Phone Scam, Part 1: Robin

Robin Talks to ... Herself?

Robin calls the scammers to schedule an appointment to speak with herself.

"Robin and I are in Oregon, because it's a one-party state, which means you don't have to tell somebody if you're recording the phone call," Dr. Phil explains.

Robin is wired with microphones so that her conversation is recorded from both sides. She decides to use a fake name when making the call. "I'm going to ask, ‘Is this the Dr. Phil show, and how do I talk to Robin?'" she says. She gets in touch with the scammers, specifically Cher, who says she is the director of the show. Cher tells Robin it will cost $475 to speak with Robin for an hour and a half. Cher says she is checking for an opening and tells Robin to send money via Western Union to Esther Hernandez.  She says it will cost $475 to speak to Robin, $750 to speak to Dr. Phil, and the package deal is $1,250.

"They work as a team. They're an amazing couple. If your marriage is on the rocks, they're the people," Cher tells Robin. "When you call Western Union, don't mention anything about the Dr. Phil show or anything, just tell them that Esther Hernandez is friend of yours."

Robin calls Western Union and makes the transaction. She calls the scammers back to set up an appointment. "Am I going get to talk to Robin today?" she asks.

"Yes, definitely," Cher tells her. "She's autographing some books at a bookstore. She should be here at 6:15 … You've got an hour and a half with her."


Dr. Phil is in shock. "These people are unbelievable," he says to Robin. "It's surreal. You get caught up in the conversation. You're actually talking about an appointment to talk to you!" 

Cher calls Robin back. "Everything is approved. Robin will be calling you at 6:15," she says. Cher calls Robin back at 6:15. "I just talked to the doctor's family on a conference call. They need to speak to you together on a conference call. Can you do that?" she asks Robin.

"Yes, I can do that!" Robin says, feigning excitement.

"They want to do the package deal," Cher says. "Can you do the Western Union again for the other $750?"

Robin asks if she can send the rest of the money the next day.

"They told me if you didn't want to do it for me to send, give your money back to you," Cher says. This time she asks Robin to send th
e money to Dickerson, Texas.

Robin clarifies with Cher. "You promise me that if I send more money, I can talk to Dr. Phil and Robin both at the same time?" she asks.

"And Robin at the same time on a conference call," Cher confirms.

"This is a pattern that we've heard with some of our viewers who have called in," Dr. Phil explains. "It's a bait and switch. They dangle an initial conference."

"They essentially bullied me over the phone," Robin adds. 

Robin calls Cher and tells her that she sent another $875. "I have got to talk to them. I sent all of that money," Robin pleads. "Is Robin there? Is Robin McGraw going to talk to me?"

"Yes! They're both going to talk to you," Cher says.

"I need to talk to her right now. I'm that desperate," Robin says.

"I have to call and make two transactions, then I'm going to call you right back," Cher tells Robin.

"My first appointment is past time already. I've given you more money. I've done everything that you've asked me to do, and I'm desperate," Robin says.

"Listen, I'm a director. I'm a very popular person here. I know what I'm talking about. I know what I'm doing," Cher says to Robin. "You need to give Robin, and you need to give Phil 20 minutes. They got delayed because of the money transfer. The appointment
was at 6:15. They'll be calling you back at 7:15."

"I can't do that," Robin interjects.

"Do you understand that you're fighting, you're arguing about 20 minutes from now?" Cher asks Robin.

"I'm not arguing. I have given you everything you have asked for, and all I asked was for you to put them on the line. You said that they were there the last time I called, and I sent you more money," a frustrated Robin says. 

"No ma'am. We're a big corporation, and you know what? They don't need your measly $1,200," Cher tells her.

"Measly? Are you kidding me? That is my entire budget for a month," Robin


"Do you understand that these people are multimillionaires?" Cher asks.

"I don't care how much money they have. I know how much money I have, and I was willing to give it to them because you told me they would talk to me. Now, you've lied to me, like, four times," Robin says. "I just wonder if Dr. Phil and Robin know that you lie to their viewers like this."

"They'll be dealing with you in 15 minutes," Cher says.


Robin calls Cher back and Cher says she needs five more minutes to get Dr. Phil and Robin on the line. Robin says she will wait on the line to insure that she speaks with someone.

"Stop it," Cher says. "Do you want to cancel everything? I don't need all of this. I have a lot on my mind. I'm very pressured right now."

"I'm really feeling kind of funny about

this," Robin tells Cher. "I'm thinking that you're lying to me."

"I'm having everything transferred back over to you right now through Western Union to your credit card. Thank you," Cher says, and she hangs up.


"I was never going to get to talk to them," Robin says.

"We knew when we started pushing back they were either going to have to deliver, or they were going to cut and run, and they cut and run," Dr. Phil says.

"Oh, absolutely," Robin agrees. "It was horrible. It was mean."