Emergency scams continue to victimize consumers and separate them from their money. An emergency scam is where an individual is contacted via telephone, the internet or U.S. Mail asking for money to be wired to them immediately for assistance or to assist a family member or friend in trouble. A version of this is known as the Grandparent Scam. The District Attorney’s Office has distributed warnings about this in the past, but wanted to warn consumers again about this scam because consumers are still falling victim to the scam.
Emergency scams tug at the emotions of consumers. The caller or sender of the message appeals to the emotions of the victim so that they feel compelled to help immediately by sending money. The con artists frequently claim to be their grandchild and urgently request money to be sent to cover medical expenses from an accident or bail money from a recent arrest. The con artists sound very convincing. Con artist have also hacked into Facebook or e-mail accounts and then target friends or family members with an urgent request for help.
If you receive a call or message with an urgent request for help, don’t panic. Obtain contact information and details about the situation. Then, independently verify the facts; victims will usually learn that it is a hoax. Take the following steps to protect yourself:
- Obtain as many facts about the situation as possible, to include a call back number.
- Ask the caller or sender questions that only the family member or friend in trouble would know.
- Call a family member or friend at a number you know is good for them to verify the whereabouts of the person allegedly in trouble.
- Do not provide the caller or sender with any of your personal identifying information or account numbers.
- Do not feel pressured to act immediately.
- Most importantly, do not send or wire any money until you are certain the need for help is real. If you haven’t confirmed it is real, then it probably isn’t.
If you become a victim of this type of fraud, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. The District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Line provides assistance to victims of crime and answers questions on white collar crime issues. If you have a question or need assistance call 720-874-8547.