When A Scammer Calls: Tips and Tricks for Staying Vigilant

Blog Post created by user.OKpiB6a4Le Employee on Jan 3, 2018

Bob Adams is the Product Marketing Manager for Mimecast's Security portfolio. Bob joined Mimecast three years ago as a Sales Engineer, and was recently recruited to Marketing after developing various educational materials for Mimecast's services. He continues to help educate companies on protecting themselves against advanced cyber threats.


I received a very interesting, and convincing, phone call this morning from what I (spoiler alert!) ultimately determined was a scammer.


What occurred over the next 13 minutes was a lesson that can be applied to many aspects of daily life – both as an everyday person as well as a user within a company. Whether you receive a phone call, email, text, or even knock on your door, here's some important tips to keep in mind.


Tip #1: Always be suspicious


My phone rang at 8:11 in the morning, and the Caller ID showed a local area code. I answered and was greeted by Lt. Brandon Kennedy from the Middlesex County Warrants and Citation Division. This is suspicious right away, as it’s unlikely a government office will call regarding any matter.


Tip #2: Don’t give them any additional information


Lt. Kennedy is adamant I confirm that I am Robert Adams. When I refused and asked what this was about, he stated he couldn’t tell me until I confirm my identity, or there would be repercussions.


Again, I’m suspicious and always avoid giving out any personal information. However, since they’re calling, already asking for me by name, and a reverse phone number lookup would show my name in the White Pages, I conceded: “This is him.” 


Tip #3: Always question the validity of what you’re being told


I learned that a Jury Duty summons was delivered to me on Wednesday, September 25th at 2:23pm, signed for, and returned. I apparently "failed" to appear in court on my assigned day. My absence resulted in two warrants out for my arrest, and there’s a $500 post on each. Failure to resolve this today could result in my immediate imprisonment for 30-45 days. I still remained calm despite their intent to catch me off guard.


Taking notes, I realized September 25th was a Monday, and not a Wednesday. I asked him to repeat the date, year, and where it was delivered, and explain the 25th was a Monday and that his response was not my address.


Regardless of all the red flags here, my curiosity was piqued, and figured that the longer we talked, the less people he could scam (NOTE: While I’m experienced and well versed in scamming tactics, I do not recommend trying this at home!).


Tip #4: Learn from their mistakes


I explained I never received the summons and didn't recall ever having to sign for one before. He assured me the process had changed due to so many people claiming they hadn't received the notice.


To avoid arrest, I needed to “report to the Medford Sheriff’s Department at 400 Mystic Ave, 4th Floor. They cannot accept Cash, Credit, or personal information due to a high volume of transactions, and you need to get a MoneyPak voucher from Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid.” 


My warrants are for $500 each, which coincidentally is the maximum limit per voucher. When I ask if I can call my local Police Department to confirm there's a warrant, he assured me I can. However, he of course can’t help me with any arrests along the way there if I hang up, so it’s best if we stay on the phone until I arrive.


At this point, the ruse was up, I had my fun, and tried to engage the scammer directly. To the scammer's credit, he insisted it was not a scam and was merely trying to help. Further inquiries went unmet until he eventually hung up. 


The moral of the story here is to be suspicious, don’t give out any information, always question what you’re being told, and learn from the mistakes of these criminals to better arm yourself in the future.


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