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An Arrest Warrant...

...will be issued for me by the US Customs and Border Patrol. To avoid this I need to immediately call 947-208-8331 and speak to a man with a strong Indian accent. That was the gist of the voice message I got yesterday.

The incongruities made my head spin.

First, the pandemic has pretty much put me in house arrest with zero travel requiring CBP interaction. Second, CBP doesn't call. And finally, the accent.

Between the Nigerian prince writing about an inheritance that needs to come to our bank account, the IRS demanding our bank information, and now CBP getting ready to issue an arrest warrant, I feel strangely fulfilled - I've been contacted by the top three scammers.

The good news is that we are naturally cynical and we don't react easily.

My heart breaks for all the vulnerable people who reply to the prince or call back the IRS and CBP. Worse yet, plenty of victims provide their SSN and bank information to avoid an arrest or to benefit from a windfall.

Recently, we had to do a complex bank transaction and I froze every time I was ready to hit enter. I called the intermediate agent to confirm that I had the right information and that the recipient is legitimate. It took a visit to the bank and three hours to feel confident enough to hit send.

I read about the Fisher Family in NoCal who lost a massive amount of money when a real estate wire was intercepted by bad actors and the money was directed to an account in China through a seemingly legitimate account in Wells Fargo. I was horrified for the couple because, generally speaking, this is a one way street to hell. Fortunately for the Fishers,the banks were able to intercede and recoup the money because of the speed with which the Fishers and their bank realized that something was fishy.

Look at these staggering numbers. On an average 3B is lost each year in identity theft and other types of fraud. I cannot begin to imagine the impact on the victims.

How can you avoid this?

The usual:

  • Keep up with anti-virus protection from a reliable company

  • Change your passwords frequently

  • Don't use your dog's name in the password or '123' as a suffix

  • Don't use real words as passwords; use numbers, upper and lower case letters, and punctuation to create strong passwords

  • Do not send bank info in email without protection

  • Verify information when sending many times as needed!

With all the things we are doing online, I cynically say, it's not if we get compromised, it is when. I constantly pray that none of us falls prey to the monsters preying on us.

I'll continue to remind myself that the ones capable of arresting me will never call. They will drag me by my toenails while I am sleeping. For now, I'll laugh at the strong Indian accent and hit delete on the voice mail.



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