This month's topic: Scams! Reported losses from investment scams in the U.S. totaled $3.31 billion last year, according to CNBC. Given the increasing cybersecurity risk that is present in today's digital age, it is not a matter of "if" you will fall victim to a scam, but "when."
Below, please find three real life stories about scams that our clients have encountered in recent days. See if you can spot the fraud early in the fact pattern!
- Hospital Bill - Mindy received a call from the hospital billing office prior to her scheduled procedure. The kind representative informed her of a new hospital policy requiring a payment prior to arrival. The representative even told Mindy that they had her email address and emergency contact on file, both of which were correct. Mindy was invited to put down a 25% deposit or she could even pay 100% of the anticipated expense to get it taken care of. Fortunately, thinking that something seemed a bit off, Mindy consulted with us and ultimately did not provide the representative with any information. She later found out from the hospital that no such policy exists.
- Jury Duty – Sarah missed jury duty. She knew she was supposed to respond to the request that she received in the mail, but life got in the way. She received a call indicating that as penalty for her absence, she would owe $4,000. Unfortunately, Sarah provided payment information and the fraudsters made off with the money. She is currently working with an attorney, however the prospects of recovering that money are quite low.
- Timeshare – Bill and Wynona received a telephone call from their timeshare resort in Mexico informing them that because the resort was flourishing, they could sell the timeshare back to the resort and have the proceeds deposited into a brokerage account. The deadline for establishing the brokerage account was three days away. There would be a financial advisor who could help them facilitate the transaction and they were given a telephone number to contact this advisor. Bill and Wynona contacted us to review the offer. We were able to determine that while there was indeed an actual financial advisor by that name, it was not the actual financial advisor’s telephone number that was contacted. We contacted the actual financial advisor at the telephone number listed on his website and he knew nothing of this matter. Thankfully, the couple did not provide any personal or financial information to the fraudsters.
Fortunately, none of these scams involved fraudulent access to the client’s investment accounts. Needless to say, the scammers are getting more creative by the day. Sadly, it’s probably safest to just assume every form of communication that you receive is a scam until proven otherwise. If you feel that you are being taken advantage of or could potentially fall victim to a crime, call us. We will help in any way that we can. Further, we are able to add a password to your account that would be required each time a transaction takes place, whether via phone or paper form.