(WSVN) - I can bet you have heard from one of them. Claiming you owe the IRS money, an email that says if you don’t pay this money within hours you will be arrested. They are all scams, of course, but they are hard to stop and spot, which is why a woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
You may not know Rose, but you may have something in common with her.
Rose Ambrosio, wary of scammers: “We absolutely live paycheck to paycheck.”
Rose and her husband both work, and they get by, by being smart with those paychecks.
Rose Ambrosio: “I get paid weekly; my husband is once a month. So then we are just figuring out our bills, what paycheck is going to cover what bill.”
Money is scarce. Scammers trying to take your money are not.
Rose Ambrosio: “And then seeing a warrant for your arrest, that’s enough to scare anybody.”
Rose got an email that claimed to be from a company she borrowed money from.
Rose Ambrosio: “It looks legal, it really does.”
A red flag went up because a few years ago, another set of scammers had nearly scared Rose to death.
Rose Ambrosio: “Saying that if I didn’t pay a certain amount of money, that I would be arrested. I got a call at my job and I went home. I didn’t want the embarrassment in case I was going to be arrested.”
Rose was not arrested, of course. It was scammers.
Rose Ambrosio: “I almost fell for it.”
This time the crooks were more clever. They even listed the number of an arrest warrant for Rose. It was phony, of course, and Rose started digging.
Rose Ambrosio: “It was around $1,450 they’re saying I owed. I actually went online to do research. I copied that whole letter online and learned of other people that got the same type of letter.”
Rose is not alone in being a target. At Help Me Howard each week, we hear from many people who were told things like:
- They owe the IRS money, and if they don’t send a money order quickly, they’ll get a knock on the door and be arrested.
- That they are being hired for a job. A check is being delivered. Cash it. Keep a portion and wire the rest back to someone. Of course, the check the scammers send is fraudulent.
- Some crooks say you’ve won millions in a lottery sweepstakes, and you need to send a few hundred for the taxes and delivery.
- Online dating sites where you get suckered into sending money for the so-called love of your life.
The list goes on and on.
Rose Ambrosio: “It angers me. People are out there hurting, hardworking people.”
After nearly getting taken years ago, Rose is not so trusting anymore. But it bothers her that with so many people getting ripped off, the crooks almost never get caught.
Rose Ambrosio: “My legal question would be, how do you spot a fake, and who do you report it to?”
Good questions, Howard.
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Be careful, because these scammers are very clever, convincing and cunning. But in a nutshell, if they threaten to arrest you for not paying something, that’s a scam. Ignore them. If they ask you to quickly wire money or send a money order, that’s a scam. Don’t do it. And you can report them to police, but there is not much they can do because the scammers online are difficult to track down, and usually not even in the United States.”
While it’s difficult to stop those crooks, the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission do want you to report the incidents to them so they can alert other people of the new tricks the scammers are coming up with.
Rose says remember that old line. That was good advice then and now.
Rose Ambrosio: “If something sounds too good to be true, it is.”
While they crooks have many scams, they do have a common thread. Demanding you wire money or put money on something like an iTunes card. If they ask for that, you are dealing with a crook.
And if they have ripped you off or tried to rip you off, the agencies to contact that Howard talked about are under this Help Me Howard story. Let them know.
Ripped off and wired up about it? Ready to say “bam to the scam?” Check with us and see if we can help you cash in, ’cause we can be as good as money in the bank.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
File complaint with Federal Trade Commission
Report scammers to FBI
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