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:
- Take a moment to review the situation. Does it make sense? Can you verify the emergency?
- 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.
- Ask questions of the caller that only your loved one would know the answers to.
- 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.
- Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify a true emergency.
- 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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