Caught in the Act: Hear a Phone Fraudster in Action!


Consumers' podcast graphic with image of Kristy Desimone, Consumers' Senior Fraud Specialist

On this special edition of Money, I’m Home, Lynne is targeted by a fraudster and it’s caught on tape! Tune in as Consumers Fraud Specialist Kristy Desimone unpacks this attempted fraud and identifies red flags to help you understand how to protect yourself from scammers.

0:00:06.8 Lynne Jarman-Johnson (LJJ): Money, I’m Home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union from finance to fitness and fraud, we have it all. This is going to be a very special edition of Money I’m Home because it’s going to lay out something that personally happened to me, and I’m a little embarrassed by it. Kristy Desimone, she is our fraud specialist here at Consumers Credit Union for over a year, she has been telling us all of the things to look for in fraud. Well, guess what? Just a few weeks ago, I had something that happened to me. So, I want our members and everyone listening to really get a feel for what can truly happen, and then Kristy, I’d like to walk you through this and you tell me what were the red flags that you saw that I didn’t see until I almost gave away critical information that would have had me really compromised. So let me tell you what happened. I was sitting at my computer and I got an email from PayPal and I looked… I did exactly what she told me to do, it was from PayPal, it said, “Go into your account, you have an individual who’s requesting money,” and I didn’t know the individual, and the money was high…

0:01:15.3 LJJ: It was like 500 and some dollars, and I’m like, “This is weird. But then I went and I looked at the PayPal account, and sure enough there was the request, and then I looked and then there was a phone number to call to report fraud then I went back to the email, it’s the same phone number, so I’m like, “Okay, this is from PayPal,” so I’m going to call and report fraud. In the meantime, I had declined the request, but I still picked up the phone and I made the phone call. Let’s listen in to what happened on that phone call.

0:01:46.9 Nicole Jones: Okay, so my name is Nicole Jones with HIDSD1712. Let me help you with your arrest warrant number. Arrest warrant under your name it is A like arrest, W like warrent, followed by the number 129780.

0:02:12.6 LJJ: And what is that for?

0:02:14.1 NJ: It’s just your arrest warrant number…

0:02:18.5 LJJ: Wait time out.

[overlapping conversation]

0:02:20.2 NJ: Under your name.

0:02:20.6 NJ: I have an arrest warrant out for me right now?

0:02:24.2 NJ: Yes.

0:02:24.2 LJJ: Me? Lynne Johnson.

0:02:28.0 NJ: Yes.

0:02:28.6 LJJ: For what?

0:02:28.7 NJ: Okay, we would like to get all information regarding this serious criminal case against your name.

0:02:35.5 LJJ: Yeah. This is horrible. What’s the date on it and what is this about?

0:02:40.2 NJ: Okay, before I give you all the information, can you verify me, your last four digit of your social security number?

0:02:47.9 LJJ: No. I don’t understand that. I don’t know who you are, and I’m not giving you information because this could be a fraud call. Is this a fraud call? Are you a scammer?

0:02:56.6 NJ: Ma’am, you’re talking to the ATF, Special Agent Nicole Brown HIDSD1712.

0:03:02.8 LJJ: Right. How do I find out that this isn’t a fraud call? I work in banking, and every day there are members of mine that get fraud calls and they give their social security and all of a sudden you’re taking money from me, so that’s not going to happen. How do I trust that this is not a fraud call?

0:03:23.2 NJ: Ma’am…

0:03:24.2 LJJ: I need to speak with your supervisor.

0:03:27.0 NJ: Information.

0:03:27.5 LJJ: I need to speak with your supervisor. Please.

0:03:30.1 NJ: Hold on, ma’am, hold on. Hello, are you there? Hello.

0:03:42.3 LJJ: So, Kristy, you and I have been talking monthly, we have gone over everything. I thought I was being so smart by checking the phone, checking the email, and still I got that far along in the process of a potential scam.

0:04:02.7 Kristy Desimone (KD): I know there’s a lot to unpack there. So, the big thing is the spoof phone number, so nowadays, and it’s happened to us too, people have spoofed our phone number, and when you call what you think is a legitimate phone, because you Google it and you’re like “This is it, this is who it’s supposed to be.” It takes you to a completely different person. That sometimes is a struggle for organizations to figure out how to stop because they’re calling the number, but it’s being spoofed, it’s going into a different person.

0:04:33.1 LJJ: Here’s what was interesting, that phone number that was given was not Consumers, it was what I thought was PayPal’s, this person, whoever is doing the scam, is figuring out a way to get behind the wall, so not only when you look at your app, it’s the same email message you received. How would you not think that that’s real?

0:04:55.9 KD: It really is, and what they did is they caught you off-guard and they transferred you and then they throw something at you that normally you’d be like, “No, this is ridiculous,” but because you’re so caught off-guard with fraud on your PayPal account, you are like, “Okay, I’m listening and I’m trying to get through this,” and sometimes you just give out the information without really considering what is going on in the second half of this call.

0:05:19.0 LJJ: So, Kristy, tell me what are the red flags people should be looking for? I think two of them I caught, but they were still what looked to me as not fraudulent, which here’s a concern for all of us now. Do you suggest that you don’t make phone calls back when someone… When you’re looking at it and it looks so real. That’s number one. I know don’t link onto anything, don’t click onto anything. But I just don’t understand how in the world were supposed to figure this all out together when it is so real looking.

0:05:57.3 KD: Right, 100%. And I’ve started to notice that sometimes email addresses… If you look at it, it says it’s from PayPal, it’s got a PayPal email address, but if you click on it, and we’ll look at it in your phone and you’ll click on it, it becomes a different email address. So, I’ve received emails from someone I thought like my friends, and they’re like, I didn’t send you an email and I click on the email address. And it totally changes into some random email address, so that’s a good way to double-check too. And most organizations are not going to ask you for your information over the phone without verifying you or anything like that, so that is the number one red flag that caught you’re like, “No, I’m not giving out my social security number.” Because you know that that is not something that the FBI is going to call and ask you about, or whoever, whatever organization she was representing, they already have that information. Honestly, if there is a warrant out for your arrest, they’re showing up at your front door, they’re not going to call you and talk to you about it.

0:07:00.8 LJJ: Honestly… And I don’t mean to laugh because it’s not funny, but on the other hand, we have literally, this is what we talk about every day, and that’s how simple and fast it can happen to you. So, when you’re at home, and next month, we’re going to talk about text messaging, which has become prevalent with links and making sure that, “Hey, we’ve just charged you,” so you automatically want to look at that link. I have…

0:07:24.9 KD: 100%.

0:07:26.0 LJJ: The whole thing, Kristy, just scares me.

0:07:29.2 KD: It is. It’s scary. And it happens quickly. Like you said, all of a sudden, you’re talking about fraud on a PayPal account, and then you’re being transferred to talk about a warrant out for your arrest. That is jarring for anyone. And that’s what they’re going for is, “Can I get you off guard to not understand what’s happening, so you just give out the information because you’re trying to figure out where we’re at in the process.”

0:07:50.6 LJJ: So, help me understand too… Part of me really wants to say, “You know what, I’m done. I’m done with PayPal, I’m done with Venmo. I’m not going to be doing things that are extra apps that could cause me to have this concern.” But then you’re like, it is such a way to work and bank and live now. You can pay people and pay your meal with Venmo as an example. So how do you help us all decide what to do and what’s safe?

0:08:18.0 KD: Right. And that’s the toughest part of the world is navigating the banking that’s done all online, like transferring funds and things like that. I think the most important thing is when you do receive an email like that, when you do receive a call like that, you take a second and breathe and really think about what is going on. And also, taking your phone and logging into your account and seeing like, “Hey, this isn’t really what’s happening. This is what’s happening.” because the link, or sometimes when you go on the website, they can spoof a website. So, clicking on links and those things are… Can lead you to think that everything is real when it’s not. So going in there and really looking at your account or taking a second and saying, “hey, let me call you back. I need to take a second to figure out what’s going on before I discuss this information.” That way you are in the right frame of mind, because really, what they’re banking on is that you’re so panicked that you’ll do anything to solve the issue. And that’s how they get people.

0:09:17.1 LJJ: Well, especially, here it is. It’s just after the holidays. This happened during the holidays. There’s monies that are being spent on gifts, different locations, so it’s easy to see how a member would understand that, oh, this could’ve been something I purchased, and the name is different than the account or the business. I mean, I get that part of it. But it is really disconcerting that this is happening to members every single day.

0:09:45.1 KD: Right. And the number one thing which I think would’ve happened the further along you would’ve gotten in that call is they were going to ask for funds. They were going to tell you to put funds on gift cards, to withdraw funds and mail it. They were going to ask for funds at some point. And the moment that happens, the moment the person’s like, “Well, we’re going to need gift cards, we’re going to need $500 in gift cards,” it is a scam. It is a red flag, stop sign 100% of the time. And then it’s a “How much information did we give out? How do we stop that from getting worse from this moment on?”

0:10:19.4 LJJ: Kristy, you just bring up a really great point. If this has happened to a member, what should they do immediately, if all of a sudden they realize, they hang up, “Oh my goodness, I gave information.” What happens next?

0:10:32.2 KD: Yeah. You call your financial institution and say, “Hey, this is what happened.” A lot of times, you can put a free fraud alert for a year on your credit. You can also look into credit monitoring services that cost monthly, that will scrub your information. There are just different ways to be able to stop that. But the moment you give funds out, there isn’t a guarantee you’ll get those funds back. So, once you get to that step and they’re like, “Hey, go get me some gift cards,” we stop, and then we can figure it out from there.

0:11:04.5 LJJ: Great. Well, Kristy, thank you so much. Hey, I want to shout-out. Congratulations! You have been just rocking it and you’ve been off for a couple of weeks, but there’s a very good reason. I shouldn’t say just a couple, right? [laughter]

0:11:17.5 KD: Right. [laughter]

0:11:18.3 LJJ: Tell us about why, and congrats, new mom.

0:11:20.2 KD: Yeah. So I had a son, Kyler James Beauregard. And I have gotten the last 12 weeks to spend with him, and now we’re back fighting frauds. [chuckle]

0:11:29.6 LJJ: You know something? Thank you so much. A, number one, because you are fighting fraud for the future, Kristy. [chuckle] Well, thanks so much. Hey, next month, we’re going to talk to you about some texting fraud that’s going on, very prevalent, and making sure that you’re securing yourself and know the signs for that, too. Kristy Desimone, thank you so much, our fraud specialist. We got to get a new title for you. By next month, you’re going to have a new title. How’s that sound?

0:11:56.4 KD: Fighting fraud superhero.

0:11:58.4 LJJ: Yeah. [laughter] Fighting fraud superhero. Hey, everybody, thanks for listening. And just so you know, it can happen to you, so please do us a favor, think before you give out any information, think before you click on that link, and you will be fine. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. And thank you, our fighting fraud superhero, Kristy Desimone. Thanks, everybody, for listening. See you and hear you next month.

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  1. Ken Overholser says:

    Way to go Lynne. Way to sniff out fraud. Change of title for you too…
    K9 fraud Patrol. Sniffing out fraud one call at a time.

  2. Mary Beauregard says:

    Great information! So easy to be scammed. Need to be vigilant all the time!! Great job Kristy!

    P.S. Nice shout out to Kyler!!

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