Three Scams That Trigger Fear and Huge Losses — TechVirtuosity

Three Similar but Different Scams

Scams have been around for a while now but that doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. And unlike some lower end credit scams, these ones are adapting faster. With how quickly the world is changing with technology, laws and policies, it’s very easy to frighten people! The three scams I’m focusing on today will all relate to your computer and/or phone.

These scams try to scare you into giving money because they use the IRS, immigration and guilt. How they talk to you will also vary depending on which one of these three scams they are using on you! So let’s get started.

Immigration Scams

Immigration scams are a little different in how they operate. Their goal is to completely scare you into giving them money. They pretend to be from immigration and will even give you a call coming directly from a legitimate number, except that it isn’t.

They can use call spoofing to fake your phone into thinking they are calling from a government number. All three scams I discuss today can use this same technique. This is why it can be tricky to know if a phone number is legitimate or not.

How Immigration Scams Work

This type of scam works by first threatening you. They do this by telling you that your identity was used in some crime or that you still owe money. They warn you that in order to keep your status you must pay them upfront to solve the problem.

This scam also typically involves multiple scammers. You’ll have the fake immigration agent and of course the fake local authorities. You’ll get called by both of them once they have started the scam. The so-called local authorities will be warning you that you must comply and that they are on their way to arrest you. But this isn’t the case.

Ironically, the immigration agent plays the part of being on your side while the local authorities do the threatening part. The fake agent will pretend to have the authorities wait while they process your payment. They can even play fake police sirens on the phone to make it look like they’re on their way!

But don’t be afraid, immigration scams have no control over any of these things in reality.

Verifying it’s an Immigration Scam

These three scams will share a lot in common when it comes to this part of the scam. Typically, they’ll want to show you that they’re legitimate. But with the immigration scam they will sometimes guide you to a government website with a real immigration phone number. Then they will hangup and call you back on that same number that you see on your screen. This is the call spoofing part!

Don’t believe anything they say. You can verify things yourself. Most governments, especially Canada or the USA will mail you first. Even if you receive a phone call they will never ask for access to your computer or bank account directly. And if you do actually owe money, it’ll likely come through the mail and you can use that information to verify details online.

Avoiding Immigration Scams

Scams like this will always urgently force you to act now. They want their money now and will give you deadlines to do so. Likewise, the majority of scams are international with foreign accents. However, not all scammers are and some will even talk and sound the same way you do.

As a simple rule, if an actual immigration agent contacts you there should be a way to verify them. Don’t believe anyone who says something absurd or promises to fix your problem as soon as you pay them right then and there over the phone.

There are other scams that also do a similar method. The IRS Scam!

Spotting IRS Scams

IRS scams are not limited to the IRS alone. Even Canada has had their CRA taken advantage of. These scams start by saying you owe money or someone did something in your name. Like I said, these three scams are very similar! They poke holes at your fears and get you to pay them.

Once again this scam focuses on threatening you to get you to pay. Whether it’s something they say you didn’t claim or someone who did something in your name, it’s a lie.

How the IRS or CRA Scam Works

I’m not only covering the USA or Canada. If you live in a different country it’s very possible this scam is being used there as well! These scams work by first giving you a phone call.

When you answer their call they will say who they are who they’re from (what agency). They will threaten you by saying that you owe money or that something criminal happened in your name. They might even say it wasn’t your fault, depending on the scammer.

After that they will then push for your information. They may ask to access your computer but that depends on the method being used. Sometimes scammers do this for the elderly because they struggle to access their computer. Either way they try to get your information.

They will demand payments and might even pretend to get your local authorities involved to arrest you. Ultimately that’s what they do to get your money.

Avoiding IRS Related Scams

IRS scams are efficient because they cause fear. The key to avoiding them is to hangup if the person can’t provide any proof. But you are also able to call official numbers from real government websites to verify this information.

It’s very unlikely the government would call you and demand payment immediately if you already know you owe nothing. But when in doubt call the government directly. Don’t call back the number that appeared or the number the scammer gives you.

The IRS or tax collection agency of your country can be a great target for scammers. It’s easy to cause fear where money is possibly owed.

The next scam we discuss below is a little bit different…

Refund Scams

Refund scams still try to cause fear but in a different way. For once this is about the scammer trying to get your remorse rather than to threaten you. The three scams share a lot in common but this one varies a little bit!

How the Refund Scam Works

This scam starts by pretending to be helpful. If you ever signed up for those free promotions for a chance to win something then that is likely why. When you sign up for promotions they can sell your information to third parties. That can be one of the ways this scam starts.

Once you get a call from them, they will try to say you are eligible for a refund. It can be someone supposedly from Microsoft, Apple or a variety of other businesses. Sometimes even the fake IRS!

Next they will ask for your information and will likely want to connect to your computer. The reason they do this to show you how to get the refund and that it’s actually going into your bank account, when in reality it isn’t. Then they transfer the money between your own accounts or essentially spoof it.

They can even adjust the code for that web page to make it look like you got money, but as soon as you refresh the page it goes away. In real life they can’t actually give you money. But in any case, they pretend that they put in too much of a refund.

They will plead with you that they are at risk of getting fired and they need the money back. They’ll ask you to go purchase gift cards from a store of their choice. Once you buy the gift cards they will then ask you to tell them the codes on the back. They will then redeem the codes and that’s how they get your money.

They make you feel bad, you go out and buy their gift cards, they redeem them and you lose your real money. That’s their goal.

How to Easily Avoid Refund Scams

The three scams we discussed today may all ask for gift cards. Sometimes immigration and IRS scams ask for them but sometimes they don’t. Refund scams pretty much always ask for gift cards.

Never trust a bank account accident. They can fake the webpage, make you download software to block your view and make it look real. But no real business will ask you to pay them in gift cards! Secondly, no real support will need you to tell them your bank details to sign in. Don’t fall for it!

Keep Vigilant and Avoiding Scams

Many of the scams I shared with you today can seem scary. The threats you get and the amount of money they demand can feel very serious. But don’t always believe what you are told over the phone. Just like email scams, phone scams can be just as fake!

Hopefully this helps and feel free to share your stories about scammers below. Thanks!

Originally published at on April 7, 2020.



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