Scammer alert: what to do to protect yourself

  • 0

SARASOTA, FL--- It's estimated that nation wide hundreds of thousands of people become victims of fraudulent scams each year, a total cost of about $100 billion to consumer.  Many of the scammers target people in Florida and some victims are right here on Suncoast.

"The phone rings one day and he said Carl, the guy known my name, my zip code my telephone number my pin numbers, my everything," said Carl Migliaccio.

The person on the phone said they were with Bank of America and he told Carl they could help him reduce his mortgage payments, but there was a catch.

"They told for me to send $1786.44, which I did. They wanted it to be a Bank of America certified check," added Migliaccio.

But the person who contacted Migliaccio wasn't from Bank of America and even though he sent them the money his mortgage wasn't refinanced. Instead he realized he had just become a victim of mass marketing fraud.

"I felt so hurt, so abused, and most of all I couldn't believe that I was taken. That I got the business," said Migliaccio.

But he's not alone. Suncoast resident Suzanne Trembley's home was put up for rent without her permission.  The scammers were attempting to collect a deposit, plus 1st and last months rent for a property they didn't own.  And, the officials from the Better Business Bureau say victims are dealing with a lot of other scams. 

"The most popular scams we are seeing at the BBB is the fake check scams, the scams called the emergency or grandparents scams, if you're a contractor you have your home improvement scams, and of course the one that everyone knows the identity theft scams," said Bryan Oglesby with the  Better Business Bureau.

The list of scams is long but Oglesby says there are several steps you can take to protect yourself.

"You only want to sent money to people you know and trust.  Never wire money to people you don't know or meet on the internet.  As well as be cautious of people who say they are over seas and need help.  Also you should never give your banking info to people or businesses you don't know or haven't verified." added Oglesby.

In addition, Oglesby says if it sounds too good to be true it probably is and that you should verify the information being told to you by doing searches on the internet before sending any money.