Telemarketing Fraud Where Losses Are Under $1000
"Where's the Check?" Scam
Aggressive scam artists often seek out vulnerable seniors who
are suffering from memory loss. Then, sounding charming on the
phone, they seek to gather as much information about their potential
victim. When they call back on the second day, they will ask questions
based on the personal information gathered during the first call.
If the senior can't recall the initial conversation, the fraudulent
pitch, which can have several variations, begins:
"You sent us too much money," the caller insists. "We
received your check for $1,200, but it should have only been
$950. Tell you what. Send us a check for the lower amount, and
we'll send your first check back to you."
"Our records indicate that you've paid $2,400 toward your
total payment, leaving a balance of only $600. Let's make a check
today to clear this up, and we can get your award out to you."
In both cases, no money had ever been previously sent. The victim
will likely send the check out of guilt or embarrassment. The hook
for the scam artist is the victim's poor memory which leads to
the fraudulent action.
Even Buzzards Have a Conscience
Preying upon mourners over a recent death, or "vulture fraud",
is one of the cruelest and lowest forms of swindling. The con artist
obtains information from death notices, then calls or visits members
of a bereaved family, and attempts to collect sums of money for
items which they maintain were purchased by the deceased before
his death. Sometimes they render bills when nothing is owed, or
claim partial payment has been made by the deceased and attempt
to collect the alleged balance.
Help Is On The Way
An African-American pastor received a collect call after 9 p.m.
from an individual identifying himself as the Deacon Harrison of
another city church. He claimed to have previously met the minister
and frantically related that he and his family were stranded out
of state, after experiencing car problems on a freeway. The caller
said that a state trooper had their car towed sixty miles to a
small community where a mechanic repaired the car and presented
a bill for $859. The family could only come up with $586.
The elaborate story included reports of racial discrimination,
name-calling and intimidation by the local white law enforcement
who supposedly threatened to force the family, traveling with a
disabled mother, to walk back to the freeway sixty miles away.
The caller sobbed to the pastor that he had tried to call several
deacons and members of his own church but none answered his calls.
The phone was then passed to someone identifying himself as the
sheriff. He told the minister to send the required $273 by Western
Union to a particular woman who would verify its arrival.
The sheriff then would release the family in their car so that
they could continue their trip. The sheriff added the threat that
if the money was not delivered there would be trouble. The driver,
put back on, said he would phone back when he and his family had
reached the freeway.
The pastor who was the target of the scam did as he was told but
never heard from any of the people again. He was out the $273,
plus Western Union charges. Calls made the next morning to the
names supplied by the caller revealed that the church deacons had
never heard of the so-called Deacon Harrison. It had all been a
clever plot by thieves, preying on the kindness of others.
Fluffing Your Pillow
Scam artists will call hotel guests in their rooms late at night,
saying they are members of the hotel staff. Using some administrative
pretext they ask guests for their credit card numbers. Those guests
tired and unwary enough to fall for the trick later find charges
on their credit card statement for purchases they never made.
A scam which targets managers and employees of local businesses
is where a con artist phones you and holds himself out to be an
airline pilot with a major airline. He claims to have season tickets
to a major stadium or sporting event.
He says the tickets have been in his family for years, given as
a corporate gift from an affluent regular customer, but as he's
flying to Australia, he won't be able to use them. The "pilot" says
he wants to sell the tickets at face value and let someone enjoy
the game or event. He asks, "Do you know anyone who would
like to buy these six excellent seats for $750?"
This "airline pilot" is good at the con game. He uses
his knowledge of local people to win the confidence of his targets,
often calling a second time after he has obtained information about
the targeted employee. Within two conversations, he's almost your
Once he has a buyer he says that another pilot "Captain
Donald Prescott will be flying into town on a later flight. I
can send the tickets with him! ""Just meet Flight 691,
Don will be the last person off the plane, and he'll have the
He suggests setting up a question and password to be sure the
wrong person doesn't get the tickets instead of you. "When
you see the pilot, ask him about the tickets. He'll ask you, "What's
the game?" You answer, "All-stars.""
But, he says there's just one problem: "How can I get
paid for the tickets? Unfortunately, I won't see "Captain
Prescott" before I depart for Australia." Then,
he has a solution: "Just use a Money Gram! Wire me the
$750 using the same question and password that you're going to
use to get the tickets."
He uses this "question and password" method because
he won't have to present any other identification when he picks
up the wired money.
He has pulled similar cons successfully in cities across the United
States. Once the money is wired it is lost. No tickets will be
delivered. The bottom line: never wire money to someone you don't
know, and especially never fall for a con that asks you to use
a "question and password" method to wire money.
Six Degrees of Separation
Knowing they will be flattered and impressed, a "prominent
individual" impostor calls scholars who know "of
him" and talks of the scholars' work. He finally gets around
to the fact that his nephew is in town but has suffered the misfortune
of losing his bag with his valuables.
"Could you spare him the money for a hotel until I get
there the day after".
As a token of his appreciation he says that he will lecture there
for a cut rate or provide you with tickets to a big game.
The amount of $200-300 is commonly given without restraint, much
to the dismay of the real celebrity who has been repeatedly maligned
by the actions of this con artist.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the commissioner
of jurors' office seeking your bank account number so he can send
you a check after your upcoming jury duty, get his phone number
if you can and then call the real jurors office.
The Commissioner of Jurors in the Buffalo, N.Y. area found that
someone has been staging a telephone scam, saying that you are
being selected for jury duty, then seeking information about your
home address and bank account allegedly "for reimbursement
In truth, the $40 a day jurors' checks come directly from Albany,
not local offices, nor are there any direct deposits to jurors'
04/04 - Arkansas - A woman who received a call was told by a man
that she had had more than $1,700 taken from her account recently
because of telemarketing fraud. She said he read her bank account
number to her and asked her to verify the number and authorize
the withdrawal of $398 to pay the investigating attorneys.
She said he would send her verification through the mail, but
she had to allow the withdrawal from her account before they could
take action. She refused to do so.
When she tried to call back to the number on her caller ID, she
could not complete the call.