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Financial Advice Columnist falls for $50K scam
Old 02-15-2024, 04:27 PM   #1
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Financial Advice Columnist falls for $50K scam

This is not to make fun of this person. I truly feel sorry for her. It is to show (a) that anyone, if not careful, can fall for a scam, and (b) the type of scam that was used. Someone claiming to be from the CIA convinced her to hand over $50K in cash in a shoe box.

A summary of the situation:

https://news.yahoo.com/financial-jou...203808974.html

Quote:
A New York Magazine financial columnist has described how she handed fraudsters $50,000 (£39,690) in cash after she fell for a “cruel and violating” scam.
Charlotte Cowles was conned into thinking she was a victim of identity theft and there were warrants out for her arrest for cybercrimes, money laundering and drug trafficking.

...

“Now I know this was all a scam – a cruel and violating one but painfully obvious in retrospect”, she said.
“I felt violated, unreliable; I couldn’t trust myself ... I still don’t believe that what happened to me could happen to anyone, but I’m starting to realise that I’m not uniquely fallible,” she wrote.
“Either way, I have to accept that someone waged psychological warfare on me, and I lost.”
The source (and longer, but interesting) article, written by the columnist:

https://www.thecut.com/article/amazo...-warrants.html

Quote:
The man on the phone knew my home address, my Social Security number, the names of my family members, and that my 2-year-old son was playing in our living room. He told me my home was being watched, my laptop had been hacked, and we were in imminent danger. “I can help you, but only if you cooperate,” he said. His first orders: I could not tell anyone about our conversation, not even my spouse, or talk to the police or a lawyer.

Now I know this was all a scam — a cruel and violating one but painfully obvious in retrospect. Here’s what I can’t figure out: Why didn’t I just hang up and call 911? Why didn’t I text my husband, or my brother (a lawyer), or my best friend (also a lawyer), or my parents, or one of the many other people who would have helped me? Why did I hand over all that money — the contents of my savings account, strictly for emergencies — without a bigger fight?

...

And while this is harder to quantify — how do I even put it? — I’m not someone who loses her head. My mother-in-law has described me as even-keeled; my own mom has called me “maddeningly rational.” I am listed as an emergency contact for several friends — and their kids. I vote, floss, cook, and exercise. In other words, I’m not a person who panics under pressure and falls for a conspiracy involving drug smuggling, money laundering, and CIA officers at my door. Until, suddenly, I was.
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Old 02-15-2024, 05:31 PM   #2
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I'm glad she was courageous enough to share her story (although it made sense to do that since she was a financial writer). Notice that the scammers did NOT have her full SS number; it appeared they had the last 4 digits, which many places seem to think it's OK to demand. "Can I have the last 4 digits of your Social?" is asked so casually. It's only 4 digits, right? (If they know when wand where you were born they may be able to generate the first 5.)

I almost fell for an e-mail from someone pretending to be my priest (didn't notice it was from a yahoo address instead of his usual Gmail although my Gmail program pointed that out to me). He needed gift cards to give to some women in the hospital, too busy to mee, just buy them and give him the numbers... I was almost out the door to buy them when I remembered gift card scams and it may have been from a reference here. One of our parishioners, who could ill afford it, actually complied.
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Old 02-15-2024, 11:10 PM   #3
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While at a restaurant I got an email from a neighbor near my cabin, asked me to help him out as he was ill right now.
I asked him where he was and how could I help.
He emailed back asking me to buy gift cards and ...... . I realized he didn't answer my questions and then realized the email was wrong on the reply. First one had been his email , or looked like it, but the second was different and wrong... Then I remembered that Gift Cards are a NO NO.
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Old 02-16-2024, 06:31 AM   #4
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I don't get it. How can anyone fall for that? She must be the most naive person ever. WOW!
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Old 02-16-2024, 06:37 AM   #5
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I don't get it. How can anyone fall for that? She must be the most naive person ever. WOW!
I thought maybe it was made up.
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Old 02-16-2024, 06:38 AM   #6
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I don't get it. How can anyone fall for that? She must be the most naive person ever. WOW!
If you read it, you'll conclude anything but.
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Old 02-16-2024, 06:40 AM   #7
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I've been a victim of the email scam. Without getting into the details, the weird thing was that the email appeared to come from a business partner I know and trusted, the sender replied to my questions with legit sounding responses, and the request made sense at the time. So, I venmo'd $1000 into the black hole of the internet. Come to find out I was scammed. They just happened to catch me in a situation that lined up with their narrative - probably tried thousands of emails, I just happened to be the one that made sense. In hindsight I should have called my friend to verify, not done everything electronically. Fortunately, the dollar amount wasn't too great - but the embarrassment factor was priceless. Lesson learned.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:00 AM   #8
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I got a request from a work colleague on my personal email. He was out of town and needed a favor. He asked me to buy gift cards and send them to his niece for her birthday. The email seemed scripted so I called him on the phone. Everyone in his contacts got the email.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:03 AM   #9
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On occasion I'll read about a victim falling for a scam in my local news feed, or read stories like this one. My first reaction is always "how stupid can this person be?" but the prevalence of these successful scams then leads me to an easier second conclusion: these fraudsters are "good" at their game.

ETA: DW once got one of those "Grandma I need money, I was arrested" calls. At the time, my grandson was 8 years old.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:21 AM   #10
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The scammers have likely pieced together a lot of personal info released in data hacks over the years and have a well scripted story and a number of people playing various roles. They also tell the victim they cannot hang up the phone or they will be arrested by local law enforcement. They are creating a sense of urgency that most people can’t deal with. The right thing to do is just hang up, but it’s very difficult to do.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:29 AM   #11
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ETA: DW once got one of those "Grandma I need money, I was arrested" calls. At the time, my grandson was 8 years old.
My mom got one of those from her “grandson”. Only problem is she’s got one grandchild, our daughter. The scammer had a 50-50 shot and blew it.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:32 AM   #12
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There was an IRS scam a few years ago that almost roped in a deadbeat relative. They called him on cell phone, claimed he was in big trouble over unpaid taxes, stated there will be a warrant for his arrest issued if hang up, told him you to give them a credit card right then and there else... Well, funny thing, he was actually late on taxes, so it all sounded legit. But, somehow the call got cut off, which them gave him time to think it thru. But, he was about to shell out a couple grand he didn't have. Imagine how many people that one collected on.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:40 AM   #13
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Sadly, most of the scam attempts I get seem to be church-related. Both our current Bishop and her predecessor have had people impersonate them in e-mails.

One I detected immediately was a fellow church member who e-mailed me Sunday evening from one of the countries ending in -stan. He'd been sent there on emergency business, his wallet was stolen, yadda, yadda.

Problem was, I'd seen him in church in Kansas City that morning.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:57 AM   #14
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It doesn't help that so many people keep answering those Facebook quizzes:

If you were a blues musician your name would be:

- your favourite colour
- the name of your first pet
- your mother's maiden name
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Old 02-16-2024, 08:00 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by disneysteve View Post
My mom got one of those from her “grandson”. Only problem is she’s got one grandchild, our daughter. The scammer had a 50-50 shot and blew it.
Even easier when you have no grandchildren and your young nephews live overseas.
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Old 02-16-2024, 08:03 AM   #16
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There are so many scams:

I have gotten the "This is your grandson call." It made me think you should always turn down someone claiming to be your relative asking for money. If they really are your relative - they will find you.

I had my computer locked "by the FBI" who claimed that I was a child pornographer. This was at work so I went into the head partner's office and let him know and called IT who mentioned that it was a well known scam. (It would have been nice had they circulated the info to the employees if they had known about it.)

Actually a lot of suspicious e-mails at work - which I promptly forwarded to IT, to determine whether they were a scam or real business. A frequent, obvious scam, was a request to deposit a check.

I received a text while driving to the training station to go into the City for a work appointment - allegedly - from the head of the firm asking for a favor. I responded to that one - and was asked to buy gift cards. It occurred to me that he would not be pulling me off an assignment to go buy gift cards, and I called my direct boss to reach out to him. Turned out our firm had been targeted previously. Again - why weren't we informed. (I took it upon myself to send out a firm-wide e-mail.) Thereafter, the firm received several warnings about this fraudster.

One of my credit cards was compromised - but the CC company picked up on it, woke me up at 7 am on a Saturday to ask if I made a 50 cent charge, closed the card, and sent a new one.

The "IRS" called and threatened to arrest my husband for back taxes. I put them on hold.

Maybe the closest was when I called one of my banks about an online issue, the rep told me it was a problem with my computer and somehow I got switched over to a "techie" who wanted to access my computer bill me for fixing my computer. He started asking for too much information. I hung up, turned off my computer and pulled the plug on it. (I am not exactly a techie, but I didn't hear back from him.)
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Old 02-16-2024, 08:48 AM   #17
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I received an email last week purportedly from a distant acquintance I hadn't seen or spoken to in a while asking how I was and could I help him with something. Sure, I responded. The follow-up asked if I could buy some gift cards for him as he was "having issues" with HIS CC. My reply...."Get lost, creep. My buddy would never ask me to do that, creep!"

I dug around and found my buddy's email...which was different from the one used by the scammer...and let him know what had happened.
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:09 AM   #18
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Ok I’ll admit it. I’ve wasted WAAY too much time watching youtube scambait videos. White hat hackers. It’s unbelievable what people fall for. People think they have romantic relationships with celebrities! It’s like some type of mass hysteria.
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:26 AM   #19
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I always wonder who falls for these things, then I remember George Carlin:

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:30 AM   #20
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Gmail pretty much saves every To/From e-mail address with which you've had contacts- not just the ones you deliberately add to your Contact list. When I was on our HOA Board, the previous President always emphasized that e-mails to the whole neighborhood should be sent with all the names in the bcc list. That way if your e-mail account is taken over by a scammer who sends out a "Please help- I need gift cards" e-mail it will minimize the number of people who get it. I once got one of these scam e-mails from a woman who belonged to the same nonprofit I did. She and I had never e-mailed each other directly but had been in the recipient list on many group e-mails.

A good practice, which our current HOA President ignores.
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