Police: Don’t fall for ‘relative in trouble’ phone scam

The caller told Arthur Green his wife’s relative had been in a car crash and needed $4,000.

Green didn’t think the man sounded like his grandnephew, but the man assured him, saying he’d been injured, was upset and shaken from the wreck.

The 85-year-old man followed the caller’s instructions, going to Best Buy and purchasing gift cards. The caller even told Green what to say if the store manager, who tried to talk Green out of the purchase, asked questions.

The process moved quickly, and Green sent the money. The caller contacted Green again, this time asking for an additional $3,000. Green was then sent to Target to get more gift cards. He purchased and sent them before he realized he’d been scammed.

“They’re really smooth operators, these callers. They knew so much about us, our grandnephew’s name and other information. We were so worried, and didn’t stop to think it could be a scam,” Green said.

In the “grandparent scam,” a scammer calls or emails posing as a relative in distress or someone representing them (like a lawyer or law enforcement officer). The “relative” explains they’re in trouble and need their grandparent to wire funds or send gift cards to be used for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills or another fake expenses.

Local law enforcement say it’s one of many phone scams targeting seniors in Hampton Roads. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission received roughly 10,565 “family/friend impostor” fraud complaints nationwide, according to its fraud center website. The agency says it’s impossible to know the actual scope of these calls because some victims didn’t call police.

Police in Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, York and James City counties have all warned seniors about similar phone scams in the last year. Other frequent scams involve callers demanding money for missing jury duty, payment for overdue Internal Revenue bills or to get a relative out of jail. Police…

Read more from the source…

Back to Top