My name is Sam Lopez, I am a senior at Texas A&M University studying Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources. This past October 24th I was a victim of extortion. I am starting a go fund me toraise money to pay for my school, rent, groceries and gas. If you would like to donate $1, $10, $25 or however much you want, it is all welcomed. This is my story:
Before I start, just know that it hurts to type this and it hurts to share it, but I truly don’t wish this upon anybody. Even if only one person learns from my mistakes that makes the difference, at least for me.
On October 24 I received a phone call, it was a machine telling me that there had been some frauds involving my Social Security Number. After that, a guy started speaking. He asked me to confirm some personal info and explained that I had to follow a protocol in order to clean my name. I panicked. I was asked to not tell anybody because the protocol was secret and in order to get the people impersonating me, I had to follow their instructions otherwise I would go to jail that same day. They made me believe that they were the actual Social Security and the College Station Police. They made me remove all the money that I had and send it to a Social Security ID wallet, which would be sent back to me the day after. The whole process lasted about 4 hours. I was afraid and couldn’t stop crying. I wanted to clean my name and be a responsible adult, but I should have told my parents. These people stole all the money I had to pay for the rest of my senior year; tuition, rent, food and gas. I don’t have anything left. By the next day I realized that I had been a victim of fraud and psychological extortion.
My point is that no matter how smart you think you are, or how smart you actually are, that doesn’t mean this could not happen to you. It has been 3 days since it happened and part of me is still afraid. Afraid the besides stealing my money these people will steal my identity, kidnap me or hurt my family.
If I could give advice to anybody based on what I learned after the incident I would say this:
1. The Social Security and the IRS will never call you. They will only send you physical mail to your house or show up at your door. 2. The government will never ask you to withdraw money from your account or to deposit it. They have the ability to freeze your accounts and they only request checks that can be monitored and tracked down. 3. If extortionists ask you to not tell anybody what is going on, if the phone call seems suspicious, even if you think you might be guilty, hang up and turn off your phone. Call your parents or the police from another number. If it is a true legal procedure, you can and should talk to them. 4. Never, ever, give out personal info on the phone. Ask for another form of identification. Identity theft is more common that what you might think. 5. This one is hard, but don’t believe everything you hear. If it seems suspicious go to the nearest police office and explain what is going on. 6. Even if the caller ID seems legit or seems to match the Social Security contact number, there is a chance that it might not be who you think it is, and the Social Security will never ever call you. 7. If you feel like your identity is in danger, call the police and put a freeze in your social. You will have the lift it before anyone can use it, even yourself. You can also add a fraud and duty alert to that. 8. If something, even the slightest thing doesn’t seem right, it is probably because it is not. Don’t let fear cloud your judgement. 9. If the extortionist makes you go all the way to the bank, tell the people at the desks what is going on. If you are too afraid write it on a post it. They are aware of these incidents and can help you out before it is too late. 10. Even if you fall a victim to this, remember that it is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. You are not the one stealing from people, you are the victim of fraud.
I was told at the bank that last year $5.2 million dollars were stolen because of impersonation of the Social Security from people outside of the U.S. This is a global issue. The day that I went to the bank to tell them what had happened I was told that I was the 3rd person that day explaining the same situation. No matter how wise or inexperienced you are, book smart or street smart, there is no way to ensure that you won’t be a victim of fraud.
I don’t wish this upon anybody. If you would like to share my story and recommendations to prevent more people like me, from falling into situations like this, I am sure they will greatly appreciate it. If you want to help me out I will be forever grateful.