Don’t Get Scammed a Second Time

It’s bad enough falling for one scam and losing money. What’s worse is losing even more money to a Recovery Scam.

Recovery scams target victims who have already fallen for a different scam. Con artists keep lists of victims and their contact information, what they fell for and how much money was lost, and sell these lists to other scammers. Some of these will use this information to conduct recovery scams, which are just another form of advance fee fraud.

It starts with a phone call or an email, or even a letter. The person contacting you will claim to represent a private company or federal agency and offer to help you get back the money you lost in a previous scam. They may even claim to be the (nonexistent) company that stole your money in the first place, offering a refund.

What happens next is not hard to predict: in order to get your money back, or file the paperwork to do so, or whatever else they’ve cooked up to sound believable, the recovery scammer will ask you pay an upfront fee, which might involve the usual sketchy payment methods like gift cards, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. They may ask for banking or credit card account details. Or they may send you a check for much more than the amount you originally lost; you will then be instructed to cash the check and wire the overage back to the sender. Later, the check turns out to have been counterfeit and you are once again left holding the bag.

If you have fallen victim to a scam, and especially if you sent money by some irreversible, untraceable means, you must admit to yourself that those funds are gone for good (as painful as that admission can be). Also, be aware that there is now a decent chance someone will attempt to victimize you a second time with a recovery scam. But anyone who contacts you out of the blue, regardless of the stated reason, to ask for money or financial information is almost never someone you should trust.