Impact – Wealth Management


Slam The Scam – A Personal Story

As soon as I answered the phone I knew something was wrong.  It was the emotion: the defeat, the exhaustion, and the shame that I heard in his voice that made my mama heart leap out of my chest.  I was thousands of miles away on a beach in the Bahamas when I got the call and I wanted to hop on the first plane home to be with him.

A Personal “Scam” Story

Our oldest son, Mason, had just turned 20 years old.  He was working and going to school full-time; he was getting good grades and had recently received a promotion at work.  He started investing when he was just 15 years old and he was very responsible with his money (some might even call him cheap! :))

Mason and two of his buddies from high school had just made the decision to move into an apartment together.  Getting renters insurance, and connecting utilities, he was lining it all up.

Ever since he was a little boy he has had an overwhelming feeling of responsibility – he handles things himself.

When he was about 12 years old I came home from work one day and found him sitting on the couch with a towel around his leg.  “What’s with the towel?” I asked.  I will never forget the look of that leg when he pulled back the towel and said “I had a little accident.”

The skin on his leg was cut very nearly to the bone in about a 6-inch gaping line along his shin.  Not wanting to bother me at work he cleaned himself up the best that he could, wrapped his bloody leg tightly in a towel to control the bleeding, and then sat on the couch for almost 3 hours waiting for me to arrive home from work! “YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED ME IMMEDIATELY!” I exclaimed.

Mom, I’ve been scammed

Now eight years later the wound wasn’t on his shin, it was to his self-esteem… and to his bank account.  He choked on the words as he told me “I’ve been scammed”.

It was the day that he and his buddies were supposed to be moving into the apartment.  He woke up to a call from Xcel Energy… or so he thought.  They told him that they weren’t able to turn on the electricity at his new apartment as planned.  They needed a deposit and prepayment of his bill.  Feeling the same sense of responsibility he’d felt his whole life, he followed all of the scammer’s instructions.  He was so focused on making sure that he didn’t let his buddies down when everyone arrived to move in.

Scammers are good at their “job”

At several points in his conversation with the scammers he thought that it sounded fishy but let me be clear:  SCAMMERS ARE GOOD AT THEIR JOB.  They had a reasonable answer for every question that he had.  They even invited him to bring his payment down to the local office on Russell Street.  “I know you’re feeling nervous, but trust me, I’m just trying to help you get this taken care of so you guys can move in.”

“I am so embarrassed”

The scammers took nearly $1000 of Mason’s hard-earned savings that day.  They took his money, but worse than that, they left him with a boatload of shame.

Just this past week I read a story about a 17-year-old boy who took his own life after being victimized by a scammer.

SCAMMERS ARE GOOD AT THEIR JOBS! Young and old alike are falling victim to their elaborate schemes.  According to the FTC, nearly 2.8 MILLION consumers filed a report of fraud in 2021 alone.

Spotting a Scam


In my years as a financial adviser, I have heard the stories of many people, young and old, who have fallen victim to a scam.  The NUMBER ONE THING THAT I HEAR IS “I WAS SO STRESSED!”  Scammers are GREAT at convincing you that there is an urgent problem and you must act immediately.

They say things like

  • a family member has had an emergency
  • your utilities will be disconnected
  • you are in trouble with the government
  • there’s a virus that’s taken over your computer.

Whatever story they’ve created, it is almost always a stressful situation.  If you find yourself feeling pressured, there is a good chance that it is a scam.


Another common theme I hear from victims of scams: scammers don’t want you to hang up.  Scammers will come up with a reason to keep you on the line sometimes for HOURS.

They do this because it can take some time for the money transfers (wire transfers, transfers from gift cards to their banks) to take place.  They want to keep you on the line until it’s complete and there’s no chance that you can cancel the transfer.

Legitimate businesses would not want to tie their staff up on a single phone call for hours.

In my son’s case, they told him that they would wait on the line with him until the technician showed up to reconnect the electricity and install some required equipment.  Of course, a technician never showed up, but it was a great excuse for the scammer to keep him on the phone.


Banks and credit cards have entire departments designed to detect and prevent fraud.  When you pay with a bank or credit card you have some additional layers of protection… some ways to recoup lost money.  That is why scammers do not usually want you to pay with a credit or debit card.

Scammers usually prefer that you send money via a money transfer service or gift cards.  Once those transfers are complete there is little or nothing that can be done to recoup the funds.


If you become a victim of fraud it is very important that you tell someone!  You should also report the crime to the FTC.

DO NOT SHAME THEM!  SUPPORT THEM!  Give them this article.  Let them know that they are not stupid, or alone!  It happens to people of all ages from all walks of life.

The FTC has some great tips on what to do if you’ve been scammed.  You can check that out here. And they published another great article on what to do to avoid a scam.

Knowledge is power.


Impact Wealth Management LLC is a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). We are based in beautiful Sioux Falls, SD and regulated by the State of South Dakota. Throughout this site, we went out of our way to present unbiased data believed to be from reliable and respected sources. However, its accuracy, completeness, and relevance are not guaranteed and no responsibility is assumed for errors or omissions.