To add value to our client relationships, we want to help you be savvy consumers and avoid losing money to fraud. Unfortunately, scams happen. There are scammers who seek to part you and your money. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. Familiarize yourself with these common scams to be able to recognize them and avoid being victimized.
Here is a list of five common scams. Read on to understand how each works and how to spot them.
- Romance Scams
- Grandparent Scams
- Government Agency Scams
- Advance Fee Scams
- Account Takeover Scams
The Romance Scam essentially says: “I love you. Send me money.” Rings of successful scammers throughout the world have a presence on dating sites and social media and are always looking for their next victim.
Generally, they steal photos of individuals who are attractive and appear to be successful and create a fake identity. They will quickly attempt to develop a relationship with their victim. Although these can happen to anyone of any gender and any age, they tend to target older adults, since they tend to have more money. Many targets are elderly widows/widowers who are lonely and looking for companionship. These romance scammers will shower their victim with attention and affectionate talk.
These scammers often make elaborate plans to meet up with their victims but cancel at the last minute due to some unexpected issue – usually financial. Requests for money often come with a promise to pay the victim back, usually due to an alleged incoming inheritance or other pending large payout. A challenge in romance scams is that the longer the ruse continues, the more committed the victim becomes in the “relationship.” This type of fraud accounts for the highest losses reported by victims over 60.
The Grandparent Scams come in the form of a “grandchild” calling and asking for help. The grandchild will ask the grandparent to “not tell Mom or Dad” as a means of preventing the doting grandparent from getting accurate information from a parent. They pretend to be in some sort of trouble and need emergency funds. They may state they are sick and need money for medical care, are outside the country and need money to get home, have been arrested or are otherwise in trouble.
Sometimes, the scammer is an alleged intermediary pretending to act on behalf of the grandchild. For example, the grandchild is reportedly incarcerated, so his/her lawyer calls to ask for bail money. Love and fear are powerful emotions; this scam feeds on both the love of the grandparent and the fear for the well-being of their grandchild.
The Government Agency Scam pretends to be from a government agency such as the FBI, IRS and Social Security Administration. Occasionally, the call or message will be from an agency that doesn’t actually exist but sounds like it could be legitimate. This scammer threatens some type of adverse result if action isn’t taken immediately. They may threaten incarceration, a suspension of one’s social security number, or seizure of assets. They demand an immediate phone call to a number provided. That number usually links to a call center run by a network of scammers.
Payment is demanded to avoid the adverse action. Sometimes personal information, like social security number or date of birth, is gathered in an attempt to steal the victim’s identity. Victims pay out of fear of reprisal from the agency. The scammers generally demand prepaid cards, wire transfers, or cash to be mailed or sent overnight.
The Advanced Fee Schemes promise victims a huge payout – at a price. They come in many forms, but the pattern is the same. The victim is promised some type of financial windfall as soon as they pay some upfront costs. That payment can be framed as a fee, taxes, or commissions. The reality is that there is no financial windfall, but the scammers will continue to request additional funds before releasing the alleged money. On many occasions, they will provide fraudulent documents, including phony checks, to perpetrate their scam.
The Account Takeover Scams (ATO) attempt to take control of a person’s account and drain it as much as possible before discovery. Having gained some information about the victim, the scammer calls the financial institution and acts as the customer and demands a payout. Often, barriers are put up to prevent outbound calls to the actual customer. Some examples include stating they are out of the country and the phone doesn’t work or telling you they are sick so their voice won’t sound the same when you call.
This is why we never move your money without first speaking to you directly. Any request to send funds via email cannot occur without an outbound call to the customer confirming the transaction.
We NEVER conduct business solely via email. We always receive confirmation from the customer via outbound call prior to sending requested funds.
We are here to watch your money. We will never move money based solely on an email or a voice mail. We speak directly to you, our client, and use the phone number we have on file for you. Be assured we always take these steps to safeguard you and your money.
Scams and Fraud Information from AARP: https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/
Help for victims: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/providing-support-older-victims
FBI Internet Crimes and Reporting: https://www.ic3.gov/