Online and Scammed: Common Elements of Scams

Beware of Online Scamming `

The creativity of scammers is simply breathtaking.

Simply being aware of the common elements of scams is only half the battle.

An older gentleman (his age is relevant only because it makes him a prime target) had a problem with his computer.

Having ruled out a hardware problem, he called customer service for his internet provider. The tech told him that his computer had been compromised and recommended that he call his online service provider. The tech, helpfully, gave him the telephone number.

When the gentleman called the number, “Jack” answered. Jack assured him that he could fix the problem and then spent several hours with him over the phone. Sure enough, the computer problem appeared fixed. Jack then told our friend that the charge was $499, and that it had to be paid immediately by wire transfer.

So the gentleman gave him the routing and account numbers for his checking account.

Three months later, the computer stopped receiving emails. Our friend immediately received an unsolicited call from Jack, who told him that his computer was again infected. Jack said that since our friend had not called him every 45 days, he would have to pay for repairs again.

After another marathon phone conversation, Jack told him that the cost would be $1,340.00 and that it had to be paid immediately by wire transfer. Once again, our friend gave him the numbers to his bank account.

This time Jack went one step further. He told our friend that he was assigning another tech, Shane, to his account, and that our friend had to call Shane every 30 days to “check in.”

By now the gentleman was getting suspicious. He contacted his online service provider via the published number. That is when he received a very unpleasant surprise.

Turns out that the online service provider had no record of any of the conversations with Jack. Our friend’s account did not show any of the payments. The online service provider denied knowing anything about the division that Jack and Shane said they worked for, and did not offer the service plan for which our friend had paid.

Now that is a clever scam.

The challenge is that scams multiply exponentially. The only way to protect yourself is to be alert to the common elements. Let’s look at this one.

1. The “company” contact number was given to the target by an individual. Solution: cross-check a telephone number or address with a public source.

2. The target was kept on the telephone for hours, leaving him tired and frustrated. Solution: set a maximum time at the outset, and keep to it.

3. The money was wired. Solution: never wire funds. Instead, pay by credit card because you can later dispute the charge.

4. The target allowed a third-party to remotely access his computer. Solution: never allow remote access into your computer.

Our friend only lost $1,839.00 and his time. What will you lose?

Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.