Scammers want their cut

April 29, 2008 4:45:46 PM PDT
Just as the stimulus checks hit your mail box and bank account, scammers are looking to take that money and more. One Houston woman fell for the scam. Here's why:

The scammer knew an amazing amount of information about the victim, and used it to pull off the latest scam going around.

Janeil Curl said it all started when she got a phone call from someone claiming to be from the government with great news.

Curl's 600 dollar stimulus check would be more than everyone else's. Instead of $600, she was to get $2,500.

Curl explained, "They said the money does not have to be paid back, I was just one of the chosen one, a few of the chosen ones prequalified to get this money."

The caller seemed legitimate because he knew so much about Curl.

"They had my name, my address, my phone number, my Social Security Number, they were believable," said Curl.

But there was something the caller did not know.

Curl said, "my account number and my routing number."

With that information someone could make a stimulus check deposit or withdraw all the money from curl's account. Luckily Curl called her mom with the "good news".

"She said the IRS never calls you, and that's when my mom advised me to close down my account immediately," Curl said.

But that did not stop the calls from coming in.

"They gave me a call back and said since I was getting money from the U.S. Government, that I would have to give back to the community," said Curl.

The person wanted Curl was to send a donation by Western Union, not to a person in Washington , but all the way to India.

Curl did not send any money by western union, instead she turned to the internet and found the phone number used by the government caller had been used to pull the same stunt on someone else.

"It was like a testimony from another person and she was saying basically this is a scam, don't give the person the money, she's gone through it already," said Curl.

"The government is not going to call you, the IRS is not going to call you or e-mail you about your stimulus check," said Deana Turner of the Houston Better Business Bureau.

Turner adds stimulus scams are very common right now. Turner reminds people that no matter how much someone knows about you, the government is never going to ask for private financial information over the phone.

"This is a perfect opportunity for a scam for them because people are confused-about what is going to happen with the stimulus checks and how it all works," said Turner.

If you do get a call from someone who has your name, date of birth, Social Security number, it's also a good idea to set up a fraud alert on your credit report because that's enough information for someone to open credit cards in your name and ruin your finances for years.

To do that, click here.

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