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On occasion, my phone will ring and someone will ask for my mother. This is a dead giveaway, as the only people who think my number is my mother's are scammers. As usual, I pretended to be my mother (it's hard talking in a high, quavery voice, belive me), to see what the scam entails. Here is my report, with a transcript recorded as faithfully as I was able to.

Executive Summary: Phony Grant of $6,000, with a request for $199.00 by Western Union as a "Refundable Security Deposit"

Scammer's Phone Number: 202-407-9116




Me: Hello?

Drone: (In a voice with an Indian accent as thick and sticky as Gulab Jamun) This is [Phony Name] from US Department of Government Grants. Is this [victim name]?

Me: Hang on, I'll get her.

Me (sounding as elderly as I can): Hello, this is [victim name].

Drone: Your name and phone number have been selected by the government to receive grant money of $6,000 which you never have to pay back.

Because as you know, every year the government has selected 4,000 citizens who paid their bills and taxes on time, who have no bankruptcy and no criminal records.

A few months back we did a demographic survey in your area and the government has selected most of the people in your area, and you are one of them.

The $6,000 comes from the tax department and the government is refunding this back to you in the form of grants.

You must be sure not to try to use the money in any form of illegal activity such as drugs, gambling, prostitution or anything else - just use the money for any good purpose. (This bit cracked me up.)

Is your phone number [Phone Number]? Is your address [Address]?

Me: That's correct.

Drone: I am now going to provide you with your $6,000 confirmation number: Call this phone number, this is a free call, there is no charge, you need to call my finanancial department right now. Please grab a pencil and paper and I will give you the number:

First, write down your grant confirmation number. You cannot collect your money without it. It is: WG1021. Then call this number right away: 202-407-9116. This is the direct Number of the Washington Grant and Treasury Department. Give them your number confirmation number. Will you call this number right away, and they will tell you how to collect your money.

Me: [I call the number]

Drone: US Grant Department, this is John. Can I have your grant confirmation number?
Can I have your name? Are you calling from your home or cell phone number?

Give me a minute to open your file to see if your grant has been approved or not.
Thank you for holding. Your name and number has been approved for a $6,000 grant. You have a good record with the government. It is a random selection by the government.

What you need to do to get this money, go to the Western Union store. [Cha ching! Money shot!] You can collect your money today itself. Once you go to the Western Union store, you need to carry your picture ID with you, for your self-identification, and also you have to carry $199.00 for the security deposit. The reason you are making the security deposit, is that you are receiving a huge amount of $6,000. When they see you are collecting this huge amount of money, they will assess you a fee of 23%. This will be $1,350. That is a large amount. This security deposit will avoid them hassling you in future, and this security deposit is refundable immediately at the Western Union store. When you get to the Western Union store, call me back at this number and ask for John, I will help you. When you tell them you will be receiving a huge amount of $6,000, they will surely charge you $1,350.00. In order to avoid their charges of $1,350, you must pay the security deposit. So you go now to the Western Union store and when you get to the parking lot you will call me and ask for John. How long will it take you to get to the Western Union Store?

Me: Oh, about 15 minutes.

Drone: You go now to the Western Union store, and call me back at this number when you get there. Do you go to the store now? OK, thank you.

Me: I call back half an hour later. A drone asks me for my information again, and transfers me to someone in their "finance department."

Drone: "Did you bring your picture ID and the $200.00 for the security deposit which is refundable at the very Western Union store immediately tonight?"

Me: Yes, I have.

Drone: "You go now into the Western Union store and I will tell you what you have to do to collect this money."

At this point, I decide to pull the plug because I'm busy.

Me: I'm terminating this call. I just called you back to let you know that I know what you're doing, I understand your scam, and I think you're disgusting. If you understand Karma, you know that you will be coming back to earth in your next life as a cockroach. If there is a special place in Hell for scumbags like you, I will be there fanning the flames. In addition, your phone number will be posted on the internet, and your scam has been reported to the local authorities, the FTC, and the US Attorney General's Office. Are we clear? Good. Goodbye.


Interestingly enough, after this exchange, they robocalled me 5 additional times. Not sure what that was about, as I didn't answer.

Takeaway:

If you need to transfer money quickly, to someone you know and trust, wiring cash can be a good way to go. However, if someone else - especially someone you do not know - asks you to send them money by Western Union, you are dealing with a certified scammer. Hang up the phone, and have nothing more to do with them.



Protect your loved ones. Be on the lookout for people who prey on the elderly, and educate your family members on how to protect themselves from scammers: Hang up.


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Comments

deckardcanine
Jun. 29th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Heh, 202 is my DC area code. Hardly India.
ccdesan
Jun. 29th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
What you're not factoring in is that these people have ways of spoofing phone numbers so that you call the 202 area code and the call is immediately routed anywhere in the world.
deckardcanine
Jun. 29th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
True. The scams I get usually show nonexistent codes.

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