Randy Meier

Randy Meier

A 70-year-old Clinton man is a victim of the popular Social Security scam. 

The man, let’s call him James, received a robocall threatening criminal charges against him for Social Security fraud unless he called back. James felt scared and made a return phone call. He ended up talking to three different people, all of whom threatened to file charges of money laundering against James unless he cooperated. The cooperation needed to take the form of withdrawing $5,000 from his bank account and buying Wal-Mart gift cards. 

James, acting out of fear, did as instructed, withdrew the money, and drove to Wal-Mart, where he loaded $1,000 on a Wal-Mart gift card. He wanted to get more cards, but Wal-Mart policy didn’t let him buy more than $1,000 a day. 

James called the crooks back and gave them the serial number off the card. Before he got back to his car in the Wal-Mart parking lot, someone transferred the money off the card in his hand. 

James’s story shows us a real example of why many people are getting imposter calls from Social Security — because the scammers know it works! Despite a lot of public outreach and education on this topic, folks can get rattled and scared when they get threatened on the phone. Let’s try to get everyone informed; this scam is still coming at us. 

If you visit the Social Security website, the very first thing appearing on the page, in a large red banner, reads, “What should I do if I get a call claiming there’s a problem with my Social Security number or account?” The site offers extensive details on the nature of the scam. 

The Social Security Administration’s law enforcement arm is the Office of the Inspector General. Their agents conduct investigations into all types of fraud involving the Social Security system, including these imposters. You can make a complaint about these calls directly to the Social Security Administration by going online to oig.ssa.gov, whether you lose money or not.


Phishing email works

hard to trap reader

Connie Brashaw of Clinton forwarded to me an email which demonstrates pretty clearly what a phishing email looks like and gives the reader many options to make a mistake and likely download malware.

The email comes from an address similar to (but not really) that of the Internal Revenue Service. It’s a short message, asking the reader to “submit documents for further processing!” I counted four links in the email encouraging the reader to click open:

ν Click to “read more” about the “submit documents…”

ν Click to “report spam”

ν Click here” to unsubscribe

ν “Right click to open images”

These are all commonplace and routine links appearing in many legitimate emails, so their placement in this hoax phishing email is clever.

Don’t click open any links appearing in an email which you don’t absolutely trust. Which ones don’t you trust? Any emails from an unknown sender which you aren’t expecting. If you have the slightest doubt, verify the contents of an email by using other means, like a phone, to get hold of the sender. The risk of downloading malware or spyware by clicking open a link in a phishing email is a high one.

Contact Seniors Vs. Crime

Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, (563) 242-9211 Ext. 4433, or email me at randymeier@gapa911.us