New Scam Stealing Millions from the Unsuspecting

Posted by Jack

Americans keep proving to the world we are an easy mark.  We are unbelievably trusting when it comes to falling for telephone and internet scams.   You would think that after all the national publicity, even oldsters that couldn’t pass a blood test, would never fall for these blatantly obvious scams, but they do!  It’s very sad, but good for the poor criminals in India, et al.       

In the last 12 months, people filed more than 76,000 complaints about Social Security impostors, reporting $19 million in losses. The median reported loss last year was $1,500, the FTC said.

People are asked to give up the personal identification numbers (PINs) on the back of gift cards or use virtual currencies like Bitcoin to pay. (According to the FTC’s consumer alert, people withdrew money and fed cash into Bitcoin automatic teller machines.)

After handing over the gift card numbers to the “Social Security office,” one consumer interviewed by Fraud.org was told he would receive a refund equal to the amount he paid to unfreeze his account from the Federal Reserve. Of course, the refund never came and the man lost nearly $20,000.

“One scammer will try a new twist on an old scam or try one new wrinkle that gets them more money,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud with the National Consumers League. ”Scammers like to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to using the latest techniques to defraud consumers.”

The scammers can be clever. With numerous data breaches that have hit corporate America, fraudsters may already have accurate personal information about you, including your real Social Security number, Breyault said. The information is used to build trust and make the call seem more legitimate, he added.

According to Fraud.org and the FTC, here are some important things to remember:

  • Don’t trust your phone’s caller ID. Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency’s real number.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number, other personal information, to a caller on the phone.
  • Social Security will never suspend your number, according to Fraud.org. If anyone tells you something different, you’re being scammed.
  • Social Security will never call you and demand money. No government agency will demand you pay something using gift cards or Bitcoin either.
  • If you have a question, check with the real Social Security Administration. The administration will never contact you out of the blue. The agency’s number is 1-800-772-1213.
  • Talk about the scam with friends, family and neighbors. Report government impostor scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
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14 Responses to New Scam Stealing Millions from the Unsuspecting

  1. J Soden says:

    Other phone scams out there:
    Microsoft does NOT call you to tell you that your computer needs fixing
    IRS does NOT call you about your taxes
    DOJ or FBI do NOT call you about legal problems
    And if you get a call from someone claiming to be a relative that’s been taken to jail and needs $$ to get out, hang up! Then call that relative to see if it’s true.
    And of course, there’s always that “Nigerian Prince” . . . . . .

    Another good way to keep from getting scammed – if you do not recognize the phone number, just don’t answer. Legitimate callers will leave a message. And if that message is automated, you can bet that it’s some kind of activity designed to pick your pocket.
    And if any “deal” someone is offering sounds too good to be true – it probably is NOT!

    • J Soden says:

      Oops! – left out that Medicare does NOT you about your health

    • Post Scripts says:

      J. S., thanks for that excellent commentary, but our warnings seems to fall on deaf ears. Me thinks P.T. Barnum was right.

    • More Common Sense says:

      Some more ….

      1. P.G. & E. does not call you and tell you they are going to turn off your power if you don’t pay over the phone right now. I had a commercial tenant that almost gave the callers money. Their lease includes utilities and he was concerned that I hadn’t paid the bill and the power was going to be turned off. This is a very intelligent man, however, the scammers use fear to get people to act in contradiction to their common sense. He was afraid he would lose business if the power was off. He told me he had a feeling it was a scam but he was concerned about taking a chance by ignoring. Fortunately he did ignore the call.

      2. Be wary of calls about family members in trouble with the law and needing money. My mother received a call from someone who identified himself as her grandson. He said he had been accused of a crime and needed some money to get out of jail. Fortunately my 87 year old mother is still very sharp and didn’t fall for the scam. These people prey on the elderly. There should be a special place in hell for people like that.

      3. You are browsing on the internet and a screen pops up telling you that your computer is infected by a virus. A voice booms from your speakers telling you not to close the window, etc. or your data will be lost. What do you do? CLOSE THE WINDOW! If the window won’t close power off your computer and turn it back on. In 99.9% of the cases that solves the problem. The scammers have flooded the internet with these screens by taking over legitimate links. They have absolutely no control of you computer at this point. If you call the number on the screen they will charge you hundreds of dollars and then talk you through a series of steps that gives them access to your computer through the internet. If you cooperate, THEN they have access to you computer anytime they want. They can even watch as you access your bank accounts etc.

  2. Peggy says:

    And here’s another scan going on in Calif. and other states.

    “A loophole in California’s voting system allows voters to cast two ballots. One America’s Pearson Sharp explains how, despite knowing this, Secretary of State Alex Padilla refuses to take action to fix it.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yolDvnMU9-A&t=5s&fbclid=IwAR2zz4zYcDfz_JJYmwxgIngMzB4HMFgUt2Nwdupqyp2kH5z-n5VEp7g73dY

  3. Peggy says:

    I was a victim of a “Microsoft” ransom scam. An official notice appeared on my computer and seized control of it. I had to call them to have them fix it. That’s when I got into a negotiation on how much I had to pay, which ranged from $1600 to $600. Not being smart enough to just hang up and turn off my computer to reboot it I used my credit card for the $600.

    I called my son to tell him what happened. He drove over immediately and went about fixing the scam I’d falled for by calling Visa to cancel the card to find out they had already run through two $600 charges and to call the real Microsoft to inform them of the scam going on in their name. Lucked out having a son to fix the mess and Visa to reverse the charges without question immediately. This all took place in less than an hour. They could have maxed out my credit card in no time if not stopped.

    Since that day, about two years ago, I’m still getting calls from them. I can immediately recognize them from their foreign accents and the noise in the background of a bullpen operation. I no longer answer any number I don’t recognize and changed my message to inform the caller to leave me a message or I will block their number, which I do. I now have hundreds on the list most from different places in the US.

    Lesson learned the hard way. I got rid of my computer and went with a ChromeBook that doesn’t require any virus protection since there’s no hard drive. I know it’s a Google product, which I’m not thrilled about, but it fits my limited online use needs.

  4. RHT447 says:

    All good advice, but I live for this one–

    “Microsoft does NOT call you to tell you that your computer needs fixing”

    Them (thick accent): “We have detected a problem on your Windows computer.”

    Me: “Windows? Our new windows are in? Hey, that’s great!”

    Them: “Yes sir, we are detecting a problem on your Windows 10.”

    Me: “WHAT? We only ordered 8 Windows. EIGHT. WINDOWS. Don’t tell me you morons effed up the order again!”

    Hilarity ensues.

  5. J Soden says:

    Here’s a new one that Phoenix TV is warning about. Seems folks will get a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped and are holding a loved one and want a ransom payment right now.
    And there there’s the phony text messages supposedly from your bank saying that something is wrong with your account. DO NOT open or call whatever number is shown as it’s a form of phishing. Contact your carrier and report it.

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