HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An annoying screen pops up on your computer telling you to call tech support. A familiar voice calls saying, "Grandma, I need help." Someone says they are from the police or IRS and threatens you with arrest, unless you pay back taxes. These are versions of the most-reported scam in the United States – Imposter Fraud. It's when someone poses as someone they are not to steal your money or your identity.
What can you do to protect yourself and your family from imposter fraud and who are the people behind the scams?
AARP Fraud Expert Doug Shadel has answers and is coming to Hawaii to speak at free "Unmasking the Imposters" workshops on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawai'i island June 19 through 22. Shadel, the author of several books on fraud including "Outsmarting the Scam Artist," has interviewed dozens of former con artists and shares what only scammers themselves can tell you about protecting yourself from them. You'll hear directly from scammers through taped interviews.
In one interview, Jayesh Dubey, a 19-year-old Mumbai, India resident, tells what it was like to work in one of the largest IRS scam boiler rooms in the world. Jayesh's job involved answering frantic return calls from U.S. consumers after they had received stern voice mail messages from fictitious IRS agents telling them they owed back taxes.
The goal was to get the victim to pay the phony "tax bills" by purchasing gift cards and providing the numbers to Jayesh, who called himself "Officer Adam Smith". He would even stay on the line as the victim drove to the store to buy the cards. And if the victim refused or asked too many questions, Jayesh had a threat ready. He would say "As I told you, your case file has already been submitted to the courthouse procedure. Only I can help you now. And if you don't believe me, then I'll just hang up the call, and in 45 minutes a local sheriff will be at your doorstep."
Shadel will share tips on how to avoid imposters like Jayesh. He'll also teach you about the "Dark Web," where personal information is bought and sold online and the best ways to protect yourself from identity fraud as well as information on scams targeting veterans.
The "Unmasking the Imposters" workshops are free and you don't have to be an AARP member to attend. You do need to pre-register by calling 1-877-926-8300 or go to http://aarp.cvent.com/HIfraud2018