Scam Attempt Almost Worked (from Asst. Police Chief Sammy Bailey)

“We had an incident similar to the below Grandparent Scam today, 11/17/2016. A scammer almost scammed a Lampasas grandparent out of $18,000.” A grandparent, whose grandchild attends a college in Texas, was told by a scammer posing as the grandchild, that they had told their parents they were at a church retreat but instead went to a wedding where someone else was driving intoxicated and that they were in an accident. 

The scammer asked that the grandparent not tell the parents about the incident, but that they needed $18,000 immediately. The grandparent was in the process of sending the money, when a local business caught on that the grandparent may be involved in a scam and contacted Lt. Jody Cummings with the Lampasas Police Department. Once Lt. Cummings heard of the possible scam he was able to stop the money from being sent, and told the grandparent they were almost scammed out of the money.  Lt. Cummings is conducting further investigation on the case.

Asst. Chief Bailey warns citizens to PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE “GRANDPARENT SCAM.”

You get a call or an email unexpectedly from someone who claims to be a friend or relative. This often happens to grandparents with the caller claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter. The caller says there’s an emergency and asks you to send money immediately. But beware, there’s a good chance this is an impostertrying to steal your money!

How do these scammers choose you to contact? Sometimes they contact people randomly. They also use marketing lists, telephone listings, and information from social networking sites, obituaries and other sources. Sometimes they hack into people’s email accounts and send messages to everyone in their contact list.  

How do the scammers know the names of your friends or relatives? In some cases they don’t. For instance, the scammer may say “Hi grandma,” hoping that you actually have a grandson. If you ask, “David, is that you?” the scammer will say “Yes!” Often these crooks will call in the middle of the night and take advantage of the fact that you may not be awake enough to ask more questions and you may not want to disturb other people by calling them to confirm the information. Sometimes the scammers do know the names of your friends or relatives. They can get that information from a variety of sources. Your relatives may be mentioned in an obituary or on a social networking site. Your email contact list may contain the names of friends and relatives.

What do these scammers usually say? They might say something like, “I’m in Canada and I’m trying to get home but my car broke down and I need money right away to get it fixed.” Or they may claim to have been mugged, or been in a car accident, or need money for bail or to pay customs fees to get back into the United States from another country. They may also pose as an attorney or law enforcement official contacting you on behalf of a friend or relative. No matter the story, they always want you to send money immediately.

If you realize you’ve been scammed, what can you do? These scammers ask you to send money through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram because they can pick it up quickly, in cash. They often use phony IDs, so it’s impossible to trace them. Contact the money transfer service immediately to report the scam-before the money is picked up. Afterward it’s too late.

Protect yourself by using a firewall and anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Keep your software updated, don’t open emails from strangers, and if you get a phone call that even resembles this scam, check it out…before you send money.

Ask the caller a question that would be hard to answer, like their mother’s birthday or the name of a pet. Call the person they claim to be, or a friend or relative, long before you send money. Don’t enrich these scammers!