On Your Side: Tricks Of The Trade

LAS VEGAS - For decades, crooks and cons have used telephones to steal cold hard cash from innocent,  unsuspecting people. According to the government, these scammers have stolen millions of dollars from people worldwide. Dozens and dozens of articles have been written about the scams.

One of the most common over the last decade is the tech support scam.  It's been circulating since 2008. There are also kidnapping scams, where the fraudsters play on your fears and steal your cash.  In fact, AARP says these "phone cheats"  are some of the most pervasive scams of all time.

These scams are so prevalent that organizations that normally do not see eye-to-eye have all come together with reports and videos trying to inform the public about these scams.

For example, AARP created this PSA warning people of all ages about phone scams, particularily tech support scams.

Microsoft, also issued a warning about those scam. 

Since many scammers ask for payment through money grams, iTunes gift cards and Green Dot cards, all three companies also issued warnings to their customers about phone scams.

Yet, even with all these warnings, 30 million people still fall victim to fraud and phone scams every year.

And the scams don't change.

Barbara Vaniski is a prime example of that. 

Recently, she got a phone call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft technical support. She believed them and gave them access to her computer and her credit card number. When they called again the next day explaining the hackers who accessed her computer the day before were criminals blackmailing her son, she believed them. The story they told her terrified her. So when she got a call from the someone claiming to be with the feds saying they needed her help to capture these crooks, she believed that too.

The callers told Barbara they would deposit large sums of money into her bank account and that she should by iTunes gift cards with the funds. Later they told her to wire the money to India with the cash they gave her. Because the callers had access to her computer, Barbara could not tell the money being deposited into her account was coming from her credit card and savings account. Over five days she spent more than $12,000 on iTunes cards and wired more than 5 grand to India. She says she would have sent more if a family member had not questioned her behavior. Barbara says she finally admitted what was going on and the family member explained to her, she was wrapped up in a scam.

Barbara immediately contacted the FTC, the FCC, the FBI, local police, Apple, and every store where she bought the gift cards and Money Grams.

Apple acted very quickly and discovered some iTune cards had not been cashed so they deactivated them. The Apple representative Barbara was dealing with also called each Albertson's and Walmart store where Barbara had purchased those cards and convinced them to refund her for the deactivated cards.  She got $4400 back.  

To date that is all Barbara has been refunded. 

She is still trying to recoup her losses through a Go Fund Me account. You can learn more about that here. 

Barbara insists she had never heard of this type of phone scam and that's the problem.

No matter how often it is reported, or who reports it, there are millions of people who have not gotten the message. 

This is why we are sharing Barbara's story, so you can learn these scammers tricks and so you can share her story, so no one else falls victim.

Never wire someone you don't know money and never send anyone money in the form of a gift card of any kind.

This is how scammers love to get paid because there is no way for you to get a refund. 

The more this message gets out, the better because the only way we can stop scammers is when more people know their tricks of the trade. 


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