What would you do if you suddenly received a phone call or email from someone who identified themselves as your grandchild in need of bail money? Would you recognize the warning signs or know how to respond should a con-artist attempt to lure you into a popular scheme targeting older adults, commonly referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”?
This scam is a clever game of emotional extortion designed to tug on the heart and purse strings of grandparents. It can result in the loss of thousands of dollars when victims comply with the caller’s demand to take immediate action in the form of personally delivering a cash payment, sending cash via a wire transfer, or purchasing pre-paid debit cards.
Sheriff Carmine Marceno wants you to know that residents right here in Lee County are a prime target for this scam. It is imperative you heed his advice listed below before rushing in to help your grandson or granddaughter, no matter how hard the caller pushes you to respond:
- Take a moment to review the situation. Does it make sense? Can you verify the emergency?
- Call your loved one using 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.
- Ask questions of the caller that only you and your loved one would know the answers to.
- NEVER allow the person you are speaking with to come to your home and pick up cash. If someone does come to your home, call 911 or 477-1000 immediately.
- NEVER wire transfer money or use reloadable cards to make a payment without verifying a real emergency exists.
- Do not rely on Caller ID to determine the legitimacy of a call. Scammers are known to use this tactic to trick victims.
- When in doubt, call your local law enforcement before making a decision to respond.
If you have received a phone call or email from someone attempting to lure you into the Grandparent Scam, please contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 239-258-3292. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.