A phone call comes. The caller identifies his potential victim by name, saying, “Is this _?” Once the victim confirms, the caller’s first question -- usually in heavy accent -- is, “Have the police contacted you, yet?”
Immediately, a sense of fear and dread come in as the person who has been called believes there is some sort of trouble.
Playing on our fears and our misunderstanding of how our own legal system works, the scammers now have the full attention of their next victim.
Such a call was received a few days ago by a local law enforcement officer (whose name was changed in this article), one who happened to be off that day and had nothing better to do than to drag the scammer on in a scam of his own.
He shared the recording with the local newspaper in the hopes that once our readers see the level of misinformation that these callers toss about, they will realize that with a little common sense and a little understanding of how these scams work, they do not have to be the next victims.
A careful review of the call below will show that the scammers are throwing out all types of legal sounding names and terms, with their main focus being to get your Social Security number and date of birth.
The call transcript, with the scammer’s words (in broken English) in plain text and the victim’s words in bold, follows:
May I speak with Mr. Joe Smith?
This is Joe Smith.
I am with the Social Security Department. I am calling to see if you have received a call from your local police department.
You mean, you have not received any call from your local police department?
No, sir, I haven’t received a call from my local police department.
Okay, can you verify me your date of birth, sir?
It is 11-26-1970.
Okay. And your Social Security number?
Do you have any knowledge about this call?
No sir. I don’t have any knowledge about this phone call.
Okay. So let me explain it to you. The reason why we are contacting you today was to inform you that we have got a complaint on personal action filed on your Social Security Number.
We have got an order to suspend your Social Security at this moment because we have found many suspicious activities done on your Social Security number.
Yes. And first of all you have the right to know everything about this ongoing investigation. So I will go ahead and give out this information which is confidential … (Okay) Before I proceed I would like to remind you that the line on which we are having this conversation is being recorded and monitored. And I would like to request you not to interrupt me while I am explaining your case to you; I will give you a fair enough chance to speak after I conversate the whole case.
All right. So, now listen to me very carefully. Your evidence is that your Social Security has been found suspicious for criminal activity in the state of Texas. Because we are taking this issue to the FBI headquarter, and after having strong evidence enough to prove you guilty inside the courthouse. An investigation started when we found an abandoned car on the south part of Texas. And the car contained some blood and drugs inside it, and after investigation, we found that the car was registered under your name and your personal information. And there were two addresses linked to title of the vehicle. An address in the city of Raleigh was raided by US Marshal but unfortunately there was no one inside to arrest there, but we have recovered 22 lbs. of cocaine, which is abusing drugs, and some documentation from such as Chase Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo …
Wait, what? Drugs were found in the vehicle?
Correct. This entire paperwork …
And it was found in Texas?
Correct. Also, this entire paperwork has your name on it and a thousand of dollars has been wired from this bank account …
Woah, woah, woah. I didn’t do any of that now.
I do understand that sir.
So who is investigating this? Who has got the case right now? You said you’re taking this to the FBI?
Yes. Listen to me. Let me explain, okay?
Am I about to be arrested?
No, sir. We are here to help you out. Listen. You don’t have to be confused, okay? Just, this entire paper works has your name on it and a thousand of dollars has been wired from this bank account locally and internationally which is entirely suspicious to us. That is the reason we at the Social Security Administration of the State of Texas has filed a case against you for drug trafficking as well as money laundering.
Y’all filed a case against me? I’m not even in Texas.
Listen to me, sir. Let me explain it to you step by step, okay. As we are having very short time and what you have done was entirely against the law of US Directory, so what we have to do is we have to sign arrest warrant and we have to suspend …
Woah! Y’all are going to arrest me?
… Social Security right away. We have to suspend your Social Security right away. According to Section 42, Subsection C of 1958 Drug Enforcement Administration Act, we are going to be taking for … for nine years and the reality should be $89,000. And also …
I have to pay $89,000?
Listen to me, sir. In this regard, we looked at your past record and we have found that your banking content and your Social has no complaint in the past. That is only reason we are trying to reach you before you face any legal consequences. So at this point in time, if you agree to help the Department of US Treasury in this case and only then we can put this case and your warrant on hold as we have to find the real culprit who used your personal information to work this criminal activities. So what is your intention towards this case file which is going to be executed when this line is connected, sir?
I mean, I don’t want to go to jail. And y’all issued a warrant for me?
So if you agree to help the Department of US Treasury, sir, in this case, then only we can put your case and your warrant on hold …
Who has the case? Who is the person investigating? Who can I call?
Listen to me. You have to speak with one of …
I don’t want to go to jail.
I do understand that. Trust me, sir. To cancel your arrest warrant and case file is not at all an easy task. First of all, we have to suspend your Social Security right away from your name and we have to issue to you a new Social in the place so that in the future you are safe and secure, as well as, we will be able to …
When can I do that? When can I get the new Social? Do I have to pay like a fine or something?
No, no, no. You don’t have to pay anything for that. But after me, you have to speak with one of my seniors, Tony, who is our (contact) in regards to your case and will guide you to where you have to go to cancel your arrest warrant and what you have to do, okay? You have to do it by yourself.
Let me speak to Tony, then.
After me you have to speak with him, okay.
Can I go ahead and speak with them? I don’t want to get arrested.
Yes. But, listen to me, sir. Don’t get confused. Let me explain it to you step by step …
You’ve been explaining it. I don’t want to get arrested. Let me speak with Tony.
You are not going to get arrested if you cooperated and make difficult cooperation with us …
I’m cooperating, but I need to speak with Tony. Look, you already said you issued an arrest warrant for me.
Okay. I’ll transfer this call to them, but in meantime, be honest with me. Let me ask yourself a couple of questions, okay? Have you ever been to the state of Texas?
No, sir, I’ve never been to Texas. But when can I speak to Tony?
After me, sir. Have you ever share your Social with your friend or …
No, no. I haven’t done that. Can I go ahead and speak with Tony since he’s the one in charge of my case?
Yes, but after me. Let me …
How much longer is this going to take? I want to speak with Tony.
Okay, so, be patient, sir.
I’m trying to be patient, but y’all just said you issued a warrant for my arrest and I didn’t’ do anything. And you found a car with blood and cocaine in it. What do you want me to do? Am I supposed to be patient right now? I’m potentially going to jail. And my Social Security account is all messed up right now and it’s suspended! And I owe $89,000, and you’ve got money and banks and … I need to speak with Tony! This ain’t me. I didn’t do this.
What do you do for a living, sir?
I work as a mechanic.
Okay, so how many bank accounts you must be dealing with under your name?
I’ve got one bank account I deal with under my name. But …
And what is the name of your bank, sir?
The name of my bank? Wells Fargo. I use them.
Correct. Wells Fargo.
Yeah, I have their app.
Do you have savings or checking?
It’s a … I’ve got a savings account and a checking account with them.
Okay, so what is the balance you have in your checking?
I don’t know. It’s not much. It’s like $3-$4,000. I don’t know. I can’t check it right now.
Okay. And savings?
Savings? I think I’ve got like, maybe $1,000 in there or something like that. I don’t know man, but that’s all I’ve got. Can I speak with Tony right now, please?
Okay. So make sure …
Sir, can I speak with Tony?
I will let you speak to my senior, Tony, who is the authorized person in regards to your case, but as of now we don’t know who is cooperating or if you are someone else, so if you’re going to help us, and we have to have this matter in very confidential matter. Do you remember the privacy act of 1958?
Yeah, you told me about that, but look, look, man. I really need to speak with Tony. I understand you giving me a call and everything, but Tony seems like the guy with the answers. Can I please talk with him? I don’t want to lose my money.
Okay. So let me connect you to him, okay?
So let me connect you with my senior Tony. He will be on the line with you and he will guide you step by step, okay?
Okay. Thank you.
Okay. Not a problem.
Okay. Thank you for staying connected. Your calls have been transferred to senior officer Shawn Wilson from the Department of Social …
Wait. This is Shawn?
… and please give me your first name and last name.
This is Shawn?
Yes. Shawn Wilson.
I thought I was speaking with a Tony. I need to speak with a Tony. That’s who the last guy told me was his supervisor that I needed to speak to. You’re not the right guy.
The last guy told me it was a Tony I needed to speak to. Not a Shawn. He said his supervisor was Tony.
Sir I am the one in charge of your case file.
You’re in charge of my case file? So you’re the case agent?
What the (heck) is going on, Man? Why? What’s going on with this? I don’t want to go to jail. He said y’all have already issued a warrant for my arrest. Something about a car in Texas. Something about cocaine, blood, all kind of crap. Man what’s going on? I don’t want to go to jail for something I didn’t do.
Okay, okay, now Mr. Joe, if you want to cooperate with the government, then you listen to me very carefully …
Look, look. I’m trying to cooperate. I don’t want to go to jail so what the (heck) is going on here?
Okay. First of all, regarding your (unclear), you have the one account with Wells Fargo Bank, right?
Yes, sir. I do.
Okay. You have both savings and checking with the bank?
Yeah, I do. Why do you need to know that information?
Mr. Joe, we are going to freeze all your bank accounts …
Woah, uh-uh. You can’t freeze my bank accounts.
… issued with your Social Security number.
I need that money.
We can do that.
What gives you the right to freeze my bank accounts, man?
Mr. Joe … hold a moment.
Thank you for holding the line.
Who is this?
This is Peter Williams, sir, chief officer from Legal Department. Is this Mr. Joe Smith?
Yes, this is, but Chief Officer from Legal Department? Why am I speaking with you? What happened to the other guy?
Sir, I believe your line has been transferred to me, right?
It has, but I was just talking to him and he put me on hold and didn’t tell me who he was transferring me to. Why are y’all freezing my bank account? I’ve got money in there. I need that money.
Mr. Smith, calm down. Calm down.
Calm down? How am I supposed to calm down? That’s how I make a living!
I understand that part, Mr. Smith, don’t worry. You calm down. We are not going to take your money out, okay. Don’t worry.
Then why are you freezing the account?
Can you let me speak, sir? So I can move forward and help you? If you are really cooperating with the government, I need you to cooperate properly, please, sir.
I’m trying to, but y’all just told me you’re trying to freeze my account. I’m sorry I am freaking out a little bit.
Yes, sir. First of all, Mr. Smith, there are many bank accounts in your name from which there are some money laundering cases.
There ain’t no money laundering.
We don’t know which are your bank account and which are the fake accounts. We need to freeze the fake bank accounts under your name and first of all we need to (verify) which are your real bank accounts and which are the fake accounts and we are not authorized to take any of your account number, routing number here, we can’t do that as government officers. So what we need you to do is check which banks you have with what balance you have so that we can inform the US Treasury Department that these are your real bank accounts, not fake accounts. First of all, you say you have a Wells Fargo account, sir?
Yes, I do. I have a Wells Fargo account.
Okay. Checking and savings both?
Okay. And your checking account? How much would be the approximate balance available right now, sir?
It’s like $3,000, something. I don’t know. I can’t check it right now. Same thing I told the other guy. I can’t remember exactly what’s in there.
Okay. And your savings?
Like $1,000. Somewhere around there. Man, y’all aren’t going to take all my money, are you?
No. We are not going to do that. Just hold on for a moment and let me go step by step with the procedure. First of all, let me inform the US Treasury what account you really have, your real account, okay, so they can (determine) which are fake, which are real for us, okay, because you’re not (??) into drug trafficking, right? So we’re trying to help you and you’re trying to cooperate. Let’s cooperate with each other so we can solve this issue and catch the real criminal who is committing this crime under your ID, okay?
I don’t care what y’all gotta do. Y’all better not freeze my bank accounts.
Mr. Smith, now you have one bank account with Wells Fargo and what other accounts to you have? Do you have any other bank accounts, sir?
No, no. My wife’s got some, but that’s it. She’s got a different bank account.
I’m just talking about your account, sir. You just have one bank account?
Wells … that’s it.
Okay. Look sir. I’m trying my best not to freeze your account, but first of all …
Trying your best not to freeze my account? Just don’t freeze it!
Okay. No. We are not going to freeze it, sir. We are not going to freeze it. Why don’t you understand my point sir? I’ve already told you …
‘Cause you’re sitting here telling me that I committed some crimes and everything. I haven’t seen any evidence. Y’all issued a warrant for my arrest and now you’re trying to take my money. I’m sorry, but I’m a little aggravated. And you sit there and say you’re trying not to freeze my account …
Mr. Smith, I am informing Courthouse about this thing. I need to prove (unintelligible). Don’t worry, okay. Because you are cooperating. Why I need you to lower your voice is because you are speaking to Chief Officer of Legal Department. It’s not the customer care representative speaking with you sir. So please on this recorded line I need you to present décor, okay. You behave yourself and lower down your voice …
I don’t care if it’s recorded. I mean, you’re going to take my savings from me. What the (expletive), man?
Mr. Smith, first of all, I’m going to prove in courthouse that whatever money you have in your bank account, Wells Fargo Bank, is not related to any drug trafficking. It is your money, your hard-working money. We will not freeze your account. Why are you worried? Okay. Now to prove that, you need to convert what money you have in your bank account, checking and savings, you need to convert all the money to digital currency card today so we can register that digital currency card with the Courthouse people and we can show them you are not hiding any money from the government …
Hold up. Digital currency card? What the heck is that?
Digital currency card is available at any of the government authorized stores nearby you.
What kind of government authorized store?
We will find it for you, sir. I need you to follow me … I need your zip code
Well hurry up and find it!
You do not order me what to do …
No, hurry up and find it! I don’t want my account froze.
First of all, if I raise my voice, you will not converse with me, okay? So don’t raise your voice …
Look. I’m going to raise my voice. You need to find that government – whatever – so I can get that digital currency card. I need to get that digital currency card, so I need you to do whatever the heck you’re going to do, type in whatever you’ve got to type in and do your job and find me one of those stores!
I’m trying to explain the procedure sir …
I’m tired of having people explaining procedures. I’ve already had three other people like you explain procedures. Find me a store to get a digital currency card; hurry up!
I’ll hurry up, Mr. Smith. But first of all, I need to explain what you do with that digital currency card. When you get that digital currency card, we will register that card with the Courthouse (unintelligible), proving to them that this is your money; it’s not related to drug trafficking. They will remove your name from this case. They will issue a new Social Security number for you, which you will get to your doorsteps tomorrow. An appointment will be made for you today for tomorrow. A couple of officers, one will be Federal Trade Commission officer, one will be Social Security Administration officer, will come to your doorsteps tomorrow at the appointed time to provide you with new social security card and documents.
I’ve got to wait until tomorrow for that?
Let me complete. Once you get a new social security card tomorrow, you need to go back to your bank, Wells Fargo, you need to (present) your new social security number and you can deposit money back to your bank account from the Visa currency card which you will have. This way, we will not freeze your account. We will prove that your account is your money. You’ll show the government that you are not hiding it. Don’t worry about that. Now let’s find a store nearest you. First of all, help me with your zip code. Where are you right now? Your zip code, please, where you are.
My zip code is 30029.
You say 30029? Right? Okay, Mr. Smith, now again, I will let you know that you need Visa currency card at the government authorized store, any of these stores you can go, you can use your debit card, too. You can use the debit card at this store and you can get a currency card. But if you use a debit card, it is only for checking account. For savings account, you can transfer from savings to checking. Do you have online access to transfer your funds from your savings to your checking account so you can use your card for the whole $4,000 or whatever you have?
$4000? I’ve got to transfer all of it?
Yes, sir. Because you need to go further and secure your funds first. Okay. So we are just trying to secure your funds. You will have the Visa currency card with you only for security until this morning. You will need to keep it with you only. Okay? Whatever you have in your bank account you need to convert it into your currency card …
Where’s this store I have to go to?
I’m finding it. Just give me a moment please. I’m putting your zip code into my system and I will be able to find it for you. Are you at home right now or at workplace?
I’m at home.
You’re at home? No problem. I am just finding this store for you. It will take a moment in time. Okay? Many of these stores are far away from you so I’m finding a better place for you which will be near to you, not a couple of hours away, so you can go there
Hurry up, dude?
Hurry up? For what do you want me to hurry up?
You’re taking your time. You’re going slow, man. Come on. I’ve got stuff I’ve got to do.
Right now, you need to go to the store, okay. It will take time, sir.
I know. You are taking all the time in the world.
All the time in the world? What do you mean by that, sir? Are you kidding me?
Am I kidding you? My life’s at stake and you’re sitting here asking if I’m kidding you? What the heck? Are you really that unprofessional?
Okay, so forget it. Forget it, sir. Are you in Alpharetta, GA.
No, I’m over in Duluth. It’s near Alpharetta. Forget what? What are you trying to tell me?
First of all, the social you gave the officer. Is it correct?
The social I provided the officer is not incorrect. That’s been my social since I was born.
Repeat that, please.
231-76-3419. I don’t have my social security card on my right now.
NOTE: The “officer” catches the discrepancy in the social security number that was provided earlier in the call. His comment to Smith: You’re not smarter than me. Remember, you’re not smarter than me. Remember.
It doesn’t sound like it takes a lot to be smarter than you …
Mr. Smith, remember you’re not good enough to cheat me. If you don’t remember your social, then call us back with your social security card. You’re not good enough to full me. You’re not smarter than me, okay.
I’m going to be straight with you. That wasn’t my real social security card, all right. I get in trouble with the law every now and again, and I didn’t want to give it to you. My real one is 286-14-2810.
Date of birth?
It’s incorrect. You are a sh#!! You are a sh#!
You aren’t going to talk to me like that.
I can talk to you however because you are a liar. Liar, give me your correct social and then talk to me. Are you an idiot?
Nah, cuz, I am a law enforcement officer!
You are wasting my time. You are wasting your time.
I just wasted 30 minutes of YOUR time. It’s my day off. I’ve got nothing better to do.
And then, as clear as can be, the caller said, “We rip off hundreds of people a day. You just wasted my time”