The Near Perfect Scam
by Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
I would consider myself of average intelligence and savvy to most scams. In fact, I think Malcom Gladwell would most likely akin me to Reg Brown or Harry Markopolos. I don’t often default to the truth but typically take information as simply data until proven otherwise. However, this morning I woke to an email from my cable and internet company that explained my “autopay processing payment” was in error due to a possible “result of a change in your card’s expiration date, a new card number, a card that hasn’t yet been activated, or an exceeded credit card balance.” I immediately checked the sender’s email address. RCN.net. Looked okay to me. I thought about my credit cards and bank account information and nothing in my memory screamed expired card or low bank balance. So then I went on to the RCN site: rcn.COM and voila! It hit me right there. I received an email from rcn.NET and in the body of the email they reference rcn.com. I looked more closely at the small print (see yellow highlights) and noticed other small nuances as well. I then checked my RCN account and sure enough, my autopayment was still humming along fine.
How does this happen and how many people get scammed each year? I’m sure by the gazillions. I nearly did. It is so imperative for you, your family and friends to be aware and diligent in not falling for the never-ending clever ways that scammers can rinse you of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Protect your accounts with safe passwords. Make sure your checking accounts don’t have significant funds in them by transferring the bulk of your cash to your money market or CD accounts. CPA, Rodney Reynolds explained, “scammers can get a hold of your check, wash the handwritten ink off the check and then re-write it to themselves for thousands. It happened to one of my clients and they tried to steal over a hundred thousand dollars. Luckily for my client, the bank noticed the check looked ‘off’ and notified the client. The check wasn’t processed.” Jesus. That is crazy stuff. But it’s also why I bank very local. The managers know me, the cashiers know me.
And any time you think something looks or seems off or fishy? It probably is.