Out in the Open

This woman fooled a scammer into admitting he was scamming her

“By me deceiving him, maybe I’ve given him that epiphany to be a better person.”
What happens when the scammed becomes the scammer?
Listen4:31
"The whole time I'm thinking to myself, I'm gonna get this guy for what the people like him have done to my Dad." - Dawn Belmonte

Dawn Belmonte knew the voice on the other end of the phone wasn't telling the truth. 

So she decided to have a little fun. 

In the summer of 2016, Dawn received a voicemail from a man claiming to be calling from the Canada Revenue Agency. He said if she didn't pay $2500 in back taxes, she would go to jail. 

It wasn't the first time she'd received this kind of voicemail, so she knew it as a scam. 

"We called the number back, and the phone call went much differently than I thought it would go."

Once Dawn started talking to the man on the other end of the phone, a whole persona emerged. 

All of a sudden she became a single mom with six kids and no money, whose husband was in jail for tax evasion. Her voice became high-pitched and frantic as her story spooled out of her. 

"When I was talking to him, it was amazing how things were just coming out of my mouth. I didn't premeditate, I didn't do a script … it just flowed." 

"I don't even have 50 dollars," Dawn told the scammer, her voice tight with worry. "I didn't have enough money to buy milk. I had to borrow five dollars from my neighbour."  

Dawn suspects the story came so easily because she was drawing on emotions about what had happened to her dad years earlier. 

"My father, who passed away in 2004, was also scammed." 

"Because he was going through chemo, his mind wasn't working the way it should … and (the scammers) were able to take a lot of money out of his bank account." 

Dawn's father later got reimbursed, but the shame of falling for a scam stayed with him. 

"Seeing what that did to my Dad just broke my heart. It was almost like this pent-up anger, that there was nobody to yell at, nobody to get back at." 

"The whole time I'm thinking to myself, I'm gonna get this guy for what the people like him have done to my Dad." 

About 10 minutes into the call, as Dawn continued her sob story, something changed on the other end of the line. 

"I think he truly bought it, and at that point things turned around." 

On the video, you can hear the man telling Dawn, "No need to cry." 

He continues, "Do not get worried about anything, because whatever we have told you is totally wrong. This is a scam. And we were just trying to take money out of you, OK?"

"I'm telling you that this is a scam and don't fall for it." 

"I was shocked," said Dawn. "It was almost as if this guy had had this moment of conscience … and I like to think that that moment was a turning point for him where he doesn't do this anymore."