Tag Archives: Texas

Blood and Cocaine Discovered in Your Rental Car (in Texas)?

There are endless variations on the “scare someone over the phone so they give up personal information” scam motif, and most of them are pretty familiar at this point, but every now and then a new angle emerges. This is one.

The scam involves someone posing as a law enforcement agent (usually FBI), calling to inform the victim that they rented a car in Texas, and that the car was found with blood and cocaine inside. The victim is then pressed to give details such as his or her Social Security number, financial account numbers, and so on.

There appears to be another version in which the caller claims to be a Social Security Administration representative, and in addition to the car filled with evidence, they have also found an offshore account in the victim’s name holding a large amount of cash, and that his or her Social Security benefits are going to be suspended. The caller then proceeds to attempt to wheedle the same personal information from the victim.

Regardless of who the caller claims to be, these features appear to be repeated in every case:

  • The car was allegedly rented in Texas
  • Police found blood and cocaine in it
  • We need your Social Security number

These are the details currently used in the scam, but don’t be fooled if they eventually change Texas to Florida or cocaine to heroin (I have a feeling the “blood” part is going to stay…”you’re a murder suspect” is almost guaranteed to get a strong emotional reaction).

Remember these points:

  • If a stranger is trying to make you afraid, then asking for money or personal information to make the fear go away, something isn’t right.
  • The Social Security Administration already has your number. They’re the ones who gave it to you in the first place. Law enforcement agencies easy access to it, too.
  • If the FBI really finds blood and cocaine in a car associated with you, they’re probably not going to call you on the telephone.
  • While the SSA does make phone calls, it’s not generally the first point of contact, and it’s almost always going to be regarding an issue already known to the person receiving the call.
  • This scam hinges on fears about identity theft—most people’s first reaction is “I didn’t rent a car in Texas!” and then make the connection to identity theft themselves. Recognize the tactic for what it is.

Land Sale Scams

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, land sale scams proliferated, and a lot of people ended up buying useless parcels of swampland in Florida. You’ll still come across an occasional reference to someone buying swampland in sitcoms and movies, especially as a way to establish that an older character is gullible or tends to fall for get-rich-quick schemes. It has become such a part of the collective subconscious that it’s turned into a joke.

However, today these scams have seen a resurgence, with online marketplaces such as eBay being the new venue of choice for con artists. In the United States, Florida, Texas and Arizona are the most frequent sites chosen for such scams, but they can happen in other places.

The Attorney General of Florida has published some tips for avoiding this type of fraud, and these apply pretty much anywhere:

  1. View the property. Do not buy land over the phone or by way of the mail. Talk to residents who live in the area.
  2. Look into the amount of all fees, such as real estate taxes, or community assessment fees.
  3. Meet with real estate agents in the area to find out the market for this property. Ask the agent how long it would take to sell the property if need be.
  4. Check with the county planning office to learn of plans for the land or property near this area that may affect land value. It would be important to know if an airport or dump is scheduled to be built in the future.
  5. If the land is undeveloped, know who will be responsible for the costs of building roads, utilities or sewers.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Sing us off, George…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiddXGbRn5g]