Here is some information from CEPD about a resurgence of the “Grandparent Scam.” Please be aware and vigilant, and help spread the word!
Over the past week, several Cape Elizabeth residents have reported being involved with the “Grandparent” scam. Unfortunately, one resident sent almost $11,000 to the scammer.
The scam begins with a phone call from someone pretending to be your grandchild, one of his/her friends, a lawyer or a law enforcement officer. The caller then describes an urgent scenario requiring that thousands of dollars be sent immediately, e.g. your grandchild will go to jail if you don’t send bail money or he or she became ill while traveling in a foreign country and needs money to come home. The scammer is often extremely persistent that the money be sent immediately because the longer it takes, the more likely you are to figure out that you are being scammed.
If impersonating the grandchild, the scammer may speak softly or cry so that the victim is less likely to question why the grandchild’s voice sounds different. The “grandchild” may beg you not to tell their parents what’s going on. They may even tell you to lie to the bank if questioned about the reason for the withdrawal. Scammers often utilize social media to learn more about your personal life, family, and friends.
Scammers often try to bully victims into transferring money through a mobile payment app, sending cash in packages, wiring money, or by purchasing gift cards or money orders.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
♦ Set the privacy settings on your social media accounts so that only people you know can access your posts and photos. Scammers search Facebook, Instagram and other social networks for family information they can use to fool you.
♦ Hang up immediately and call the grandchild or other family member in question, on a known number, to make sure they’re safe. With luck, they’ll answer, and you’ll know the supposed emergency call is a scam.
♦ Contact other family members or friends if you have any concern that the emergency could be real. Scammers plead with you to keep the situation a secret precisely so you won’t try to confirm it.
♦ If you speak to someone who claims to be a police officer, call the relevant law enforcement agency to verify the person’s identity and any information they’ve given you.
♦ Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
♦ Never give your address, personal information or money to someone who calls you out of the blue.
♦ Don’t drop your guard because the number on your caller ID looks familiar. Scammers can use technological tricks to make it appear that they’re calling from a trusted number.
♦ Don’t panic, no matter how dire the grandchild’s predicament sounds. Scam artists want to get you upset to distract you from spotting the ruse.
♦ Law Enforcement or government officials will never take payment via gift card(s). If the person calling asks you to buy gift cards, then you should immediately suspect the call to be a scam.