'U.S. National Bank' Scammer Thwarted By Google, Consumerist, And A Fake Bankruptcy

Idolina was targeted this morning by a U.S. National Bank scammer. As he was prattling on with his heavily-accented seesaw of threats and incentives, she Googled the bank. (And no, we’re not anti-anyone, but there’s something funny about a supposed U.S. National Bank and/or government representative who sounds like he’s currently calling you from a foreign country.) The third search result was our interview last October with Laurie Lucas, who faced a similar scam. Idolina writes, “I was reading it while I was on the phone with him.”

We’re particularly amused by how the current economic climate influenced this encounter from both sides. The scammer promised Idolina a $5,000 government grant (whereas Laurie was threatened with arrest back in October), and Idolina demurred by lying that she had just filed bankrupcty and consequently had no bank info to give him. In fact, she sort of made up an implied family drama just for his benefit. We have a feeling Idolina liked to tell elaborate stories as a child.

You can read her account below, but just in case you don’t, here’s an important takeaway about a common scammer trick that works really well, because it taps into that natural desire to be helpful or to solve a problem: the scammer will call out your SSN, bank account, or telephone number, only it will be incorrect, and when you tell him he’s wrong he’ll ask you to please correct it for him. Don’t. (Or better yet, make up a new number!)

My name is Idolina ___ and live in the state of Washington in a little town called Wapato. Just this morning, 1/23/09 at 11:15 am, I received a call from a fellow with a foreign accent telling me that he was returning a call, because he had talked to me the week before and I was suppose to get my bank account routing number and checking account numbers so that the US NATIONAL BANK could in turn deposit $5000 into my account, because I had been selected to recieve this federal government grant.

He went on to tell me that the reason that he needed that information was that… I had been selected to receive this grant because the reports showed that I had not filed bankruptcy within the last 3-months.

I told him that I did not have a checking or savings account anymore because I had just filed for bankruptcy last week. He kept insisting that I get then maybe a debit or credit card and give him the number, because that would be the only way that the National Bank could deposit the $5000.

I told him, “I already told you that I don’t have any of that, because the lawyer took everything away from me now that I have filed for bankruptcy,” (which I did not). Then he goes on to ask about my family, does anyone in your family maybe have a checking/savings or a debit/credit card that you can give me the numbers to? I again told him, “I don’t know if they do or not, but I am sure that they will not let me borrow something like that, besides I’m not in good standing with my family.” Which is not true, but I just did not know how to get him off the phone, because when I hung up before he called back.

I just wanted to take the call and tell him that I was not interested in receiving that money, especially since I had not applied for it, then he says, that is why I am telling you, that I need those numbers because you did not apply for the grant but you were selected to receive this $5000 because every year the bank runs a random report of all citizens that have not filed bankruptcy and your name was selected as one of the candidates to receive this free money.

I kept insisting that I had nothing to give him. He even put his supervisor on the phone, who asked me why I was not cooperating, because his representative had informed me that I had been selected to receive this $5000, and all I had to do was give him the information that he was requesting and that within 48 hours I would have $5000 in my checking/saving or credit card which I preferred.

I told him, “Well I just told your representative that I don’t have any information to give him, because I just filed bankruptcy last week.” He starts up with “If you can get your family to cooperate and let your use their checking account, surely someone in your family must have an account.”

They both went on and on, until finally I just told the man, “You know what? Why don’t you just send me a check in the mail,” because he had my address, the last 4-digits of my social, my phone number and supposedly my checking account number with my bank. He read it off to me and I guess he just gave me numbers of the top of his head, and I said, “No, that’s not my account number.” So he then says, “Oh, it’s not correct? Okay, can you give me the correct number?” I said “No, because I have been telling you that I no longer have an account number because I closed everything and put everything into bankruptcy.”

He finally says, “Okay so how do you want to receive the $5000?” I said, “Well if you can’t send it through the mail to me, then I guess that I will lose out!” He then said, “Well okay. You don’t want to receive the $5000, then I will just hang up.”

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(Photo: Benimoto)