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Broken Car Scam

How the scam works:

Being a Good Samaritan offers a lot of benefits. You get to help someone out who is in need. This makes you feel good, which is a direct boost to your self-esteem. And maybe you earn a few good karma points as well. But what happens when the target of your assistance is a scammer?

The holiday season brings out the best in peoples' generosity and compassion. Unfortunately, this brings a lot of scammers out of the woodwork, and the Broken Car scam is the direct result. It occurs a lot nowadays in the colder states. How does this scam work?

In this scam, the con artist will approach someone on the street and advise that their car is broken down, but they have no money to get it towed to a shop. They will ask the victim for money – usually in the $20 to $40 range – to pay for the tow. Then they provide the victim with their cell phone number as "collateral" for the payment, so they may be reached for reimbursement.

The cell number is an out of service number, and the victim never gets reimbursed. Scammers get away with making hundreds, if not thousand, dollars a day.


How to avoid:

Many people are taken in by this scam because, deep down, most people are compassionate and generous. If you are approached by someone wanting to borrow money for a tow truck, tell them you will use your cell phone number to call the tow service. Then wait with them, and pay the tow truck driver yourself.

If they are legitimately a person in distress, they will appreciate the gesture. If they try to fight with you about doing it themselves and reimbursing you later, chances are you are looking at a scammer.

Be sure to contact the local police to let them know the area in which the scammer is working his or her con so that they may be able to locate the person and prevent them from scamming others.

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