As we come to the end of 2016, I wanted to address how a phone scammer tried to dupe a friend of mine (whose name I won’t disclose for privacy and safety reasons). Fortunately she’s tech savvy, checking with legitimate resources before handing over any money, and took an extra step by sharing her experience on Facebook.
I also wanted to expose these unscrupulous thieves attempting to cheat innocent people out of hard-gotten money before someone less sophisticated falls for this ruse.
This particular scammer, “Vicky/Nicky,” called my friend’s mother – a 78-year-old woman with health issues – upsetting the woman over her daughter (my friend). “Vicky/Nicky” told my friend’s mother there were warrants out for her arrest on felony charges for fraud, causing the mother to go into panic mode (as most mothers would). Neither she nor my friend were aware of this scam, but my friend knew she had no warrants out for anything, let alone wire fraud.
My friend stepped away from her busy job to call the number passed on by her mother. She was immediately connected to “Vicky/Nicky,” who proceeded to tell my friend about the “felony charges” and there would be a meeting with prosecuting attorneys the following day. My friend would be formally arrested soon afterward… unless a specific amount of money was wired.
Fortunately my friend had enough “spidey sense” to check out everything she was told, including contacting several attorneys until one informed her of the scam during a free phone consultation.
TRUTH: If you have an actual warrant, at least two things happen: every city and county mails a letter or an official appears at your front door with verifiable identification and said warrant. No legitimate agency will ever call you on the phone (or send an email) demanding money to make charges go away. That’s not how things work, no matter what these scam artists say.
“Vicky/Nicky” apparently didn’t let up despite my friend being on to the hoax. She had the nerve to call my friend again today little before noon. “Vicky/Nicky” stated she hadn’t received a “court release number” so my friend should be prepared for an arrest and added “Lock up firearms and kennel large dogs.” My friend finally let “Vicky/Nicky” have it in a not-so-nice fashion that there were no warrants in her name for felony charges, and then filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
My friend wasn’t alone in being almost duped by “Vicky/Nicky” and people using other names; I did a little research of my own and found a list of others receiving identical calls. I also ran the phone number on Spy Dialer (a free phone lookup service I’ve used several times in the past) and received the following information:
Long story short, if someone calls you from 844-201-0035 and says there is a warrant out for your arrest on felony charges, don’t fall for it! Hang up immediately and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Contacting the news media won’t hurt either, and my readers are welcome to share this blog post as part of spreading the word.
Another thing that may help: if a number on your Caller ID is unfamiliar, don’t answer the phone. A legitimate call will likely leave a voicemail; if one isn’t received or you get a recorded message, chances are good you dodged a costly bullet.
Have a happy and safe 2017, my friends and readers. May the New Year bring you prosperity, joy, and not being a victim of scam artists.