Scam Stories that Will Make Your Blood Boil

In a previous article, we spoke about Covid-19 scams. Now, with Covid practically over, we are going to discuss real-life examples of some common deceptions used by nefarious individuals with the sole intention of illegally extracting money from you.

Illustration of a computer hacker asking for your password
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Intro – If It Walks Like a Duck…

How many times have you heard your phone ring only to see that it is a phone number you don’t recognize, but the ID says it is coming from your location? Or you get an email or text that tells you your subscription is overdue and to “click here” to update your information? Quite often, right?

Copy of email scam
Emails from what appear to be legitimate companies can be scams. Image: SMS©

Have you noticed that this is increasing and not decreasing? One might call it an epidemic of financial proportions! Well, here are a few real-life examples of how other people were getting scammed, how they responded to the scam, and what they did afterward.

We are not expecting you to become an expert on how to handle fictitious calls or emails by reading this article, but these incidents may just help you realize what is out there and help you stay on the side of caution when contacted by fraudulent individuals.

The Guy Told Me to Withdraw $140,000
– Wait What?

Interios of a bank
Photo: Unsplash

One might ask why any thief would be so stupid as to not anticipate the variables that can go wrong in an operation like this. Be that as it may, this is a true case of an elderly person being conned into summarizing over $140,000 in cold cash to give to an individual who told her that she needed to pay her taxes immediately and deliver the money to him. Believe it or not, these individuals exist, and they are out there!

The Details

A 70-year-old woman entered her local bank to withdraw $140,000 in cash. As per bank policy, the teller immediately advised the manager who asked the woman why she was withdrawing so much money in cash.

The woman responded that she received a call from a company she was affiliated with. They told her that she was behind on her taxes and that she needed to pay them $140,000 immediately. They said they would send someone to her house to pick up the money.

Hooded man talking on cell phone

The woman, obviously scared went to the bank to withdraw the money, and the bank, obviously aware that this was a scam, contacted law enforcement, and a sting operation was set up.

When the perpetrator came to the house, he was arrested and is currently serving time in prison, which, according to reports, is not “getting out any time soon”.

They Count on Your Vulnerability

Elderly man looking out a window concerned

Loan Desperation

Joe, a 68-year-old married man with two children lost his job due to layoffs and was looking for work. Still, as the months proceeded, he realized that he was falling more and more behind on his debt, specifically his credit cards which were, at times, surpassing their 30-day delinquency period.

When a bank payment is delinquent for more than 30 days, an alert is sent to the credit bureaus, and it is noted on the credit report, subsequently lowering the credit rating. This can make it harder to prove creditworthiness when buying a car or applying for a loan. The man was getting very nervous with this credit score decrease. Time was of the essence for this individual.

Additionally, knowing that his credit cards were maxed out to their limit, he was worried about not having enough funds to support his household and he knew he had to do something about this fast, so he went online and searched for debt consolidation loans. He responded to a few of the listings that showed up. One of them was a website that looked for companies that listed a variety of companies that could possibly approve a loan based on his credit score, which was under 620.

He applied to numerous offers, but they all declined him. Later that day, Joe responded to an email offering him a loan for $6,000—just the amount he was looking for!

A focused and serious looking man working and thinking hard on a computer

They gave him an 800 phone number to call. He called them, and they told him that they don’t use the credit bureaus to check creditworthiness but a different method. They said the first step was to deposit money into his checking account to verify that it was a valid account.

Afraid and anxious that he wouldn’t be able to support his family under his current financial conditions, he hastily followed their instructions and gave them his bank account information.

The next morning, he noticed that $3000.00 had been deposited into his checking account, and shortly thereafter, a “financial representative” called him to verify that the money was there.

What happened next would have been obvious to many; however, Joe’s state of mind caused him to bypass this red flag and not think there was any issue with the process. This is one of the methods that scammers pray on—emotional stress!

Joe was told that he needed to send them the money back. They requested that he go to a local store that provides wire transfers. He proceeded to go to the local Rite Aide down the block from him; however, it was 8:45 AM, and they had not opened yet. So he went to CVS, but they also didn’t open until 9:00 AM.

The caller was persistent (another red flag) and told him to find an open store, but he told them he would prefer to wait until the store opened. While he was waiting in his car for the store to open, he thumbed through his email messages on his iPhone and saw a message from J.P. Morgan Chase – the bank where he has his account.

The message said that they were sorry to hear that money had been illegally withdrawn from his account and that they replenished the account with the $3000 that was “missing” until an investigation was completed.

Man with credit card in hand upset that he'd been scammed
Photo: iStock

Now Joe woke up. It hit him like a ton of bricks, and he realized he had been scammed. He ignored the spammer’s phone calls and drove directly to Chase.

The manager helped him place a report to their fraud department and Chase immediately withdrew the message that they received about a $3000 loss. In the end, no harm was done. Joe was saved from losing a lot of money and there was no record held against him from Chase, but had CVS or Rite Aide been open at the time, Joe would have most likely proceeded with the wire transfer.

Behind Your Bills Scare Tatic

Alexa was laid off from her job and she started falling behind on her bills. She was not that worried about her credit cards or FICO score so much as her utility bills, and she was most concerned about her electric bill.

Being two months behind on your electric bill is sure to concern even the most optimistic of people. Then the dreaded phone calls come in. Alexa is no exception to this.

But Alexa was no fool. She never answers phone calls that don’t have a caller ID, and even when the caller ID shows up, she won’t pick up if she doesn’t recognize the name of the company calling.

In Alexa’s situation, combining these two factors wasn’t enough to catch her off guard. Being delinquent on her utility bill was certainly enough to make her ill-prepared for what was to come.

The utility company called, and she answered. Why would she not? The ID showed up who it was, so she had no reason to believe it was not a fraudulent phone call.

The woman told Alexa that she was delinquent and that she needed to bring the account up to date, or her electric bill would be suspended. Alexa had no choice but to decide to use part of her mortgage money to pay for the electric bill, and she reiterated that message to the woman, who transferred her to a man who called himself “Dave.”

Dave explained to her in perfect English (no accent) the procedure where they could receive the money today by using Zelle. A quick and legitimate application where the recipient can receive money in a matter of seconds and most banks offer this method of money transfer.

Scared, Alexa complied and followed his directions. She went online to her bank app and clicked Zelle as directed by Dave. He told her that she should type in the box asking for the amount of cash to be sent with the last four digits of her utility account number and that their algorithm would read it and know how to handle it; other words, by reading the utility code, the past-due amount and only the past-due amount would be withdrawn from her bank account.

Alexa followed his directions, and the result was that it took out the amount that was listed as the code and not the past-due balance, so she ended up paying $347 more than she needed to pay.

When she told Dave what happened, he replied that this happens sometimes and he directed her to go back to the Zelle app. On the app, Alexa told him that she saw the Request Money button and asked him if she should enter the code in this box or request the exact amount that was withdrawn.

Dave corrected her and told her not to use the Request Money button but to use the Send Money button as she did before and the algorithm will correct itself and return her the amount she overpaid.

This is where Alexa drew the line. She realized that she had been scammed and hung up on Dave, not before telling him what she thought of him.

Alexa immediately contacted her bank and they initiated a return sequence via Zelle and Alexa was lucky. She had the band reverse the amount back into her bank account.

Zelle scams are on the rise and take many forms!


World Map With Currency Icons Network Over Dark Background,iStock

Spammers can approach you from anywhere in the world. Email, websites, and phone calls, or they could even approach you in the street. They prey on the elderly and hope their phone calls will reach vulnerable individuals, no matter what their age is.

Be wary of anything that even seems suspicious, and never send anyone any money until you are sure they are the legitimate party!



Straightforward Answers on to How Not to Get Scammed!

Illustration collage of spammers

Some say that scamming has become an epidemic. Whether you believe that or not, it is certainly on the rise and moving at an accelerated rate.

Today we begin a new series on scam artists. We will cover the basics regarding what they do, how they do it, and how you can protect yourself.

Scams can come by email, text, social media messages, or phone calls. Here are the first line of defense methods you should use to avoid getting hooked by these criminals. We call them red flags.

Things You Should Never Do!

Red Flag #1. Never Give Anyone Your Private Information

Illustration of a computer hacker asking for your password
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

If you get a call, an email, or a text asking you for your social security number, birthday, bank account information, credit card information, medical information, or any other personal information, don’t give it to them and hang up! Call your institution directly to confirm that your information was not compromised.


Red Flag #2. Never Agree to Send Cash or Use an App to Send Money!

If they don’t ask you for your personal information, they may contact you and request money regarding an emergency or other urgent issue. These people are sophisticated. They will sound professional and have a story to try to convince you how real the situation is. They may even already have some information about you, such as your name and address to make the story sound even more legitimate.

If you get tricked into believing them as many do, especially the elderly, they will discourage you from sending them a check, and instead, they will push you to send them money using apps such as Zelle, Venmo, Cash App or to wire them. DON’T!

What’s worse, they may tell you to bring the cash to them. Additionally, they may even tell you to have the cash ready and someone will pick it up at your house or a meeting place.


Red Flag #3: You Won A Prize!

Although this category can’t be summed up in one article, we thought we’d acquaint you with the thousands of fraudulent methods scammers use to try to catch you off guard using legitimate companies and organizations to deceive you.

The scams may be from a phone call, email or text saying that you are the lucky winner of a prize drawing or that you will get a substantial discount if you send them money for the discount promotion or any variation of many other scenarios they may use.

If you didn’t enter any sweepstakes, consider the information very suspicious. If you get an email from what looks like a legitimate company but is asking you for money upfront via a rouse that you will get a discount or a prize, be wary and contact the business directly.

Screenshot of a scam from what appears to be from a ligitimate source

There are ways to determine if these ‘promotions’ are real just by scrutinizing them a little bit. The email shown above exploits a legitimate retailer into making you think they are the ones sending you this promotion and if you click the link and answer a few questions, you may win the Stanley tool set. You won’t!

Some folks know how to determine that this is a deception, but for the majority of you who don’t, here’s what to look for.

    1. Take a look at where the email came from (circled in red). This is a dead giveaway. If it doesn’t have the company’s domain name, in this case,, it is a scam.
    2. Many email scams do not show up with the language noted, but Google thinks that it came from Russia and is allowing you to translate the email copy into Russian. A legitimate email would never default to a request for a language translation. More on these deceptions will be in our upcoming articles.

Red Flag #4. Scammers Use Scare Tactics -Don’t Fall For It!

Man stressed and worried
Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

Swindlers like to elicit emotions and their favorite tactic they will use is fear. They may tell you that your electricity is going to be terminated if you don’t pay them right now, or that they are from the IRS and you better pay immediately, or from a mortgage company or bank telling you that something bad is going to happen if you don’t send them money immediately.

Scammers prey on your fear that something bad is going to happen if you don’t comply

It gets worse and this happens to many of our elderly relatives. They may call you and pretend that they are one of your grandchildren and that they need money immediately because they are in trouble with the police. They will also ask you not to tell their parents, and now with AI at their disposal (which we will discuss in detail below), they can mimic your grandchild’s voice so that it sounds exactly like them.


What You Should Do if You Get One of These Calls

Hang up and call the source (Electric company, bank, mortgage company, etc.) directly. In the case of a relative or grandchild calling you. Tell them you will call them right back at the number you have for them. If they say no, you know it is a scam.

Red Flag #5. Con Artists Will Request Immediate Payment- Be Vigilant to These Signs of Urgency

100 dollar bills
Photo Unsplash

If the person tells you that they need the money NOW, it is a clear sign that something is definitely wrong! Legitimate companies or organizations will never tell you that.

They will work out a payment plan with you or let you consider the options and allow you to call them back later in the day or within a reasonable time period. They will never push you to send them money immediately!



Red Flag #6. Note the Accent!

Many of the scamers come from overseas and many of these are from people who will have foreign accents. This doesn’t mean that every time you receive a call from a person with a foreign accent the call will be fraudulent. Some may be from legitimate telemarketers or other businesses who may want you to sell you something or donate to a real charity, but you can add this to the list of KEEPING UP YOUR GUARD if you do receive a call like this.



Always approach unsolicited offers, emails, or calls with skepticism. Scammers often use urgency and pressure to manipulate you.

Verify the identity of the organization contacting you. Confirm their legitimacy through official websites or phone numbers, especially if they claim to be from a government agency, bank, or reputable company.

Be wary of requests for upfront payments to pay a bill, pay a charity, or to receive a prize. Legitimate organizations don’t require you to pay in a manner that sounds like a specific urgency

Never share personal information like Social Security numbers, bank account details, or credit card numbers via email, phone, or social media unless you’ve verified the recipient’s identity.

Stay informed about common frauds and the latest techniques thieves use.  You can follow the Federal Trade Commission’s scam page for the latest information on avoiding scams.

Trust Your Instincts: If something doesn’t feel right or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut feeling and exercise caution.

Share your knowledge so that others will not fall for these scams.

By following these guidelines and staying vigilant, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to fraudulent activity and protect your personal and financial information.