“You’re going to Jail, Mr. Sullivan”

“If you walk into that court room today, Mr. Sullivan, you’re going to jail.”

I dropped the spoon into my oatmeal. This was going to be one of those Mondays.

“I’m sorry,” I said, resettling the phone on my good ear. “Did you say jail?”

The assistant D.A. on the other end of the line let out a world-weary sigh. “I know. I’m not happy about it either. The D.A. assigned to your case is no longer… available. Personal leave.

“I just got my hands on your file fifteen minutes ago. I think you have a case but I hope you understand that two hours is not enough time to prepare our argument.

“If we lose, Mr. Sullivan, you’ll likely see some jail time. And if you fail to show up in court, you’re going to jail.”

Huh, I thought to myself. I hadn’t planned on going to jail that day. But at this point it seemed unavoidable.

“So… where do we go from here?” I asked, quietly wishing I’d made bacon and eggs for my last breakfast as a free man.

“I recommend you petition to have the court date moved to a later date to give us time to prepare our case. Now, this late in the day there will be a fine of course… it’ll be… let me see… yeah, day-of fine is $1,335.”

“You can pay that with a debit card right —“

I hung up the phone, cutting him off mid-sentence.

I wasn’t going to jail. And I had no intention of paying the “fine.”

21st Century Grifter

This guy was good. He really sold the overworked, trying-to-do-his-best assistant D.A. shtick.

But I hadn’t committed any crimes (maybe some light jaywalking, perhaps). And this guy was no assistant D.A.

He was a phone scammer. Just the latest in a never-ending torrent of fake phone calls from a new breed of techno-savvy thugs.

I’m sure you’ve already been subjected to many calls like this.

Automated voice messages from well-known hotels. Free giveaways. “Charity drives” for the local schools.

I get them all the time. A few times a day, in fact. But hell, this had to be the ballsiest phone scam I’ve ever gotten.

He knew my name. My address. Where I worked.

The scam itself is genius.

Nobody wants to go to jail. And by putting a ticking clock on it, it forces the mark to make a rash decision… or possibly face life-ruining consequences.

He almost had me. But he mixed up some key details, such as not realizing that my wife’s name is on our car’s title, not mine.

Just to be sure, I looked up the guy online (he was a real D.A.) and gave him a call. The real D.A. said he’d never heard of me and warned that no assistant D.A. will ever ask you to pay a fine over the phone.

Scamapocalypse 2019

I used to find these occasional phone calls annoying.

But I’m afraid they’ve become so sophisticated and devious… that it’s only a matter of time before I slip up and give my credit card details to the wrong person.

In 2016, phone scams stole $9.5 million, with more than 22 million victims in the U.S. alone. And it’s only going to get worse from here on out.

Last year, there was an unprecedented 31 billion instances of these scam phone calls in the U.S., up from 29.3 billion in 2016.

And a bombshell report released earlier this week reveals that almost 50% of phone calls next year will be from scam services.

That means anytime you answer the phone, you have a 50/50 chance that the person on the other end of the line is trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money.

“Year after year, the scam-call epidemic bombards consumers at record-breaking levels, surpassing the previous year. And scammers increasingly invade our privacy at new extremes,” says Charles Morgan, the chief executive data blocking company First Orion.

With the news broke I decided I had to do something. I’m already getting two—fur class a day and I can’t stand it.

I downloaded a free app called Nomorobo and installed it on my phone. I haven’t gotten any scam calls since but it’s only been a few days so I don’t want to get to excited yet. That said, I’ve heard good things about it and Consumer Reports gives the app a 4.5/5.

According to their review: “Nomorobo intercepts all calls after the first ring, compares the number to its vast list of robocall originators, and decides whether to let the call go through. Recipients hear the first ring; if the call is legitimate, the phone rings normally.”

Of course, this is just a bandaid for a flesh wound. If any real progress is to be made, the FCC needs to step up to the plate, get up to speed on the tech, and squash these criminal calls once and for all.

All the best,

Owen Sullivan

Owen Sullivan
Editor, Money & Crisis


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Chris Campbell

Written By Owen Sullivan

Owen Sullivan isn’t a millionaire or one of the Wall Street elite. He was just one of the many folks who was hit hard when the housing bubble burst… and decided he was never going to let that happen again. Since then, he’s worked with industry experts to develop strategies and techniques to bulletproof his finances — and yours — against the next crisis. His methods don’t require years of financial experience. These are simple strategies that anyone can follow. After all, financial prepping shouldn’t be reserved for a select few.