Scams targeting people who have already lost money to a scam are the worst of the worst. If you have been scammed, you may be the target of a refund or recovery scam. In these scams, someone tells you that they can help you get your money back or a prize or item that was never given to you, but first, you have to pay. And if you pay, you will lose even more money.

How refund and recovery scams work

Whether it’s a refund scam promising your money back, or a payback scam telling you you’ll get the prize or products you were promised, the scheme often follows the same pattern. It happens as follows:

You have already been recover scammed funds. Maybe he donated money to a bogus charity, or paid for a bogus prize he never received or lost money in one of the many ways scammers tries to trick people.

Your name is on what scammers call a “sucker list.” Scammers maintain and sell these booby-trapped lists that contain information about people who have already been defrauded and lost money. They may include your name, address, phone number, and the type of scam you were scammed with and the amount of money you paid. Scammers buy, sell, and trade these lists, anticipating that those who have already been scammed once are good candidates to be scammed again.

And then the scammers call again.

Using a list of people who have already paid money for a scam, the scammer contacts you by phone, mail, or online. This time it comes to you with the story that you will get back the money you lost or the prize or merchandise that was never given to you. If you weren’t aware that you were scammed, that’s fine. The scammer may “do you the favor” of making you aware of the previous fraud using the information you purchased. With that information, the scammer seems more credible.

They make you believe that you can trust them. Scammers may claim to work for a government agency, consumer advocacy group, law firm, charity, or some other organization. Some go so far as to say that they work for the same bogus company that took their money and are offering refunds to dissatisfied customers. They may tell you they have money for you, offer to file claim paperwork with government agencies on your behalf, or claim they can put your name at the top of a reimbursement list. Whatever you say, it’s a lie to gain your trust and keep your money.

They tell him that he has to pay.

Scammers promise to get your money or merchandise back, but first, they need you to pay them or provide your financial information. They might call that advance payment an “advance fee,” “processing fee,” “administrative fee,” “tax,” “shipping fee,” or even a “donation” to a charity of their choosing. Or they might say they need your bank, debit, or other financial account number so they can deposit your refund directly into your account. If you pay them the fee or give them your account information, your money will be gone.