Protect yourself from impostor frauds

We all get them. Those calls that come in, and we don’t recognize the number. Then, we must decide whether to answer the call just in case it actually is important, or let it go and see if they leave a voicemail. Scammers will generally not leave a message and not leave a way to contact them. Anyone who really wants to speak to you and isn’t after your money will let you know how to call back.

That’s just one example of all the scams out there. We’ve all heard about the phony call from the grandchild in jail somewhere and they need you to wire some cash right away so they can get home. We know of the calls from the IRS claiming you owe back taxes and penalties and you better pay or face collections and jail. And then there’s the one that you won a prize and to claim it, just need to pay some money up front to cover fees.

They all sound crazy, but yes, people fall for them. It happens all the time. Many of us are far too trusting. When someone poses as someone they are not to steal your money or your identity, they are known as impostor frauds.

That’s the bottom line. They want to steal your money. They are people who don’t care about you. They care about what’s in your bank account. It pays to ask questions and be suspicious. You can protect yourself and your family.

AARP Fraud Expert Doug Shadel has answers and is coming to Hawaii to speak at free “Unmasking the Impostors” workshops on Friday, June 22, at the Kauai Community College Fine Arts Auditorium at 1 p.m.

There will also be an “Advocacy Celebration” and an update on recent legislation affecting our kupuna, including consumer protection bills to make credit freezes free. A credit freeze is one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft. Organizers will also share their 2018 voter education effort — “Be the Difference. Vote.” The campaign will highlight issues important to kupuna and the power of the 50-plus voter.

Shadel, the author of several books on fraud including “Outsmarting the Scam Artist,” has interviewed dozens of former con artists and shares what only scammers themselves can tell you about protecting yourself from them. You’ll hear directly from scammers through taped interviews.

In one interview, Jayesh Dubey, a 19-year-old Mumbai, India resident, tells what it was like to work in one of the largest IRS scam boiler rooms in the world. Dubey’s job involved answering frantic return calls from U.S. consumers after they had received stern voice mail messages from fictitious IRS agents telling them they owed back taxes.

The goal was to get the victim to pay the phony “tax bills” by purchasing gift cards and providing the numbers to Jayesh, who called himself “Officer Adam Smith.” He would even stay on the line as the victim drove to the store to buy the cards. And if the victim refused or asked too many questions, Jayesh had a threat ready.

He would say “As I told you, your case file has already been submitted to the courthouse procedure. Only I can help you now. And if you don’t believe me, then I’ll just hang up the call, and in 45 minutes a local sheriff will be at your doorstep.”

Shadel will share tips on how to avoid impostors like Jayesh. He’ll also teach you about the “Dark Web,” the secret Internet sites where personal information is bought and sold , the best ways to protect yourself from identity fraud as well as information on scams targeting veterans.

The “Unmasking the Impostors” workshops are free and you don’t have to be an AARP member to attend. You do need to pre-register by calling 1-877-926-8300.

No one here is after your money. They want you to keep it.

  1. Debra Kekaualua June 7, 2018 6:01 pm Reply

    Scammers come in every form there is. In the case of Kaua’i probably four of ten have that title. Soon it will all change and we the people can call it a good day.

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