I’ve Been Scammed. Now What?

5864191813_3e61573047Photo courtesy of Jamal Neptune

Recently, law enforcement officers across the nation have been fervently urging everyone to be on high alert for a new variety of scam artists. Naturally, people of all ages need to be smart in order to avoid being scammed out of their hard earned cash, however in the past few months, a new and disturbing trend has been unfolding.

The newest popular hoax among rip-off artists is the to pose as the grandchild of an elderly person. Since a grandparent would most certainly recognize his or her own grandchild in person, these scammers make contact with the “grandparents” only on the telephone.  At the beginning of the conversation, they  typically ask their ‘grandparent’ if he or she can guess which grandchild they’re talking to. As soon as a name is offered, the scammer responds affirmatively. Any questions about differences in voice are blamed on having a cold or having recently been hit on the nose or face.

Some scam artists use social media or other websites to acquire additional information about the targeted families, such as names/nicknames, personal details like birthdays, and other facts that may persuade the targeted grandparents to believe they are actually speaking to their grandchildren.

Everyone knows that a grandparent never wants his or her grandchild to suffer, so the (pretend) grandchild invents a distressing story, perhaps that he is imprisoned in Mexico after a crazy bachelor party, or that he was on a trip with friends and his wallet was stolen. Some have even claimed to have been in a car accident, or to have lost their passport (and to acquire a new one they need thousands of dollars).

Usually, the scam artist requests secrecy (to avoid getting in trouble with parents, etc.) in order to keep the grandparents from contacting other family members and finding out that their grandchild is actually not in any trouble at all.

These scam artists typically work with several other people who may also call the grandparents, posing as MoneyGram or Western Union store operators, lawyers or other professionals. These people play an important role because they provide details that back up the initial story and cause the grandparents to fully believe the deception.

After being told that their first wire transfer failed, many of these elderly victims go on to wire two or three additional cash advances, hoping to prevent any harm coming to their grandchild.

Statistics show that the elderly are more susceptible than other age groups to being scammed out of large sums of money, but in reality, this can happen to anyone and it is important to be smart before sending money when asked for help over the phone. Some things to do that will help you keep your money where it belongs:

  • Do not keep any requests for money a secret. Confirm that the person asking for your help really is in trouble. Call friends and family members before doing anything.
  • Ask the person on the phone a question that only he would know the answer to, if he is who he claims to be.
  • Use a secret word that only your family and closest friends know. If the caller can’t tell you the secret word, hang up.
  • Be careful how much personal information you post online. We love social networking as much as the next person, but try to remain slightly anonymous.  This will leave you less susceptible to scams.

If you’re reading because you’ve already been victimized, it is a good idea to seek quality legal assistance to prevent the con artist from taking any more of your money and to ensure that something of this nature never happens again.

Call Veitengruber Law and ask us how we can help. There are security measures that we can help you put into place on all of your accounts and credit cards. We can also investigate your current fraud case and determine whether any of your lost money can be recovered.

If you’d like a consult with one of our attorneys, but you don’t know how you’ll pay for it – we’ve got an easy answer for you. Simply like our Facebook page, and your consultation meeting will be completely free of charge!

5 Responses to I’ve Been Scammed. Now What?

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