Saturday, April 18, 2015

Warning! Scam Alert.

On 9/10/11, I wrote about "Frauds and Scams", specifically a phone call I received where someone wanted to hack into my computer by claiming to be from Microsoft. I wasn't fooled.

Yesterday, I received another much scarier call. These people need to be prosecuted. My heart rate must have skyrocketed and I'm certain that there are many folks who could become quite ill from such an experience. It's not even about the money. It's about the shock and the stress.

I'm not going to write details of what happened although as is my nature, I took copious, detailed notes. The reason is that hubby suggested sending it to the paper and I think that's a good idea. It might help others who could be sucked into this scam. Although I did not follow through with any of the instructions, or lose any money, the first part of the call was extremely convincing. Then it began to unravel.

I posted this on facebook. It's what I'll share for now. Later on, I'll add my newspaper submission as a blog. It will contain all the details.

 It happened today. I got THE phone call. Interestingly enough, they somehow had my phone number and a voice like my son's. "Mom, I'm sorry, I had an accident". Then, "This is officer Patrick Albright (unusual accent for a Patrick, but oh well). We have your son here at the police station...etc.etc." It was frightening. It was convincing. It was scary. My heart is still racing. They work on your emotions, your fear, your eagerness to help your child, and more. Then, the public defender calls you back and he asks you to go to Mr. Convenience in Baltimore and send a money gram to Peru to make it all go away. Really?  

Of course I reported this to the police department where these people claimed to be holding my son. They were very understanding, took down all the info, gave me an incident number and told me to
contact local authorities. The officer also suggested getting unknown numbers blocked by the phone company for a nominal fee. Apparently, the caller can be put through if they are willing to unblock their call. Interesting and a great idea. I also called the local police as was suggested because some
other people in this town might be easy targets. Since I hadn't lost any money, they were unconcerned and said I should phone the anti fraud squad (or whatever they're called). I did. The agents were busy...not higher than usual call volume, just busy. "Call back later" I was told.

So, here are some suggestions based on this experience. Immediately ask the "officer" for your family member's full name, address, birthday, vehicle type, or any other info they should know based on what they have told you. Ask for their phone number so that you might immediately call them back. Both of those should give you enough info. Be forewarned, they are smooth and they move fast. They can bluff their way out of questions and give convoluted answers.

So, the original Microsoft computer scam people called several more times over the years.  My daughter seemed concerned for my well being one day when she heard me yelling into the phone before I slammed down the receiver, "You're a liar and a thief. Your mother must be so proud ."

I just have to say, there's no telling what I'll do if  the latest evil scammers ever call back.

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