The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is urging senior citizens to use caution as scammers are impersonating relatives to try and get money out of them.
While running the “Grandparent Scam” the criminal calls victims pretending to be a family member, usually a grandchild, and will ask for bail money and urge the victim to keep it the request a secret. Sometimes the perpetrator will also impersonate a government official or attorney who is requesting the bail on the family member’s behalf.
The caller will sometimes use a nickname or other personal information they have acquired from social media or Facebook in order to convince the victim. They will then ask the victim to send funds via wire transfer or prepaid card in order to help their family member.
In the most recent case targeting a Collier resident, an 84-year-old North Naples man received a call from a scammer claiming to be his grandson. The caller told the senior that he had received a DUI after being in an accident and needed to be wired funds in order to make bail.
Deputies say the victim did as instructed and wired the money from a local Wal-Mart to a Wal-Mart in New York. Luckily, when the scammer attempted to have the money transfer company reroute the funds, the company became suspicious and placed a hold on the transaction. The victim’s daughter reported the scam to the money transfer company’s fraud hotline after learning what had happened to her father and the funds were returned to the victim after the company cancelled the order.
In a statement, the Collier County Sheriff’s office urged residents to always be wary of unverified solicitation. They suggest that residents research the number of the organization the caller represents and to not trust the number they give you or that is displayed on caller ID. If a caller request payment by prepaid card or wire transfer that should raise a red flag that it might be a scam. Those who need assistance with any suspicious request for money or personal information can call the Collier County Sheriff’s “Call Before You Pay” hotline at 239-252-CALL (2255).
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