Security News

By Tim Cook - timc@landings.org
Security Director

Writer and philosopher George Santayana had a belief that history repeats itself. More specifically, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

I’ve written a few articles on scams, but they continue not only to exist, but one scam recently hit its target with one of our own. The resident that was subjected to these deviant scumbags (I had to use this term because cursing in this written publication is prohibited) succumbed to something that is very near and dear to us all – the notification that a family member needed her help, and she needed it immediately.

In short, the loving Grandmother received a telephone call from a woman who claimed her granddaughter was in jail and needed $100,000 for bail. She was involved in a car crash, and alcohol was a factor. The caller even knew her granddaughter’s name. As the scam unfolded, a few red flags began to appear.

  1. She needed to send cash. (They may also ask for you to wire money, bitcoins, gift cards, etc.)
  2. She needed to send the money immediately. (In this case via Federal Express. They even specified the Fed. Express distribution store, AND it had to reach them by 8 a.m. the next day.)
  3. She couldn’t tell anyone.

She sent a total of a little more than $9,000 in three separate envelopes. Once they had her on the hook, they sunk their talons in deeper. They claimed the other party involved in the car crash was pregnant and lost the baby due to injuries she suffered from the crash. They demanded another $100,000, claiming this would start the civil lawsuit’s defense process. Fortunately, the resident had contacted her broker by this time, and he told her this was a scam and not to send any more money. She immediately contacted Landings Security and the Chatham County Police Department.

Thankfully, the resident learned from this experience and will not let history repeat itself. She also was gracious enough for me to relay the salient points of her experience so that others may learn vicariously through her experience.

Other recent scams reported included:

  • An email claiming a resident’s computer had been hacked, which was confirmed by the scumbag knowing the resident’s email address and password. They were demanding bitcoins to remove their malware.
  • The jury duty scam continues. Caller states they are with the Sheriff’s Office (and sometimes they use real Deputy names) claiming you missed a court date or jury duty. If you don’t pay them immediately, a Sheriff’s Deputy will respond to your home and arrest you.
  • Medicare and Medicaid, IRS demands, injured family member, alleged secret or affair blackmail, and the list goes on.

Although I typically write about the subject of scams at least once a year, I need your help. If you are reading this article, talk to your friends and family to see if they are aware of such scams. Impress them with you knowledge by visiting www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts  The FTC literally has 26 pages of current scams.

Following are some tips to protect yourself from scams:

  • Never reveal any personal information when fielding an unsolicited phone call. Government agencies, including Court staff, IRS or Social Security agents, etc., will never demand payment over the phone or immediately.
  • Challenge the caller. Ask for their name and other defining details. If they claim to work for a specific county, city, or business, hang up and contact the alleged organization at a number you know is correct. The scammer is likely to hang up once you begin asking detailed questions.
  • Caller ID can be spoofed. Scammers can make calls seem legitimate by using fake caller IDs. Any telephone number can be spoofed!
  • If you feel you’ve been targeted by a scam, please report it to at least one of the following:
    • Federal Trade Commission (www.FTC.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP). You can also subscribe to their Scam Alerts via email.
    • Georgia’s Governor’s Office, Consumer Protection (http://consumer. georgia.gov/ or 404-651-8600)
    • FBI’s Atlanta Field Office (404-679-9000). Please be patient when calling these agencies, as your hold time may be lengthy due to high caller volume. The wait times are typically shorter if you call early in the morning.