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Federal Officials Lure Scammers to the U.S.

In part two of this podcast, Mike and Alan devise a scheme that leads to the fraudsters' arrests

Episode 94 - Rookie FBI Agent Turns Tables on International Scammers - Part 2

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Rookie FBI agent Mike meets 80-year-old Alan, who has sent $600,000 to “friends” he met online. Typically, international scammers are notoriously hard to prosecute. After hearing that Alan visited the scammers in the Middle East and Africa, though, Mike senses a unique opportunity to lure the con artists to the United States. The pair devise a scheme so that the swindlers can be arrested and convicted of their crimes.

Episode 94 quote graphic

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[00:00:01] Bob: Last week on The Perfect Scam.

[00:00:04] Mike: Yeah, so they meet in Dubai, it's Eric and Precious, it's uh, an African man and a Caucasian woman claiming to be Eric and Precious, and they have Alan pay for the hotel, they have Alan pay for the meals, everything. In fact, I think there’s this picture of Alan with uh, Eric and Precious in like, it looks like a Chili’s or something in the Dubai airport.

[00:00:27] Bob: That’s, I’m almost, I’m kind of amazed that they were brazen enough to pose for a picture like that.

[00:00:31] Mike: You know, it’s, sometimes I think about that, too. So I think from the perspective of a scammer, it’s really a risk/reward calculation they have to make.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:00:40] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Bob Sullivan. This is a two-part story. If you haven't listened to last week's episode yet, you should go do that now. To get you back up to speed on our story, Alan, our victim, was lured to Dubai, and then to Ghana by Precious who said she was a princess, and by Eric who claimed to be her lawyer. There was a huge inheritance, gold bars, a dollar bill making factory, and Alan had given them $600,000 with nothing to show for it except a meeting with a young FBI agent named Mike. Usually these sad stories end right there, but in this case, there's a photograph of the criminals. And Mike is determined and not to let the case drop. Rarely do internet victims meet their criminals in person, but Alan, Alan has a photograph. That's enough to keep Agent Mike on the case. But he has a problem, a very big problem. Even if Mike discovers the real identity of the criminals, he can't fly to Dubai or Ghana and arrest them, he needs another plan, a much, much, more creative plan. So, he gets to work on a scam of his own.

[00:02:01] Mike: Initially, I thought, you know, I've got to think like a scammer, so they're never going to come here to the States, right? That's like the exact opposite of what you’ve got to do if you're an online scammer. So what I initially wanted to do was, we can, we just needed to be able to identify them and to learn their true names. Obviously, Eric and Precious and Daniel wasn't their true names. And so, if that was the case, then you can hopefully have a cooperating foreign partner be willing to help you out, help you identify them, and if so, uh possibly even arrest them and extradite them on a, on a US warrant.

[00:02:39] Bob: Maybe he can at least get their names from immigration authorities in Dubai or Ghana. After all, they did get on airplanes. But getting records from foreign agencies is not a fast process. When it becomes clear that those records won't arrive for months, Mike switches to plan B, which is much more ambitious. He wants to make Alan a sort of undercover FBI agent. By this point, Alan has become fully aware that he's dealing with criminals, thanks in part to repeated conversations with Agent Mike, and Alan agrees to do his part to help catch the criminals.

[00:03:17] Mike: Alan's already gone to Ghana once, and I've kind of convinced Alan to be my informant, and to kind of convince him, well actually, it took several months for me to convince him totally of what was going on. After that first meeting or so, I could tell from the way that he was talking that he still thought that Precious might be real. And so for the next uh nine months, it was just kind of me just kind of patiently going over again, no, you know, Precious isn't real. She's not, she's not a princess. You know, that kind of stuff. But um, initially I thought was well, Alan had gone there once, uh he, he's willing to go again, maybe we can bring Alan back to Ghana to meet with these folks and have them do something that would make them show a legitimate ID, like for example, open up a bank account together.

[00:04:06] Bob: Alan is game, but right about then, he starts dealing with some health issues that made such a trip out of the question. So, plan C is hatched. It's the most ambitious plan yet. A plan to turn the tables on the criminals, to tell a sob story of their own.

[00:04:24] Mike: Plan C was, you know with Alan's permission, and also his wife, too, we, we kept the wife in the loop the entire time. I didn't want her to feel like she was being excluded, but I asked them if they'd be willing to, you know, take some pictures of Alan in the hospital undergoing, well, post, uh, his medical procedures, and to go back to Eric and Precious and say, "Hey, you know, my health is really declining. I really want to help you, Precious, so uh, here's proof that I can't go overseas and see you. Why don't you guys come over here, and we can do things like, I'll put you in my will," and so Precious will have, you know, $10,000 a month in perpetuity or something like that, or, or uh, I got a, another, another ruse that we started coming up with was, we had Alan say, "I've got a really rich businessman man and he's really looking to invest in uh, in Africa, you know, and Africa's the next place to invest in, especially with uh, raw minerals, and you, you seem to know a lot about gold, so yeah, this, yeah this rich businessman wants to meet you. He wants to talk about gold." So we kind of started coming up with stories to uh, you know, scam Eric and Precious and Daniel with.

[00:05:40] Bob: It strikes me that it's a good thing you work for the FBI. Otherwise you'd have another career that might not be as wholesome.

[00:05:46] Mike: Oh, (laugh). Well, sometimes you've got to think like scammers to catch them, so.

[00:05:52] Bob: Mike has to really work to open the door to the US for Precious and Eric. One of the most important steps, getting the State Department to issue a visa.

[00:06:01] Mike: We were kind of playing multiple stories at the same time, and I think the pictures of Alan, uh, you know, in the hospital, they were effective, but what was even more effective was we were telling Alan to ask Eric like, "Hey look, go to the Embassy in Ghana, apply for a visa, just get that process started," and then I actually started kind of going behind the scenes, and I started, uh, talking to some reps at the State Department to say, like, hey look, we're going to, we're trying to set this up now, you know. This person, Eric, which I, you know, by that time we had kind of identified who Eric really was, he's a criminal, he's a, he's a subject of an investigation, there's an active FBI investigation on him. Here's what, here's kind of what's going on. Basically I said, "I need you to give him a visa."

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:06:51] Bob: Meanwhile, Mike is coaching Alan on what to say to Eric and Precious. They lay it on pretty thick.

[00:06:57] Mike: We had Alan say, "Hey, you got your visa, because my friend, my rich friend pulled some strings with the government." That was the story that we were spinning towards him, and then we were saying, "Okay, well now my rich friend really wants to talk to you about gold, so he's going to buy you a plane ticket."

[00:07:11] Bob: Even after Mike gets the State Department to play along, there are still a whole lot of steps before Eric and Precious might actually get on a plane and land in a US airport where they can be apprehended. Would Eric even show up for his visa appointment? What if he got cold feet right before boarding the plane? You'd think Mike might be worried by these things, but he says he wasn't.

[00:07:32] Mike: You know, it wasn't really so much nervousness, I think, uh, just the way that we think here, we always have plan A, plan B, plan C, so this plan that we were setting forth, even though it was plan C, which is now plan A, we still had backup plans, you know, in place, so I knew that if Eric never really came here, or if uh, he never followed up on his visa appointment. We had other ways, you know, it's just, you know at the FBI we just, we, time is on our side. So something would have come eventually. Like, for example, the UAE would have told us who these people really were. And so we could have, you know, these investigations drag on for a while, and eventually something would have broken, so I wasn't um, part of me was like, there's no way he's actually going to do this. But even, and even if he didn't, that would be okay, because this investigation will still be going forward.

[00:08:22] Bob: But, to the surprise of many agents involved, the plan works. Eric gets his visa and gets on a plane headed for Dulles Airport outside Washington DC.

[00:08:33] Bob: So it worked, okay. Are, are you there at the airport when they arrive?

[00:08:36] Mike: Yep, yes, it's myself and a few more agents, and uh, um, you know we kind of confirmed with the Department of Homeland Security that he did indeed board the flight. We actually bought his plane ticket for him. And so we knew exactly when he was arriving. As he's going through the immigration queues, one of the uh customs and border protection officers was with us, had kind of taken us behind the scenes at the airport. We saw him just going through. I think he had like a blue suit on, and uh, he had like one of those neck pillows. He looked very tired, obviously. We kind of pulled him out of the queue. We told him to sit in a, a place that's called secondary inspection, uh with CBP at the airport. We just kind of looked at his uh travel documents again, just to confirm that he really was the person we were looking for, and we kind of went to him, kind of broke the bad news.

[00:09:34] Bob: What was the, the expression on his face when you did that?

[00:09:36] Mike: I think he was very tired. He was very jetlagged. He was very like, uh just absolute resignation. No fight, no denial, just okay, sure. Take me.

[00:09:47] Bob: Next, they enlist Eric's help in nabbing Precious. By coincidence, she's already planning to come to the US a few weeks later as a chaperone on a trip for Ukrainian children.

[00:09:58] Mike: We arrested Eric; we took him back to our field office in DC. We, you know, I administered his Miranda Rights and told him, you know, here's what's going on. Part of what we were, you know, asking about was, so who's Precious? Where is she? What's her real name, that kind of stuff. We kind of already knew who she was, but one of the things that we eventually asked him to do was, can you help us trick Precious into coming here to the States, too?

[00:10:25] Bob: And did he agree to do that?

[00:10:27] Mike: Uh, he did. Yep.

[00:10:29] Bob: So they take Eric's phone and hatch a plan to pretend to be Eric and message Precious. But first, they look through his phone and see just how hard he fell for their story.

[00:10:40] Mike: We went through, you know, his uh, chat threads with Precious, and you know, you could see the whole like how it all played out. Like, all right, you know, "We've got a job. It's uh, it's in the States. Remember that guy who came to meet us in Dubai? Okay, we've got to go there now. Okay, your name's Precious, right, you're playing Precious this time," and then, you know, you can see the moment too where Eric shows a picture of his visa. He says, "Oh wow. This guy is a rich businessman, really is the real deal. He got me my visa, you know. I'll see you there." And that kind of stuff, and Precious is like, "Okay, great. Uh, I'll see you there, and then we're going to go scam him for more money," that kind of stuff.

[00:11:19] Bob: So they start a text chat with Precious, and that is the only time things get a little anxious for Agent Mike. It doesn’t seem like Precious is buying it.

[00:11:29] Mike: Actually what happened was when we started playing the part of Eric, and we were telling Precious, hey, come on, meet us over here, Precious, being the, the fraudster that she is, too, she kept saying like, "Oh well, I need money to go over to, to meet you in the States. I need you to send me money." Uh, I think she knew something was up. I think she knew that something had happened to Eric. 'Cause it's kind of hard to hide that, you know. I don't...

[00:11:55] Bob: You couldn't speak in his voice.

[00:11:56] Mike: No, I can't, I couldn't speak in his, I couldn't make phone calls. We were only texting, you know, all of a sudden, you know, your partner who goes to the States, all of a sudden, he goes silent for a day or two, and then only, only starts to text you back. Like I think she knew something was up. So she started to try to scam us, because meaning she's trying to start scamming Eric, because she kept asking us, being Eric, "Hey, send me like 100 bucks, send me like 1000 bucks. I'm broke right now. I need money. I want to go there and meet you, but send me some money." You know, and uh, she was trying to scam her partner, and then the next thing we know, she lands in O'Hare, and, you know, our colleagues over at the uh, FBI Office-Chicago are going to the airport to pick her up on our warrant.

[00:12:43] Bob: Soon after, Precious is brought to DC and Mike gets to meet her too.

[00:12:48] Bob: Um, what did you think when you first saw her?

[00:12:50] Mike: Just someone who takes advantage of opportunities, like she was very contrite and apologetic. Just, just from her interactions, just from what I saw from Alan's text messages from when we were pretending to be Eric, I knew that she was not someone that I should be feeling sorry for in the sense of that they did perpetrate quite a bit of crimes against, you know, elderly victims that didn't know any better.

[00:13:14] Bob: As agents pick through Eric and Precious's various message tools, they learn about other victims.

[00:13:20] Mike: When Eric got arrested, he had two cellphones with him, which he gave us permission right away to look at. He gave us the passwords. You look through these cellphones, and it's just one after another after another. Some elderly man somewhere else in the US or possibly even in another country where you know Eric's saying, "All right, we've got a victim. I need someone to play the part of this and that." You know, "I need this and that to go to pretend to be whatever African royalty against this guy." He also gave us permission to look at his laptop, and we saw other images there that were just like -- Alan was not the first person that he brought over to Ghana, let's put it that way.

[00:14:03] Bob: Oh my God.

[00:14:05] Mike: Um, yeah we had, you know the FBI's very good at documenting things, and so we started researching against our own databases of things like the email addresses that Eric used to talk to his victims, and we found that, sure enough, other victims from across the country had been scammed by this so-called Eric, and they had uh gone to the FBI, and I'd read the reports that those FBI agents had written, and they sounded almost exactly the same was what Al had gone through, and because of that, I had reached out and started to identify other victims, and I started showing them pictures. "Do you recognize this person?" It was like, "Yep, that's Eric." "Do you recognize that person?" You know, I showed them a picture of Precious, and they would say, "Oh yeah, that's Mary." You know some other name that um, Precious had gone by. In fact, I'd, we'd even found a picture um, of this elderly man who had gone to Ghana, had gone through the whole marriage ceremony with whatever African princess he was being lured to, you know talk to at the time, and it was Eric and this elderly man in like traditional African garments, just, and this old man just looked happy, but confused. So, it's a lot of, a lot of other victims, quite a bit of victims.

[00:15:24] Bob: Are were talking like, you know, 10 or four dozen, or just roughly?

[00:15:30] Mike: In one phone that I had kind of dissected and deep-dived, I would estimate at any given time there was probably... maybe a half dozen victims that he was seriously pursuing, and then maybe a couple a dozen more that he had squeezed some money out of, and then they kind of dropped off, and then maybe he'll try squeezing some money again off of them, so um, yeah.

[00:15:56] As Agent Mike describes this whole production to me, I can't help comparing it in my mind to a theater troupe with a bunch of actors traveling the world, playing their parts, using props, and causing so much damage along the way.

[00:16:10] Bob: Do you have a sense that you stopped a couple of ringleaders here, or were these just foot soldiers, part of a much larger organization do you think?

[00:16:20] Mike: Um, I think Eric was someone who wasn't just a foot soldier. He was a little bit higher up, but kind of how we figured out how they operated uh them being uh, Ghanaian scammers is you'll have these scammers just all over the country, you know, at internet cafes or at their own homes just however they can, just hitting up victims on Skype, on Match.com, on, I've heard Words with Friends, just anything, you know, and then those are the guys who are going phishing, and they're just pounding away at the keyboards trying to hook a victim. And then once they hook a victim, you know, they may be able to squeeze some money out of them, but at some point then they'll need some more resources so, they'll go to someone like Eric, and say, you know, I saw so many text messages where people would be like, "Hey boss, I've got a victim. He thinks, this is the story that he thinks. Can you help me out?" And Eric would kind of like, you know, consult with him for a little bit and say, "Okay, here's what we're going to do. I know a Caucasian girl from the Ukraine. I have, you know, fake gold bars in my compound. I have, you know, all these props and resources that I can use to uh continue to perpetrate the fraud."

[00:17:38] Bob: He sounds almost like a Broadway producer.

[00:17:41] Mike: Yeah, I mean, um, I mean to me he sounded just like a, you know, like a consultant. Or it's, it's a business, you know, it's what organized crime is about. We, our squad tries to tackle criminals who operate like a business, you know, organized crime is a business. So different uh, members bring different functions to a criminal enterprise.

[00:18:01] Bob: Sure.

[00:18:01] Mike: So in this case, this person is uh, the guy with the, with the props and the expertise and the know-how.

[00:18:07] Bob: Hmm, and the casting director and it's a--, it's amazing.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:18:16] Bob: Anthony Pratkanis has studied these kinds of crimes for years. He's an experimental social psychologist who writes about fraud and the tactics that con artists use. He's also a friend of The Perfect Scam. Anthony says Alan's story reminds him of a scam that's at least 100 years old.

[00:18:34] Anthony Pratkanis: I think that one element in there is it's similar kind of elements as the old, old Spanish princess scam where, that was back in the uh 1890s and 1920 period was its heyday, where people would get letters from a, a Spanish princess who's being held captive. Can you help me out? I've got this fortune. Would you help me out, and we can then share the fortune. That's very similar to this sort of scam. And one element at the, at the core of that scam is a helper relationship. In other words, the person who's being targeted, the victim in this case, is put in the role of a helper. I need to help this Spanish princess. I need to help Precious. And that's a very important role that we have because we want to help other people. It's a very human thing to do. Unfortunately, the con criminal knows that people want to help, and so they take the role of someone in needing and help to put us in the role of that helper which sets us up for more abuse and manipulation.

[00:19:47] Bob: Boy, I'm glad you brought that up, uh that's such a powerful concept and I, I hadn't heard it put so clearly that way. We, we naturally want to help people, and these are folks who just tie up our urge to help people in knots and take advantage of it.

[00:20:01] Anthony Pratkanis: Exactly, you know, and it came out in an interview with "Yellow Kid" Weil, who said, "You can't take somebody if they're not greedy." So it's always about greed. That's not true. Uh we have a range of human emotions, and one of them is our desire to help other people. That's why there's things known as charity fraud, 'cause that takes advantage of that kind of deep relationship that we have that we want to help people when they're, when they're in need. So there's a variety of, of feelings and emotions that we have as human beings, and the con, unfortunately the con criminal is very good at identifying those and manipulating.

[00:20:41] Bob: Alan declined to talk with us for this podcast, but I asked Anthony about the wide range of emotions Alan must have felt as he went from victim to undercover FBI agent.

[00:20:52] Anthony Pratkanis: I suspect he felt a range of emotions. How can I be so stupid? Can I really believe this? How could this happen to me? And then once that starts to sink in, there's a sense of depression, a sense that how can I trust anything again. Oftentimes you see a lot of blaming of the victim. Self-blaming. When the truth of the matter is, it's the fraud criminals that pulled this off, and they're the ones to blame. The fact that we're human beings, and people play on our core natures as human beings isn't anything bad about us, we're human with all the good and false and everything else that that entails. It's the criminal that deserves the blame.

[00:21:39] Bob: Well I, I hope he felt at least a little bit of a vindication um, you know, mixed, at least mixed emotions when the arrests were made though, right?

[00:21:49] Anthony Pratkanis: Oh absolutely. I hope, uh he recognizes that the, the service he did for each and every one of us by standing up to these criminals.

[00:22:00] Bob: How do criminals work their victims and persuade them to do such dramatic things? Anthony says it's important to understand they start small by getting their foot in the door.

[00:22:11] Anthony Pratkanis: You know I, oh, I'm, I'm short of cash today, can you just give me $10? Or, I've got a GoFundMe campaign and, you know, my friend lost their daughter. Could you, you know, go give them $50? Some little, small request like that. In the science of social influence, that's known as a foot in the door effect. When you do a small thing for an individual, what it does is it starts to let you think, oh, I'm the kind of person that helps that person. I'm the kind of person that gives to that kind of cause, in this case, the scammers' needs. And then that sets me up for the next step. And so the scammer will take you through a series of steps like this, moving you further and further to, down the line until we get to Dubai.

[00:22:59] Bob: And they work hard at getting to know their victims and creating a faux sense of intimacy, what Anthony calls the dance of intimacy.

[00:23:07] Anthony Pratkanis: When we're looking from the outside of something like what happened with Alan, it's kind of strange. All of a sudden, the guy's going to Dubai. How does that happen? Uh, he must be crazy. But what we don't see is all the little steps along the way. Little steps of escalating commitment. So a relationship like this could begin on Facebook or in this case uh through, through a, a chat call on, on Skype, and at that point the con criminal is trying to develop a relationship. They may start to share things with you. If you say you're, you like a certain form of art, say art noveau, they like it too, so they start to have a commonality. And then after that, there's oftentimes a dance of intimacy. Uh we do this every day uh when, when we're developing relationships where I share a little bit about myself to you and you reciprocate and share a little bit about you, maybe some embarrassing things, maybe some uh things that may not be widely known. And so we start to share that secret, we start to reciprocate each other's friendship, and we develop a relationship. That's very common, uh, it's basically what we do all the time when we develop our friends. It's just that the con criminal is, has a motive other than friendship to manipulate. And that gives him an advantage. So if you and I start talking and you like art noveau, and I hate art noveau, uh, well our relationship is, is kind of a, put on a damper. But the con criminal doesn't care. Whatever you like, whatever you care about, uh that con criminal will care about it too.

[00:25:00] Bob: Next comes the rationalization trap.

[00:25:03] Bob: You know, it also seems like there's maybe a, like if I can misuse an economic theory of sunk cost here, right, once, once you give somebody a few dollars, now emotionally you, you're invested even more in, in not seeing the reality of the situation, right?

[00:25:17] Anthony Pratkanis: Exactly right. So you've given this money, and, you know, the first you know, $20 you could write off, but then as you get a li--, a little more down the line, you're sending $100, you're, you're, you're sending them a plane ticket or whatever they're asking for, now you're, you're, you're put into a rationalization trap. Why did I do that? Oh they're a scammer. No, they can't possibly be a scammer. Why would I have sent them money? And admitting at that point that they're a scammer, you then say, oh wow, I've, I gave all this money, it's gone, it's lost. That's the sunk cost. And the way to convince yourself that it's legitimate is to send more money.

[00:25:59] Bob: Rationalization trap you call that?

[00:26:01] Anthony Pratkanis: Yeah, it's an old theory in social psychology. It's one of the best, cognitive dissonance theory. Whenever you have uh, two discrepant thoughts in your head; I just gave this person money, and they could be a scammer, it creates a, an aversive tension state. You don’t, oh, that's painful to think of that. And so you start to rationalize. Well he's a good person. I really care about him. Uh, he couldn't possibly be a scammer. He's such a nice guy. Uh, the scammers wouldn't attack me, he's so caring. Or she's so caring in this case.

[00:26:37] Bob: So how are Alan and his wife today? Agent Mike told he had spoken to them a few weeks earlier, and thankfully, they have moved past some health issues they were facing. Unfortunately, the money Alan sent to the criminals has really impacted their retirement plans, and well, they're probably not going to be able to retire. And the whole family is still working through all the other issues an incident like this brings up.

[00:27:03] Bob: I have one last uh pretty important question for you which is, how is Alan and his wife today?

[00:27:09] Mike: Um, yeah, they're good. I, I was speaking to them a couple weeks ago. They, they're healthy. They, they got over their health issues. Uh, Alan, his surgery was fine, and his wife actually had, had some uh, had a surgery as well. But um, you know, things like they're going to have to continue working, they're not going to be able to retire. Alan, unfortunately, had sent quite a bit of money to not just Eric and Precious, but to several other groups of scammers. You know their relationship with their children is going to be different forever, probably with their friends and family as well.

[00:27:47] Bob: I don't know how you recover emotionally from something like that.

[00:27:50] Mike: At this point, we've talked to several dozens of victims just like Alan, and several victims are in tons of debt with the IRS now because they took out their savings to pay these supposed online boyfriends or girlfriends.

[00:28:04] Bob: Still, Mike is glad at least two criminals who hurt a lot of people were put away. He's still a bit surprised their plan to scam the scammers actually worked.

[00:28:14] Mike: Actually so one of the agents I work with, he's, who's now my boss, but he's always uh, giving me a hard time because he's like, "Do you remember that time when like you were trying to lure Eric here? And uh, you were just like, oh, there's no way Eric's going to come. And he came?" So yeah, he's, you know, he doesn't uh let me forget that.

[00:28:32] Bob: It was a great lesson for a rookie agent to learn.

[00:28:36] Mike: I was a fairly new agent at that time, so this was actually the first case that I, you know, took from uh start to finish, and uh...

[00:28:43] Bob: Whoa, wait a minute. (laugh)

[00:28:46] Mike: Yeah.

[00:28:46] Bob: That's a pretty, that's a heck of a first case, Mike.

[00:28:50] Mike: Uh, yeah. I mean uh, you know, as a new agent you're just trying to figure out what's going on, for the first uh you know, period of time, and so um...

[00:29:02] Bob: Okay, so where's the bathroom and also, how do I get someone to fly here from Dubai?

[00:29:07] Mike: Yeah, yeah, also, you know like, you know, things like hey, do we all bring our lunches or do you guys go out, or that kind of stuff, you know. Um...

[00:29:15] Bob: Oh my God, that must have been a heck of a first case.

[00:29:18] Mike: Um, yeah, I guess uh, well I'm pretty proud of it, so...

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:29:33] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; Producer, Brook Ellis; Associate Producer and Researcher, Megan DeMagnus; and, of course, our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

END OF TRANSCRIPT

The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.

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