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PNS Daily Newscast - December 11, 2017 


Families across the nation are still waiting for children's health insurance funding; also on our nationwide rundown, Aztec High School in New Mexico remains closed following a deadly shooting; plus a look at how politics figure into most companies' marketing strategies.

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Famed Former Fraudster Warns Arizonans of Scams

Frank Abagnale has spent decades fighting fraud and identity theft. He says the key to avoiding scams is to stop, take a moment and verify the source. (Wikimedia Commons)
Frank Abagnale has spent decades fighting fraud and identity theft. He says the key to avoiding scams is to stop, take a moment and verify the source. (Wikimedia Commons)
November 17, 2017

PHOENIX – A famous former con man came to Phoenix last night, to give some free advice on how to avoid becoming the victim of fraud or identity theft.

Frank Abagnale - who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "Catch Me If You Can" - spoke at an event sponsored by the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Abagnale warns against a very common type of scam when a caller says they're from the police department and asks an older person to bail their grandson out of jail. He says it's convincing, because the caller ID says the name of the police department - and the person on the phone seems to know all about the grandson.

"They go to Facebook - that grandson already said his name, what kind of car he drove, his girlfriend's name, his parents' name," he notes. "That social media gives the caller all the credibility to make you believe that it absolutely has to be them."

To thwart that type of scam, he says tell the caller you want to go to the police department and pay in person - or call the PD directly and verify the information.

Other scam callers claim to be from a bank, credit card company or the IRS, asking to verify your birthdate and Social Security number. Or they might say you've won a car or big cash prize but have to pay a $500 "processing fee" to get it.

Learn more about what to avoid, on the AARP Fraud Watch Network website.

Abagnale says it's also common to have a message appear on your computer screen, warning of a virus or malware. It can even cause the screen to flicker or freeze and you may hear a siren. Then, it gives you a phone number to call.

"Sometimes they say to you, 'You have to let me take over your computer, and let me access it so I can get rid of it,'" he explains. "But when they go in, they take your personal information, your financial records, your photos - and then, they want to ransom them back to you."

Abagnale says the moment anyone asks for money or personal information, hang up. He points out that people are still falling for even the most common scams - and almost a half-million Americans filed identity-fraud complaints with the Federal Trade Commission in 2015.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ