Social Security scam rakes in millions in just a year

NEW YORK — When Wayne Chertoff’s caller ID told him the Social Security Administration was calling, he picked up to hear a woman’s voice.

“She said that my Social Security number is being suspended because in El Paso, Texas, somebody was using my name and social security number to send thousands of dollars to Mexico and Columbia.”

It was news to him.

“She said, ‘well you have an arrest warrant out there.'”

To get rid of the “warrant”, he followed the woman’s instructions: buy $1,400 worth of Google play cards at this drugstore, then give the numbers off the back of the cards to the scammers over the phone. She told him he’d get the money back.

“When nobody called me the following day, I knew I was screwed.”

He’s one of many: 76,000 people have complained to the Federal Trade Commission about the scam.

This Social Security call scam is already up to $19 million for the year ending March 31.

“Here what we have are scammers who have decided that it is too recognizable to pretend to be the IRS anymore. They know that they can’t get away with that anymore so they’ve come up with a new angle, a new twist,” said the FTC’s Monica Vaca.

It should go without saying you should never give out your social security number over the phone. But now the FTC is saying, do not trust your caller ID, which is guaranteed to frustrate all of us who’ve grown to rely on that feature.

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