Monday, November 17, 2008

Bold Con Man Scam: Scamsters Representing Themselves as FBI Agents and Officials

--Email Communications Include Photos of Director Mueller, Seal, Letterhead, and Banners

With all the sensitivity of a Medieval dentist, the con man, supposedly a member of the FBI, may contact you, with instructions.

Yes, with an invitation to participate in a totally bogus investigation.

Overreach? Probably. But, it's happening, and the FBI is very upset about it. Especially when the con man involved is so fearless that he will actually employ all the identifying insignia of the Agency--i.e Director Muller's photo, the Seal, Letterhead, even the Banners. Apparently some successes are being run up by this subterfuge. Speak softly and wear a loud shirt. This seems to be the underlying brashness. They believe that creativity is O.K., but plagiarism and infringement are faster and easier.

What kinds of schemes are promoted?

Inheritance notifications and lottery endorsements are the two most common. But, threat and extortion schemes also rank high. These often involve online auction scams. and, of course, all of the scams include the usual malicious computer program attachments (malware) designed to trap, isolate, and reveal your vital personal information for identity theft purposes. Too many freaks, not enough circuses? Talk about risk for the con man? This has to be about the highest ever. It's not hard to envision 100-year, throw-away-the-key sentences for this kind of crime.

A social Engineering technique?

Sure. You could call it that. The con man uses the FBI's name to intimidate and convince the recipient that the email is legitimate. That's a form of social engineering. Isn't it? One essential truism looming over all of this--the FBI does not send out emails soliciting information from citizens. The electric chair was invented by a dentist. Improbable? Hence, it could be that the con man thinks anything is possible. Is this the reason they play golf, maybe--so they can wear all the clothes they wouldn't otherwise be caught dead in?

Don't let the con man put anything over on you--not even an umbrella.

This whole presumption is so strange, so weird, so far out. You've got to wonder about the bewilderability level of it.

It's almost like making you feel that you must tape the wall mirror in your house so you don't accidentally walk through it and into another dimension.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scams at their Most Elaborate: Insurance Fraud

--Newest "Hall of Shame" entries put a Truly Bizarre Touch to Con Games

A real down-home hunk of logic, Epstein's Law, tells it like it is: If you think the problem is bad now, just wait till you've solved it.

The investigative arms of insurance companies are perhaps the most effective scam fighting machines on the planet Earth. Their rating for the number of con artists convicted is about the highest for any group of crime fighters. Yet, for every con artist nailed, it seems a more sophisticated scam specialist springs up--to extend their challenge.

From the Archives of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, here are some examples (from their "Hall of Shame"):

> A self-proclaimed gypsy, a wedding dancer, swallows broken glass. Purpose? To shake down restaurants and other food providers, cash in on their insurance coverage. Says he was seeking a dowry for his sons. But, instead, is serving a 5-year stretch, and will have to cough up $340,000 in restitution.

> Florida gay man torches his home after painting "Idle Fag" across it's front steps--in order to collect the insurance money. and make it look like a hate crime. He gets 18 months in state prison to contemplate the wisdom of this approach.
Say some, if at first you don't succeed, you'll never succeed.

> A New York school teacher fakes cancer to collect the insurance money, then moves to New Hampshire to try a repeat performance. When her valiant struggle makes the local newspaper, she is exposed, and is now serving 1 to 3. A new way to celebrate mediocrity?

> A life insurance agent kills 4 homeless people, and fakes their deaths so he can collect $1,000,000 in insurance proceeds. He's serving a life sentence--more than enough time to pray for forgiveness of his sins.

> New York woman, poses as a Princess, member of the Saudi Royal Family. (This sounds about as challenging as trying to tune a bagpipe.) Finally, pleads guilty to insurance fraud and attempted grand larceny. Must have had a sharp lawyer. She's able to trade down from a 15-year sentence to 1 year in a psychiatric facility.
Almost sounds like political influence. Power corrupts; absolute power is pretty neat though.

> A Manhattan Stock Market Day Trader has an effective scam going, makes a small fortune, in fact. Claims he lost his right eye on 3 different boat cruises. First time is allegedly the result of a sun filter falling off a ship's telescope while he's looking through it. Second claim is for an exploding champagne bottle on another cruise. Third time around, on still another cruise, he is supposedly hit in the eye by a flying toy disc. This guy's luck holds. He's still at large. Sounds like an unusually talented con man, a guy who could probably jump start a car without cables.

> A Texas couple digs up the grave of an elderly woman and dresses her in the husband's clothing, stuffs her body in his car, and pushes it over a cliff. Object? To collect the insurance money, hoping the blackened body would obscure identity. DNA gives them away, and they are now serving a long, all-expenses-paid stay in a Texas slammer. (Why is it everyone seems normal--until you get to know them?)

> Illegal meth lab blows up, yielding $40,000 in insurance proceeds for a man who says his severe burns occurred while he was working in his mother's bakery. Anyone can set low standards, then consistently fail to meet them.

> Doctor performs 750 worthless heart operations on homeless people to collect $2,000,000 in Medicaid payments. Good maxim is: Live your life so that, when you die, the preacher will not have to lie at your funeral. Obviously ignored by this physician.

> An insurance adjuster rams a huge chunk of tree through a hole in his roof in order to inflate an insurance claim.
He is nailed when it comes to light that a nosey neighbor had videotaped everything.

> Washington, D.C. man tries to blow up his father by wiring his SUV to explode upon entry, an insurance "reward" being his goal. But, his brother borrows the car and blows himself up instead. The man is now serving 32 years of hard time in a 6 x 9 cell, plenty of space to think about his mistake.

We can only assume that, if your handle on life breaks, you are capable of coming up with some very zany ideas on how to scam the system to make yourself rich. These examples, we submit, are clear evidence of this. But insurance fraud, like the return trip of a boomerang, always seems to come back to haunt the con artist perpetrator. Pickings in this area of scamery are slim indeed.

Just about everyone participates in mild insurance fraud, at one time or another. Slight exaggeration of insurance claims are common. But when it comes to the elaborate, big time stuff, it's best to have a positive attitude about the con man's destructive habits, and, in a wide arc, steer clear.

Where the blind leadeth the blind, it's best to merely get out of the way.