Imposter Scams and Wire Fraud
It seems that rarely a day goes by without hearing reports of fraud. From straightforward schemes to complex conspiracies, scammers have undoubtedly become emboldened by the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. As a result, we’d like to highlight two types which have been on the increase over the past few months.
Imposter or “Man in the Middle” Schemes
Imposter scams often begin with a call, text message, or email. They may vary but work in much the same manner – a scammer pretends to be someone you trust, and attempts to convince you to send them money or share your personal information. Common examples are as follows:
- A FAMILY MEMBER (or someone acting for them), saying your relative is sick, has been arrested or is in serious trouble and needs money right away.
- An ATTORNEY, or someone with whom you are regularly doing business, asking you to transfer funds to complete a transaction.
- A COURT OFFICIAL, indicating that you failed to appear for jury duty and need to pay a fine or you will be arrested.
- The POLICE, saying you’ll be arrested, fined or deported if you don’t pay taxes or some other debt right away.
- The SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, claiming that COVID-19-related office closures mean your benefits have been suspended.
- The IRS, reporting that you owe back taxes, and that there’s a problem with your return or they need to verify information.
- Your BANK, claiming that they need to verify personal information before they can send you a new card.
Wire transfers are fast and easy, but they have also become a preferred method for scammers. That’s because wiring money is like sending cash and once it’s gone, there’s usually no way to get it back. More alarmingly, the perpetrators of these schemes are employing many of the scenarios highlighted above to gain your confidence and to convince you to act.
As a result, please remember to never wire money to anyone:
- you haven’t met in person
- who says they work at a government agency like the IRS, SSA, or a well-known company
- who pressures you into paying immediately
- who says a wire transfer is the only way you can pay
If you find yourself in any of these situations, please consider the following:
- Be Suspicious of any call from a government agency asking for money or information. Government agencies don’t do that; scammers do.
- Don’t Trust Caller ID. Even if it might look like a real call, it can be faked.
- Never pay with a gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. If someone tells you to pay this way, it’s a scam.
- Always check with the real agency, person or company. Don’t use the phone number they give you. Look it up yourself. Then call to find out if they’re trying to reach you—and why.
If You Suspect That You’ve Been Scammed
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
- Contact Customer Support at North Shore Bank — (978) 573-1300.
- File a report with your local law enforcement agency.
American Bankers Association, Infographic – "Imposter Scams: Say No, Keep Your Dough,"
Federal Trade Commission - "Before You Wire Money,"