At this point in your life, you've probably been the target of some sort of money stealing scam. Most people identify them right away. A majority of them are astonishingly bad. Half the time the scammer can't even put together an English sentence. Usually those emails start out with, "Dear Beloved Friend"
Last year, somebody tried to hit me with the classic, "This is your boss, I'm with a very important client and I need you to go fetch me some Target Gift Cards" scam. I've gotten that one a couple times. I love when I get those, because it's a free pass to fuck with somebody without having to feel bad about it (because they're low life piece of shit scammers). I documented one of those occurrences in a Twitter thread.
But that scam is played out. Anybody with a quarter of a brain can see that coming from a mile away. The scam I got hit with last night was legit. I still shouldn't have let it get as far as I did. I feel extremely dumb in hindsight. But I came pretty damn close to giving this guy the username and password to my bank account. There at least has to be a few people reading this who are dumber than me.. right? One of you dummies would have fallen for this. I know it.
When I type this all out, it's going to become clear that there were multiple points I should have identified this as a scam. But in the moment I nearly fell for it. I'm still not entirely sure I didn't fall for it. I pre-apologize for the length of this. I'll try to sum it up as quickly as possible.
- Yesterday afternoon I noticed a $45 charge on my credit card at the Moonlite Diner in Boca Raton, Florida. I immediately called my bank, cancelled the credit card, and had a new one sent to me. No big deal. That shit happens every day. I thought that was the end of it.
- But later that night when I got home from work, I received this text
- I knew I had cancelled the card earlier, but I thought they might still send me alerts if someone was trying to use it. So I replied 'No'.
- A minute after I replied, I got a call from my bank. I cross referenced the phone number, and it matched the Huntington Bank Customer Service number.
- I should have realized this was bullshit. Obviously people can call from fake numbers nowadays, and banks don't normally call you with stuff like that. But this man sounded professional, and he had information that only my bank should have had. He even read off the transaction number of the purchase made at the Moonlite Diner, so I was like, "Alright this guy is probably legit" (he wasn't)
- He told me that he was from the Huntington Bank Investigation Team, and that somebody had gained access to my Apple ID, and had access to my bank account. He told me they were making purchases via Apple Pay with their phone. He said the phone number attached to the purchases was that of a woman named Christiana Jones in Grand Rapids, MI (who's a real person by the way, I found her on LinkedIn). He asked me questions about if I knew her, if I'd lent my card to anyone recently, etc. He was pretty thorough.
- Next, he gave me the whole spiel about how he's going to cancel my cards and issue me new ones. We went though all the steps.
- During this conversation, I even asked him, "How do you know you're the bank?" His response was, "That's totally understandable. If you'd like to hang up and call back, here's your case number. Just call Huntington Customer service and you can pick up right where we left off."
- But because I'm a fucking sucker, I completely fell for that shit. I thought "Oh, ok. If he's telling me to hang up and call back, I'm sure this is a Huntington Bank employee. The phone number checks out and everything." So I said, "Nah that's fine, let's just get this taken care of."
- I talked to this guy for like 10 minutes. He gave me tracking numbers for my new credit card, new debit card, had me give a temporary pin, and a bunch of official sounding bank stuff. The dude was pretty believable. It wasn't some guy in broken English telling me the Prince of Nigeria needs my help. It was a good ol' fashioned American scammer.
- Now is when I really should have known better. He said I needed to reset my Huntington Bank Apple Pay code, because this Christiana Jones girl had somehow hacked into my Apple account. He said they needed to reset it since she has access to all my information.
- After he tells me that, I get a 6-digit code sent to me from Apple. He asks me to read the code off to him. At this point I'm being a huge dick to this guy. But my anger was directed at the bank. I was like, "Dude this is fucking weird. How do you guys not have a better way to go about this. Like what are you doing? I don't know who you are."
- He responded the same way, super calmly, "If you're uncomfortable, just hang up and call the customer service line. That's totally fine."
- Obviously, I fell for it again because I'm a big dumb ugly fuck faced moron and I take whatever people tell me at face value. God damn it I hate myself. This is so fucking obvious in hindsight. Whatever, it happened and I'm telling the story.
- So I give him the 6-digit code from Apple. But the next thing he asked me to do is when I finally drew the line. He honestly had me in the palm of his hand, but he got greedy. He said he had to re-enroll me in text alerts (which can't be a real thing). He told me to wait for a text message, and follow the prompt. Here was the text message I received.
- That's when I snapped. I said, "Fucking no, dude. I'm not giving you my username and password. Why the hell would you need that. I'll just call back. I'm sure if you're scamming me you've already got what you need, but I'm done with this. I'll call back." Then I hung up
- When I hung up, it was after 8pm, so I could no longer talk to a live customer service agent. They closed at 8pm, which is bullshit. I should be able to talk to a person at the bank 24/7. I think money is important enough that banks should offer that service.
- At this point, I still thought this guy was probably legit. But still, I immediately changed up all of my passwords and usernames.
- Then I went to the store to double check that my credit and debit cards were actually cancelled. I had already cancelled my credit card earlier that afternoon when I noticed the first purchase, but I needed to check my debit card.
- I tried my debit card at the liquor store next door. It got declined. The clerk said the card was inactive. So at that point I was like, "Oh shit, that guy was real." Because at no point did I cancel my debit card. The guy I talked to on the phone said he cancelled my debit card. So by my logic, if my debit card was cancelled, then he must have been from the bank. How else would it have gotten cancelled?
- So I went to bed that night thinking it was in the clear, still checking my bank account every 5 minutes to monitor any unwanted purchases. I figured I'd call the bank back tomorrow about this "text alerts" thing.
- This morning, I call the bank and tell the woman my situation. Shoutout to this woman. It 100% wasn't her job to get to the bottom of this, but she was fully invested in my situation. She pulls up my account and says, "Well, your credit card has been cancelled, and your debit card has been locked. Did you attempt to make two $600 purchases at a store in Florida?" I said, "No, I certainly didn't."
- She goes on to tell me that the purchases were attempted at 7:55pm last night, which is right when I finished talking with the scammer. As soon as he realized I was onto him, they tried to make a purchase. But he went to big. $600 is going to get flagged every time when your bank account looks like mine does. He just had to go for my username and password. Clearly he already had my cards, but he wanted more. No clue what would have happened if he had gotten my username and password. My account would probably be fully depleted by now.
- If they didn't flag that purchase, I was in trouble. Honestly, I still might be fucked. I don't know how much access this dude has to my life. I've changed literally every single password I have, and switched up all my PIN codes and everything, so I think I'm ok. But I've still been checking my bank account all day long, just to make sure this dude isn't still making purchases.
- That's about it. In hindsight, I feel very stupid. I never should have let it get that far. But be on the lookout everyone. Scammers are getting better. It's no longer just the Nigerian Prince and the Gift Card Scam that you have to worry about. Criminals are evolving. Be safe out there.