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Y2K: The Con Artist's Dream

There's a growing plague of con artists attracted by the growing buzz about Y2K bugs. Just as low-tech hustlers do, they prey on people's fears and offer a quick fix at a high price. CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod has the lowdown for you on Y2K and Y2K cons.

If there's anybody left sorry to see the millennium craze finally run its course, it may just be the con artists. A number of these scammers have seen opportunity in the rumors of the Y2K dangers.

Senior citizens seems to be the main targets, like Betty Mason, a grandmother. She took a call from a man promising to make her credit card Y2K compliant, if she would give him her account number.

"I said there's no way you will get my credit card number,", she recalls. "And he said 'Bitch, I'll max you out.'"

Some low-tech scammers are pushing hollowed-out books as the perfect way to stash some cash until we're sure the banks will open again. Of course, anyone who buys one becomes a sitting duck, with their valuables all packed up in one easy-to-steal carrying case.

"There are no bounds on rip-off artists," claims Jody Bernstein of the Federal Trade Commission. "And you can quote me on that. They will use anything."

Take the company making inflated claims for a gold mine in the mountains of oregon. "When people get hungry," goes the sales pitch for the safety of gold amid Y2K chaos, "ethics, morality, and good-sportsmanship go out the window." No kidding.

Which is why agencies like New York's Department of Aging are producing instructional videos. But the fear is that not everyone who is vulnerable will get the message in time.