Al Roker can now add “jackhole of the day” to his career honors.
Andy Cohen bestowed the title on the weathercaster on Wednesday night’s episode of “Watch What Happens Live,” hours after the Bravo host appeared on the “Today” show to discuss his recent experience with imposter fraud.
As Cohen’s “Today” segment with hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb drew to a close, Roker chimed in with a jocular allegation: that a “Real Housewives” franchise member might be behind the fraud scheme.
“Well, there is someone most likely,” the “Real Housewives” producer replied, leaving out any details.
“Al, how could you? That was basically the ‘Today’ show version of this,” Cohen said on his show later that night, queuing up a clip from an episode of “Real Housewives of Miami” in which cast member Marysol Patton’s friend asks, “Who here do you trust the least?”
While Cohen’s dig at Roker was in jest, Cohen asserted on “Today” that imposter fraud is no joke.
“This is serious, and I really don’t want this to happen to anyone, which is why I want to talk to you about it,” he told Guthrie and Kotb.
It started with an email.
Cohen had lost his debit card the day before and reported it lost, so he opened the email assuming the two were related. If only he had checked the sender’s email address, he said, he would have seen that it didn’t include his bank’s name.
The email, which looked to him like a fraud alert, directed him to what was ostensibly his bank’s sign-in page. It wasn’t until he was prompted to enter his Apple ID that he was clued into a potential scam. But by then, the scammer already had access to his accounts.
The next day, he received an “Is this you” text notifying him that someone was trying to use his credit card at a Walmart in Minneapolis.
Panicked, he replied “no.” Then his phone rang.
Caller ID identified the call as coming from his bank, so he answered. A woman’s voice on the other end of the line told him he had been contacted because of a fraud alert, and that she would like to go through his charges with him. By answering the phone and relaying codes sent by his bank, Cohen unknowingly approved several wire transfers to the scammer — who convinced him of her legitimacy by assuring him that the bank never would have asked him for his Apple ID.
“She sounded like my advocate,” he said, which was why he also believed her when she said a pop-up message he didn’t understand was harmless. In reality, it was a notification that calls from his bank were being forwarded to the scammer.
“Whoever you are, I hate you, but you are very good at your job,” Cohen said on “Today.”
The scammer then asked if he would like to prosecute the person who made the unauthorized charges, to which he agreed. She said she would call him 30 minutes later, but never did.
The following day, Cohen went into his bank, where he learned what had happened and was told, “When money is wired out of your account, it’s gone.” Still, he filed a report with the New York Police Department‘s cybersecurity unit, and it is still an active case.
While Cohen said he’s not proud of what happened, he said he believes it’s important to make people aware of the pervasiveness of imposter fraud and teach them how to protect themselves.
“I consider myself a smart, functioning member of society. … I’m always warning my parents, ‘Mom and Dad, be careful. If someone calls, don’t give any information,’” he said. “But here it happened to me, and I just don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
“You’re not falling for the easy scam, but they were so sophisticated,” Guthrie said.
To avoid being victimized by such a scam, the hosts and Cohen counseled viewers, always check senders’ email addresses and never respond to a phone call, text or email without consulting your bank first — especially when scammers often manipulate their victims with messaging like, “You need to act now.”
“Don’t get sucked into the urgent moment of it,” Cohen said. “Nothing needs to happen ‘now.’”
“Trust no one who calls you. Say ‘I will call you back,’” he continued. “Even better, go to your bank yourself.”
Nationwide, imposter scams are the most common type of fraud, with more than 600,000 cases reported in 2023, costing Americans $2 billion, according to Federal Trade Commission data through Q3.