Tampa teen scammed in college

February 23, 2017

In this world, scamming has become more and more common. With the growing technology, scammers are finding more efficient and secretive ways to get money and other goods.


Last week, Sam O’Brien, a college student from Tampa, got a call with an 813 area code as he got out of class from the University of Washington. The man on the phone told O’Brien that he had kidnapped his mother and threatened to hurt her if he refused to give the man money. 


Immediately, O’Brien texted his mother and received no answer. His mother was away on vacation with her husband, at the time attending a boat show. Believing the call to possibly be true, O’Brien ran to his closest drug store and bought $1,000 worth of prepaid phone cards, and read the numbers to the man over the phone.


After an hour of reading these numbers, he received a text from his mom and instantly hung up the phone. Both O’Brien and his mom called the police but both informed them that they were unable to do anything about it. They explained to them that this situation happens very frequently and the phones are extremely hard to trace back to a person. 


Senior Gabbie Ragano says, “It’s very eye-opening to realize that something like this happened to just a normal college kid from Tampa. I had heard stories of scammers stealing money, but never imagined that it would ever really happen to me so its scary to now see that it could have just as easily been me or one of my friends.”

Scamming has become more common and people are starting to take notice to it. Many websites post warning steps to prevent any scamming from happening. In order to keep safe and smart when it comes to these scams, here is a list of a tips to keep in mind. 

Avoid answering unknown numbers if not expecting a call

While it may seem tempting to answer an unknown number because of the mystery in who is calling, if the person really has some reason for calling, then they will leave a message. 


Keep personal details secure

Avoid posting personal information to social media accounts or giving out too much information to strangers who strike up a conversation in public. Scammers can use this personal information and details to further convince their target and they are more likely to win them over. 


Choose different passwords for accounts 

While it is easier to have one single password for all important accounts, having one password for everything can be detrimental if a scammer gets a hold of it, because then they have access to all other accounts. 

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