Ring Ring Ring Ripoff

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Ring Ring Ring Ripoff

Be care­ful when you answer the phone! If you are told that a rel­a­tive is injured or in some kind of other des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion, beware.

It’s com­monly known as “The Grand­par­ent Scam”, because elderly peo­ple are often the vic­tims, but it could hap­pen to any­one who isn’t suf­fi­ciently skep­ti­cal and gets caught off guard. Some­one tried a vari­a­tion of this scam on me a few months ago, but I am always sus­pi­cious of calls from unknown num­bers so it didn’t work, but some rot­ten crooks almost got my favorite Aun­tie and my mom just the other day. If you’re not famil­iar with this par­tic­u­lar con, here is how it works:

The tar­get gets a phone call from some­one either pre­tend­ing to be their grand­child (or other rel­a­tive) or a cop, or a lawyer, or a kid­nap­per, and says that the intended victim’s loved one has been hurt in an acci­dent (or is in legal trou­ble, has been kid­napped, or is in some other kind of peril) and the only way to help them is to imme­di­ately wire a large sum of money some­where — and don’t tell any­one or the per­son you love’s sit­u­a­tion will greatly worsen!

If the vic­tim com­plies, that money is gone for­ever, and their infor­ma­tion may be sold to other scam­mers as an easy mark to get set up for more schemes. It’s a cruel crime, tar­get­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and using their love for fam­ily as a weapon against them. Fraud​.org pro­vides some help­ful infor­ma­tion about this:

Stay safe. Be Informed.

The vic­tim is urged not to tell any­one, such as the par­ent of the “grand­child” because they do not want them to find out about the trou­ble they’ve got­ten them­selves into. The grand­par­ent never hears from their fake grand­child again and is tricked out of hun­dreds or even thou­sands of dollars.

To detect and avoid the Grand­par­ent Scam, NCL’s Fraud Cen­ter rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing tips:

  • Beware of any urgent solic­i­ta­tion of funds, espe­cially if it is needed to pay for unex­pected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doc­tor bills
  • Before send­ing funds, inde­pen­dently con­tact the rel­a­tive (or par­ent of the rel­a­tive) the scam artist is claim­ing to be (or rep­re­sent) at a known phone num­ber to ver­ify the details of the story.
  • Scam artist’s pay­ment method of choice is the wire trans­fer. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.
  • Be aware that fraud­sters attempt­ing the Grand­par­ent Scam may call late at night to con­fuse poten­tial victims.
  • Con­sumers who have been vic­tims of this scam should imme­di­ately report it to local law enforce­ment, their state attor­ney gen­eral and NCL’s Fraud Cen­ter at Fraud​.org.

The FTC has addi­tional advice:

Ver­ify an Emergency

If some­one calls or sends a mes­sage claim­ing to be a fam­ily mem­ber or a friend des­per­ate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act imme­di­ately, no mat­ter how dra­matic the story is.
  • Ver­ify the person’s iden­tity by ask­ing ques­tions that a stranger couldn’t pos­si­bly answer.
  • Call a phone num­ber for your fam­ily mem­ber or friend that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with some­one else in your fam­ily or cir­cle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight deliv­ery or courier.
  • Report pos­si­ble fraud at ftc​.gov/​c​o​m​p​laint or by call­ing 1877-​FTC-​HELP. MORE

The con artists will even make an effort to “help” the vic­tim. Via WBNS-​10TV — Colum­bus, OH:

Often times they’ll hand the phone off to a sec­ond party on the phone, alleg­ing that’s the attor­ney and that serves the pur­pose of get­ting a dif­fer­ent voice on there so they don’t con­tinue to ques­tion whether this is my grandchild’s voice,” explains Sgt. Kline.

He goes on to say that some­times, the scam­mers will even go as far as arrang­ing taxi trans­porta­tion for grand­par­ents to get to the loca­tion where they can get the money orders. Full Story HERE

The call that I received, from a strange cell phone num­ber, said that my “hus­band, son, or brother” was in a hor­ri­ble acci­dent in a nearby town and had been taken away by ambu­lance, and the caller was some­one who had been on the scene before emer­gency ser­vices arrived and that my male rel­a­tive had given them my num­ber to call as his own phone had been dam­aged in the acci­dent. The guy who called me could not tell me the name of my injured loved one, say­ing that he was hurt so badly that he could barely talk and that he didn’t have any ID on him, they could not tell me what hos­pi­tal my “hus­band, son, or brother” had been taken to, and they could not tell me my own name or how the injured male was con­nected to me, because my loved one was too messed up to say it before he was carted off to an undis­closed loca­tion. I think the caller was expect­ing me to go to the loca­tion he had given me (the alleged scene of the acci­dent) or meet him else­where and I do not know what would have hap­pened then, but it didn’t get to that as I cut the guy off and insisted that he must have got­ten the wrong num­ber because I knew full well where all of my peo­ple were and I hung up.

The scam that tar­geted my aunt and almost robbed my mom was more like the ones described when you look up “injured rel­a­tive phone scam” in a search engine, my mom got dragged into it because her sis­ter is cur­rently house­bound recov­er­ing from a seri­ous med­ical issue. Both women are in their eight­ies and love their fam­i­lies dearly. Here is how I found out about it:

My cousin called me two days ago look­ing for my mom. My mom lives 100 miles away so I fig­ured she must have assumed she was up vis­it­ing or just called my num­ber by mis­take. My cousin was very upset. I told her that she’d reached my house, not my mom’s and that my mom was not here. My cousin told me that my aunt had got­ten a call say­ing that another cousin, my aunt’s grand­son, was hurt in an acci­dent but that, “It was a trick” and that we needed to get hold of my mom, who was on her way to West­ern Union on behalf of my aunt. I guess my aunt had got­ten the call and was so dis­tressed that she called my mom for help, and my mom was going to with­draw almost two thou­sand dol­lars from her own bank account and wire the money on my aunt’s behalf.

Unfor­tu­nately, my mom had already left her house, she doesn’t answer her cell phone, and I did not know the loca­tion of the West­ern Union near­est to my mom, so I spent a good chunk of time fret­ting about it before my mom finally got back home and I could speak to her. Luck­ily, my mom started to get sus­pi­cious as to why she couldn’t just write a nor­mal check and why there was no name for who to make the money order or trans­fer or what­ever out to, so instead of com­plet­ing the task, she went back home and called my aunt, who had by then been advised by my cousins of the con so nobody was hurt this time. Thank God.

Some ver­sions of this nasty trick­ery also tar­get peo­ple through email, text mes­sages, and social media.

Please be care­ful if some­one con­tacts you with an “emer­gency”, and tell the peo­ple that you care about who may be vul­ner­a­ble to such tac­tics as the one described above to be cau­tious as well.

*******

MJ Steven­son, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla​.com. She lives in a wood­land shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her fam­ily and a large pack of guardian com­pan­ion ani­mals.

Be careful when you answer the phone! If you are told that a relative is injured or in some kind of other desperate situation, beware.

It’s commonly known as “The Grandparent Scam”, because elderly people are often the victims, but it could happen to anyone who isn’t sufficiently skeptical and gets caught off guard. Someone tried a variation of this scam on me a few months ago, but I am always suspicious of calls from unknown numbers so it didn’t work, but some rotten crooks almost got my favorite Auntie and my mom just the other day. If you’re not familiar with this particular con, here is how it works:

The target gets a phone call from someone either pretending to be their grandchild (or other relative) or a cop, or a lawyer, or a kidnapper, and says that the intended victim’s loved one has been hurt in an accident (or is in legal trouble, has been kidnapped, or is in some other kind of peril) and the only way to help them is to immediately wire a large sum of money somewhere – and don’t tell anyone or the person you love’s situation will greatly worsen!

If the victim complies, that money is gone forever, and their information may be sold to other scammers as an easy mark to get set up for more schemes. It’s a cruel crime, targeting vulnerable people and using their love for family as a weapon against them. Fraud.org provides some helpful information about this:

Stay safe. Be Informed.

The victim is urged not to tell anyone, such as the parent of the “grandchild” because they do not want them to find out about the trouble they’ve gotten themselves into. The grandparent never hears from their fake grandchild again and is tricked out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

To detect and avoid the Grandparent Scam, NCL’s Fraud Center recommends the following tips:

  • Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills
  • Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the scam artist is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story.
  • Scam artist’s payment method of choice is the wire transfer. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.
  • Be aware that fraudsters attempting the Grandparent Scam may call late at night to confuse potential victims.
  • Consumers who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement, their state attorney general and NCL’s Fraud Center at Fraud.org.

The FTC has additional advice:

Verify an Emergency

If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
  • Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
  • Report possible fraud at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.      MORE

The con artists will even make an effort  to “help” the victim. Via WBNS-10TV – Columbus, OH:

“Often times they’ll hand the phone off to a second party on the phone, alleging that’s the attorney and that serves the purpose of getting a different voice on there so they don’t continue to question whether this is my grandchild’s voice,” explains Sgt. Kline.

He goes on to say that sometimes, the scammers will even go as far as arranging taxi transportation for grandparents to get to the location where they can get the money orders.   Full Story HERE

The call that I received, from a strange cell phone number, said that my “husband, son, or brother” was in a horrible accident in a nearby town and had been taken away by ambulance, and the caller was someone who had been on the scene before emergency services arrived and that my male relative had given them my number to call as his own phone had been damaged in the accident. The guy who called me could not tell me the name of my injured loved one, saying that he was hurt so badly that he could barely talk and that he didn’t have any ID on him, they could not tell me what hospital my “husband, son, or brother” had been taken to, and they could not tell me my own name or how the injured male was connected to me, because my loved one was too messed up to say it before he was carted off  to an undisclosed location. I think the caller was expecting me to go to the location he had given me (the alleged scene of the accident) or meet him elsewhere and I do not know what would have happened then, but it didn’t get to that as I cut the guy off and insisted that he must have gotten the wrong number because I knew full well where all of my people were and I hung up.

The scam that targeted my aunt and almost robbed my mom was more like the ones described when you look up “injured relative phone scam” in a search engine, my mom got dragged into it because her sister is currently housebound recovering from a serious medical issue. Both women are in their eighties and love their families dearly. Here is how I found out about it:

My cousin called me two days ago looking for my mom. My mom lives 100 miles away so I figured she must have assumed she was up visiting or just called my number by mistake. My cousin was very upset. I told her that she’d reached my house, not my mom’s and that my mom was not here. My cousin told me that my aunt had gotten a call saying that another cousin, my aunt’s grandson, was hurt in an accident but that, “It was a trick” and that we needed to get hold of my mom, who was on her way to Western Union on behalf of my aunt. I guess my aunt had gotten the call and was so distressed that she called my mom for help, and my mom was going to withdraw almost two thousand dollars from her own bank account and wire the money on my aunt’s behalf.

Unfortunately, my mom had already left her house, she doesn’t answer her cell phone, and I did not know the location of the Western Union nearest to my mom, so I spent a good chunk of time fretting about it before my mom finally got back home and I could speak to her. Luckily, my mom started to get suspicious as to why she couldn’t just write a normal check and why there was no name for who to make the money order or transfer or whatever out to, so instead of completing the task, she went back home and called my aunt, who had by then been advised by my cousins of the con so nobody was hurt this time. Thank God.

Some versions of this nasty trickery also target people through email, text messages, and social media.

Please be careful if someone contacts you with an “emergency”, and tell the people that you care about who may be vulnerable to such tactics as the one described above to be cautious as well.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.