Local law enforcement state that fraudsters are stepping up their efforts and using all of the tools at their disposal. They prey upon people’s fears. A very common, but easily avoidable scam is the “grandparent scam”. The “grandparent scam” will come to a person as a phone call. The caller will claim to be a relative or an acquaintance of a relative. The caller will use a method called “social engineering” whereby the caller plays upon the person’s sympathies and generates urgency and fear. The caller’s story will have an emotional appeal and require urgent action. The action always involves a payment to alleviate the situation (bail money, medical expenses, legal fees, etc.). The caller has one purpose and one purpose only…to separate the individual from his/her money. Payment is almost always requested in the form of non-traceable funds (gift cards, Apple iTunes cards, Green Dot Cards, Zelle transactions, wire transfers, etc.). If a person sends money, it cannot be retrieved and the fraudster will ask for more, until the individual’s resources are depleted.
Below are some suggestions to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
1. You are receiving a call from an unknown number. Don’t answer the phone. If it is it is important, they will leave a voice mail.
2. The person on the phone claims to be a relative with an urgent matter. If that is so, hang up and contact that person the way you normally would, or his/her family. Verify the story.
3. Anyone who requests money be sent in the form of gift cards, Western Union Wire, Zelle Transaction, cash withdrawal with instructions to ship the cash, etc. is a fraud. The individual may appear as the pastor, etc., but before you comply with the request, call the pastor or church office staff (or person requesting) for verification.
The “Grandparent Scam” is one way in which fraud is committed. It can come to a person’s email, mail box, phone or text and it can even occur without the person’s knowledge. If anyone thinks he/she has been involved in a fraud or knows of someone who might be, contact your local law enforcement. If you aren’t sure, contact law enforcement. Law enforcement would rather answer a question, than respond to and investigate a crime already committed.