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Beware This Social Security Scam

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Beware This Social Security Scam

Beware This Social Security Scam
February 14
18:04 2020

An Ohio woman known only as “Ann” admitted she paid $20,000 to fraudsters who claimed her Social Security account was at risk and demanded the money to fix the problem. The Blue Ash resident shared her horror story to warn others not to be fooled by such con artists.

Late one morning, Ann answered the phone and began speaking to a man whose business was far from official, as he said it was:

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“He identified himself as an agent. He said my Social Security number was misused and that I now had 25 bank accounts, I had illegal drug activity, and have a warrant out for my arrest for money laundering.”

The mother of three school-going children was shocked. She had no criminal record but others acting as her had committed very serious federal offenses – or so she was told. The caller offered Ann a way out:

“He said I needed to prove that I only have two bank accounts, not 25, and I needed to empty my accounts.”

The man posing as a Social Security fraud investigator told Ann there was no time to talk to anyone else about this urgent matter – especially her husband. Ann reacted as many of us would in the same situation:

“All I could think about was, ‘I am going to go to jail.’ I have my kids with me, and I am thinking, ‘I have to do this, I have to get this done.'”

The “agent” instructed Ann to withdraw everything from her savings account and transfer the money to the Social Security Administration (SSA), for deposit into a secure, temporary holding account. The panicked woman headed straight to her bank while the caller stayed on the line, listening to the teller transaction.

When asked why she was making such a large withdrawal, Ann became flustered – “I wasn’t myself at all,” she said – and told a fib:

“I lied and told her ‘furniture.'”

Even Ann’s daughter, who was with her at the bank, became alarmed by her mom’s sudden actions:

“My 13-year-old was, like, ‘Mom that’s a lot of money, why are you taking all that money out?'”

But the caller was so convincing that Ann listened to him instead of her better judgment which was telling her to counsel with her husband. That option was off the table, according to the fraudster:

“The guy said, ‘Don’t tell your husband. You will compromise him.'”

The scam artist wasn’t finished with Ann yet. The $20,000 cash had to be converted into a convenient payment form to send to “the SSA” for safekeeping while sorting out the fictional problem.

The caller directed Ann to drive to three different Target stores in metro Cincinnati to purchase batches of gift debit cards loaded with $800 and $900 balances. This raised no suspicion as buying one single batch of gift cards totaling $20,000 at one location might have done.

The store clerks never batted an eye when Ann laid down thousands of dollars to change into universal payment cards. According to her:

“They hardly asked me any questions.”

As Ann left each Target, the scammer directed her to report each card number over the phone until all her money had been converted into gift cards:

“He had me read every single card number to him and then he said, ‘Oh, you can go home now and be with your family.'”

As soon as the fake federal official hung up, $20,000 richer, Ann realized she had been suckered, big-time. She wasted no time in contacting the local authorities – but it was too late:

“We did a police report. They went through every gift card but they had already been redeemed.”

The Social Security Administration takes fraud very seriously. In 2018, more than 35,000 victims reported this same scam with total losses of $10 million. The agency has published a recording of what a typical SSA scam phone call sounds like.

The SSA says its employees never make these kinds of threatening calls and will NEVER ask anyone to confirm a Social Security Number (SSN) over the phone. The SSA gives this advice:

  • No legitimate SSA representative will ever phone you up to tell you your card or account has been “suspended” or “compromised.”
  • The SSA, IRS or FBI will never call you to say a warrant is out for your arrest.
  • No government agency will ever demand you wire money to them or purchase gift cards.
  • No federal case has been brought against your SSN.
  • Never send money to dismiss a case against you.
  • The real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213 but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID. If you doubt what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA.

If you receive a suspicious call from anyone posing as a federal agent, report it to the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General and/or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The bottom line is: Never reveal any part of your Social Security Number, bank account number or credit card number to anyone who contacts you with threats and demands for immediate payment in cash.

Learn from Ann’s story. Don’t be a victim of SSA fraud – and pass it on.

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