Scammer claims to be loved one in jail
On November 3, 2016, we received a complaint from an elderly resident regarding a “family emergency scam” he fell prey to. The citizen reported that he received a call from an unfamiliar number in which the caller claimed to be his grandson. The caller claimed he had a cold and that was why his voice sounded different. He claimed to be in jail in Cleveland and then put another party on the line who he claimed was a police sergeant from the jail. The fake “police sergeant” then instructed the victim to go to Target and purchase two $2,000 gift cards in to pay his “grandson’s” $4,000 bond.
The victim complied by purchasing the gift cards, calling the suspect back, and giving the pin numbers for the cards to the scammer over the phone. He called his real grandson on the phone after he sent the money and learned that he was not in jail but instead was safely away at school.
This is a known scam that quite often targets elderly victims and preys upon their desire to help their family members.
ALWAYS be suspicious of anyone who demands payment in gift cards.
If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
- Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
- Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
- Report possible fraud at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP
Learn more about this type of scam AT THIS LINK to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information Blog.