Surely this isn’t new:
Suspects entered the business, selected merchandise worth almost $8,000. They handed a credit card with no financial backing to the clerk which when swiped was rejected by the cash register’s computer. The suspects then informed the clerk that this rejection was expected and to contact the credit card company by phone to receive a payment approval confirmation code. The clerk was then given a number to call which was answered by another person in the scam who approved the purchase and gave a bogus confirmation number. The suspects then left the store with the unpaid for merchandise.
Anyone reading this blog would know enough not to call a number given to you by the potential purchaser, but presumably many store clerks don’t have good security sense.
Posted on January 19, 2009 at 1:23 PM •
Interesting list of tourist scams:
I have only heard of this happening in Spain on the Costa del Sol, but it could happen anywhere. This scam depends on you paying a restaurant/bar bill in cash, usually with a €50 note. The waiter will take your payment, then return shortly after, apologetically telling you that the note is a fake and that you need to pay again. He will return the “fake” bill to you, and any change you’re due. Of course, you gave him a REAL note, he gave you a FAKE note, and you gave him a second real note, so you paid €100 for a €50 meal. What I do now is write unobtrusively on all large notes I get, so I can challenge them if it happens to me.
Posted on December 8, 2008 at 6:54 AM •
This is the story of a woman who sent the scammers $400K:
She wiped out her husband’s retirement account, mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car. Both were already paid for.
For more than two years, Spears sent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone she knew, including law enforcement officials, her family and bank officials, told her to stop, that it was all a scam. She persisted.
Spears said she kept sending money because the scammers kept telling her that the next payment would be the last one, that the big money was inbound. Spears said she became obsessed with getting paid.
An undercover investigator who worked on the case said greed helped blind Spears to the reality of the situation, which he called the worst example of the scam he’s ever seen.
EDITED TO ADD (12/13): More about the story.
Posted on December 3, 2008 at 8:20 AM •
The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable. Because of THOMAS [The Human Oxytocin Mediated Attachment System], the human brain makes us feel good when we help others—this is the basis for attachment to family and friends and cooperation with strangers. “I need your help” is a potent stimulus for action.
This is interesting. They say that all cons rely on the mark’s greed to work. But this short essay implies that greed is only a secondary factor.
Posted on November 18, 2008 at 6:32 AM •
My all-time favourite [short con] only makes the con artist a few dollars every time he does it, but I absolutely love it. These guys used to go door-to-door in the 1970s selling lightbulbs and they would offer to replace every single lightbulb in your house, so all your old lightbulbs would be replaced with a brand new lightbulb, and it would cost you, say $5, so a fraction of the cost of what new lightbulbs would cost. So the man comes in, he replaces each lightbulb, every single one in the house, and does it, you can check, and they all work, and then he takes all the lightbulbs that he’s just taken from the person’s house, goes next door and then sells them the same lightbulbs again. So it’s really just moving lightbulbs from one house to another and charging people a fee to do it.
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 5:57 AM •
Petty thieves are exploiting the war on photography in Genoa:
As they were walking around, Jeff saw some interesting looking produce and pulled out his Canon G-9 Point-and-Shoot and took a few pictures. Within a few minutes a man came up dressed in plain clothes, flashed a badge, and told him he couldn’t take photos in the store. My brother said “no problem” (after all, it’s a private store, right?), but then the guy demanded my brother’s memory card.
My brother gave him that “Are you outta your mind” look and said, “No way!” Can you guess what happened next? The guy simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
My brother saw him in the store a little later, and the guy had a bag and was shopping. My brother made eye contact with him, and the guy turned away as though he didn’t want Jeff looking at him. Jeff feels like this wasn’t “official store security,” but instead some guy collecting (and then reselling) memory cards from unsuspecting tourists (many of whom might have just surrendered that card immediately).
Posted on July 10, 2008 at 6:54 AM •
Two of them:
On Wednesday, a man dressed as an armored truck employee with the company AT Systems walked into a BB&T bank in Wheaton about 11 a.m., was handed more than $500,000 in cash and walked out, a source familiar with the case said.
It wasn’t until the actual AT Systems employees arrived at the bank, at 11501 Georgia Ave., the next day that bank officials realized they’d been had.
And on Thursday, about 9:30 a.m., a man dressed as an employee of the security company Brink’s walked into a Wachovia branch in downtown Washington and walked out with more than $350,000.
The man had a badge and a gun holster on his belt, said Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office. He told officials at the bank, at 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, that he was filling in for the regular courier.
About 4 p.m., when the real guard showed up, a bank official told him that someone had picked up the cash, D.C. police said. The guard returned to his office and told a supervisor that he did not make the pickup at the bank. The supervisor called a Wachovia manager, who in turn notified authorities. Police were called nearly 11 hours after the heist.
Social engineering at its finest.
EDITED TO ADD (1/16): Seems to be an inside job.
Posted on January 16, 2008 at 6:36 AM •
Okay, this is clever.
Basically, someone arrested as a homicide suspect walked out of jail after identifying himself as someone else. The biometric system worked, but human error overrode it:
But Sauceda’s fingerprints, taken by a jail employee to verify his identity, were smudged and couldn’t be matched to those on file for Garcia, said Brian Menges, director of jail administration.
So Sauceda was taken for an additional fingerprint check using the jail’s Live Scan technology. Menges said Saucedo’s Live Scan fingerprints were never compared to those on record for Garcia.
It’s a neat scam. Find out someone else who’s been arrested, have a friend come and post bail for that person, and then steal his identity when the jailers come into the cellblock.
Posted on November 2, 2007 at 12:25 PM •
Lynne Day said Afonwen Welch Fusilier—or Blue, for short—was targeted after his pedigree details were accidentally posted online.
A suspected conman has been passing Blue off as his own, claiming the dog has given birth to pups which he tries to sell to unsuspecting customers.
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 6:14 AM •
A two–part story from The Guardian: an excerpt from Other People’s Money: The Rise And Fall Of Britain’s Most Audacious Credit Card Fraudster.
The first time I did the WTS, it was on a man from London who was staying in a £400 hotel room in Glasgow. I used my hotel phone trick to get his card and personal information—fortunately, he was a trusting individual. I then called his card company and explained that I was the gentleman concerned, in Glasgow on business, and had suffered the theft of my wallet and passport. I was understandably distraught, lying on my bed in Battlefield and speaking quietly so my parents couldn’t hear, and wondered what the company suggested I do. The sympathetic woman at the other end proposed I take a cash advance set against my account, which they could have ready for collection within a couple of hours at a wire transfer operator.
Posted on April 4, 2007 at 6:25 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.