Emergencies have become a popular way to deceive innocent people out of their hard earned money. Scammers pose as relatives or friends asking for help in an emergency.
How it works:
The phone rings in the middle of the night with a caller who claims to be a friend or relative. Oftentimes, grandparents receive calls from individuals claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter. The fake grandchild tries to pick up cues to establish the real identity of the grandchild. For example, the grandparent may say, "Timmy, is that you?" The scammer now knows the name of the person he is impersonating. The scammer says there has been an emergency, and he needs money quickly! He wants you to transfer money immediately.
- Why did the scammer contact you?
Scammers use a variety of lists, including marketing lists, telephone listings, and information from social networking sites, obituaries and other sources. In certain situations, scammers will hack personal accounts, like social media and e-mail accounts, in order to obtain the information needed, including personal details about your life.
- How do scammers know things about you?
Sometimes, scammers may have information about you to establish your trust. Other times, they are guessing and hoping that you unknowingly provide information as a clue. They may use generalities like, "it’s your grandson," hoping you share his real name.
- What do scammers say?
Scammers might say something like, “I’m in Cancun, and I got arrested for DUI.” Or they may suggest another emergency that requires immediate financial assistance such and being robbed or being held on bail. Scammers may also pose as an attorney or law enforcement official contacting you on behalf of your grandchild, friend or relative. Regardless of the scenario, they want you to send them money immediately.
- What else can you do to protect yourself?
If you get a call or email from someone claiming to know you and asking you for help, confirm it is legitimate before sending any money. Ask specific questions that would be difficult for an imposter to answer correctly, such as intimate details only a family member or friend would know. Try to contact that family member or friend directly. Don’t send money unless you are absolutely sure it is going to the correct person and not a scammer.