Scamming the Scammer by
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(5 Stories)

Prompted By Hacks and Scams

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Like most people I know, I never answer my phone unless the caller ID shows it is from someone I know. That means I am left with the periodic chore of going through my voice mail messages on the remote chance that one of them is from someone I actually want to talk to. Since most scammers now have fairly sophisticated technology and can detect answering devices, most of the messages are hangups, interspersed with random offers to raise my credit limit or congratulate me on winning a free cruise. My landline provider recently started offering a robocall detection service, which has really cut down on the number of messages.

The best story I ever heard came from a friend.

But the most interesting calls I received were several years ago. They came first as a message on my voice mail – someone telling me I owed them several hundred dollars and if I didn’t call them back in 24 hours they would get a warrant for my arrest. The thing was, they called me by name in the message and it wasn’t my name. Same last name, different first name. I assumed it was a wrong number and ignored it. Then they started calling several times a day, day and night. Once I picked up the phone when I saw their number and told them they had the wrong person. I even got the woman on the other end to give me the address of the person they were looking for and it was someone in Ohio (I live in Maryland). (I was very careful not to give her my full name or my address, just in case that was really what they were looking for.) But the calls didn’t stop. I finally spoke to a friend who is an attorney and she suggested I contact my local office of consumer protection. I was just about to do that when the calls stopped. I still don’t know if it was actually a scam, or just a collection agency with the wrong number.

But the best story I ever heard came from a friend. She told me she got a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. They told her she owed a large sum in back taxes and if she didn’t make arrangements to pay them with gift cards, she would be subject to a federal warrant. She played dumb for a minute, asking them questions. Then she said she was confused and she wanted them to talk to her visiting son, who was an FBI agent. (Her son wasn’t there and he is not an FBI agent.) The caller hung up immediately. I have been tempted to follow her lead if I ever have the misfortune to be on the phone with one of those scammers.

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Characterizations: been there, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    Kathy, how interesting that your caller who had the wrong person wasn’t deterred when you told them you had a different name and lived in a different state. And how frustrating! But it’s as if they knew you were about to contact the office of consumer protection and that’s why the calls stopped.

    I love your friend’s tactic! I’ll have to remember that if I ever make the mistake of answering one of these calls. Please talk to my son, the FBI agent. Perfect!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    LOL, Kathy. I block all of those calls on my landline and cell, but they just keep coming back with a similar number. My husband is more like your friend. He often picks up and tries to scam the scammer. I guess every person has their (using the new preferred pronoun) own technique for this annoyance. I also guess enough people fall for these calls to make it worthwhile for the scammers.

  3. Good idea Kathy, and by luck my son is an FBI agent and he’s always visiting!

  4. Marian says:

    Great story, Kathy. I can relate because I ignored a call from a long-lost friend, who initially didn’t leave messages, because I thought it was a robocall. Glad all worked out for you.

  5. Love the story, Kathy. I follow the same procedure with both my landline and cell. Recently a number of the voicemail messages, infrequent as they are, are fragments but each with just enough to let me know about pending arrests or imprisonment. Re IRS: my partner Barbara had a classic a couple years back, a purported IRS rep who left a message. The female voice laid out a credible case for Barbara’s concern until she ended the message with “take good care”.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Kathy, I have had several of these calls. I don’t take them. But I love your ruse of the FBI agent son. That’s a good one! Lately’ I’ve been getting calls on my cellphone from MYSELF. Those are really annoying and frightening (the hacker has spoofed my number). They will call repeatedly for days. I don’t answer and finally the calls will stop. SO frustrating.

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