Hot Tips

Watch out! Scam artists are everywhere!


There are few aspects of this job that truly disgust me, but this was most definitely one of the worst.  While on an interview, an elderly man told me a story about his grandson - or at least he thought it was his grandson. 

One morning he and his wife were sitting at home when they received an upsetting phone call.  A man informed the couple that he was an attorney representing their grandson “Kyle.”  Kyle, it appeared, had gotten into some trouble with the law and needed to be bailed out of jail.  Since Kyle’s parents were on a trip in China at the time and could not be reached, which the attorney knew, they were unable to help.  When the elderly couple asked to talk to Kyle, the attorney happily agreed, and Kyle repeated the same story to his grandparents.  It was Kyle on the phone – it was his voice asking “Papa” and “Gammy” for help.

Frantic from worry, the couple asked how they could help.  The attorney informed them that he needed $2,500 as soon as possible and that the best way to get the money from Illinois to California was via Western Union.  Once the money was wired, the couple was to inform the attorney of the transfer number, and Kyle would be released.

Luckily, something did not quite sit right with the elderly couple.  They did wire the money, but they did not give the attorney the transfer number.  Not yet.   Instead, they called Kyle’s cell phone repeatedly until someone answered.   Eventually Kyle answered asking what was wrong.  His grandfather informed Kyle of the phone call from the attorney and since Kyle answered the call, he was obviously not in jail.  Kyle assured his grandfather that none of this was true and that everything was fine.  In fact, Kyle was sitting in the student union at Berkley, not in a jail cell or with any lawyer.

Immediately after hanging up the phone with Kyle, the phone rang.  It was the attorney asking for the transfer number.  The grandfather picked up the phone and said only one thing, “You asshole!” and hung up.  The next thing he did was contact Western Union to report the fraud.

Fortunately, the elderly couple had the thought to double check the story before handing over $2,500.  Unfortunately, this happens every day to thousands of people.  This type of scam is referred to as an Emergency Scam by the Better Business Bureau ( and it often targets the elderly.  Most people never tell a soul that something like this happened to them out of embarrassment.  But, people need to know.  Protect yourself and your livelihood.  Tell people about these kinds of scams.  If you are unsure about a situation, make sure you have the facts before you act. 

There are many other types of scams that occur almost every day:

·         Overpayment & Fake Check Scams

·         Employment Scams

·         Advance Fee & Prepayment Scams

·         Phishing Scams

·         Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams

·         Identity Theft Scams (FBI and BBB websites)

·         Home Improvement Scams

·         Sales & Rental Scams

·         Telemarketing Fraud

·         419 Fraud of Nigerian Letters

·         Health Care or Health Insurance Fraud

·         Investment –Related Scams

o   Letter of Credit Fraud

o   Prime Bank Note Fraud

o   ‘Ponzi’ Schemes

o   Pyramid Schemes

o   Market Manipulation or ‘Pump and Dump’ Fraud

·         Internet Related Fraud