Between telemarketers and robocalls, it’s usually easy to tell when you are speaking to someone who wants to sell you the latest product or a long-winded recording. But while there are five surefire phrases you’re talking to a scammer on the phone, it can be very tricky.
As people wise up to their scams, thieves often try different tactics to sound more convincing. As a result, it usually takes a few minutes before most people realize what’s happening. Other times, scammers get away with thousands of dollars.
Read on to see how a couple recently got swindled out of $300,000 and what you can do to avoid these phone scams.
Here’s the backstory
This frightening tale began with a simple pop-up message on a computer. The couple who lost over $300K had a pop-up message appear claiming there was a problem with their computer. That’s where the scheme began.
The pop-up included a phone number claiming to be to Microsoft tech support. Unfortunately, the couple in their 60s called the number and shortly after the conversation, their phone rang. This time it was someone claiming to be a U.S. Marshall, and the incoming phone number was spoofed, so it looked legit.
He told the couple there was a breach of their savings account and Amazon details and that $21,000 was at risk “due to child porn.” According to ABC 6 News, he said that authorities are wiretapping their phones and listening to their conversations.
The elaborate scheme led to the couple sending about $303,000 from July to August to the scammers. Get this. The thieves told the victims that U.S. Marshalls would use the money to buy a house in Hong Kong to keep their money safe.
“I’m guessing they just put a whole lot of fear into these people, which caused them to wire the suspect money on four different occasions,” Captain Casey Moilanen with the Rochester Police Department told ABC 6 news.
What you can do about it
While this scenario might seem extreme, scammers are getting more convincing and daring with their attacks. You always need to have your guard up when dealing with unknown callers.
Here are some tips on how to avoid falling for phone scams:
- Avoid answering unknown calls. Don’t answer or return calls from numbers you can’t identify. If the call is important, they will leave a message. Tap or click here for ways to block unwanted calls.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone if you don’t trust the person or can’t verify their identity.
- If someone is pressuring you to act quickly in sending money, hang up. Speak to a relative or friend about the situation to get perspective.
- Never send payment in any form to someone on the phone who you don’t know. Sure signs of a phone scam are when the caller asks for payment by gift card or a money wire.