Mary Powell thought she would never fall victim to a phone scam - but when she saw her phone light up the other day, instantly, her whole world changed.
"I was at work," Powell said, "and I get a call with a girl sobbing in the background," she said. "It sounded like it could be my daughter."
Powell says she panicked.
"The only word I could make out was 'mom,' and suddenly a male voice gets on the line," she said.
"The man said something about Walmart, a parking lot, and a robbery, and I have your daughter's phone and wallet," Powell said.
He said he had her daughter and would only release her if she went to her bank and withdrew thousands of dollars in cash.
"I was very confused and panicked," she said.
But it was all a scam. It even has a name: the virtual kidnapping scam.
Powell's daughter was safe at home. Luckily, her husband texted her while all this was happening, and told her that the girl was safe.
But the truth is that it often works, just like hundreds of new scams targeting people this year.
Adam Levin is co-host of the podcast "What The Hack." He noted, "It's always the same music, it's just different lyrics." Levin walked us through some of the top scams of 2022 so far.
Besides the kidnapping scam, they include the LinkedIn phishing scam.
In that case, hackers try to impersonate your boss, or a higher-up at your company, to get you to wire money to someone outside the company.
"There is a sense of urgency to it and a sense that if you don't do it a contract could be lost, or a relationship could be destroyed," Levin said.
And employees worried about their job often fall for it.
Subscription renewal scam
Another top one is the subscription renewal scam.
In that case, you get an email saying you owe money to a computer or anti-virus company, because your subscription is expiring.
If you get a message like that, check your account.
Voice mail callback scam
Also common right now are voice mail callback scams, claiming to be from your bank or cable company.
The caller will ask for account numbers over the phone, often claiming there is an issue with your account, or that you can get a discount on your cable bill.
Levin says also watch for Amazon Prime scams, where phony websites impersonate Amazon and offer unusually low prices to get your account information.
Text message scams
And finally, be aware of text messages to your phone that appear to be from your bank, stating that your account has been frozen for suspicious activity.
If you get one of those, never call the number in the text message. It will connect you to a scammer who will try to get your account number.
Instead, look up your bank's number on your statement, or better yet visit a local branch.
Levin says it's during these times of uncertainty when scammers try to take advantage.
"Unfortunately," he said, "today it's never trust, always question, always verify."
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