We’ve all heard horror stories about scam victims who continue to get swindled out of thousands and thousands of dollars - oftentimes in larger amounts than we can imagine risking in the first place.
How does this happen? Scam artists keep “sucker lists” with the names of people who have already been swindled. They then use these lists to return to the same victims over and over, many times with a new scam posing as a way to recover from the old scam, or even as an investigation into the old one.
How does it work? A scammer can get names, addresses, phone numbers and other information from a “sucker list” and then promise victims that, in exchange for a fee, they will get their money back from a previous scam. Victims are so desperate to recover their money they may act rashly without thinking things through and get scammed all over again. While some agencies and consumer organizations can help you recover some of your money, they do not charge a fee or make any guarantees.
Another approach may be to pose as a government agency. Scammers might mask themselves as the FBI, IRS or Homeland Security. They will state that there is an ongoing investigation and the victim is in trouble for participating in the original scam. With threats of arrest or garnishment of wages looming, the victim is frightened enough to provide additional information that is used to steal more money from them.
What can you do?
If you have been tricked or victimized, report it to the BBB and your local police. You can also contact your state consumer protection office to ask for help. Being a victim once is bad enough but don’t ever think that the scammer is satisfied with only victimizing you once; take the time to educate yourself so that the first experience is the only time that you are separated from your hard-earned money.
For more trustworthy consumer tips, visit BBB.org.
Kelvin Collins is President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 83 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site: www.bbb.org or E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org