Being a scam victim, or having your identity being used for scam can be distressing and painful. More than before, scams are becoming more sophisticated. Today, scam is beyond being tricked, you can have your bank account or credit card left in the negative without you even having an inkling.
Scams can be in different forms. All of these forms of scams are targeted at one thing; having a hold on your money or using your identity to lay hold on the money of someone else.
A scam can see you being tricked, or your personal information harvested online, or stolen. A scam can also come in form of you being tricked to willingly send your money to scammers.
What you should know is that it’s not your fault, scammers are on top of their game to hit us where it pains the most. What you should know is that today’s scammer are just like the pick pockets in a crowded place who depend on distraction and confusion. For scammers, their own tact is to employ curiosity, fear, and false urgency.
If you have being scammed, you may feel there’s no need to report or an embarrassment that comes with being scammed. It’s not your fault if you’ve been scammed, scammers are always refining their methods, playing on your emotions and intelligence.
You may feel that your scammer is out of reach and getting back your money is impossible, that’s not true. If you are ready to take action immediately, you are likely to get back your money. Let’s consider types of scam that anyone is likely to be susceptible to;
How To Know It’s a Scam
There will always be the signs that should give you a second thought when scammers are about to dry up your savings. If only you are vigilant enough to identify these signs;
- Contact Out of The Blues
When you are suddenly contacted or approached, especially by phone calls you should be at alert. It could be a scammer trying to extract some personal information from you. An unsolicited contact could mean that you are being studied, researched or targeted by a scammer. Don’t entertain any form of cold calling by pension or insurance marketers, it could just be scammers lucking around to sap your account dry.
- Sounds Too Good To Be Real
This may sound like a cliché, but whenever you are approached with an offer that you definitely know it’s too good to be true, you need to brace up. It may be scammers trying to help you lose guard. Scammers play on the human nature of greed, never allow greed cloud your judgement.
You’ll be tempted with offers that promises high returns within the shortest possible time. When this is what is being offered, you should know you are about to be scammed.
- Random Emails
You must have likely received emails from one long lost brother of yours who is on humanitarian duty in North Africa or South East Asia. Today, scammers have gone beyond that schematics, they are employing high tech phishing emails that could expose your personal information with just a click from you.
When you receive such random emails, check the name of the sender and email carefully. You are likely to find numbers, misspelt names or words. You are likely to also discover that the email was not sent to only you, but scores of other people.
- Personal Information Being Requested Over Email or Phone Call
It’s a scam if you are being asked to provide your credit card numbers, passwords or maiden names. No reasonable organization will request for such information over a phone call. You may be asked to confirm some information but not your social security number, PIN codes or date of birth should be requested.
- Being Asked To Make Quick on The Spot Decisions
Scammers employ immediacy and urgency to push you to make wrong decisions. They put you on the spot painting a scenario of loss if you don’t sign up and make that decision right away.
What Should You Do When You Are Scammed?
When it comes to scams, never say never. These individuals are super tricky and they strike when you are at your lowest.
1. Cut Communication
Put a stop to all forms of communication whenever you are scammed. In some school of thought, they will ask you to keep interacting with the scammer, that’s a wrong approach, not everyone is cut out to keeping their heads up after being scammed. Except you get external help, never keep in touch with your scammer. They are well aware of your weaknesses already and will play you with it over and over again. They are ready to sap you dry till they cannot get anything from you again, or push you to borrow.
There have been instances where scammers continue to milk their victims encouraging them to borrow from family, friends and relatives, or even take a loan. It’s only by halting communication can you snap out of the denial of being scammed. By continuing communication, you make yourself an easy prey for scammers to push around. There’s what we can recovery scams, this is when the scammer ask the victim to pay more money in order to get back their funds.
Whenever you find yourself scammed, as much as you want to do everything possible to get your money back, take a step backwards to have a clear sight of what you’ve lost and how you lost it.
2. Inform Your Bank and Credit Card Issuer of Breach
As earlier expressed, scammers are ever ready to milk dry their victims, not even caring if it leads to loss of life. You are likely to have given your scammer payment information or other personal information to the scammer. This is like them having the key to your finances if you don’t take action fast. Give your bank and credit card issuer the information needed to put a stop to every outward flow from your account.
It’s normal to confused at this time, look at the back of your credit card, there’s a number there you should contact. They will help take the necessary action to forestall further damage. Desist from calling the number that you find in the email from your bank, it could also be part of the scam process. Call your bank or credit card company only through the number on your last account statement or the one on your credit card.
3. Make a Report With Local Police and Agencies
You might find it silly calling the police after you’ve been scammed, but it’s not. You may be surprised to find out that you are just part of the web of scam being perpetrated by the scammer. With your own report and statement, it may go a long way to help you and others recover your money. Reporting online scamming is just proper, just like you do when you are mugged on the corner of the street. Being scammed online doesn’t make it less of a crime.
Filing the report immediately you are scammed will give the scammer little window period to clean off the digital trail. A copy of the police report will also be needed when you approach either your bank, credit card issuer and even the credit bureau. This isn’t a 911 issue or emergency number issue, it’s one that will need you to walk into the police station and ask for the online fraud unit of the police station.
4. File An Extended Fraud Alert
You need to let anyone who is trying to pull your credit report that you’ve recently being a victim of fraud. Through the fraud victim statement with the three credit bureaus to add a note to your credit file. When this is filed, you will be called by the organization trying to pull your credit on any of the two phone numbers you’ve provided.
In reality, the lender may grant the scammer credit. But by filing the fraud alert, they will be doing so while neglecting a red flag. If they pay attention, they will reach out to you and you will confirm or discredit the credit enquiry.
5. Freeze Your Credit Report
This may seem to be an extreme measure, but desperate times actually needs desperate measures. You may have discovered that the scammer has all the information required to request for new credit line, this means you need to apply a security freeze. Start monitoring your credit score by reaching out to the credit bureau.
With a security freeze, the scammer will be unable to request for opening an account using all of your personal information. With the security freeze in place, the scammer will be asked for your pin or password which you would have put in place when you freeze your credit report. A security freeze can only be effected by contacting all of the credit bureaus individually.
How You Can Recover Your Scammed Funds
1. Report To Federal Agencies
The best place to start if you intend to recover the lost funds if you have been scammed is to contact federal agencies. Not that the federal agencies will act on your behalf but they are likely to make it easy to recover your funds.
Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation acted on behalf of Americans in recovering their money. More than 80 Nigerians were targeted and arrested for scam and money laundering issues. The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not just act on their own but with the Nigerian anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigeria Police.
It will be difficult to act on your own as an individual in recovering your funds. With the help of the FBI, Americans who were scammed by Africans were arrested with the likelihood of recovering their funds.
2. Petition The Agency of The Home Country of The Scammer
Depending on the location of the scammer, you can write a petition to the police in the scammer country. You may need the help of your own country’s police department. Usually, every country has a unit devoted to scams and cyber crime, you can forward your complaints to the home country’s police agency.
This is dependent on if you are aware of the country of residence of the scammer. Usually, the police or cybercrime department of any country will be ready to help track the scammer.
3. Hire a Private Investigator
Getting money back from a scammer requires help beyond what you can handle individually. There are skills, expertise and experience needs to track down the scammer and recover the scammed funds.
Usually, a scammer spends your money as soon as they lay their hands on it. It will require not just a private investigator but also the court to institute a civil court and force them to return your money. Regardless of how skilled your private investigator may be, it will require the help of the government to be able to get back your money.
You should be careful when hiring a private investigator also, more often than not they give victims of scam false hope.
4. Scam The Scammer
This is like turning the table around by baiting your scammers. Scammers are driven by greed and you can actually make them suffer by baiting them. This isn’t one easy approach but people have actually done it successfully.
There are different tactics that can be employed in baiting your scammer. You can use your identity or an identity unknown to the scammer. There are also scam baiting websites that you can sign up to in order to frustrate the life of your scammer and even get back your money.
5. Track Down Your Scammer
This may look like expending resources on a goose chase, however it’s not. Even if you are unable to get back your money from the scammer, knowing he/she will spend the rest of his useful life behind bars is enough compensation for the emotional and financial pain the scammer must have caused you.
While communicating with the scammer, you could have obtained his original IP address which could provide the needed information about his/her location. If you are not tech savvy, you will need the technical assistance of an IT Ethical hacker to help decode his location.
Quick Tips To Identify a Potential Scammer
Scammers have modus operandi which they employ for most of their victims. It’s quite easy to spot this loopholes by scammers only if you pay attention.
- Ask the scammer for personal details about his family more than once. Usually, you will be provided different answers all the time you ask. Write it down all the time you ask about his date of birth, or the name of his kids. This should let you know that you are dealing with more than one scammer but a syndicate.
- Look through his social media profile, especially when he claims to be Soldier or Marine in Afghanistan, most of the likes will probably be by Africans or Indians. He’s not a soldier, he’s a scammer ready to play on your emotions to make you send money. Check his friend list also, you will see loads of Africans and Asians. Being a soldier, he should have a good number of soldiers as friends.
- He will ask you to send money either by Western Union, iTunes Gift cards, Google Gift Card, Amazon Gift Cards, Bitcoins, and other untraceable means. Just know you are in business with a scammer. You can stall him by sending him fake codes, he will feel frustrated in the long run.
- Do a reverse image search of the pictures he send you or the one he has on his social media pages. You will discover these pictures are fake and it belongs to someone else. You are likely to find dozens of profiles set up using the person’s name.
- Request for his address, and you will discover such a place either doesn’t exist or its been up for sale for years.
All it takes is due diligence by you when scammers reach out to you. Stop communicating with the scammer immediately once you spot the red flags.