Carbon Offsets: Phone Scam Overview
Carbon offset credits are legal allowances for a company to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions. These credits are transferable, so many organizations sell unused carbon credits every year. Other carbon offset credits can be purchased by homeowners to offset the amount of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere.
Scam artists have found a way to use carbon offset credits to exploit their victims. They have started offering carbon offsets in exchange for shares of stock or cash.
People that fall for this scam never receive receive proof of their carbon offsets after handing over their stock. Unfortunately, victims have little recourse as the industry isn't regulated well and it's often difficult to recover the stolen money.
How Does This Scam Work?
Scam artists often play off of trends to get peoples' interest. With the rise of sustainable forms of energy and increased consciousness of our environmental impact, more people are starting to look into how they can do their part to help stop climate change. Carbon offset credits offer a way for people to help the environment by promising to offset the average 20 tons of carbon dioxide that is released by the average individual.
The caller will pretend to have extra carbon offset credits that they are selling at a discounted price or trading them for stock options.
With this scam, callers try to target the elderly for several reasons:
- Many retirees have savings and stock portfolios.
- Some elderly suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia which weakens their reasoning skills and makes them more vulnerable to scams and social engineering.
- Elderly victims typically do not report when they are the victim of a financial scam. They may believe that the caller's story is legitimate or feel embarrassed and afraid to admit that they have been scammed.
How to Avoid This Scam
Carbon offset credits are valuable, but there is too little regulation in the industry to trust unsolicited callers offering them. It's important to make sure that these credits legitimate first and people that call you over the phone to trade them are often scamming you. It's always best to hang up and research before you give out any information or agree to pay or trade stocks for a credit. Warn your elderly friends and family members about the potential risk of this phone scam. The best way to stop scams is to spread awareness about them. If you feel that you've been contacted by a carbon offset credit scammer report it to the FTC and leave your feedback on the number in CallerSmart's caller ID app or online yellow pages directory.