Arlington Heights police this week are warning residents to be wary of calls seeking money to bail a grandchild out of jail following a fraudulent phone call that caused an elderly woman to be scammed out of $4,000 last week in a so-called “grandparent scam.”
A scammer phoned the woman on Thursday, January, claiming to be her grandson, with another offender saying her grandson needed money to get out of jail. The offender said the woman needed to purchase gift cards at Target totalling $4,000 and call them back with details about the gift cards she purchased. The woman followed the scammer’s instructions, and went to a local Target store and bought gift cards totaling $4,000
The offenders asked for the gift card numbers and the PIN. At that point the offenders were able to purchase items with the gift cards, and the money lost by the victim cannot be retrieved
The “Grandparent Scam” is known to begin with a call in which an elderly person is told his or her grandchild needs money for bail, for a medical bill or to get out of some other kind of trouble.
See past reports of Grandparent Scams on The Cardinal
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A resident also reported to The Cardinal via Facebook that her mother was a victim of an attempted Grandparent Scam. Her mother was told that her Grandson was arrested for DUI and unless she sent money, he would go to jail. The number given (765.558.34**) was searched on line and was identified as a business in Lafayette, Indiana.
Offenders use a wide variety of scenarios in their scams, such as the DUI arrest, or a serious injury crash, where the the grandchild is reported to be liable to pay medical bills for the injured party in a foreign country. Sometimes offenders pretend to be the grandchild, and might say, “Grandma, do you know who this is?” The grandmother might reply with a name, and the scammers then say “Yes.” They acquire the name and use the name in the remaining conversations.
Recommendations from the FTC
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.
Scammers Use Tricks
They impersonate your loved one convincingly.
It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone. Social networking sites make it easier than ever to sleuth out personal and family information. Scammers also could hack into the e-mail account of someone you know. To make their story seem legitimate, they may involve another crook who claims to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer.
They play on your emotions.
Scammers are banking on your love and concern to outweigh your skepticism. In one version of this scam, con artists impersonate grandchildren in distress to trick concerned grandparents into sending money. Sometimes, this is called a “Grandparent Scam.”
They swear you to secrecy.
Con artists may insist that you keep their request for money confidential – to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. Victims of this scam often don’t realize they’ve been tricked until days later, when they speak to their actual family member or friend who knows nothing about the “emergency.” By then, the money they sent can’t be recovered.
They insist that you wire money right away.
Scammers pressure people into wiring money because it’s like sending cash – once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. Imposters encourage using money transfer services so they can get your money before you realize you’ve been scammed.
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