How to Avoid Being Scammed pt 2

How to Avoid Being Scammed  a Guide for Women pt 2

As we discussed in the previous installment, criminals are endlessly inventing new ways to part you from your money. And they do not discriminate based on age, gender or social status. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, was recently scammed. And I personally know of a Wall Street legend who was also recently scammed. 

Scammers are cunning and they have ruthlessly developed formulas for scamming because they work. 

The random call scam

Scammers use random calls because they work. They can spoof the number of the FBI, IRS, your local police station and others. Perhaps you answer and they tell you that your child or grandchild was in an accident or committed a crime (or they claim to be that child). They tell you that you need to send money for bail or for the hospital. They may know your child’s name, their girlfriend and a lot of other information because they can find it on your social media. And this type of thing happens every single day. 

There was a recent story in the Wall Street Journal about a nurse who was scammed out of $340,000. This is basically what happened.

  • She received a call from someone identifying himself as an “FBI” agent.
  • He told her that her identity had been stolen and used to commit crimes. He told her that if she didn’t do exactly as he said, files would be charged against her and she would go to jail.
  • He told her to leave work and go to a hotel. He told her to send him her receipts for the hotel and food, as they would be reimbursed by the government.
  • He kept her on the phone for hours at a time and told her if she let her family or friends know what was going on, she might be guilty of another crime.
  • He said she needed to move her assets to “FBI” accounts in order to protect them from the identity thieves.
  • Over the course of a few days, she transferred more than $340,000 from her accounts to the “agent.” 

In general, these types of scams play upon your fears and make you afraid not to comply. And while banks, especially those holding retirement accounts, typically ask a number of questions to try to determine if something fraudulent is going on, these callers know how to coach you through answering those questions.  

In another recent scam, a woman received a phone call from someone saying they had her daughter and that if she hung up, the daughter would be killed. The caller kept her on the phone for hours going from bank to bank and sending money, until a few hours later her daughter texted her about something and she realized the caller was a scammer. Of course, by then it was too late. 

The business email scams

In these types of scams, the perpetrators “spoof” an email address that you recognize, so you receive an email that you think is from your boss, another company executive, or some other important person asking you to do something that may or may not be out of the ordinary.

One woman received an email she thought was from her boss asking her to buy gift cards for everyone in the company as Christmas gifts. The email told her to send the gift card numbers and pins to the boss when the task was complete. She did so and the scammers got away with more than $10,000. And the worst part is that her company is saying she’s liable for the loss, as she put it on a corporate card. 

In a similar incident, a Wall Street Legend’s employee received an email he thought was from the boss’s wife asking for a significant wire transfer to an art dealer’s account in order to buy her husband a painting for his upcoming birthday. Naturally, she asked for the information to be kept secret. In this instance, the “wife” actually emailed a few times to say the transfer hadn’t come through and could it be sent again either way, as she had now found a more expensive painting to buy. These scammers got away with more than $300,000. 

Helpful tips

In order to try to avoid falling prey to these and other scams, here are some tips that may be helpful.

  1. Remember that the FBI and police will generally not call you. They will come to your home or place of business.
  2. Do not stay on the phone for an extended amount of time. Ask for a number where you can call the person back and then try to verify if what they are saying is true (call the FBI or your daughter).
  3. Do not underestimate the amount of detailed information scammers may have.
  4. Check to make sure any email with instructions about money is truly coming from the person you think it is from. Double check the address or call them/email them from a new email to be sure it’s legitimate.
  5. Verbally or in person confirm instructions given by a boss, vendor or someone else with regard to money, property or payments. 

Gasber Financial is dedicated to helping you keep your assets safe. You can always call us with any suspicions you may have. In our next installment, we’ll discuss tax and investment scams and tips for avoiding them.