Category: Story

Can Victoria Track The Source of Her Cold Calls?

The journalist Victoria Bischoff was plagued by cold callers and wanted to find out how they had got her contact details. She started to investigate but didn’t expect it would take so much time and effort and that the result would involve so many organisations.

She started receiving cold calls to her mobile phone, including from Scottish Power and also lots of spam emails from companies she had never heard of.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws give you the right to ask where these companies get your contact details from, so she started making that request (called a subject access request).

e.g. one request led her to Prize Reactor then to The Secret For You then to Response Concepts then to Green Flamingo who then claimed she had entered a prize draw at 5:20 am one morning, so she knew this to be false.  The data that Green Flamingo had on her was all wrong except for the email address and mobile number.

Green Flamingo claimed by entering the prize draw she had agreed for her contact details to be sold to other companies.

All lies.

There is more to the story – but you can guess that unscrupulous organisations collect email addresses and phone numbers from websites, directories – anywhere they can get them and then add on guessed information such as which house number to match with a postcode.

By this means, information that is partly true and partly made-up circulates among businesses wanting to make money from your details or to send out emails, make cold calls etc.

It is time-consuming and difficult to track down how this happens as Victoria found out.

Don’t give out your personal information to any organisation or website or on social media unless you are sure it is safe. Even this doesn’t keep you safe though as many times these unscrupulous people simply find some information about you online and make-up the rest then sell it.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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A Scammers Mindset

As with many criminals, people who scam others for a living tend to carry on doing so until something dramatic makes them think again – such as a significant prison sentence, losing someone important in their life, violence etc.

“Fred” was a scammer for many years, working for various scam outfits until the day the Federal agents turned up at his office and he ended up spending several years in prison. Now he works to prevent fraud and warn people of how it is done. This is Fred’s warning.


Developing the Persona

The scammer assumes a false personality or social mask that makes it easier to pull off the deception. Swindling is really acting, and you play a character who will help you appear legitimate, confident and successful … even when you are not.

On the outside you will see nothing but charm, an engaging personality and swagger. On the inside lies a predator. There is no conscience in this business. It’s every person for themselves, and the goal is to get as much money as possible.

The business needs to have a persona, too, to look legitimate and trustworthy. Some scam companies run television commercials and hire famous actors to appear in them.

It’s About Emotion, Not Logic

Think about the first time you fell in love or a time when someone cut you off on the freeway and you were seething for hours. Were you thinking clearly? Probably not. Those who believe they’d never fall for a scam don’t realize it’s not about how smart you are; it’s about how well you control your emotions. Fraud victims are people with emotional needs, just like the rest of us. But they can’t separate out those needs when they make financial decisions. That’s what makes them vulnerable.

As a master scammer, I made it my first objective to get the victim’s emotions stirred up and so agitated that you won’t know which way is up and which is down. Once I have gotten you into this condition, it doesn’t matter how smart or dumb you are, you will succumb.

The two most powerful ways to do this are through need and greed.

To find a client’s emotional need, I’ll ask a bunch of personal questions. Then I’ll throttle up the pressure by focusing on that need. “Oh, you lost your job? That’s got to be tough.” Or “So your two kids are in college and the tuition is driving you into the poorhouse.” Now the person isn’t thinking about whether the offer is a scam but instead, “Here’s a fix for my problems.”

The “crush,” or the “kill” — that’s what we call closing the deal — is emotionally driven. It’s not logic. If you apply logic, the answer is: “No, I am not going to send you my hard-earned money. I don’t even know who you are.” If my victims had applied logic to our deals, they would have walked away every time.

The other pathway to the ether is simple greed: I just promise people they can make a ton of money.


The Perfect Victim

I’m often asked how I could have ripped off senior citizens. The answer is that con men target people who have money, and a lot of seniors are sitting on fat nest eggs. It’s the Willie Sutton rule: He robbed banks because that is where the money was.

But there’s more to it than that. I think older people are easier to scam, because their emotional needs are closer to the surface. They aren’t afraid to tell people how much they care about their kids and grandkids. They aren’t afraid to share their fears about the unstable financial markets and how much they worry about being on a fixed income. These fears are real. And every one of them is a bullet for my gun.

My scam career was focused on investments like phony oil and gas deals, bogus business opportunities and gold-coin scams. And for these types of investments the perfect victim was almost always a male. Why men? Men are grandiose; they are full of ego. And that’s all driven by emotion; it’s driven by insecurity; it’s driven by a feeling of inferiority.

Most people who get emotional quickly will fall every time. And if they don’t get worked up, I won’t waste my time with them. If prospects are asking a lot of questions or tell me they want to think it over or talk with their lawyer, I will hang up the phone. Victims don’t ask a lot of questions; they answer a lot of questions. Victims don’t read paperwork; they wait for you to tell them what it says. Victims don’t look for why the offer is a scam; they look for why the offer will make them money. They want you to make them feel good so they can pull the trigger.


Early on in my career I was selling bogus oil and gas units to investors. We were selling units for $22,500 for a quarter unit, or $90,000 for a full unit, promising a 10-to-1 return. Sure, we had a well, but it was a dry hole, and we knew it — there was no chance of hitting oil. Every so often when I was pitching these deals, an investor would ask if I was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. I would always say, “Of course we are, and I want you to verify that the minute we get off the phone.” The truth is, we were never registered, but 98 percent of the people who ask that question never check. They just want to hear me say it.

Don’t Get Burned

Never make a buying decision when you’ve just heard the sales pitch. Always give yourself at least 24 hours to think about it. This gives you time for the emotional effects of the sales presentation to subside — and time for you to do research.

Don’t ever share personal information about your family or about your worries with people who are trying to sell you something.

In any interaction with someone trying to sell you a deal, always ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” In other words, if this is such a great deal, why are they calling you about it? Why don’t they just do it themselves?

 If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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The Romance Fraud Crusader

One year ago, Anna Rowe was a mother-of-two living in Rough Common working as a teaching assistant in a primary school.

Anna, was the victim of an online romance fraud known as a catfish scam and she lost her job at the primary school.

She had been duped by a high-flying London lawyer who misrepresented himself on dating app Tinder to engage with her and then start a passionate 14-month relationship.

Anna, who had been looking for love, thought she had met the man of her dreams. He turned out to be married and still living with his wife but had nevertheless managed to weave a complex web of lies and deceptions.

She decided she had to warn others and launched a campaign to outlaw catfishing, which is the name for someone who creates a fake persona to trap someone.

She believes It’s really important to do so because the effect on people can be devastating.

After Anna found out the truth of her lover’s identity, she wound up in counselling and her decision to go public cost her the job in Faversham.

The man who deceived her had initially used an image of Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan as his profile picture before sending real ones to her. He called himself by a fake name, Antony Ray.

But when he stopped coming to see her, Anna needed to know why. With the help of a friend she discovered the awful truth and that she was not Antony’s only victim.

“He took advantage of my trust and took away my right to choose. Had I known, I would never have consented to a relationship with a married man, let alone a man who was actively having relations with multiple women simultaneously”.

“His behaviour was premeditated, yet the current law will not find his actions a criminal offence. That’s why I’m calling for creating fake profiles for the intent to use people for sex to be a crime.”

Anna has since spoken to politicians and police officers.

Her petition has received 43,500 signatures so far and has prompted a government Green Paper into catfish scams.

Anna’s story has been told around the globe. She has made TV and radio appearances and is determined to keep pressing on with the campaign.

Anna’s website is at

Good luck with your campaign, Anna

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Fightback Nan

The Daily Scam is a great web site run by three guys in America who became sick of the flood of scam emails, texts and phone calls that invade our lives.

One lady who contacted them (they call her Nan) tells of her attempts to waste the scammers time and hand the scammers details over to the Police. This is one of her exploits (reproduced with permission from The Daily Scam).

Nan was burned once by a scammer last year and she is once burned, twice shy.  Nan now prides herself as a scam-hunter and we’re proud of her! Rather than cancel her accounts through which she has been targeted by scammers, Nan lies in wait, excited when she recognizes the tell-tale signs of a scam. She’s learned the hard way and now puts that knowledge to good use. Nan has been contacted several times through her account by what she has come to recognize as the advance check scam.   Advance-check scams are very common and Nan tells us that the scammers can bring it on.

Email To: Nan from “James Abott / Ato Jina”

Hi, You will receive the Assignment Package today. Kindly follow the instruction letter enclosed and complete the Assignment immediately. I will be looking forward to hear from you. Please reply

Nan received a United States Postal Service 2-day priority mail envelope from a business identified as Moving Right Along, located in Fort Lauderdale, FL. There is a real business with this name and address but not in Florida. It is located in Ozone Park, New York!

The envelope that “ato jino” sent to Nan contained the following instructions on stationary from “Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.” 

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is the First Assignment Package as discussed in our previous conversation.

*You will have to cash/deposit the cashier’s check ($1646.71) at your bank today

*The funds should be available in your bank account same day or next day [THIS IS A LIE! MOST BANKS REQUIRE 3-7 DAYS, depending on several factors including if a deposit is made on a weekend or holiday, and make take 5-7 days before determining that a check is fraudulent.]

*Deduct $350 as your weekly wages and another $100 for Moneygram sending fee and Gas

To send the remaining funds $1196) to the Hospital Cashier that would be taking care of the Medication of the Client.

Below is the information of the Company Cashier:

Name: Felix Starks / Address: 3500 Hemphill St, City: Fort Worth State: Texas

Zip Code: 76110…………………………Please send $1196 here via MONEYGRAM

*Kindly send the eight digits Moneygram Reference Number of the transaction above after the transaction has been completed to my e-mail [email protected]

Yours sincerely
Dr. James Abbott

From: Nan
Date: Jan 5, 2017 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: Hi
To: “ato jino” <[email protected]>

OK I’ve reported you to the authorities.. thanks for another scam!! I’ve already now turned in 10 people! You will be caught for what you are doing. You are a criminal and shame on you!!

Nan says that she has played the scammers several times now.  As she has told us… “I love catching these scam artists in the act. It’s literally a high because I’m stopping them from scamming innocent people. Just being able to help is amazing to me.”

What did Nan accomplish? A lot actually. She wasted the scammer’s time and money, and put him at risk by exposing the fraud. By informing the bank and the authorities, she made it much harder to use the bogus checks pretending to be this bank.  But most importantly, she played them much like the way they play others. And so, to Nan, we say thank you! You are truly a crusader and we salute you

For more details on Nan’s scambaiting go to

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A Redeemed Scammer

As with many criminals, people who scam others for a living tend to carry on doing so until something dramatic makes them think again – such as a significant prison sentence, losing someone important in their life, violence etc.

“Fred” was a scammer for many years, working for various scam outfits until the day the Federal agents turned up at his office and he ended up spending several years in prison. Now he works to prevent fraud and warn people of how it is done.

Fred says:-

If I were still in the scam business, I would focus on reverse mortgages and precious metals. Home-equity and reverse mortgage scams are attractive now because a lot of seniors have paid off their house, and that’s like an untapped bank account. If your home is worth $300,000 and you paid off your mortgage a couple of years ago, you have $300,000 sitting in the bank, waiting for me to steal it. A lot of TV and direct mail advertising tells you how to get money out of your house while you are still living in it. Some of these ads are legitimate; many are not.

 My ma asked me once how her friends could avoid these scams. I told her two things. If someone is pitching a deal, ask yourself, “What’s in it for him?” A common ploy is to get you to take out a loan on your house, then invest the proceeds in a long-term annuity or some other investment in which they make a huge commission. It may not be a fraud, but it may be a lot better deal for the salesman than for you. I also told Ma that when it comes to your house, never sign any paperwork until your lawyer — someone you choose, not someone the salesman refers you to — reads the fine print.

 As for gold and silver scams, I worked in several coin rooms in the 2000s. We would sell gold coins at a 300 to 500 percent mark up. So the victims would pay $25,000 for a bunch of coins, which they would receive, but years later, they would take them to a coin shop and learn they were worth only a few thousand dollars. This is a great scam, because the coin industry is largely unregulated. Plus, because the victims receive the coins, they don’t realize until years later that they’ve been taken.

 One of my victims was a successful engineer from California named Tim. He first talked to one of our salesmen, who gave him the generic pitch. Then he turned him over to me to close. The first thing I said to Tim was: “Hi, Tim, this is Jim. How are you doing? Go get a pen and paper right now — I want you to write my name down.” Tim immediately said, “Oh, OK, I’ll be right back.”

 With those six words I knew that Tim was going to fall and fall hard. It wasn’t just that he immediately complied with my request; it was how he complied.

 Out of the Game, for Good

All of those years I ripped people off, I knew it was wrong. But I was making so much money, I didn’t care. It wasn’t until those agents busted into my office in Miami that it finally hit me: What I was doing was really bad. I pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and went to prison for more than three years. I had a lot of time to think about my crimes. When I got out, I promised my mother I would never go back to my old ways. It wasn’t easy. The first year I was out of prison I was asked almost daily to work as a closer for the latest scam. Finally, I changed my phone number so I wouldn’t be tempted.

 Now, I am 44 years old, and I live in my parents’ house. I owe the federal government almost a million dollars in restitution that I don’t have a prayer of paying back. Thanks to years of smoking and drug abuse, I have acute emphysema and I carry around an oxygen tank. I’m on the waiting list for a double lung transplant, but the clock is running out. Can you spell karma?

 Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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The Dale Car Scam

This is the strange story of a scammer named Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael.  In 1974, there was an oil crisis and people looked for cars that were cheaper to run than the typical American gas guzzler.

She came up with The Dale. A three wheeler two seater sports car powered by an 850 cc air cooled engine and claimed to manage 70 miles per gallon and to cost only $2000 (cheap even in 1974).

Two additional vehicles were planned by Carmichael, the Revelle and the Vanagen. Both of these had  a three-wheeled design and used the same 2-cylinder engine. None of the vehicles ever saw production and only two prototype vehicles of the Dale were made; only one prototype was able to run under its own power.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times in November 1974, Carmichael said she was on the way to taking on General Motors or any other car manufacturer for that matter. She said she had millions of dollars in backing “from private parties” and also talked of a 150,000 sq ft  assembly plant in Burbank, California and over 100 employees on the rolls.

She claimed to be the widow of a NASA structural engineer but in fact she had been wanted by the police since 1961 for alleged involvement in counterfeiting. She scammed $33 million from investors before running off with the money.

The Dale was marketed as being high-tech, lightweight, yet safer than any existing car at the time. “By eliminating a wheel in the rear, we saved 300 pounds and knocked more than $300 from the car’s price. The Dale  weighs less than 1,000 pounds”, said Carmichael. She claimed that the car’s lightness did not affect its stability or safety. The low centre of gravity always remained inside the triangle of the three wheels, making it nearly impossible for it to tip over. She also went on record to say that she drove it into a wall at 30 miles per hour and there was no structural damage to the car or her. She expected sales of 88,000 cars in the first year and 250,000 in the second year.

When Car & Driver magazine went to investigate the Dale, the prototype lacked a steering wheel, had no accelerator pedal, and had a lawnmower engine in the engine compartment not connected to the wheels..

The clever scammer was caught and jailed but only some of the money was ever recovered.

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