Two-Step Scam Targets GrandmasAwareness . Identity Theft . Law Enforcement . News
My 85 year old mother received a call the other day from her Grandson. He was crying and told her that he was had been in an accident, he was being arrested and that his public defender would be calling. He also asked her not to tell his parents. She was quiet shaken, it sounded similar to him, he new of their relationship and she knew he had traveled near New York the previous day. When the “Public Defender” called a few minutes later she asked my Father to take the call. My Father is former Secret Service and worked Organized Crime and Narcotics for decades. Also an important note/lesson, my Father doesn’t answer questions until he is done vetting the question and questioner. The “Public Defender” was confident and well spoken, however, he spoke quickly and if asked gave a shallow/evasive answer and immediately moved back to his questions. The conversation lasted about 5 minutes, mostly a back and forth with the “Public Defender”. In the end the “Public Defender” terminated the call after offering up bogus contact and office information. They moved on.
I am sharing this because while my Father is a very savvy elderly man hardened by dealing with criminals his whole life. My Mother is not and may have fallen or at the very least provided them with more useful information to exploit or use in the future. After being brought into the loop I did some investigation and confirmed that all the information was bogus. I was also surprised that this is a fairly widespread scam that these confidence wannabes are using with some success. So successful the Federal Trade Commission has a warning and examples on their site.
There are real people falling for this scam. Talking to a friend about what happen, she shared that their family friend fell for this and lost $4,000.00. Their story was similar, their adult son (in his late 20’s) took a vacation down to Mexico. A few days after he left they got a call saying he had been arrested on a drug charge and he needed to pay a $4,000.00 bond to get out of jail and come home. While American citizens, for this family English was not their first language. They are good people and just wanted to help their son and they couldn’t reach their son. They were told a bond agent would come to the house to collect the $4,000.00. He arrived, they gave him the funds and he left.
In the above story they could have called the police or called back the “jail” but the caller had all the right information, they seemed to really know their son’s facts. That said, Trust but Verify. Ask questions, the more you ask the more you engage your brain.
Don’t share any information, you shouldn’t have to! Call the Police or the local Attorney General’s office. Get call back information and call them back. Then google the number they provided. If they say they are from the Cook County Jail, google and call the Cook County Jail and ask questions! Your best offense is a strong defense. Protect Yourself!
There are cases where people have contacted the Police, they responded quickly and they caught the person picking up the money. This is a great feel good ending but it does little to save all the other people who fall victim. Catching one criminal doesn’t scare the criminals. Your best option is to be aware enough to protect yourself.
As I pointed out to my Mother, like my son, this person had posted on social media where they were going. I never have understood using social media as an open diary of your every move or life event. Here is a reason to beware. You can use social media but you should rarely share anything current or relevant to your personal life.
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