Scam, Bam, Thank You Ma’am

When he was a teenager, Justin Ray get scam refund White traveled around the country with his father as part of a nation-wide band of con artists called “travelers.” Now an inmate in the Idaho state prison, White relates how his father would have him roll down his truck window to listen to how his dad would talk to elderly people so the boy could “pick up pointers about how to hustle them.”

The multi-million-dollar racket: door-to door home repairs such as roofing, painting, asphalt paving, termite spraying. White’s advice after his life of crime: “Never hire anyone to do work for you that shows up on your doorstep. They are there to steal your money.” Other warning signs of a traveler, says White, are contractors whose pickup trucks have no license plates;

who offer a discount because they have “left over materials from another job;” or who insist on being paid in cash or having the customer go to the bank to write a check to be cashed immediately. Preventative medicine, says White, is to scatter a few toys in your front yard, “so it doesn’t look like old people live there. . .just a couple of these is enough to throw a traveler off.”

But not all crooks come in the front door. Other “portals” for the con artist are through your telephone and your computer. According to the Social Security Administration, telemarketing fraud is a multi-billion dollar business, and seniors are “special targets.” Scams offered over the phone include prize offers, travel packages, vitamins and health products, investments and charities.

You’ve won a “free” prize but you must pay “handling” or other charges. You’re pressured to make a decision without written documents, or getting advice from your family, lawyer, or Better Business Bureau. The telemarketer is a stranger who asks for a credit card, bank account number, or for a courier to come to your home to pick up a check.

The solution? Simply say “Take me off your call list,” and hang up. However, don’t depend on the Federal Trade Commission’s national “do not call list” to protect you from con artists. “Some are simply ignoring it and counting on the fact that they’ll be gone before the FTC can respond,” cautions James Walsh, author of books on risk and personal finance for consumers.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *