My Neighbor Averted A Telephone Scam Today. But I'd Like Your Advice On Who To Contact To Catch Those Crooks

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 4:57 AM GMT
    She phoned while we were at dinner, and we promised we'd listen to her problem when we returned home at 7 PM. She's a 91-year-old widow and we sometimes manage to solve things for her.

    We learned she had gotten a call late Monday afternoon, telling her she'd won the Publisher's Clearing House million dollar prize, plus a new car. (That's an actual promotional drawing we have in the US) They wanted to phone her back tomorrow (Tues) at noon, to arrange their formal presentation of the check at her home on Wednesday.

    They bring a video camera to record the event and it's used on TV for their advertising purposes. And that really is done, most of us have seen those on TV.

    BUT, first she'd have to write them a check for $400, to cover "expenses". OK, even this frail old lady smelled a rat. She said to me: "If they're giving me $1,000,000 what do they need my $400 for? What indeed. But these con artists prey on the gullible elderly. I'm also worried about them gaining entry to her place, if she were to answer her door to them.

    But with the initial surprise of this news she agreed to take their noon call, and now she wanted me standing there to help her. What I'll be doing tomorrow. I may even take the call myself, because she's genuinely hard of hearing, and that's what I'll tell them.

    Now my question is: who can I call tomorrow morning before noon, in law enforcement who deals with these things? The FBI? The FCC? The phone company itself? County or State Prosecutor? I know our local police wouldn't know how to handle a stray dog, much less this situation. But maybe they'd have some points of contact, I dunno. So any thoughts from you guys? Thanks
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 5:27 AM GMT
    I would imagine your state's Attorney General.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 5:30 AM GMT
    UndercoverMan saidI would imagine your state's Attorney General.

    Yeah, I'm kinda leaning that way. Because the AG handles fraud. Or they could redirect me. Thanks
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 2:31 PM GMT
    Well, phoning the US Attorney's Office for South Florida wasn't too productive. They said they don't handle these cases. Instead they gave me another US government office number in Miami. All I got was a recording, where they enumerated all the things they DON'T do, like provide advice.

    Apparently all they do is make a record of the possible fraud for them to investigate. It gave me an incredibly long URL to write my problem, asking for a lengthy list of details, and then said I could leave a voicemail, also with lots of detail, so they could call me back if they wished.

    I tried to leave the voicemail, speaking as fast as I could, but the machine cut me short. Reminded me of government paper forms that want you to write long replies in short little spaces. I didn't get to speak with a human at that Miami number.

    I have no confidence I'll get a call-back before next month, if ever, so I'll just have to wing-it at noon today, if our neighbor gets phoned again by "Publisher's Clearing House".
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 2:44 PM GMT
    OK, if I can't get answers and advice from the government in a timely manner I decided to investigate this myself. The AARP web site says that asking for "processing fees" in order to collect a sweepstakes winning is a very common fraud. And is never done by legitimate sweepstakes operators.

    The catch: β€œAt some point,” said a PCH [Publisher's Clearing House] official, β€œa scam artist will ask you to send money, to pay some type of fees in order to get your prize. We do not.” In fact, no legitimate contest, sweepstakes or lottery ever asks for any upfront fee in order to claim winnings.

    http://blog.aarp.org/2016/01/08/dont-lose-in-winning-publishers-clearing-house-prizes/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 2:50 PM GMT
    WTF; everyone here got to much personal time? dont pick up on anything not in your contacts.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 2:50 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidShe phoned while we were at dinner, and we promised we'd listen to her problem when we returned home at 7 PM. She's a 91-year-old widow and we sometimes manage to solve things for her.

    We learned she had gotten a call late Monday afternoon, telling her she'd won the Publisher's Clearing House million dollar prize, plus a new car. (That's an actual promotional drawing we have in the US) They wanted to phone her back tomorrow (Tues) at noon, to arrange their formal presentation of the check at her home on Wednesday.

    They bring a video camera to record the event and it's used on TV for their advertising purposes. And that really is done, most of us have seen those on TV.

    BUT, first she'd have to write them a check for $400, to cover "expenses". OK, even this frail old lady smelled a rat. She said to me: "If they're giving me $1,000,000 what do they need my $400 for? What indeed. But these con artists prey on the gullible elderly. I'm also worried about them gaining entry to her place, if she were to answer her door to them.

    But with the initial surprise of this news she agreed to take their noon call, and now she wanted me standing there to help her. What I'll be doing tomorrow. I may even take the call myself, because she's genuinely hard of hearing, and that's what I'll tell them.

    Now my question is: who can I call tomorrow morning before noon, in law enforcement who deals with these things? The FBI? The FCC? The phone company itself? County or State Prosecutor? I know our local police wouldn't know how to handle a stray dog, much less this situation. But maybe they'd have some points of contact, I dunno. So any thoughts from you guys? Thanks


    I'm gone from here, but I'll opine on this.

    ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY a scam. Went through this for four years with the parents. Most, but not all of the calls came from Kingston Jamaica from an 876 area code. There were thousands of calls over the years. Good thing is that no one is coming to her door. This is VERY common scam on the elderly.

    If I was able to get to the phone before the parents I would keep them on the line as long as possible. I got one caller to break down and cry (I'm good at that, right?) and tell me that he was doing this to pay for school.icon_rolleyes.gif

    My dad got it started by actually entering the PH sweepstakes contest. They obviously sell their lists. We had every kind of variation of this scam that you could imagine. Stolen checking accounts from real business where they would send dad a check and it be a 'small' fee to make it negotiable, etc.

    They threatened to kill me several times (and needless to say, I told them to bring it) because I was reporting this to the real business owner who wasn't aware yet that their account had been stolen and the cops in whatever city/county the business was in plus talking to the FBI. They had our real address too.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 3:08 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree said
    I'm gone from here, but I'll opine on this.

    ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY a scam. Went through this for four years with the parents. Most, but not all of the calls came from Kingston Jamaica from an 876 area code. There were thousands of calls over the years. Good thing is that no one is coming to her door. This is VERY common scam on the elderly.

    If I was able to get to the phone before the parents I would keep them on the line as long as possible. I got one caller to break down and cry (I'm good at that, right?) and tell me that he was doing this to pay for school.icon_rolleyes.gif

    My dad got it started by actually entering the PH sweepstakes contest. They obviously sell their lists. We had every kind of variation of this scam that you could imagine. Stolen checking accounts from real business where they would send dad a check and it be a 'small' fee to make it negotiable, etc.

    They threatened to kill me several times (and needless to say, I told them to bring it) because I was reporting this to the real business owner who wasn't aware yet that their account had been stolen and the cops in whatever city/county the business was in plus talking to the FBI. They had our real address too.

    Thanks very much. I did ask our neighbor if she had ever entered the PCH sweepstakes. And she said yes, every year. AH-HA!

    Well, now that I've got you, as well as AARP and PCH to confirm this is a known fraud, I know what to do. I didn't expect threats, though. I may not use my name on the phone if they do call back, or use an alias instead. But unfortunately they have hers. I was already planning to look for a caller ID and number. Jamaica, huh?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 3:42 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree said
    I'm gone from here, but I'll opine on this.

    ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY a scam. Went through this for four years with the parents. Most, but not all of the calls came from Kingston Jamaica from an 876 area code. There were thousands of calls over the years. Good thing is that no one is coming to her door. This is VERY common scam on the elderly.

    If I was able to get to the phone before the parents I would keep them on the line as long as possible. I got one caller to break down and cry (I'm good at that, right?) and tell me that he was doing this to pay for school.icon_rolleyes.gif

    My dad got it started by actually entering the PH sweepstakes contest. They obviously sell their lists. We had every kind of variation of this scam that you could imagine. Stolen checking accounts from real business where they would send dad a check and it be a 'small' fee to make it negotiable, etc.

    They threatened to kill me several times (and needless to say, I told them to bring it) because I was reporting this to the real business owner who wasn't aware yet that their account had been stolen and the cops in whatever city/county the business was in plus talking to the FBI. They had our real address too.

    Thanks very much. I did ask our neighbor if she had ever entered the PCH sweepstakes. And she said yes, every year. AH-HA!

    Well, now that I've got you, as well as AARP and PCH to confirm this is a known fraud, I know what to do. I didn't expect threats, though. I may not use my name on the phone if they do call back, or use an alias instead. But unfortunately they have hers. I was already planning to look for a caller ID and number. Jamaica, huh?


    It was 40-50% 876 area code and the rest spoofed numbers.

    Given her age, unlikely, but if she is using a smart phone, download the free app Mr. Number for android (not sure if they have an apple version) as it works very well at block and hangup of spam/scam calls. The only time they get me is if they're using a new spoofed number for the first time. I'd get zero done without this as I get in the range of 20-30 spam calls a day. I wish I had that many real clients with real credit and real money calling.

    I can still tell if attempt came through and review the Mr Number log to look at number and hundreds or thousand of reports form other people who got the call from the same number.

    "I didn't expect threats"

    I wouldn't worry too much about that. I just have a certain way with folks. Either I make them cry or they want to kill me. I'm fine either way. !!!!!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 3:57 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree said
    Given her age, unlikely, but if she is using a smart phone, download the free app Mr. Number for android (not sure if they have an apple version) as it works very well at block and hangup of spam/scam calls.

    ..."I didn't expect threats"

    I wouldn't worry too much about that. I just have a certain way with folks. Either I make them cry or they want to kill me. I'm fine either way. !!!!!!

    She doesn't have any cell phone, but her desk phone does have caller ID activated, if these crooks don't block their number. That phone also has digital voice mail, I may see if it'll record the conversation.

    I sure know about your "cry or kill" response. And at times a little bit of both. LOL! Thanks again for your input.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 4:11 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    I'd be surprised if they call back.

    Me, too. But I'll be standing by if the phone should ring, to give her peace of mind. I don't know if it's her age or the way she's always been, but she's very nervous and easily panicked about things that confuse or challenge her understanding.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 4:20 PM GMT
    Reminds me of my parents who answer the phone whenever it rings all the time.

    I don't answer the phone unless there is a recognizable caller-ID. No exceptions. They can leave a message.

    I have countless stories like this from older relatives, examples:

    - son is in jail in FL, please send $5k bail
    - sweepstakes winner... $1000000.. please sent $400 admin fee (caller ID from Carribean)
    - IRS wants more money, send WU check or suffer the consequences.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 5:01 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    freedomisntfree said
    Given her age, unlikely, but if she is using a smart phone, download the free app Mr. Number for android (not sure if they have an apple version) as it works very well at block and hangup of spam/scam calls.

    ..."I didn't expect threats"

    I wouldn't worry too much about that. I just have a certain way with folks. Either I make them cry or they want to kill me. I'm fine either way. !!!!!!

    She doesn't have any cell phone, but her desk phone does have caller ID activated, if these crooks don't block their number. That phone also has digital voice mail, I may see if it'll record the conversation.

    I sure know about your "cry or kill" response. And at times a little bit of both. LOL! Thanks again for your input.


    If her home phone is part of her internet/cable TV package and happens to Time Warner, they now have a robo blocker. Unfortunately, these specific calls generally aren't robo.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 5:16 PM GMT
    In re the 419 scam, my dad actually got loose once to head down to Western Union to pay them their 'shipping and handling' fee of $2,500.

    'Shipping and handling' was pretty outrageous given that they were supposedly coming to the house to make their presentation and award.

    He was already at the counter trying to do it before I caught up with him. Credit to the Western Union people who were holding the whole thing up quizzing him because they didn't think he was completely 'with it'
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2016 7:05 PM GMT
    I'm happy for the exposure this is getting. Most of us here won't be subject to these phone scams, it's mainly our older relatives or friends. But I had an online one that could probably strike a number of us on RJ.

    While scanning gay adult sites some kind of malware seized my Mac. A message said my actions were illegal under US & international law (they weren't), and the FBI and the US Justice Dept were going to prosecute me. I was being assessed a fine, that I had to pay through the link provided to regain control of my computer. It was the only way my browser would operate.

    Well, the message had poor spelling & grammar. Plus under US law I'm entitled to a court hearing for something like that, if I wish to appeal. And no appeal option was mentioned.

    So I knew it was a scam. I finally figured out a work-around to disable it. Then updated and ran my anti-virus program several times until the thing seemed to have been identified & removed. I also changed passwords and other security measures, in case those had been compromised.

    But these scammers and hackers never stop, they're always chipping away at you. And they have no morals or conscience. They'll take your money as heartlessly as a holdup guy in a dark alley, or a pickpocket on the streets.
  • tj85016

    Posts: 4123

    Feb 24, 2016 12:17 AM GMT
    Government says: "well, if you're stupid enough to cut them a check for $400, so be it" icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 24, 2016 3:32 PM GMT
    I think the crooks are way far ahead of the enforcement agencies. Tell your friends to hang up as quickly as possible on anyone either claims to represent an agency of the government or asks for money. No agency of the government will initiate contact by phone or email. Never give financial information to stranger on the phone.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 24, 2016 3:43 PM GMT
    jimib saidI think the crooks are way far ahead of the enforcement agencies. Tell your friends to hang up as quickly as possible on anyone either claims to represent an agency of the government or asks for money. No agency of the government will initiate contact by phone or email. Never give financial information to stranger on the phone.


    Plus they're outside the jurisdiction of US law enforcement in countries that don't give a shit.

    I kept after the FBI on this and they did conduct some joint raids with Jamaican 'authorities', but you can guess where that all eventually went. Nowhere.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 24, 2016 8:04 PM GMT
    freedomisntfree said
    jimib saidI think the crooks are way far ahead of the enforcement agencies. Tell your friends to hang up as quickly as possible on anyone either claims to represent an agency of the government or asks for money. No agency of the government will initiate contact by phone or email. Never give financial information to stranger on the phone.

    Plus they're outside the jurisdiction of US law enforcement in countries that don't give a shit.

    I kept after the FBI on this and they did conduct some joint raids with Jamaican 'authorities', but you can guess where that all eventually went. Nowhere.

    With a strong likelihood that those same authorities are getting a kickback. Or may even be the actual heads of these telephone scamming operations.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 24, 2016 9:50 PM GMT
    tj85016 saidGovernment says: "well, if you're stupid enough to cut them a check for $400, so be it" icon_lol.gif

    Well, what this actually tells me is something I've known for years: that the government, I think any government, is composed of self-serving bureaucrats. Who are more interested in maintaining their own comfort levels and mindless way of doing business by rote, than in actually serving the public or doing any good for others. I've encountered that many times.
  • oldfart

    Posts: 328

    Feb 25, 2016 1:29 PM GMT
    For your 91 year old friend, I would have visited with her when the call was due. When it rang I'd pick it up and let them start. When they asked who I was, I'd say, "(my home), her attorney."
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 25, 2016 3:09 PM GMT
    oldfart saidFor your 91 year old friend, I would have visited with her when the call was due. When it rang I'd pick it up and let them start. When they asked who I was, I'd say, "(my home), her attorney."

    They never did call again, which I thought the most likely outcome. But I was sitting there with her, for nearly an hour, to ease her concerns. And went over with her what AARP had told me to do, in case these scammers phoned later. Which was simply hang up on them, without saying a word.

    At least AARP returned my call. No government office, including the South Florida Attorney General's Office, has yet called me back to this moment.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 26, 2016 1:32 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    tj85016 saidGovernment says: "well, if you're stupid enough to cut them a check for $400, so be it" icon_lol.gif


    It's not a matter of stupidity. People tend to lose their faculties as they reach their nineties. Where's the compassion?


    Yup. I've got quite a few friends with Alzheimer's. Luckily most have surrendered powers of attorney to a relative. But some are stubborn. It takes a community sometimes.
  • tj85016

    Posts: 4123

    Feb 26, 2016 2:06 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    tj85016 saidGovernment says: "well, if you're stupid enough to cut them a check for $400, so be it" icon_lol.gif

    Well, what this actually tells me is something I've known for years: that the government, I think any government, is composed of self-serving bureaucrats. Who are more interested in maintaining their own comfort levels and mindless way of doing business by rote, than in actually serving the public or doing any good for others. I've encountered that many times.


    come on, the government can't even take down the fake wounded warrior and breast cancer charity scams with TV commericals

    what can they do with 10,000 phone scams?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 26, 2016 2:34 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidShe phoned while we were at dinner, and we promised we'd listen to her problem when we returned home at 7 PM. She's a 91-year-old widow and we sometimes manage to solve things for her.

    We learned she had gotten a call late Monday afternoon, telling her she'd won the Publisher's Clearing House million dollar prize, plus a new car. (That's an actual promotional drawing we have in the US) They wanted to phone her back tomorrow (Tues) at noon, to arrange their formal presentation of the check at her home on Wednesday.

    They bring a video camera to record the event and it's used on TV for their advertising purposes. And that really is done, most of us have seen those on TV.

    BUT, first she'd have to write them a check for $400, to cover "expenses". OK, even this frail old lady smelled a rat. She said to me: "If they're giving me $1,000,000 what do they need my $400 for? What indeed. But these con artists prey on the gullible elderly. I'm also worried about them gaining entry to her place, if she were to answer her door to them.

    But with the initial surprise of this news she agreed to take their noon call, and now she wanted me standing there to help her. What I'll be doing tomorrow. I may even take the call myself, because she's genuinely hard of hearing, and that's what I'll tell them.

    Now my question is: who can I call tomorrow morning before noon, in law enforcement who deals with these things? The FBI? The FCC? The phone company itself? County or State Prosecutor? I know our local police wouldn't know how to handle a stray dog, much less this situation. But maybe they'd have some points of contact, I dunno. So any thoughts from you guys? Thanks

    Forget it lost cause. No one is going to get on the call. Except maybe your local tv news anchor that does consumer related stories.