Scam Squad

How are scammers able to victimize so many Americans, stealing some $9.5 billion in phone scams last year alone?

I want to compare and contrast the scammer to the salesperson to help you better understand this phenomenon.

A scammer is a sales person who works outside the limits of the law, while a salesperson works within the boundaries of the law. Both are highly skilled at social engineering and possess many similar skills, among which are excellent communication and powers of persuasion to close the deal.

A salesperson’s goal is to convince a potential buyer to sign up for whatever they are selling, which could be products, goods or services. The scammer’s goal, on the other hand, is to trick you into giving up your hard earned money or personal information for the promise of whatever they are offering. From a simple sleight of hand con to an elaborate IRS, Social Security or Grandparent scam, the scammer is resilient and determined to suck your accounts dry.

Often the salesperson uses high-pressure tactics and offers incentives. The scammer will use intimidation and fear tactics to put you under the so-called Ether, a term that refers to a heightened emotional state where the victim loses all understanding.

Scammers rely heavily on a victim’s lack of expertise for a particular governmental agency, monetary systems or the computer. They create a sense of urgency to get you to act immediately. Once under the Ether, the scammer has control and will keep you on the phone for hours or until they have what they want. The scam victim is unable to use rational thought. And like the prey in the mighty lion’s jaws, the victim cannot escape the spell of the Ether and will blindly follow the scammer's commands.

The longer you engage with a professional scammer, the higher your risk of falling prey to the Ether. Just hang up the phone and walk away. As soon as the spell brakes and the dust settles, report the incident to law enforcement and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Call the Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers with information about scams and frauds. To contact the Scam Squad directly, 9 am to noon Monday through Friday, call(520) 351-6715, or email: To report suspicious activity or a particular incident of fraud (which is a scam involving a loss of money) call (520) 351-4900.

 If you are interested in becoming a Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteer, please for an application or call (520) 351-6746.

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