Updated: December 09, 2020 05:50 PM
Created: December 09, 2020 05:21 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In consumer news, I’m taking you inside the mind of a scammer to help you protect your money.
As a consumer investigative reporter, I usually look for crooks to write about. But sometimes, they find me. Such was the case last week while sitting at my desk, writing my consumer segment.
A scam artist called me to tell me my Social Security number had been compromised. If you get one of these calls, you should hang up. Instead, I kept the crook on the phone so that you could see just how they operate.
The scam is nearly always the same.
First, you get a robocall. In my case, the automated message said my Social Security number had been suspended. It then says to press 1 for more information.
That's when I'm connected to the scammer who asks for my name, address and Social Security number. Of course, I give them fake information.
Now the call becomes more sinister. I put the thief on speaker so I can record her.
Scammer: "Something we have found suspicious under your name and your Social Security. That is the reason that the law enforcement authorities have decided to suspend your Social Security number."
She sounds official, business-like. She tells me to get a pen and paper to write down my case ID. Then she tells me to write down her name, Gretel Jensen—yeah right.
Now the hook. She tells me my Social Security number is associated with bank accounts being used for criminal activity. My reaction requires my finest acting skills.
Scammer: "So that is the reason the law enforcement authorities have filed a case against you for drug trafficking and money laundering."
Deanna Dewberry: “Oh no!! Drug trafficking? There's a case against me for drug trafficking? Are you serious?"
Scammer: “Yes, miss. I am telling you that someone is using your social security for committing criminal activity.
Dewberry: "Oh you're kidding me?"
Scammer: "(unintelligible) or you have any connection to this?"
Dewberry: “No of course! I don't traffic any drugs! I'm a mother of six. I’m at home with my kids!"
I’ll be the first to admit my acting is less than stellar but it is good enough to fool her. She then tells me two addresses are associated with my name as well several bank accounts. She wants to know where I bank and how much money is in my accounts. Then the zinger.
Scammer: "Everything is going to be seized and seized by the government."
Dewberry: "Oh my God! You're going to seize my bank accounts?”
She then puts me on hold, and another crook tells me it's going to be okay. They can protect my assets.
Scammer: “You need to go to your bank, and you need to withdraw your funds, and you need to deposit that into a government-authorized machine."
Bingo. That's how they steal your money. After almost half an hour, I've had enough. I tell her I'm an investigative reporter, and I want to know who she is.
Dewberry: "Where are you calling me from? You're not calling me from the states are you? Let's see what is that accent?
She then hung up on me."
This week NBC News profiled two similar scams circulating right now where scammers pretend to be from Amazon or Apple.
The Federal Trade Commission says don't do what I did. If you get one of these robocalls, hang up. Don't call a number a robocall provides and don't give out personal information. And lastly, report these scams to the FTC.
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