Tatiana* called me last week in a panic. It appeared she lost $20,000 in a scam.
Her “bank” had called her to let her know her account had been hacked and she needed to get $20,000 worth of gift cards and then call them back with the numbers. She withdrew the money from her account and bought the gift cards as instructed.
Felix* called me looking to withdraw $300,000 from his investment account. A month earlier, he was contacted via email by an investment firm in Paris, France that had a new cryptocurrency they were offering. They mentioned “a once in a lifetime opportunity” and “getting in on the ground floor”. They told him to wire $100,000 to them and told him that within 30 days, his account would be worth a million.
As promised, they reached out a month later with the good news. The only thing was, there would be foreign taxes of $300,000 due and he needed to wire that first and then they would release the $1,000,000.
Matilda* reached out to me as she needed $10,000 to pay her real estate taxes and a few other bills. Knowing that we kept about $40,000 in a savings account, I asked her why not use that money vs. IRA money that would be taxable. She told me she lost $50,000 in a scam. She met who seemed like a very nice man on a dating site. After many email exchanges they formed a connection, and he told her of an investment opportunity that would turn $50,000 into $200,000 in less than six months.
She wired the $50,000 to him as instructed and then he disappeared.
You might be thinking, “Why would people do this?”.
First, these scammers are very good at what they do. They have done it many times before and will continue doing it many more times.
They tend to catch people at times where they might not be thinking clearly, and they instill a sense of urgency.
During COVID, I did a presentation on cybersecurity and many of the attendees told me similar stories.
Here’s the thing. It is only a matter of time that you will be approached either by phone or email. You may think it won’t happen to you, but it can.
I’m thinking, Matilda, Felix, and Tatiana didn’t think it would happen to them either. But it did.
I can’t change what happened to them. All I can do is try to help it from happening to others.
If you are ever approached and think it may or may not be a scam, please, please reach out to me before doing anything.
Remember, the IRS, Social Security, your utility company, your bank, or your credit card company will not call you asking your date of birth, your SS#, your address, your bank account # etc. Just hang up. Don’t engage them. Call me, we can call your bank (or whomever) together at the phone number on your card or statement.
Another way scammers can get you is by hacking into your computer. Never click on a link from Microsoft (or whomever) telling you your computer has a virus etc. Never click on links in emails even if it appears to be from someone you know unless you are certain it is safe. Also, look carefully at the senders email address and you may notice your friend Susan’s email email@example.com shows up as firstname.lastname@example.org See the difference? It can be very subtle.
If you would like to learn more about how to protect yourself, please reach out to me.
I’m here to help.
Here’s another blog article that might be of interest. Scammers are getting smarter in 2022:5ways to spot them online, over the phone, and in person.
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All the best.
Rick Fingerman, CFP®, CDFA™, CCPS®
*Not their real names
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.