Sunday, October 22, 2017

‘Grandparent’ scam wreaking havoc across Southwest Florida

a telephone

naples-herald-dot-logo-20x20 (1)Grandparents beware: there’s a new telephone scam making the rounds and it’s directed at Southwest Florida. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line says they have seen an increase in calls during July reporting a telephone scam, or as it’s commonly called the “Grandparent Scam”.

Older adults are targeted in this scheme when they receive a call from a ‘grandchild’ in distress, asking for money.

Here’s how it usually goes, according to LCSO. Residents answer the phone and a male or female imposter start out the conversation, “Hi Grandma” or “Hi Grandpa”, and then create a scenario where they need financial help. Examples are needing money after being involved in a car accident out of town, or being arrested for drunk driving after attending a friend’s funeral. LCSO says in some cases the caller was encouraged to go to the nearest drug store to purchase a pre-paid card and load it with cash. So everyone who has called the hotline to report the scam realized it was a fraud.

These con artists don’t stop at impersonating grandchildren, they’ve got a variety of disguises. LCSO says they may always make calls as attorneys, police officers, or bail bondsmen, anything to create a sense of urgency and legitimacy.

LCSO offers this advice to consider when you think you might be receiving a scam call:

  1. Take a moment to review the situation. Does it make sense? Can you verify the emergency?
  2. Call your loved one on the phone number you have saved for them. If you can’t reach them, call a friend or relative to find out where they are at.
  3. Ask questions of the caller that only your loved one would know the answers to.
  4. Never wire transfer money or use reloadable cards to help a loved one out unless you can verify the information you’ve been given with 100% confidence.
  5. Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify a true emergency.
  6. Don’t rely on the caller ID system when determining whether or not a call is legitimate.

Any possible victims or anyone who thinks they’ve received one of these scam calls is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at (239) 258-3292.

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By: Tim G. Photography
/ CC BY 2.0

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