Telephone Scams - here's a real life example to think about
There are many telephone scams out there, and it's up to us to guard against the confidence artists that have their sights set on our money. Their crimes have the potential to ruin lives, and they don't care. All they want is money to support their own life.
Stay on your toes and they won't get to you.
Here is a real life example of a phone scam that was run on someone I know. Luckily, the individual was sharp enough to catch on, but not until they had already divulged personal information that they shouldn't have. Nevertheless, no harm was done.
Here's the gist of the scam - a young person calls an elderly person, claiming to be a relative who is being held by police. An "attorney" also gets in on the act to make it appear legitimate. The idea is to get the elderly relative to put up bail to get their relative out of jail.
One of Many Telephone Scams - Help Bail Me Out
Here are the details of just one of the telephone scams that I'm familiar with. You'll see that there are common traits associated with many scams, and that's what you have to watch for so you and your money don't get dragged into something like this.
A young person called an elderly person, claiming to be a grandchild. The "grandchild" gave just a little general information about themselves and said, "You know who this is." Then the elderly person made an educated guess, and low and behold, they were right. As a result, the confidence team now had the first name (and perhaps the full name) of the grandchild that was being portrayed.
Be aware that much of the foundational information for these telephone scams can be gained from obituaries and places like Facebook, LinkedIn, Classmates, and many other sources of social media. The more we reveal about ourselves, the more vulnerable we are to telephone scams and other criminal behavior that hinges on personal information.
The individual pretending to be a grandchild explained that they were in Peru and had been arrested. They needed help raising money to get themselves out of jail. They started to cry.
A hint of suspicion crossed the mind of our elderly would-be victim, and they made a request for the name of the "grandchild's" offspring - the victim's great-grandchild - but no name was forthcoming from the one supposedly held in police custody in Peru.
To diffuse the suspicion, the first poser transfers the phone to someone they identified as an attorney who conveniently spoke English. The attorney confirmed the situation and explained that $3,000 is necessary for bail so the grandchild could use their plane ticket home which was scheduled for the next day, otherwise, they'd be held in custody for 60 days.
It would be a simple matter from that point on to have the victim wire the money to an account and that would be the last you'd see of your money, your "grandchild" and the attorney.
Fortunately, the elderly would-be victim in this case told the attorney that they would have to make some phone calls. The attorney requested that no family members be told of this because it would delay getting the accused out on bail, and would possibly cause them to stay in custody another 60 days.
After a couple of phone calls, the elderly family member verified that their grandchild was indeed safe and sound at home, and that this was one of the telephone scams perpetrated on unwary individuals all across the country.
Red Flags Suggesting This is One of the Telephone Scams
Here are the key points that should get you thinking that something like this is one of the telephone scams:
- The individual was "phishing" for information, the name of the grandchild they were pretending to be, instead of simply offering their name.
- The grandchild imposter never responded to a reasonable request to verify their own child's name.
- The individual posing as a grandchild cries to get emotions stirred up on the other end of the phone. Don't we all want to help others if it's reasonable to do so? Of course, and the would-be victim confirmed later that it was their intention to help if they could.
- There was a hand-off to another individual pretending to be an attorney. This hand-off is a sure sign that the would-be victim was getting too close to the truth or there were some sticky points in the operation that couldn't be handled by the first confidence man, so the victim needs to be passed on to another handler as a distraction.
- An individual posing as an attorney was involved to give the scam more credibility. How many "facts" have you heard through Emails that are verified by an attorney that someone knows? I'll bet there are plenty, so the attorney angle lends credibility to these type of telephone scams.
- There was a sense of urgency associated with the entire mess; a plane ticket that had to be used the following day, and the looming 60 days in custody.
- Lastly, there were instruction by the "attorney" not to discuss this with others because any delay would cause adverse consequences for the incarcerated. Having a cool and clear head give you a second opinion is the kiss of death for a confidence game, so of course they don't want you to talk with anyone else about the matter.
Be wary of telephone scams. Many of these are played on the elderly who are concerned for their family and often don't have all of the cards in their deck like they once had. But, they often have a nice accumulation of wealth, and that's all that matters to the confidence men and women who perpetrate these deceptions.
We'd all like to help others, and we'd all like to think that others are just as honorable as we are. It's best to be alert, even when we think we're safe and secure. All it takes is one mistake and we could lose thousands of dollars in one of many telephone scams and other "phishing" games that are being played over the phone, through Email and on the Internet.
There is one last thought I'd like to leave you with. When interviewing the would-be victim, they kept telling me,
"It was so real."
That's how good these people are who engage in telephone scams, they're professional liars, and they're making a living doing it, so it's no wonder that it can seem realistic. Your job is to fight off those who manipulate others for a living.
Done with Telephone Scams, back to Phone Scams