7 On Your Side
Beware of phone, internet and email scams
NEW YORK (WABC) -- You hear about them all the time: phone, internet or mail scams. But when they happen to you, you may not catch on until it's too late.
Scammers are getting cleverer and are succeeding in getting scores of unsuspecting people to part with their hard earned money.
If they weren't successful, the scams would stop, but they work.
The ruse may change, but the end of the game remains the same: convince you out of your cash.
"I'm not a young girl, I'm an old lady and should know better, that's what hurts," said Mary Gambitta, scam victim.
Young and old fall prey every day to scammers promising prizes.
Mary Gambitta was called by a con-artist, pretending to be from Publisher's Clearing House.
"I get all this mail telling me that I'm a possible winner and all that, so I fell for it hook-line and sinker," Gambitta said.
The caller told Mary she won a car, a Mercedes-Benz no less and all she had to do was go get a prepaid credit card and load it up with $500 to pay the driver who would deliver her car the next day.
"So I said to him, 'I would like your phone number so I can verify you work there.' He gave it to me and stupid me I called," Gambitta said.
The call routed to Jamaica, and Mary got a warning from the phone company where she retired from in 1979.
"She says, 'I know you never made international calls before.' So I say, 'Well I wanted to verify something.' She says, 'You know it sounds like a scam to me,'" Gambitta said.
She didn't heed that warning, instead put $500 on the card. As soon as she got home, the aggressive scammer called her again.
"So he says, 'You know what, I need the number on the back. You have to scratch it out,'" Gambitta said.
She read the numbers to him, and just minutes later -
"By the time the phone call was over the card was cleaned out," Gambitta said.
"There are all kinds of those schemes going on right now where people are asking for upfront money with the promises of great fortunes down the line," said Eric Kanefsky, Acting Director NJ Consumer Affairs.
Kanefsky says people fall for them all the time, scams like the one that got Mary are a top complaint.
Here are some popular scams.
1) The pitch: You won $1,000,000! Here comes the scam: to get that million just wire someone the taxes.
Another good one:
Your loved one is stuck in a foreign country, got robbed, and lost their passport, whatever. The scam: Send money ASAP to get them home.
This is often pitched with a hijacked email address making it even more believable.
One Staten Island man Western Unioned more than $50,000, convinced once he paid the taxes someone was going to bring him a check for a million.
Call your consumer affairs office and file a complaint if this happens to you.
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