Phone Scam Cons are Really Pros

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Scam Wire Forum Forums USA – National Miscellaneous Phone Scam Cons are Really Pros

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This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  The Provocateur 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    The Provocateur
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    Joni Karl was about to be arrested for income tax evasion.

    A federal agent was coming to her St. Cloud home within an hour and taking her into custody unless her back tax bill was paid immediately.

    That’s what the caller said, anyway, as he read his script in broken English — most likely from a call center in India or Nigeria or Russia or Eastern Europe.

    “I think he was Dave from New Delhi that was calling,” Karl said with a giggle. “And you can hear all kinds of commotion in the background. You know that there’s a ton of people in the room doing the same call.”

    Karl, who didn’t just fall off a turnip truck, was more than a bit skeptical — and somewhat amused.

    “If you know it’s a scam,” she said, “they are hilarious to mess with.”

    But it’s also more than a little disturbing. Another phone scam is making the rounds in St. Cloud, and not everybody will immediately realize they’re being victimized.

    “It’s all fun and games, except I’m thinking if senior populations would get a call like this, there’s probably a pretty good likelihood they’re going to believe it,” Karl said, “if only because they had enough official lingo to make it sound legitimate.”

    “They’re so prevalent, I can’t tell what’s legitimate from non-legitimate on the phone myself,” added John Justin, the St. Cloud Police Department’s crime prevention specialist.

    “Some of the broken dialect and bad English is a dead give-away,” he said. “But in some cases, you can’t really tell.”

    Scammers claiming IRS ties have called Karl’s home three times this year, the first about six months ago.

    “That always starts around tax time,” said Justin, who has been giving fraud awareness presentations at Whitney Senior Center for 19 years.

    That first caller identified himself as an IRS agent, using a brusque tone and passable English.

    “There is a problem with my tax return from 2013. There is a shortage,” Karl said, recounting the caller’s threatening spiel. “I had until this phone call to decide how I was going to take care of that.

    “He said, ‘I’m going to explain what’s going to happen, and I don’t want you to ask questions or comment until I’m done. Do you understand?’

    Karl laughed. “Right away I know it’s a scam,” she said.

    “I said, ‘Boy, there must be a lot of people that have evaded paying their taxes, because I hear a whole bunch of people talking in the background.’ That did not make him happy.”

    The second call came in late June. This caller’s English wasn’t nearly as good as he haltingly instructed Karl to send a money order for $5,071 to a Pennsylvania Avenue address.

    It needed to be taken care of today.

    “I said, ‘Well, I really want to get this taken care of sooner than that. Can I just give you my credit card number?’ ” Karl said. “There is dead silence. I don’t think the guy ever had anybody ask him that.

    “I kinda giggled when I said it, and he said, ‘Ma’am, you are not taking this serious and this is no laughing matter.’ He said the agent is going to come to my address, and he gives you your address, which is obviously easy enough to get your hands on.”

    Karl laughed again. “I ended up just saying, ‘You’re pathetic’ and hung up,” she said.

    Then she called the St. Cloud Police Department to notify them of the scam. They already knew about it.

    Technology has made running a phone scam easier than ever.

    “For about $3, you can buy a computer program where if you have your phone system coming in over the internet, you can spoof it to change the caller ID read-out on the receiver,” Justin said.

    “A person could spoof and make it look like the White House or the president or governor (was calling),” he said. “They spoofed our number. They spoofed the City Services number for water billing.

    “People are trusting the (caller ID) read-out. You cannot trust it anymore.”

    Particularly if you’re a vulnerable target.

    “If my parents got this call, I don’t know that they wouldn’t do something about it,” Karl said. “The Treasury Department, tax evasion, Pennsylvania Avenue, federal agent — all the (official) terms, and knowing your phone number and knowing where you live. That’s enough stuff that I could see where people would fall for it.”

    “Some (seniors) are lonely and alone,” Justin said. “They’re more trusting in that generation and the subsequent generation. That’s why they get targeted — and they get targeted heavily.”

    Justin recommends getting a digital answering machine, and letting all incoming calls go through that. Call recipients can pick up only if it’s someone they want to talk with.

    The Minnesota Attorney General’s website (www.ag.state.mn.us) has links to all the various phone scams making the rounds. And Justin has a frauds, cons and scams presentation that he makes on request at area businesses and conferences.

    “There are so many variances of scams out,” Justin said. “The calls have gotten so bad, even on my home phone line.”

    If all else fails to deter phone scammers, you at least can have a little fun with them.

    Karl got her third call on July 6. “When he finally said that he was going to have a federal agent at my door, I said, ‘Well, I’ll put the coffee on.’

    “That’s when he hung up. They’re good humor.”

    But they’re also enough to make even wary, phone-savvy people think twice sometimes.

    “After he had hung up, I got a knock on my door about 15 minutes later,” Karl said with a laugh. “I’ve gotta tell you, I did think, ‘Oh geez, I just ticked off a real agent.’

    “It was my neighbor.”

    Link to original article…

    http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2016/07/10/phone-scam-cons-really-pros/86716426/

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