Financial scams cost consumers billions of dollars every year and Metro members are no exception. Annually, the number of members affected, and the dollars lost, continues to grow. Types of financial scams Metro members have fallen victim to include:
- Lottery Scams where victims are convinced they won a lottery or sweepstake, but need to send money for “fees” or “taxes” in order to collect their winnings. The victims never meet the criminals in person, and
a new “fee” or “tax” always arises until the victim stops sending money.
- Government Impersonator Scams where criminals pretend to be government officials threatening jail time unless the victim pays fines or costs. Real government officials don’t threaten arrest over the phone, and the IRS always
sends correspondence and asks you to call them.
- Romance Scams, like the name suggests, involve criminals creating fake profiles and trolling social media for lonely or compassionate victims. The criminal is always somewhere that makes meeting in person impossible, and once the
victim is emotionally invested, some crisis will occur and the victim is asked to send money.
- Grandparent Scams use an older person’s love of family against them. In these scams someone posing as a grandchild will need money to help them get out of significant trouble. The “grandchild” won’t be
available to talk after making the request, and the criminals demand money immediately, usually in the form of money orders, bank checks, or gift cards.
- Tech Support Scams - occur when criminals convince victims they are from a hardware or software company reporting a problem on the victim’s PC. They con victims out of information that gives the criminals remote access to the
victim’s computer. Once in, the criminals can get passwords, account numbers, emails, everything they need to hack a bank account.
Members have fallen victim to all of these scams and many others this year alone. Older members are more frequently the targets of the scams, but people of all ages, backgrounds, and education levels can fall victim to these crimes. These scam artists
are very good at what they do and they are very good at getting victims to trust them.
Financial scams almost never end until the victim finally stops sending money, which often doesn’t occur until they run out of money. When the crime is over, in nearly every instance, the victim is able to look back and recognize multiple red flags
they overlooked while the scam was being perpetrated. Even when a victim suspects or knows something isn’t right, they may believe they’re “in too deep” already, or the criminal might use the victim’s desire to believe,
or loneliness to overcome the red flags. In the end, many victims are either too embarrassed or too confused to report the crime.
Over the years, Metro has provided information about how to prevent common schemes from happening:
- Do online searches on who you’re talking to.
- Never send money to someone you “met” online, but cannot meet in person.
- Never give personal or financial information to someone who initiates contact.
- Don’t be pressured into acting quickly without time to think or talk to family or friends.
- Avoid clicking popups, opening attachments, or doing downloads on your computer.
While those techniques work, there is one thing members can do that didn’t occur in 100% of successful scams, and would have prevented 95% of these crimes; be skeptical and end all communication with the potential criminal as soon as possible. Criminals
are in it for the money. If they perceive you as harder to convince or more work, they’ll likely move on to the next target.
These types of scams are always changing, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts to read more about the scams listed above and more.
If you are uncertain if you or someone you know has been contacted by a criminal for the purposes of a financial scam, please use the step by step instructions listed at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed, contact the Federal Trade
Commission at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov , or contact Metro. Chances are, we’ve heard the story before.