Snowshoe Spamming: You think it couldn’t happen to you?

How scammers are using the Social Security, FBI and local phone numbers to steal your clients money.

Old tactics and modern internet phone systems are creating huge opportunities for criminal networks to scam Americans.

As we are entering winter, educate yourself on how a snowshoe scam works. A snowshoe scam is when a spammer sets up local phone numbers in a number of different areas, which allows them to call many people from multiple local phone lines without raising the attention of the authorities or phone companies until it is too late. The name snowshoe scam comes from the idea of spreading your weight across the snow to make it safe to walk on.

The FBI has recorded over $30 million in losses to these scams just in the first 9 months of this year.

Read on for how a Snow Show scam works.

So, what is a snowshoe spammer’s M.O. (Method of Operating)? 

Scammers call and say they are from the FBI on behalf of the Social Security Administration to say your identity has been hacked and they need to shut down all your accounts before the ‘hackers’ steal your money.  The scammers do two things that make these scams work.

  1. Tell the person they are in criminal jeopardy for what is happening, and that if they cannot resolve the account security immediately the FBI will be forced to issue a warrant for their arrest. They threaten and scare;
  2. They say they can help immediately as they are connected with the banks and Social Security to resolve the issue.  They offer to be the knight in shining armor.

This is a one person Good Cop / Bad Cop scenario – an old trick but it still works!

So how do they pull this off ?

  • Create an immediate sense of panic and apprehension of being arrested by the FBI;
  • They ensure that you stay on the phone by asking you to immediately release details of your bank accounts so they can ‘stop’ your funds being stolen;
  • Once you have released your bank account details they will insist you stay on the phone and immediately go to your bank and online accounts and transfer your money to a ‘safe’ FBI account;
  • They will give you reasons to move money so your bank does not suspect a scam;
  • Oftentimes the first step is the receipt of a voicemail with the outline of their ‘identity’ theft from the ‘FBI’ caller, asking you to immediately call back.  People who respond to these ‘urgent’ calls are especially vulnerable to the scam.

Ways to avoid being scammed.

  1. One of the themes is ‘immediacy’ – money is rarely life and death (O.K. so those of us paying agent commissions know otherwise.) The greater the sense of urgency, the more likely this will be a scam.  Criminals do not want to give you time to think, or talk to your bank, spouse, neighbor, agent or anyone about the issue;
  2. In fact they are most likely to swear you to secrecy and claim you are being followed or wiretapped to stop you from taking a second to think. They need to keep your mind racing for this to work.  If you take the information and insist on a personal visit, call to local law enforcement or consulting your attorney or spouse, they will move onto the next victim.  You must always seek validation from someone you really know, not some phony cop on the end of the line.
  3. Get a Robocall blocking App.  These filter out a significant number of likely scam calls. (Google Robocall apps to see what is available).

With today’s internet-based phone systems and endless availability of local phone numbers there are thousands of these calls being made every day.  They just have to be lucky once in a while to make a lot of money. These criminal enterprises are scamming us for millions every year.  Take time to discuss safety and security with all your clients,  your conversation could just be the one that saves them from being the next victim.

Share with your family, friends and clients.

So you think you wouldn’t fall for it?