The voice on Judy’s voicemail message was friendly, but that was just part of the trick.
A person calling himself Roy claimed that he was reaching out from Amazon customer support. He gave an employee ID number, and said the call was regarding a purchase made on Amazon for $909.99. He gave an order number for the supposed purchase.
“If you have made this online purchase ... then simply hang up the call and your order will be shipped shortly to Los Angeles,” he said. “But if you have not made any such transaction then immediately call [the] billing and fraud prevention department.”
And then he left a phone number.
Of course, Judy knew she had never placed such an order. Something was wrong. But the story seemed like it could be possible, even though she was immediately suspicious of what the caller was saying.
“It was elaborate,” Judy said.
However, she knew better than to call a number that an unknown caller claimed was billing and fraud prevention. Instead, she did the smart thing. She checked her Amazon account herself online. And of course, there was no record of any transaction like the one described on the call.
But just to be sure, she also got a hold of her credit card company.
“The gal said there had been no activity on the credit card, and the number he gave me was not an Amazon number,” Judy said.
This scam has been confirmed on sites like calldetective.net and nomorerobo.com – and the phone number that “Roy” gave Judy has been reported 56 times to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission.
Signs of a scam
The Federal Trade Commission says there are four clues that a call might be a scam.
1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, or even a charity asking for donations. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, so the name and number you see might not be real.
2. Scammers say there’s a problem – or a prize.
Scammers might say you’re in trouble with the government, you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer.
Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information.
Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately.
Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. They might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
4. Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
The FTC offers these recommendations:
• Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.
• Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect.
• If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
• Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
• Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
• Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
Judy said she wanted to tell her story to let others in the community know what was going on so they would know .
“Hopefully nobody else got scammed by this,” she said.
If you have been approached by scammers or believe you may have been scammed, report it to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/