Archived Story

Police warn of new scam

Published 10:19pm Monday, May 5, 2014

The Troy Police Department issued a warning about a phone scam the FBI has come across.
You’re a grandparent, and you get a phone call or an email from someone who identifies himself as your grandson. “I’ve been arrested in another country,” he says, “and need money wired quickly to pay my bail. And oh by the way, don’t tell my mom or dad because they’ll only get upset.”
The “grandparent scam” has been around for a few years, but Troy Police Sgt. Bryan Weed said it has gotten to be a lot more sophisticated. Social networking sites have made it easier for scam artists to provide just enough personal information to sound believable. People post about their careers, trips and family on sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Unlike many scammers, these callers often have no distinguishing accent.
“The one’s that we recently saw were detailed they had a lot of information,” Weed said. “The things that really triggered one of them was their grandson didn’t call them grandmama or granddady and that is what caught their attention.”
Common scenarios include a late-night or early-morning emergency phone call from a “grandchild” in trouble; an arresting officer, lawyer or doctor calling regarding the phony grandchild; and sometimes a combination of the two where the phony grandchild passes the phone to the official.
Military families have fallen victim to the scam when grandparents received calls from their soldier who “got into some trouble while on military leave.” It is called the grandparent scam, but callers can claim to be any relative or family friend.
The FBI reported individual losses of several thousand dollars.
“It’s extremely, extremely, extremely difficult to prosecute,” said Weed. “It’s really hard to find out where they are. The numbers are usually blocked.”
He still recommended reporting any incident, not only to local law enforcement, but to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which will forward the complaint to the appropriate agencies.
To avoid being a victim of the scam, Weed said to resist the pressure to act quickly. contact other family members before sending any money.
“Check and double-check to make sure there is a problem and it truly is a family member,” Weed said. “And not somebody trying to make an easy buck on somebody’s kindness.”
Also, never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an email…especially overseas.
Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.
To file an Internet complaint, go to www.ic3.gov/complaint/

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