Thieves, scams and con artists have been around since the beginning of time. Telephone based fraud really hit it’s stride in the 1980s. Internet based calling, Caller ID spoofing, and the dramatic price drop in acquiring a phone number has allowed thieves ramp up their efforts. “Call Centers” can now exist anywhere in the world, and contact people anywhere virtually free.
Some seek personal information, credit cards numbers, money or a combination. One of the most common scams currently being worked is the “Suspended Social Security Number”. If you have ever wondered where this phone scam ends, KSST has the answer.
An employee of KSST actually complied with the scammers in March in order to find out exactly what the end game was. This included driving from the station, with the call still connected, to a local bank. Walking into the bank with the call still connected and withdrawing cash. Driving to a local drug store, or as they call it a “Government Approved Store”, to purchase an “Asset Protection Wallet” (ie gift card). This is where we ended the call, or rather they hung up on us. We began asking the cashier for the special ‘Wallet’ (instead of the actual name of the gift card as instructed) and she became suspicious. She warned us that it was probably a scam, the thieves heard her say this, and they ended the call.
If we had purchased the gift cards, they would have asked for the account numbers on the cards, and the money would have been stolen.
Along the way they will tell you keep the whole affair a secret. They will test you to make sure you are in your vehicle by asking you to honk your horn. If you attempt to deviate from the instructions given, they threaten in vain to send police to your address and arrest you immediately. They also try to use names of public officials in your area such at the sheriff or police chief.
The scam works. In spite of the terrible sound quality, preposterous script, lack of valid caller ID, etc… People are losing money. Aside from throwing our phones away, the only thing we can do to prevent this fraud is educate everyone, especially those most vulnerable to this attack. If you feel it might help someone, have them listen to the call provided above, and discuss ways to prevent theft by phone.
For more information on this type of fraud click here.