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Une Escroquerie: our daughter got scammed and is returning to France

Un Escroc, Escroquer, Une Escroquerie

: a con (scammer), to cheat, a fraud

L'ECOUTE: Practice your French Listening Skills. To hear the French in today's story, click below. Next, check your comprehension by viewing the vocabulary list (farther down).

Listen to today's vocabulary in the following story. Click here

by Kristi Espinasse

Last Friday the 24th, after a day of celebration, I asked my husband if he'd talked to our daughter lately. "I tried calling earlier, but she didn't answer. Je vais réessayer," he said. Jackie still wasn't answering her mobile phone a moment later when, suddenly, she texted her dad back, and there began a series of cryptic messages....

...something about her being on the phone right now with social security
...something about a drug trafficker who'd gotten hold of her ss number
...something about identity theft
...something about the call being transferred, now, to the police
....something about her being implicated in a scheme if she didn't comply by staying on the phone

SOMETHING was clear amidst all the cryptic messaging: she was being warned not by a government official or the police, she was being manipulated and threatened by un escroc!

"Jackie, hang up. It's a scam! Raccroche! C'est un escroquerie!" Her dad texted back, en vain. The next text message came from me: JACKIE. THIS IS YOUR MOM! PICK UP THE PHONE!!!! When she didn't respond, I began texting Jackie's roommates. I called her boyfriend. Nobody knew a thing, everyone said they had not heard from her in a while.

When Jackie still would not answer the phone a chill ran down my spine. What if someone was with her? What if she'd been kidnapped? Le temps presse!! Jean-Marc get her on that phone!!!!" Lord help us! Lord help us! Lord help us! LORD! LORD! LORD!"

Suddenly, Jean-Marc broke through when our daughter picked up the phone and we learned what had transpired in the last 2 hours:

Glued to her phone, in a state of panic and under specific directions of a scammer--our daughter left her apartment, took an Uber to the bank, withdrew her savings, got into another Uber, drove to a gas station, riffled through the cash to put part of it, with the help of a QR code the "police" gave her over the phone, in an ATM (it turned out to be a bitcoin ATM and it turns out that scammers use to extort money). Our daughter would have lost all her savings if it weren't for her phone battery running low on the long walk to the second dropoff point. That is when Jackie pleaded with the "police" to let her go and charge her phone. The "police" agreed, even suggesting she grab a snack before they called back... And just like that, the whole nightmare was over when she hung up. 

To understand how our daughter could have fallen for this scam, I should mention that last month, while returning to Miami from France, her social security card went missing. She had packed it in France, in her carry-on, and three days after arriving in Miami she realized the folder was nowhere to be found. For the next 4 weeks, she worried herself sick, and finally, her worst fears seemed to be coming true when the phone rang and a so-called government agent introduced herself. When she received the fateful call, she believed every word--and in under two hours, Jackie's hard-earned money was stolen from her. The rollercoaster ride wasn't over, because we now wanted our daughter home immediately. (To our relief, she arrived safely in Marseilles, yesterday.)

Having left France three years ago in pursuit of The American Dream, Jackie fled The Land of The Free, without her money, or a sense of security. What will she do next? She is not sure about anything at the moment, except that it feels good to be home.

As Jackie recovers from this troubling experience, it would help for her to know she is not alone--and that anyone of any age or intelligence can fall for a scam and be a victim of extortion. Have you or has someone you know fallen for a scam--phone, email or otherwise? Please share related stories in the comments section below. Thank you!

un escroc = a scammer, a con man, a cheat
escroquer =
to scam, cheat, swindle
une escroquerie
= a scam, a fraud, a rip-off
je vais réessayer = I'm going to try again
= hang up!
en vain = to no avail
le temps presse! = time is of the essence!
blanchiment d'argent = money laundering

Helpful links:
Don't fall for scam calls and Emails impersonating IRS

Figuerolles calanque sea inlet La Ciotat France
Back in La Ciotat

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Anne Kennedy

My 92-year-old mother recently received a telephone call from my daughter which she handed over to me. E was sobbing, said she had a broken nose from a vehicle accident, had tested over-the-limit for DUI and needed help. Her attorney would call, which he did and I said I needed to call him back. Something just didn’t sit right with me so I texted her “do you have a broken nose?” She did not and in fact was at a clinic getting ready for her first radiation treatment. That ended the whole thing but it was close. Clearly the tears and “broken nose” were to cover any difference in her voice, tho the caller sounded remarkably like her. PS - E has now finished her radiation treatments and is perfectly well!


I am sorry Kristi for you and Jackie and everyone. What a nightmare. I was hacked 3.5 years ago. I only noticed at the very last minute because I was checking something. I f I hadn't gone into PayPal when I do, my entire checking and savings account would have been wiped out. It took me a month to get any sense of order back and I still sometimes have nightmares about it. It's an ugly world out there--the wild, wild west of internet.
Thank God Jackie has her family and is loved.
Je t'embrasse
Sara in Paris


My nephew, a closing manager of American fast food chain, was called at work and told by someone who knew the names of the other employees and other manager, that he was an FBI agent and to drop the money somewhere else. My nephew tried calling his superior several times, it was closing, so between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. The superior did not answer or respond to my nephew's calls and texts. So my nephew followed the orders of the "FBI" agent. The next morning my nephew, who had been fired for misplacing the money by the same superior who did not answer his phone, went to the police station, reporting everything and showing the police allof the phone numbers as well as the ones made to his superior.

It was a scam. The superior did not apologize until much later when asking if my nephew would return to work as a manager again. But the superior had burned that bridge.


I forgot to mention that my nephew was 23 years old at the time.


Être victime d’un escroc est une expérience effrayante. Jackie a mes condoléances et mes félicitations sincères pour son bon instinct à guérir dans sa famille aimante.


And Praise the Lord that Jackie is at home with you and Jean-Marc and Jules encore.

Ann S

Jackie, I am so sorry! I got scammed just the other day by a very slick operation that sounded just like my electric company’s call center! They said my last three payments had been rejected by my bank and I needed to send a new one by Zelle. Of course it was all a fraud but t seems so real at the time. And I am an adult woman with 40 years in the investment business so you would think I t would know better! Don’t beat yourself up this is unfortunately happening to lots and lots of people.

Cindy McDonald

Je suis désolé Jackie.
Unless I recognize the number I simply do not answer. If it is important they will leave a message and I will be able to determine the legitimacy of the call. I know that legitimate areas of concern from any gov’t dept will be handled through the mail not a phone call. As a senior citizen I am a target for all sorts of scams. I have received robo calls from my own phone number before and the ph company response was, “sorry.” We live in a digital age where privacy is a thing of the past. One must be wary. Disheartening …

Karen Whitcome

Oh no. I'm so sorry to hear this. It's horrible and you feel so helpless as a parent from afar. My story: I received a call from my 87 yr old father telling me that my daughter was in jail (about an hour aaway) due to a car accident she caused (at the time, she traveled by car for work so it seemed feasible that this might happen) and we could send money to this lawyer to bail her out before the weekend. They even put "my daughter" on the phone to beg him for money. My dad said it was a bit muffled. If we didn't pay this, he said, she would stay in jail all weekend. Why did they call my father? Red Flag #1 My daughter would NOT be afraid to call me. My dad told the guy that he was retired and didn't have that amount of money at hand. He suggested to the man that he would call me and have me be in touch. I called her cell and she didn't answer so I drove an hour to the town, meanwhile calling that lawyer multiple times on the way without any luck. Got to the town and she was NOT in their jail. I tried her cell again and she answered and had NOT been arrested. Luckily we never made a money connection with this guy. He was obviously trying to scam my father but had my daughter's name and put a young lady on the phone to make it sound convincing. The lengths they go to!! Im glad Jackie is home. Sounds like she got the police involved. Good for her.

Marti Schmidt

What a terrible experience for Jackie glad your home and safe❤️
It seems une Escroquerie Are prevalent all over the world now
But they have been lurking for years!
My experience was as an artist with a website online for many years - and fake clients Asking to purchase my artwork.
My first experience was in 2008. I was an experienced artist in her 60s. Had Exhibitions and lots of marketing experience.
A man contacted me Through my website contact form that he had seen my work and absolutely loved it and wanted to purchase several works of art for his wife for her birthday. I was thrilled !! I began my normal dialogue to activate his choices
This was before before PayPal or Venmo or Zell.
so the only way I could do a transaction that was international
( he used a very English name with a Gmail account)
that time was for money orders through the the US post office.
I did receive what I thought was authentic US post office money orders at a large amount (about $5000, )because he picked three paintings…
the catch was he wanted to use his own shipping agent and so he was sending extra money supposedly on the money orders and I was to cash take the cash out of my checking account and mail it to his shipper along with the paintings.
It all started to become very Complicated and suspicious.
So before depositing the money orders into my checking account and taking the cash money out for him ,I took the money orders to my local US post office to check them out and GUESS WHAT ! they were all fakes , they looked very much like normal US money orders but there was something screwed up about the barcode or the way they were printed I can’t remember exactly but needless to say I shut the whole thing down , luckily didn’t mail off the paintings and end up losing a lot of money.

I reported this to US treasury ,to the United States post office and was directed to the FBI at one point to do tracking but it was hard to track the emails because they kept changing the email addresses ,but these scammers are still to this day trying to get me all the time to send paintings and cash money to a address in various parts of the US. I later found out that this is happened to other artists.
So I’m not so lucky as they lost paintings and money with the hope that this was real. We artist are always vulnerable to fake clients and false statements as we are constantly creating beautiful work to sell. And these scammers come from all over the world.
I Stay vigilant, make people pay through PayPal now, that’s my system ,if they ask me to do something unusual I tell them that my business must come through PayPal and when I receive the money and it clears the bank ,I will ship my paintings.Period!
.All the best to you all
Marti Schmidt


Merci pour ce message! I shared it with my family, and I will be sharing it with my classes at school! ...I didn't realize just how involved these scammers get, it's terrifying!


I am sooo sorry to hear this. I do not have personal story but I do know that thousands of people are scammed regularly over their phone and the internet. Stories about this are in the news everyday. She is far from alone in this experience.


Please tell your daughter not to blame herself - it could happen to ANYONE. These people are pros. I’m so sorry that she left with such a negative impression of the U.S.


There are a lot of emails pretending to be from Amazon..
Usually informing you of a purchase you have not really made. In order to clear this up, they want to to call them and give your info. I came so close to falling for this, but instead I called Amazon’s real number
..and changed my passcode.


I am so sorry for Jackie and you all going through this. I will pray for your comfort and peace as you recover. There is evil in the world but love always wins! Hang in there!

Ally Davis

What a frightening story! I am so sorry that she had to suffer and lose her hard earned money to unscrupulous people.. A few years ago my husband’s company computers were hacked and he had to pay a ransom in bitcoins or all the files would be erased.He paid and the hacker told him how to protect his computers from further hacking. He then asked the hacker how he could be sure that he wouldn’t come after him again. The hacker said that he was an honest hacker! 😜

Patricia Raffy

Sending hugs!

K.J. Laramie

Happens all the time here in Florida! Just hang up! If it’s official, they will send you a letter, sometimes a certified letter. Or you can call a government agency yourself. (Or, the local police 😐) So sorry Jackie had to go through this horrible experience … her parents, too!! Enjoy your time together. Sending love and light.

Sharon Marchisello

I'm so sorry to hear Jackie fell victim to that evil scam. What a traumatic experience for her! Thanks for sharing and warning others; many victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone.
The scammers are very clever, and they keep coming up with new ways to part honest people from their hard-earned money. And they always manage to stay one step away from the law.
My elderly mother-in-law lost money several times to phone scammers and mail solicitations. Unfortunately, if they are successful, they sell your contact information and try to come back for more. Il vont réessayer! We were thankful my mother-in-law never learned to use a home computer, because I'm sure she would have sent money to a Nigerian prince!
Jackie is fortunate to have a loving family to support her and help her heal. Bon courage, Jackie!

Jerry B

My son was scammed a number of years ago when he was in med school by a caller (phone i.d. of local police dept.) claiming to be the local police. The caller said my son would be arrested unless he paid the “IRS.” Of course, the IRS does not have local police do their collections, nor due they make demands over the telephone. But he had just pulled an “all-nighter” studying for exams and was at a weak point. Unfortunately, he paid and was taken for several thousand dollars. Like your daughter, he understood his error upon reflection, only exacerbating his pain and self-hate. These criminals are very clever and prey upon the vulnerable, quickly assessing victims who will respond. Please tell Jackie she is a crime victim and not a dumb person. These criminals know how to motivate people when they panick. - Jerry

Jerry B

make that “panic.”

Susan Stafford

So very sorry that Jackie (and you) had this upsetting and scary experience, especially as she worked so hard to earn her money. I hope that she will take it in stride. She certainly won't be scammed again!

Carolyn R Chase

Kristi - I am so sorry. I can certainly understand how well set up she was by circumstances to believe the call. I started to fall for one attempting to gain access to my computer, but became suspicious luckily so did a hard shut off (with the power) so it got no further. I did have to go to have Microsoft wipe the computer, and then had to re-load everything to the hard drive, but at least they didn't have time to gain access to the financial information.
We also have had our credit cards compromised. Fortunately I do check on them with Quicken every day or so, as I enter payments or purchases, so I've been able to take steps right away.
Crooks have a myriad of ways to burglarize us. I can appreciate how she must feel and the pain you probably are experiencing for her as well.


My husbands e Mail was lifted and a message sent to all of his friends to send money . It took 2 days with Yahoo on phone to see what was going on . They had all his e mails going to them . This came out of Ethiopia . It came across as an e Mail from our carrier and when he opens that email it gave them access. At least the received no money!

Cathleen Hoffman

I received a call once that said my husband had been kidnapped. I was not to call the police as they were already aware of the situation. I was to give them money and leave it in a place designated by them. I was told the police would be there to nab them. Of course, I immediately called the police and they told me about the scam. They said some women locked themselves in their homes and would not answer the door or phone. I felt pretty good about my reaction. Call the police immediately and never agree to drop off money or meet anyone anywhere. My husband was at work and couldn't believe the story when I finally told him after the call to the police. I can't type what I call these losers.

Sylvia Schachter

Salut! Just this past week I received a request from a pharmacy from which I receive my scripts. The request was to complete a survey. Usually, I just delete the message, but this time I decided to complete it. At the end of the survey, I scrolled down to see what I had qualified for...it was a vacuum & all I had to 'fork over' was shipping & handling, which was $2.99! No problem! I provided my credit card info and continued until I saw the cost and I started to delete the provided info. My credit card company turned down the request. The next day, I received several emails from them, urging me to phone them, which I did. I was told that all was well and that they were taking care of reporting the fraud to the pharmacy and the agencies dealing with cyber fraud. I am very grateful! Your daughter's experience was frightful...so glad that she has returned to the safety of France.


I am so sorry. Give Jackie a hug every time you turn around, to steady her and lead her out of the mess.

Carole Alexander

Dear Jackie, I am so glad you are safe. What a horrible experience. People of all ages and professions and nationalities get scammed. I won't add the stories of my friends -- there are plenty of examples in the comments already. Thankfully you are home and safe. Don't think you were 'stupid' for even a minute! These evil folks are very clever and believable!

After you've had time to rest and enjoy the love of your family, I, and all your 'fans' look forward to hearing what you decide to do next.

Sending love to you and the whole family.


Karen in NY

So very sorry you all had such a dreadful experience. One learns to live on defense. Phones and email are crazy bad. Subscribe to scam advisors to stay up to date on the latest ploys. Screen calls, don't answer if you don't recognize the number. Subscribe to internet security, identity theft prevention programs. Govt agencies communicate by USPS mail. Don't "reply" to emails, websites... direct call yourself. My latest is email telling me Amazon confirms my $1200 purchase of a server firewall. Wasn't me.... and mercifully the credit card they had was expired. Many, many others in the past. You learn to spot them but there's a learning curve.

Merle Minda

These calls and threats are ALL scams. Social Security will never call you, much less threaten or ask for money immediately. Hang up immediately and do not worry about it. These calls are false and are scams to get you to send money. Usually they target the elderly. Now it looks like they are after the young. Never again ok?

Coco in CA

In attempting to change seats on an international flight, my mother called what she thought was United but was a spam number at the top of the google search (she figured this out later) - over the course of a 3 hour phone call she was told that she had to get $7000 in VISA gift cards and read the codes over the phone to the agent - she would get her original flight credited back to her card. My mother is very astute, normally very savvy in the ways of scammers, but alas, she lost $7000. She cried for days until I said, Mother, you can still pay your mortgage, your car, your groceries, you are fine. Think of all of the people who are scammed who then can't eat that month. Lesson learned, move on knowing you are now wiser, and share your story to educate and help protect others. You are not alone, Jackie, and now that you have had this happened, it won't happen to you again. By sharing your story, your mother has helped protect many others!

Leslie NYC

Remember that getting your money is their goal. They practice until they get it. I am so sorry. I have had hackers freeze my computer screen and tell me I must call the number on the screen. They then try to get a cleaning service contract to weed out these viruses for $175/year.
I kept saying "I'm sure your business is legitimate. I just need to double-check with my computer friend." That bought me time, & I learned of the scam. It was almost chance that I wasn't taken. My mother did fall for a similar scam.
It's a horrible feeling. You are a good person and I predict you will recoup your losses twofold and quickly! Meanwhile the theives remain morally bankrupt.

R.B. Roll

Twice,someone sent me an e-mail that our friend was stranded in London and needed money. I e-mailed our friend, who was at home In Honduras, not in London.
The second time, another e-mail that another friend needed money right away. Fortunately, she e-mailed to say that her cell phone had been hacked and to ignore similar messages.
I was getting ready to send money.

L. Roll


Hi Kristen & Jackie,
Someonw on this blog said "Do NOT answer calls from an unknown number." I have practiced this policy for many years - if they are for REAL, they will leave a message and then you may choose to respond.
Sorry to hear about this "kerfunkle" It is not an easy world we live in now. Be proactive and PROTECT YOURSELF!!! A complicated and distressing lesson to learn
Jacki (no EEEE's) in Idaho.
BTW all this happened to you on my BIRTHDAY#73...

Jerry Wood

I’m so sorry that Jackie had to go through this. A few years ago I received a call from what sounded like my bank asking some personal questions. Fortunately something didn’t seem right to me and I hung up and phoned my bank myself.
They told me that they absolutely never ask for personal info on the phone.
I believe that the world is full of honest nice people, unfortunately there are some rotters as well.
I hope Jackie can put this horrible experience behind her. She is fortunate to have such a loving family. 😢💕

Julie Farrar

Don't let your dear daughter feel badly. I know to be scammed is a blow to self-esteem or sense of trust. As a non-senile woman of a certain age I almost got caught myself. I already know not to give anyone my SSN over the phone (unless I've initiated the call). I know that financial institutions and government offices never do cold calls and ask for private information (always by mail). However, I still remember my heart pounding the afternoon I got caught up in that IRS scheme going round. It sounded so real and sincere about a problem. I told them I didn't know much about taxes, I can't help them. I need to ask my husband. And I really meant that because I thought it was real. They said they'd call back. I couldn't call my husband because he was in France and probably had his phone off while he slept. Luckily, our accountant was still in his office. He told me DON'T ANSWER IF THEY CALL BACK.

I knew better, but these people are so excellent at scamming that it's so easy to go into an immediate panic with the stories they tell. So two little pieces of advice for anyone out there: 1) if an important financial or government document disappears, report it immediately, even if you hope to find it in a day or two. And 2) reminder not to ever click on any links sent to you if you are not expecting them. It's easy to look at the full sender's email address and decide if it's from the real company.

Hugs to Jackie. She's so lucky to have such great parents she can depend on like this.

Laura Isenstein

Glad Jackie is safely home with you. The US and the world is full of scammer and thieves. Unfortunately we must now not trust what used to be trustworthy. This is even more true in our world of Social Media and mobile communication.
When things have calmed she needs to report all this to the Miami Police Dept.

Hugs to all and a sad and costly lesson has been learned.



Hi Kristi
So sorry to hear of this. It's awful when our children are in trouble and so far away.
In addition to our cellphones, we have an answering machine on our landline (Old school, I know) and screen all calls, 95% of which are solicitations or scams.
Lots of good advice above. Best general practice I've found is to independently contact the supposed "source" of the info. i.e. If Netflix emails me saying have a problem with my payment, I do not click on the email links or call the number provided, but contact Netflix directly via phone or website info that I look up independently.
Hope this helps someone.

Amanda Bergman

My elderly MIL nearly fell for a 'phone call for help' supposedly from her granddaughter. It was quite implausible but she was convinced because the caller used her grandma nickname. How did they know to call me Nonny? she says to this day. I blame Facebook. Don't share family details.

The only reason she didn't send the money is that the clerk where she went to transfer the funds heard her story and stopped her from doing it.

We periodically get phone messages threatening all kinds of financial trouble, including IRS problems. REMEMBER those things will never arrive by phone. There will be a letter.

Good luck to Jackie!

Nancy D

I got a call from Rogers (phone company) who told me that there was suspicious activity on my account and it had been frozen. I hung up and called Rogers back. It turns out the call was real and someone had gone into a store saying they were me and tried to get a new phone line attached to my account. The store flagged it because the ID they used looked suspicious. I went on to contact the police to report the attempted fraud and identity theft. Next, I called my bank and the two national credit bureau companies to put a warning on my accounts to only open new accounts/credit by calling my phone number from their files first. All this and I was completely unaware that it was happening. I’m so glad the Rogers people were suspicious.

I’m sorry for what happened to Jackie.


Hi dear Kristi and family,
Oh it seems to happen so often these days.

We want to live as if the universe is friendly and kind and loving... and well, in truth it actually is.

I tend to take a slightly different slant on these things....by not overly focusing too much on it and also using it for refinement.
Like, what can I learn from this? How did it serve me? (Well it brought her home swiftly!) How was it good for me? (I learn to take better care of my data / info / money... I become more astute in life... etc). I learn to trust myself and my Intuition and to know that this is very powerful... etc.

And thinking of that lovely law of attraction which is always running... I can use it to fine tune my focus. What do I want? I want my money to be secure... I want to be alert to scammers and awake to reality... I want to be present, focused... I want to feel safe and know that life is friendly... Kind... helpful... and always Works out for me. I want to fully trust my Intuition and feel into things. I want to respond quickly.. know when to ask for help and be open for it... know who to trust for guidance etc.

And it sounds like she did a lot of that !

I'm happy for you that she's home and that she is safe.
I hope that she feels OK after the experience, which can often feel harsh and unpleasant... but later, sometimes we are grateful for it.

I hope it serves you.

Valerie Meluskey

OH NO! I can't imagine how helpless you and Jean-Marc felt being across an ocean from Jackie! And, how wonderful that she didn't lose any more money and was not in physical danger. And, note, Kristi, how tuned in your were when you asked your husband if he had heard from your daughter...that started the ball (of light) rolling.
We must all learn how to safeguard ourselves from all sorts of criminal attempts to make us victims. You must know that major corporations, hospitals, and our very U.S. goverment has been hacked. I do not think anywhere IS safe--it is up to us to be informed and vigilant but not frightened or obsessed. Of course, it feels safe to be home with your protective parents and in your own home, but I imagine that is not what your daughter envisions for the rest of her life.
By the way my daughter spent part of her late teen years living in Paris while working for a major modelling company--she stayed with a group of fellow models and survived unscathed.
Sending love and appreciation to you all for sharing--by sharing you attract more love and power!
By the way, you seem to have multiple "Valerie's" so maybe add my last name. My mother (while in France for years) decided she would name a daughter either Valerie or Jacqueline, both names she loved.

Forrest R. Frank

My wife shared your daughter's story with me. It is very sad; same thing nearly happened to me on more than one occasion. I've learned that no U.S. Government agency will ever ask for money or other personal information over the telephone. GET IT IN WRITING FIRST. Your daughter should report her experience to the nearest Law Enforcement Attaché attached to the U.S. Embassy in Paris 011-33-1-4312-2222 or the U.S. Consulate in Lyon. While I doubt that anything resembling restitution can take place, the crime should not go unreported. One never really knows what mistakes a criminal will make that will allow the law enforcement authorities to catch him or her.

G. Franklin

Since this is a language site, my experience may be helpful to those of you who do translation work, and I hope that by describing it I don't enable some crooks out there but instead keep your readers from falling for this one.

This is, as I now realize, a common scam where an e-mail will be sent asking the recipient's interest in doing a translation. In my case it was purportedly from a university graduate student. The paper was in a field that I'm particularly interested in, so I gave the writer a quote after perusing it. Based on the structure of the content, I mentioned to the "client" that it seemed to be a "back-translation" (flag #1), that it had originally probably been written in the language I was going to be translating into, to which I got no response (flag #2). I proceeded nevertheless, as the job was time-sensitive (flag #3) and I had just enough time to do it if I started right away.

As the work progressed, I had difficulty getting in touch with the "client" to go over some terms (flag #4). By then, however, they said they would send a partial payment so I was assured. They then said they were impressed with my work (flag #5) and had another important project that they wanted me to work on.

The check I received for the first translation was for well over what I had quoted for it (flag #6). The explanation given was that it was to avoid delays in getting the second translation going as time was of the essence (le temps presse!). They kept insisting that I let them know when I deposited the check (flag #7) and were unhappy at my delay.

Then they told me that there had been a change (malheureusement!), that the second translation wasn't approved, so to keep the amount I'd charged for the first translation and return the balance of what they'd sent to them (an indisputable, foot-ball-field-sized flag #8) via my own wire transfer.

This was the clincher. I wasn't about to send anyone money before knowing their check had actually cleared. I immediately called my bank to tell them I'd submitted a check to deposit I now thought might be a scam. They ultimately confirmed that it was, indeed, made out by a false entity. I didn't lose any money, though I did lose all the precious time I'd spent working on the fake translation job.

After that, I kept receiving e-mails from many different entities using the same scheme, with different names and so-called circumstances. They must have gotten my contact information from a professional organization's contact/referral list that's open to the public, and no doubt are still busy scamming other professionals in the field.

So, translators: "prenez-guarde!"

p.s. I'm not all that myopic in not having reacted more strongly than a simple "hmmm, what's going on here?" to the flags as they arose. After all, it's hind-sight that's 20-20!

G. Franklin

For clarity: "to send the balance of what they'd sent me back to them."


Praise to God that Jackie is home. Praying for recovery and direction for her. The evil people in this world never cease to amaze me. That was a horrid thing to do to her—to anyone! I'm so sorry all of you had to go through this.

Janine Cortell

How horrible for Jackie. How helpless and angry she must have been.
Someone tried to steal my daughter's identity. It took her months to re-establish her
identity and deal with creditors.
She had a B.A. and her own business as a graphic designer but she was so angry she decided to go back to school and get a Master's degree in Criminal Justice. She said she wanted to do what she could to stop these people from committing these crimes.
She never caught the guys who hurt her but is successful in catching others.
Jackie should not let these horrible people stop her from pursuing her dreams and career.
Otherwise, these monster criminals win.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
So sorry for Jackie! There are so many people just waiting to take advantage of others. I'm glad she is back home with you all!

Gypsy B. Perry

Such a dreadful experience for Jacquie and you, her family!
So very thankful Jacquie is safely home now.
Sending our love, prayers, kindest thoughts, to Jacquie and you, her wonderful family.

Karen Cafarella

So sorry for Jackie. She is certainly not alone, unfortunately.
Glad she is home and feels safe again with her family.
Sending love and big hugs.


Soooo glad that your daughter is safe at home!! Hopefully, she will come to know God's plan for her life. Thank You Jesus for keeping her!!
God bless you all,

Diane Arnold

I’m so sorry about Jackie’s encounter with the scammers. As others have said, the US gov’t will only send a letter never call on the phone. Please notify them though that she has lost her SS card & will need a replacement or new #. I think getting a new # is not easy so after this trauma has passed, start that process. Best of luck to your family dear Kristi. Sincerely, Diane Arnold

An Scott

These scam calls come through far too often, here in the US. I stopped answering my phone unless I recognize the number in the caller ID. And if they leave a VM message, saying they are from some government agency,or a credit card company, before returning the call, I look up the actual government agency or merchant phone number and call that number. If people pick up their phones and speak with the person saying they need "whatever" or they are the police or any entity, the rule is always ask for a callback number and their extension number and say you have to call them back. Typically they will just hang up on you.

I was in France last week and overheard a man from the UK traveling behind us in a parking shuttle van in Eze and he was telling his friend that he had received a voicemail message from his supposed credit card company listing off around 3 very large charges on his credit card account and they wanted him to call them back and confirm they were valid.The message stated he'd need his credit card number as a reference. Fortunately, he took that as a red flag, called his credit card company at the number on his card, and found there were no such charges.

I'm a senior so I occasionally get mail from Social Security and it always has a reminder that they will never call you for information. They will notify you in writing. This, in response to the calls many of us get telling us that our Social Security card has been used for an illegal crime and they need to assist us in resolving the issue. All scams.

It's happening all over, apparently. I have a rule. If I receive a call and I suddenly find myself reaching for my credit card or my purse to give them money or information, it's a scam. I ask for a callback number and they typically hang up.

Hopefully, she'll consider this a lesson learned, and will never let it happen to her again.

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in.

All the best,
An Scott

Kitty Wilson-Pote

How horrid for Jackie and all of you! Thank goodness she is home again and ready to recover from this trauma in your care. Good, honest people of all ages and all walks of life are targeted by these crooks all over our planet.

The worst price paid by victims is the self-doubt and undeserved shame for being fooled, allowing a seeming 'official' to control one's behaviour. It's such a hard way to learn a bit of healthy cynicism without losing one's trust in most people who ARE good, honest, and kind.

Please hold Jackie close for me too, Kristi. Keep reminding her that SHE is not one whit at fault. These scammers are experts with amazing skills and tricks. Any one of us can fall prey when our emotions are manipulated by such wily crooks.

Jackie, do forgive yourself, and please accept our thanks for sharing your story. Every such gift of personal experience helps to alert and protect others. Great to have this info to remind my own family and friends to be sceptical of 'officials' who call or email them about some 'emergency'.

My email was hacked this week, and a false plea for money sent out to all my contacts. The fake message got through a few people's spam filters and worried them about me. This event was minor compared to your ordeal, yet for sure, I'll be freshly wary going forward.

Big hug to you, and to your parents and brother as well.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Jackie is certainly not alone. I am so sorry she had to go through this, especially the interruption of her American experience. I don’t believe this was a function of her being located in the US. It happens to people in many countries.

We receive these scam calls many times a day. They come from India, where scam organizations are ubiquitous. The pattern to each call is the same and the content is repetitive. English is spoken, always with a Hindi accent. I challenge the "agents" and they usually cut me off or…call me nasty names. Searching the subject on the internet brings up interesting evidence of their scamming.

It is so important to bring awareness to this issue. Perhaps Jackie’s story will keep others from falling into this situation. I hope she can eventually shake this off and emerge okay and ready to move on. I hope she hasn’t completely lost trust in others. Not everyone is mal-intended. May she find safety and solace at home.

Jan G

Quel cauchemar! I'm glad the scammer was unable to complete the scam!


My sister-in-law's mother was almost the victim of this kind of scam. When she asked her daughter to help her transfer money out of her bank account, her daughter realized what was happening and got her to end the phone call and nothing was lost. It was a scare for them all to realize how easily one can be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, this is the price we pay for living in the digital age. It seems as if nothing is safe, and because the scammers are faceless, they feel no guilt in destroying people's personal security and in shattering their faith in humanity, not to mention taking their hard-earned money. What a way to learn that life is not fair....

Mary Jo

We recently got a call with that exact script from someone claiming to be our grandson. The unfamiliar voice was even explained by the "broken nose." My quick-witted husband came up with some questions that exposed the scam, but it was disturbing how much this caller knew about us and our family. It's really sad that people so clever are using their skill to cheat others when they could be doing something positive with it.

K Berk

I was called for jury duty. I have a kidney condition that requires frequent bathroom breaks so I need a medical excuse. I filed the excuse electronically before we traveled to Europe. We were now returning home. There was a voicemail saying something about my medical excuse not having been approved and I had to call a number immediately or be in contempt. Of course I panicked. But I stopped myself from calling until I checked my status on line. My excuse had been approved. I concluded the scammer worked inside the court system and had access to jury selection records. How would anyone know I was called for duty and asked for an excuse! I’m sure the goal was to get me to say my social security number. Sadly I called the court to report the scam but no one seemed to care. So scary all this info is available. I’ve no interest in Facebook.


Hi Kristi,
What a horrible shock for you all and thank goodness Jackie is safe!
I’ve had many variable scam attempts made on me, the spookiest being where someone hacked my Facebook account and pretended to be one of my friends asking for financial support. Unfortunately for the scammer, I speak to my UK friend on the phone weekly and knew that he would not ask me for help in this way. I immediatelyI rang my friend and confirmed that indeed his FaceBook details were being fraudulently used. Given that I had the tightest security in place, and rarely posted anything on Facebook, I decided that deleting my account was the smartest thing to do....in fact I no longer have any social media accounts to temp fate. My girlfriend had her reputable (and expensive) online dating site hacked - the hacker/potential scammer was sending messages to both men and women on the site - he would just use another man or woman’s photo with a different name - and he would send the same message to everyone, but just tweak it to be either from a man or from a woman. Once he made contact with a woman, he would then get them onto Skype, without video of course, and try to exhort money from them. Let’s just say his voice and speech pattern came from the African continent, most likely. We girls had a good laugh at the scammers expense one night, as unbeknownst to him, we were all crowded around the computer listening as my girlfriend asked him specific questions and got him into a very tight corner with his continual lies - that’s when another male voice in the background could be heard pushing him to get off Skype! We then had the pleasure of telling him he had been recorded, and reported to all of the relevant agencies. At which point, he became very nasty. We clicked off and deleted my friend’s Skype account.
Unfortunately, these experiences leave a very nasty taste in one’s mouth, however I know in my heart that the vast majority of humans globally are decent, kind, loving and honest.


Hi Kristi,
Last year I got a call from a man saying that he and my husband had a small car crash, but that my husband was fine. The man said his brother who was on parole and recently released from prison was with him in the car. They didn't want police involved. Supposedly my husband tried to call the police from his cell but the man's brother took my husband's phone away. Their solution was for me to come with money
Luckily I was in my kitchen on my cell, but I had my land line close by so called my husband at work. He thankfully answered right away (which hardly ever happens). I can't express how nervous I was when I heard the story, and even though I was suspicious I think I may have followed through if my husband hadn't answered.


Hi Kristi and Jackie -I hope from all the above that you see this is not an uncommon incident. My husband, who is normally very discerning, fell for a scam which claimed he needed to get a money card from our local drugstore to “protect” our Apple services immediately! When he went to purchase it, the clerk (praise him!) asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?” Thus we were saved by a person as opposed to a dead cell phone. As a widow, I get all kinds of calls from “Social Security” (which NEVER calls), “Apple,” wanting to save my account”:by going online, “Amazon,” wanting to get information to “correct a suspicious charge,” etc. Terrible to say, but if the person leaving a message (because I don’t answer unrecognized numbers anymore ) has a very heavy accent, then I suspect it might be a scam operation in a foreign country, where scams are in full force, vigilantly at work in warehouses of telephone operators who case the whole planet for the vulnerable - young, old, and uninformed. I hope Jackie has not lost her taste for the joy of travel, living out life experiences in new countries (like the US!) because of the actions of a despicable person or group. Don't give them power over you, Jackie. Learn, live, regroup and go forth! As I could tell by your dead cell phone, God is watching over you. ❤️Janet

Jan Leishman

I was scammed in June this year, while in hospital after an accident. I know about scammers and never thought it would happen - maybe painkillers altered my brain (I had a head injury). I was told my Pay Pal account had money taken from it and if I wanted 'the bank' to return it, I would need to give them my numbers. Foolishly I did - and lost $5,000!
These things happen so easily and always catch you off-guard.
Jackie has no reason to be embarrassed about this. They are profesional scammers and only target good people who trust.
I really feel for her - I have gone through all the emotions - but in the end, you must forgive yourself. You were so lucky that your phone died - count that as a blessing.
Sending love.

Gail in AZ

I’m so sorry to hear this happened to Jackie. I’m glad she is back home again for awhile. Something similar happened to my mom several years ago. Someone contacted her saying her granddaughter had gone to Mexico over spring break and she’d gotten arrested and needed $1000. They even had someone that sounded like a young woman crying in the background. My mom was given instructions as to where to send the money and she wasn’t to tell anyone else in case the granddaughter wouldn’t be released from jail. Unfortunately, my mom fell for it and $1000. was stolen from her. Such crooks! I’m so sorry Jackie that there are such people in the world. I can’t begin to relate to cheating and stealing from others. Bless you!

Olga Brown

Hi Kristi,
I am so sorry it happened to Jackie!
When several years ago I worked for the State The General Attorney sent us a letter warning about sings of crook activities and suggestions of how to avoid identity theft problems. Some of them are:
1. NEVER leave any papers (bills, letters, statements, etc.) on the table at home when you are going somewhere.
2. Always SHRED all papers that you throw away. There was a picture in the General Attorney's letter showing people digging in a trash, taking out papers. And I've personally seen a man digging in the dumpster at our apartment complex. He pretended being looking for aluminum cans but actually was reading some papers from the dumpster. I told our manager about him and she forced him away from the complex, but after a while he appeared again.
3. Always check you credit card statements for every single transaction. If any transaction is different, compare to your records (even if this is just a few cents) call that company or go to their office and tell them about it. Such people at first add a little to your bill and watch your reaction. If you don't bother to do anything about it next time your bill will be much bigger.
4. NEVER keep your papers in a suitcase when you leave a house, hotel, etc. It just seems to you that if you locked the baggage with a coded lock, nobody can open it and take your stuff. They can open everything. You can leave something only in a well- built big safe, not in that funny little box you can buy in Wal-Mart that they can easily open with a pin.
Such crooks are everywhere. If you are careful, observant and take care of your things you can avoid a lot of problems.

Jackie, I wish you to get over that stress as soon as possible and move on. There are much more honest and good people in the world, then crooks. And those guys will get theirs sooner or later. Thank God, you have such a good supportive family and this is what counts.
GOOD LUCK to all of you, guys!

Dawn Bouchard

Kristi & Jackie,
What a scary thing to go through! Especially when you realize your folder of paperwork is missing and someone out there has your personal information! Thankful she is home and praying for peace, healing & help in securing her information.

Several years ago, we were traveling to Southern California for our son's wedding & were looking for a place to rent near the beach for a mini-vacation after the wedding with family. After checking Air B & B and the other rental sites, I decided to check Craigslist. I thought I had found the perfect place, sent the deposits, but as the time came closer, all communication with the 'owner' stopped. It turns out it was a 'fake ad', there was no place to rent so we had no place to stay and were out a couple thousand dollars! But it gets worse ... when we got home we filed a complaint with the FCC and were then contacted by the police in this city. Turns out the couple was part of an organized crime ring that had been scamming people out of money for quite some time! While they were caught & taken to court (and hopefully put in jail!), they had spent all the money so there was nothing to recoup and repay those that had been scammed.

A lesson learned by this 50-something mom who is usually a pretty savvy travel planner! Like Jackie, though, we were thankful we didn't walk into a situation that jeopardized our physical safety, even if we were shaken and sad to have lost so much money. At the end of the day, it's only money, and while nice to have, certainly our lives and family are of much more value :)



Dear Kristi: Certainly Jackie should feel no shame. These scams are happening all over the world; our bank account was recently hacked to the tune of $3,000.00. Had no idea this was happening; we had to change bank account numbers, e-mail info & filed fraud info. Thank goodness all the money was put back; but, it was very frightening; especially, when people don't have the means that some others have. thank goodness Jackie wasn't harmed or anything more serious & happy, too, that she is safely back home! It was a great try on her part & very brave of her; in the end, her safety & life are all that's important! Stay safe & healthy, A biento, Ann

Gary McClelland

So so very sorry for Jackie and all her family. When our daughter had some misadventures we always said, "it was only money, at least everyone is safe." So glad Jackie is safe and home.

I can relate to your experience Kristi. Our college-age daughter was traveling with friends in Spain. She called us from the Ramblas in Barcelona. In the middle of a pleasant conversation about her travels, she suddenly said, "I have to go now, I think I'm being robbed." Click. it was a very anxious time before we heard from her again, But it was only money and she was safe.


Hope Jackie is relaxing after her ordeal.

The IRS scammers will leave threatening voice messages.

Glad she is safe at home,

Jens Hork

Hi Kristi,

I was close once when 'the fraud division' from my bank called me early one Monday morning telling me that there were two withdrawals from my account during the weekend (done by my son) somewhere in China! They wanted to help me retrieve it, but during the conversation I realised the truth!

So sorry for poor Jackie.


Another reason to NOT go to Florida,although I am sure it happens all over the US. I wonder if France or UK or other countries have this problem. So very sorry this happened to Jackie, who now probably hates the USA. It makes me sick to read this from the Paris apt I am in for vacation. I have some robocall program that every call gets blocked. I get plenty of spam calls every day, but they are blocked. I hope she recovers and keeps a positive attitude!

Jeanine Woods

Thank God Jackie is OK and the scam didn't get completed. It's so sad when our innocent and trusting kids have painful (and scary) life lessons like this. The sad truth as evidenced by all of the stories above is that these scammers are skilled and very convincing. My mom got scammed for $1000 for a fire wall-we actually were able to call the scammer back and he had the gall to defend his actions. This was the second time this happened to her- they were very convincing. It's an unfortunate reality and Jackie is not alone. Nevertheless, how upsetting.. I pray for perspective and peace for all of you.

Joy Eballar

My husband and I each get at least 3 scam calls a day on our own cell phones. Usually claiming to be the IRS or SSA. Or our bank. We know now to just hang up immediately and then block them, which seems to do no good. But at first, it really scared me. So many scammers and just plain Not very good people here in this country (USA) now, it shames me. I don't know what is happening to this country, but it's gotten out of hand. I am so glad Kristen is home with you now, safe and secure. Horrible experience for anyone to go through but especially someone her age that is not even in her home country. Everyone has a right to feel safe and this just breaks my heart for her, and you. I don't feel safe here anymore either.

Jeanine Woods

I agree but remember many of the scammers are from different countries, not in the US.

Diana H Butler

I'm so sorry for what happened to Jackie, but experience is the best teacher, and I'm sure it won't happen again. Once those scammers get on your trail, they will keep on it. My driver's license was stolen, and a credit card was taken too, but I didn't notice the missing credit card right away. Then some fraudulent charges were made through an AT&T store in Texas (I live in Georgia). The credit card company first took the charges off but later put them back on. I sent them some documentation, but they didn't mention a police report. The credit card people didn't answer. I called the offices of Clark Howard who has a newsletter and helps people with financial matters. His representative told me to file a police report and send it to the credit card's Fraud Dept. I'm in my 80's and have COPD, so, it's tough, but I'm gonna fight.

Harriet Hughes

Oh, so sorry! A good friend, much older than your daughter and sophisticated enough to know better, got scammed recently. The scammers somehow got her credit card number from a
legitimate monthly payment she makes, told her she was the victim of a scam, and somehow convinced her to buy several Apple Play cards worth hundreds of dollars to resolve the problem. Finally, she did call both her bank and the credit card to put an end to all the nonsense. The credit card company has credited the charges, but the bank was dragging their feet, claiming she made the charges of her own free will, and they would not reimburse her for them. It amounted to about $2,000 total, I believe. I'm not certain how it's been resolved. People like this are just terrible!

Suzanne Codi

Dear Kristi, I’m so sorry Jackie was duped by those rotten people, and judging by all the responses you have gotten, this is a widespread crime. Every other day I get an email thanking me for investing in some strange company, and thanks to having had my identity stolen a few years ago, I know to just delete the email, like you should just hang up a weird call. Cybercrime is one of the unfortunate sides of the internet. So thankful she made it home safely!!

Darryl Pierce

I fancy myself being tech savvy and smart, and I was taken in by a similar scam.

I received a call on my mobile from someone claiming to be with my carrier. He said there was some questionable activity and wanted to verify for me that my phone number hadn't been stolen. He said he would send me a number in a text and all I had to do was verify it.

Long story short, I verified it, the person on the phone was doing a password recovery on my account, and used that to steal my carrier account password. Not a minute after falling for it I realized what I did, went to the carrier's nearest kiosk, and locked the guy out before he could buy phones with my name.

Michelle Jackson

Myself and friends receive scammer calls almost weekly. They've increased in Australia at least, since Covid emerged and these awful people crawl out from under a rock to cash in on trusting people. It seems it's our innocent trust that make us vulnerable....but they would only catch a person once. It's important to share these experiences to make us all the more aware and prevent it from happening at all. Now if I receive a dodgy call I say fine, I'll phone the tax dept or the police back on their general number and speak to them directly. I never react to an incoming call or provide information of any kind. My experience is that if it feel "odd" it's because it is. Hang up and verify.

Mona Shahgholi

This is sickening! I too became victim of ID theft. I learned about it only when I went to apply for disability insurance last year after back surgery. I discovered then that a year earlier someone had applied for both unemployment benefits and disability insurance with the government using my id, and they got away with $10K!!! I would have not known had I not applied.

The ID theft happened when Experian's database got hacked, you might recall that happening; and here, I was paying Experian, one of the three credit reporting agencies, for data protection. I got $5 from the class action lawsuit against Experian.

Long-story short, the story is not over. I had to freeze my credit, I have to fill out a police report, file with government and federal trade commission, and I still have not received what the government owes me, the REAL ME, for disability insurance.

It sucks...tell Jackie I am sorry she had this experience in US...

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