Scammers or Scamblers — They are out for your money!

| April 2, 2022 | Reply

By Mary Jane Farmer for the Van Alstyne News, Scene In Town

 Van Alstyne Police Lt. Steven Hayslip issued several words of caution about several scams which local residents have reported to them in the past few weeks.

Virtual Kidnapping  — Imagine getting a phone call and the caller saying, “Your daughter’s been kidnapped.”

One such incident involved what police and the FBI call “Virtual Kidnapping.” It begins with a phone call saying a relative (in this case a daughter) has been kidnapped, and it may include the person holding the phone (parent) to hear screaming in the background.

This incident began with a slight tap between two vehicles. The mother and daughter inside one vehicle got out to talk with the offending driver, who, it turned out was recording the conversation. It was a week before the bogus phone call.

Next the ‘scambler,’ as federal authorities sometimes call these crooks, will tell the parents/loved ones to wire a certain amount of money. “If you hang up, we’ll kill your kid,” is the ultimate threat with the intent of keeping the parent on the phone. In this local incident, Hayslip said, the people, in a panic, wired thousands, but soon learned their child had never been kidnapped at all.

“It’s all based on people providing too much information on social media,” Hayslip said.

Gone Phishin

“Don’t ever give a Social (Security) or bank account number out over the phone,” Hayslip said.

Attempts to steal your money can come in the form of ‘phishin’, which is defined as tricking an internet user into giving you his/her login name and password. Scammers could also use this to get credit card or other identification information. Sometimes, Hayslip said, these come in the form of altered email addresses of organizations, with such a slight change as to not become noticeable. The FBI said this method is often used to ask for donations for a cause.

Computer Repair Scam 

An elderly woman was scammed out of money, by a phone caller, Hayslip said. The calling scammer knew the victim was on her computer when she called and said, “I’m with Microsoft. You have an issue with your computer. It’s going to cost $200 to fix it. Go get a gift card from Walmart.” After doing that, and the scammer was back on the computer, he sent the victim back for another one because, he said, he found another problem. This time, he told the victim to go to the bank for the money. People at the bank asked enough questions that their response was — go to the police about this.” The victim did and wasn’t conned out of more money.

Others

Of course, there’s the ages-old con, too, which still works or it would have been dropped. “We have a warrant for your arrest. We will pick you up if you don’t wire the money you owe.” Call police!

And one about accidents with long-distance relatives needing hospital care, but cannot get it until money is sent. Call police!

This writer received one call from Publishers Clearing House, saying I’d won about half a million dollars, but first must wire them all sorts of money to set the release of the winning amount in progress. I called police!  And another time, someone called saying my doctor had ordered certain tests and she could come to my house to conduct them. We talked a few minutes, and then she hung up on me when I said I would meet her down at the police station to do that.

The FBI website (fbi.gov/scams-and-safety) offers these suggestions to prevent becoming a scam victim. These suggestions could come in useful, too, to thwart other scammers.

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:

  • Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
  • If the callers don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle the victim drives, if applicable.
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if he/she speaks.
  • Attempt to call, text, or contact the alleged victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
  • While staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
  • To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need additional time to meet their demands.
  • Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
  • Request the alleged kidnapper allow the victim to call you back from his/her cell phone.
  • At the earliest opportunity, notify your local police department.
  • To help prevent this scam, check privacy settings on social media accounts and revisit the information you publicize on those accounts. The more information available to the public, the more information scammers can use to convince you into believing a scam is real.

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Category: Van Alstyne News

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In the music production business, including event production, booking, photography, reporting, and other such essentials, since 1980.

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