Scammers Have Changed The Way They Try To Pick Your Harlem Pockets

April 2, 2024

Impersonation scams and the old gray mare have something in common – they ain’t what they used to be.

Scams that begin with a phone call have significantly decreased, while reports of scams starting with a text or email have increased. Sitting atop of the impersonation chartx? Those that impersonate well-known businesses and government agencies.

New data regarding frauds reported to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network show that upwards of 330,000 reports of business impersonation scams and close to 160,000 reports of government impersonation scams found their way into the agency’s hopper in the last year. 

But there’s some big time blurred lines in those half-million reports. The FTC says that many scammers working the impersonation angle are using more than one organization in a single scam. For example, a fake Amazon employee might transfer you to a fake bank or even a fake FBI or FTC employee for fake help.

The financial impact, though, is what consumers should worry about. Combined, reported losses to these impersonation scams topped $1.1 billion. Putting those scams in all their different buckets, most people report losing money through bank transfer and cryptocurrency. 

Copycats, fake giveaways, and too much money

With the shift in tactics, the FTC’s top four impersonation scams are worth boning up on so you can detect one the moment it happens. Here’s what the agency shared with ConsumerAffairs:

Copycat account security alerts: If you get a message about some supposed suspicious activity or unauthorized charges, be careful. “The message might say it’s from Amazon, alerting you that someone’s ordered a big-ticket item using your account. Or it might look like it’s your bank, asking you to verify a charge,” the agency said.

“These messages often include a phone number to call or ask you to text back YES or NO. Though scammers are convincing, it’s not really Amazon or your bank. It’s a scammer who says they can help fix the problem, which is also fake. What they tell you to do is designed to steal your money. Often, this means transferring funds or loading cash into a Bitcoin ATM to ‘protect’ it.   

Phony subscription renewals: Next are emails claiming that an account you never opened is about to auto-renew for hundreds of dollars. One favorite brand being impersonated is Best Buy’s Geek Squad, but of course, it’s not really the Geek Squad at all –  it’s a scammer. 

With this scam, if you decide to call and try to sort things out, the person on the other end will say they have to connect to your computer to process your “refund.”  Once they’re in, they make it look like too much money was refunded. Then, they demand that you return the difference, often by buying gift cards and giving them the numbers on the back.

Fake giveaways, discounts, or money to claim: Publishers Clearinghouse has enough on its plate to try and fix, but the company is also being used to leverage scams. The FTC says that scammers are sending out messages about sweepstakes winnings from Publishers Clearing House, as well as discounts from your internet provider, a giveaway from a big retailer, and sometimes a so-called offer about government money you can supposedly claim. 

“These stories are all just another set-up to steal your money. The story ends with you buying gift cards or sending money to claim the deal, gift, or sweepstakes. And that’s always a sign of a scam,” the agency warns.

Bogus problems with the law: Imagine this: your phone rings, and it’s someone claiming to be from the IRS or FBI. They sound urgent, saying your identity has been stolen and used for illegal activity. Then, your worst fears start to flood in and you have no idea what to do. But, no problem – they offer a way out, just transfer your money to a secure location for “protection”. It feels like a lifeline, but it’s a trap because any money you send is lost to scammers.

“The government will not call you to demand urgent action or threaten you.  In most instances, they communicate via mail,” Darius Kingsley, head of Consumer Banking Practices at Chase, told ConsumerAffairs.

Spotting and stopping these scams

So how can you spot and avoid these scams? Well, first off, you should never click on links or respond to unexpected messages – text or email. But, if what someone is pitching seems real, do yourself a favor and contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. If you use the information in the message, you’re likely to wind up talking to the scammer directly.

Don’t trust caller ID, either. Kingsley said that we should always ignore and block calls and messages from numbers you don’t recognize and don’t trust caller ID alone. “When in doubt, hang up and get in touch with the company or bank directly to ask if there is a problem,” he said. 

Buying gift cards or using a Bitcoin ATM always spells trouble. Real businesses and government agencies will never do that – and anyone who asks is a scammer.

But the last thing you should consider is probably the most important: Slow down. Scammer success rates go up when they can rush the victim and make them feel threatened with things like subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or tell you that you need to take action “immediately.” 

Before you do anything, just stop and ask yourself some questions and call your bank, the company, your friends, whoever you can to try and get some objective insights on what may be happening.

Photo credit: Source.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Harlem World Magazine, 2521 1/2 west 42nd street, Los Angeles, CA, 90008, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
We're your source for local coverage, we count on your support. SPONSOR US!
Your support is crucial in maintaining a healthy democracy and quality journalism. With your contribution, we can continue to provide engaging news and free access to all.
accepted credit cards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles