionally, they grew up in different times with a different mind set, tending to be well-mannered, trusting, giving and caring, and are thus more vulnerable to scams. Oftentimes, seniors fail to report these crimes for reasons of false pride – embarrassed by the thought of what relatives or others might think if they’d admit to being scammed. A lot of con artists also bank on a less detailed memory and forgetfulness that tends to increase with age. In some cases it might take a while before the victim realizes he or she has been duped which makes it even harder to track down the scammers and retrieve the money.

    With the number of elderly people continuously rising, senior citizens make up a large portion of the US population – more and more of which make use of advancing technology, becoming more accessible to con artists (regardless of their actual physical distance). Many scammers operate outside the US which raises even more difficulties to catch and stop them.

    Common Methods and Red Flags

    Over time, some scams have become even more elaborate with some, for instance, researching social media sites to obtain personal details about the grandchildren that they can use to gain people’s trust. Sometimes even a third person is involved, posing as a police officer or lawyer and supposedly validating the grandchild’s claim to need money. However, there are some patterns of behavior that should raise immediate suspicion. These red flags are:

    • the caller doesn’t identify by name or only after you already suggested it
    • the caller insists that his/her parents should not get involved
    • the caller urges you to wire money through Western Union or Moneygram (most commonly used by scammers in the US) or to immediately and secretly send money
    • the call originates from outside the US or overseas
    • the caller won’t and/or can’t answer questions your actual relative would know
    • the caller doesn’t sound like the person he/she is claiming to be but makes excuses for it (e.g. bad cold)

    How to Recognize Scam Calls

    In order to quickly identify scam calls, you should refrain from suggesting a person’s first name: for example, if someone says “It’s your grandson” ask for their actual name and if necessary for further information that only you the person in question would know. The following tips might also be helpful to avoid scams and money trips:

    • check in with your relatives (e.g. the grandchild concerned or his/her parents) to confirm the story with a phone number you know to be trustworthy
    • refuse to send money via wire transfer if you are uncertain who’s on the receiving end
    • make notes as to who requested money, when and to which location
    • if you do wire money, add a security question only the person you think will receive the money would know
    • if you have already wired money without security question and it hasn’t been picked up, call the wire transfer service to cancel

    Moreover, the FBI strongly advises to resist the pressure and refrain from hasty action. If you have been scammed it is important to report the crime immediately to law enforcement officials and to file a fraud report. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will regain your money but it will certainly make it easier for law enforcement agencies and the FBI to track down active con artists and prosecute them.

    You may also talk to your parents or grandparents about the dangers of unknown and/or possible scam callers. Furthermore, if scam numbers have been brought to your attention, don’t hesitate to share the information on tellows so that other people can benefit from your knowledge.

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