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I got scammed; here’s how it happened

I got scammed; here’s how it happened

As the editor of a security-focused publication, you would think that I have acquired some skills in spotting a scam, and not just on the cybersecurity side, because what happened to me was equally as well-coordinated and diabolical as any cyber attack I have ever seen.

Sooooo … this past Monday morning I got a call from what appeared to be Central Maine Power (CMP), the electric company here in Maine, telling me that my power was scheduled to be turned off that day unless I made a payment. They gave me an 800 number to call to talk to someone to take care of the bill and avoid disconnection.

Now here is the moment they got me because instead of looking up CMP’s number, I called the number they provided, which they had setup to sound just like the CMP interface, so when I hit 3 to talk to someone, I really thought I was talking to CMP.

The rest is history as they say.

Now I had some other opportunities along the way to figure out what was going on, but it was a really hectic morning and I have a ton going on in my personal life, so they caught me at a VERY vulnerable moment. The timing of the call, 10 a.m. on a Monday, is very smart as well. And even though I knew I had not received a disconnection notice, my mind wondered, “Maybe I just threw it out by accident or didn’t see it?”

What was even more diabolical was how well coordinated this scam was, as there were four people involved — yes four! I spoke to the original person about taking care of the outstanding balance, and then what I thought was a supervisor; then another person who handles talking with dispatch to stop the disconnect. I even had the “pleasure” of speaking to a person who I was told was the dispatch crew manager, who would stop the disconnect from happening.

So, here is how I figured out I had been scammed, unfortunately about 10 minutes too late. When I went to call the 800 number back after getting disconnected from speaking with them, a recording greeted me with: “This is not a working number.” This is when the horror began to sink in that something was wrong, very wrong!

Now get this: Minutes later I got a text from CMP telling me to watch out for the very scam I had just fallen prey to! My heart sank! What a fool I was! I felt so violated and angry! I was so humiliated! They got me and they got me good!

Oh Well! I am out $400 (trying to recover), but hopefully a little wiser. And maybe my story will prevent someone else from getting scammed.


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