“When the scam artist tells the person to hang up the phone and call the number on the back of their debit card, for example, the victim hangs up, but the scammer stays on the line. So, when the victim picks up their phone again to make a phone call, they don’t necessarily listen for a dial tone, they just dial the number. Well, little do they know the call is still live with that scammer. The scam artist then answers the phone posing as the bank person and it goes from there. These series of calls that go through, who the victim thinks, is a bank rep., a 911 operator, a police officer, it’s actually either the same person or it’s different scammers who are just passing the phone around on their end.
“They were told to hang up and phone the number off the back of their debit card, so they hung up the phone on their end. They phoned who they thought was another bank official. They were then instructed to call 911 and ask for a police investigator, which they did. They hung up, called 911 and the phone was answered on the other end, they thought, by somebody from E-Comm, who transferred them to a police officer, and it went from there and there were a few more calls that were made. Then, ultimately, the person was able to convince our victims to wire transfer $500,000 to a bank account overseas,” he said.
“It’s actually one continuous call that never ends,” he said. Goodmurphy admits calls like these can be hard to track because the criminals often use a spoofed number. “If you were to call through to 911, as we know, you wouldn’t necessarily be asking for a police officer or if you tried to, they wouldn’t be connecting you with a police officer. It’s convincing enough that, unfortunately, people are losing a lot of money.”
He can’t say definitively if these scammers are targeting a specific group of people. “Seniors, as we know, are more vulnerable to these types of scams because it seems like it’s easier to confuse them because of a lot of this stuff is new for them, the are still using telephone banking, they’re using landlines.” In this latest case, Goodmurphy says it’s unclear if the money made it over to scammers. “[The couple] clued in eventually to call police and we told them to contact their bank and freeze their accounts, which they did.”