Monday, September 30, 2013

Two in Two Days

Watch out, they did this twice a couple weeks ago in Overland Park that we know of, and no one else needs to be a victim.  Yes, it’s another scam, and you need to hear about this one if you haven’t already.  It’s referred to on the internet as the “Jamaican Switch Scam,” but just think of it as a bait and switch rip-off.

Both of our victims were approached within a day of each other.  In both cases our victims were initially contacted in a parking lot by one well-dressed black male.  The dapper stranger struck up a very short conversation with the victim about trying to determine what to do with a large sum of loose cash.  In both cases our well meaning victim suggested the stranger needed to put the money in the bank. The victims advised that it’s obviously not safe to walk around with a large sum of money and definitely not safe to be flashing it around.  The stranger told our victims he didn’t know what to do because he doesn’t trust banks.  He said he was worried that if he deposited the money, he wouldn’t be able to withdraw it when he wanted.

Our victims, wanting to prove that you can take money out of a bank, were kind-hearted enough to show our stranger that it could be done.  Somewhere in this mix, a second stranger entered the picture.  That stranger seemed unrelated to the first one but, in reality, it was a team effort.  What eventually happened is our victim withdrew a large sum of money from their own bank that ended up in the hands of our stranger. The scam artist supposedly handed the money back to our victim in an envelope or some other container, which contained no money, of course. When the victim looked for his money, the stranger made a quick getaway.

This scam requires personal contact that continues for several minutes.  It also had our victim driving both strangers to the bank which put them at great personal risk.

In doing a little research to try to better understand how this works, we found some of the following suggestions that were worth passing on:

·  Understand that money and strangers are never a good combination. If a stranger has a proposition involving money, no matter how innocent it seems, it’s not something in which a prudent person should become involved.

·  Beware of the lost stranger. In the Jamaican switch, the perpetrator is often fraudulently posing as a stranger lost in the city. This person often says they are from another country.

·  Take heed of the hapless victim. The Jamaican switch scam often involves a person pretending to have just been part of a scam themselves. This is intended to invoke sympathy for the so-called victim.

·   Be cognizant of any persons or "strangers" with large cash settlements that are in trouble. Often people running the Jamaican switch will operate in teams. When the original person engages a "mark" or victim, they then appeal to another "stranger" and this stranger usually has official letterhead pertaining to a large cash settlement that they cannot access.

·  Appreciate that charity is sometimes not a good thing. The Jamaican switch relies on the charitable heart of the target. The intended money or scam will often be tied to charitable acts for the homeless or underprivileged.