(NEWS10) – There have been a number of regional arrests linked to the so-called ‘Grandparent scam’, which targets victims by claiming they are their grandchild and need cash because they are in trouble or need to be bailed out of jail.
State Police urge Grandparents finding themselves in a similar situation to try and get hold of their grandchild or the child’s parents to confirm the status of the child before sending any money.
Grandparents can also ask a question only their grandchild would know such as the name of a pet, the grandchild’s mother’s birthday or the name of the grandchild’s elementary school.
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Verify an Emergency
- 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.
Here are some of the tricks scammers are using to get your money.
They impersonate your loved one convincingly.
It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone. Social networking sites make it easier than ever to sleuth out personal and family information. Scammers also could hack into the e-mail account of someone you know. To make their story seem legitimate, they may involve another crook who claims to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer.
They play on your emotions.
Scammers are banking on your love and concern to outweigh your skepticism. In one version of this scam, con artists impersonate grandchildren in distress to trick concerned grandparents into sending money. Sometimes, this is called a ‘Grandparent Scam.’
They swear you to secrecy.
Con artists may insist that you keep their request for money confidential – to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. Victims of this scam often don’t realize they’ve been tricked until days later when they speak to their actual family member or friend who knows nothing about the “emergency.” By then, the money they sent can’t be recovered.
They insist that you wire money right away.
Scammers pressure people into wiring money because it’s like sending cash – once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. Imposters encourage using money transfer services so they can get your money before you realize you’ve been scammed.
Police urge anyone victimized in similar incidents to contact the New York State Police and/or New York Office of the Attorney General at 1-800-771-7755 and to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online at ftc.gov/complaint or call 877-382-4357.