The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 15, 2014

Hostile swindler: You will pay

Threats infuriate senior told to pony up for trip she never took

SELINSGROVE — SELINSGROVE — The recent phone call Melanie S. received was unnerving.

The caller, claiming to be some sort of agent, said Melanie, 69, had made a deposit on a trip using her MasterCard and that Melanie was now responsible for paying an overdue balance.

The Selinsgrove area woman’s anxiety began to subside when the “agent” told her the trip purchase had been made six years ago. Because of personal matters going on at that time, Melanie said, she knew she had absolutely not taken a trip six years ago and told as much to the “agent.”

“That’s when she became quite aggressive,” Melanie said. “She said, ‘You will pay.’ ”

Melanie hung up, notified the state police and contacted MasterCard, which assured her she owed nothing.

“MasterCard said they have been getting a lot of similar calls and have put their ‘Fraud Squad’ on it,” she said.

Referring to scam artists as “predators,” Melanie said, “They had my address but I think they were trying to get my MasterCard information.”  

When the caller started voicing threats, Melanie became furious.

Confusing potential victims and striking them with fear is becoming increasingly common among scammers.

This scam, which has the same overtones as what happened to Melanie, was recently reported to the AARP Foundation and is posted on the Pennsylvania site of AARP’s new online Fraud Watch Network:

“I received a letter stating that I owe $300. I called the company and they claimed that something had been delivered to my house three years previously and that I must pay for it. They were very rude and threatening so I hung up on them.”

The website provides a ton of information including the latest con tricks making the rounds, what people should do if they are victimized, and tips on protecting yourself and your family.

Here’s another example of a threatening scam attempt in Pennsylvania as posted on the Fraud Watch Network: “I received an official looking email stating I had to vacate my home within 10 days, and to view attachments — which I didn’t, of course, figuring it was a virus or hackers — so I reported it. There is no reason for us to be out of our home so I knew it was a scam. Imagine if you don’t know any better, the stress could cause a heart attack! Whoever did this, it wasn’t funny.”


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