By Cheri Sims
Beware; computer and telephone scammers are out in full force!
My friends and I are always talking about the scam calls we seen to get every day; if it not about Medicare or Social Security we get calls concerning expired car warranties’, Amazon or Paypal refunds, Geek Squad email messages about our computer having problems or that a warrant for our arrest has been issued due to lack of payments of all types. We all consider ourselves pretty wise to the ways of these scammers, who seem to target the elderly, but anyone can let down their guard, case in point.
I became a possible victim due to my own stupidity. A couple months ago I had a problem with my cell phone and when my files were transferred many of my contacts did not transfer to the new phone. When it came time to make my monthly Visa payment the phone number I have called for years was not in my phone. I “Googled” the bank name and found the phone number to Visa support, called it and made my payment. When my next bank statement arrived I noticed that the Visa payment had been taken out of my account but returned to the account immediately. After multiple phone calls to Visa and two different banks, the only resolution I was given was that perhaps my bank noticed a possible fraudulent action and refused the payment.
Fast forward to last week when I was surfing You Tube and came across the “Scammer Payback” channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/ScammerPayback) which is hosted by a young man who goes by the screen name of “ Periogi”. He works in cyber security during the day and has joined forces with other computer savvy people who are dedicated “scam baiting”. In other words they are going after the crooks.
I watched the first video and was stunned at what I saw and the main message I took from Perogi was to “Never” Google for a phone number when looking to pay someone. His advice is to call your bank and ask them to give you the number or only call the number on the back of your credit card. Wise advice because I learned that the scammers pay for “spoof ads” which appear at the top of the web search page and that is how they get many of their customers/victims! Over the week I continued to watch many of the scam baiter videos and have learned not to reply to suspect email messages and when one needs to contact companies like Amazon or PayPal; only go through their app or through the phone numbers posted on their official web sites.
One of the ways the scammers try to steal your money is by getting your permission to get into your computer and then they take control of it and all your files; then they make fake money transfers from your bank account. Then they tell you that they “made a mistake” and they have transferred the wrong amount of money they tell you that you have to go to certain stores and buy gift cards to pay them back. I am not sure why anyone falls for this but many have and these scammers have made millions of dollars on these scam.
While I was writing and researching for this article I received a phone call supposedly from the Social Security Department (SCAM) and the man asked if I had received my new card. When I told him I had not received my new card he proceeded to tell me my name and my address and told me to get my old card and to repeat the information on it to him “so he could send my new card”. I could hear the jubilation in his voice. This scammer even asked me the name of my Doctor, I still haven’t figured out why he asked me that question, but I lied and that seemed to confuse him. Knowing this was a scam I played along and answered all his questions Then when he asked me to read my Social Security number and all the letters associated with it, back to him, I replied, “my card states, this is Scammer Payback a YouTube Channel and you are to call Perogi”! His reply was, “Oh my goodness” (in much stronger language); I laughed and told him to have a nice day and hung up the phone.
Friends, I have to admit I was a bit scared when he told me my name, address and phone number and asked about my Doctor. Fortunately, he had told me some wrong information so at least some of his information is not up to date. Can you imagine what would have happened to someone who was not aware of scam calls? There is no telling how much money they could have stolen or what kind of damage could have been done. I am still not sure I am out of the woods and I called my bank again to reaffirm my accounts are secured. I was told that this Social Security related scam is one of the main scams for identity theft. It makes one wonder if any activity on a computer or cell phone is safe any more.
I also hold all those individuals and companies who sell our information responsible for the increase in scamming and fraud that is taking place. Perhaps in the beginning they did not foresee how this information would be used against us but that is not an excuse for the fact that selling information is still going on. I have read some really horrible cases of individuals losing everything and this is so sad to me. While watching the videos it was also sad to see that the scammers seem to have no remorse and even berate some victims. Thank goodness for these scam baiters and the good work they are doing.
On a lighter note: my friend Shannon, who is Irish, sent a recipe for St Patrick’s Day that she found onrecipe.net. Her father loves chocolate mint and she had never seen this recipe anywhere before and decided to make it for him this year. She thought we might like to share it.
Grasshopper Fudge Cream Cake
* 1 box white cake
mix, plus ingredients on
the back of the box
* 1 1/2 tsp peppermint
* 3 drops green food
For Fudge Layer:
* 1 can sweetened
* 1 1/2 cups semisweet
* 1/4 cup milk
For Cream Layer:
* 1 cup whipping cream
* 1/3 cup powdered
* 1/2 tsp peppermint
* 1 drop green food
* andes mints, for
garnish, if desired
1. Prepare cake according to package directions, adding 1 1/2 tsp mint extract to the batter. Pour all but 1 cup of the batter into a well greased 9 x 13-inch pan.
2. Add 3 to 4 drops food coloring to reserved batter. Drop by spoonfuls on top of white batter. Swirl with a knife. Bake as instructed on box. Cool completely.
3. While cake is baking, combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and milk in a glass bowl. Melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds till smooth. Let cool. When cake is cooled, spread chocolate fudge over the top.
4. Whip cream till soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp mint extract, and food coloring. Beat till well mixed, then spread over fudge layer. Garnish with Andes Mints if desired.