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New 'grandparent scam' increases danger

Posted at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Brillion News

CHILTON - The Chilton Police Department was notified about a person scammed out of a large sum of money through what’s called a “grandparent scam.”

But his version escalates the dangers presented by prior versions.

Police are attempting to identify the persons involved in a money scam that works like this: one person calls the victim via phone advising the victim a loved one needs money to get bailed out of jail.

  • The scammer gives very detailed information about the loved one and their family.

  • Then the scammer transfers the victim to an accomplice who arranges for the victim to take cash from their bank account.

  • The victim is also told there is a gag order and not to tell anyone.

  • The victim goes to the bank and asks to take out money that the scammers requested.

  • The victim then is instructed that once they have the money, a courier will show up at their residence and pick up the money.

Chilton Police said the suspect who collected the money from the victim's residence in this case was an Hispanic male, with black hair, wearing a black face mask.

The victim did not see a vehicle, and so there is no information about the “courier” vehicle.

“Unfortunately we are unable to help this victim recover any of their loss due to the limited information,” Chilton Police said in a statement posted on social media. “It is possible that the scammers are finding their targets on the Internet. Names, addresses, birth dates, and telephone numbers are easily ascertained online.”

Police said scammers may also check Facebook or other social networking websites to learn about someone's vacation plans, especially during spring and summer months when many families take vacations, and then contact that person's grandparent pretending to be the real grandchild.

Another possibility is that the scammers are calling telephone numbers randomly until they reach a senior citizen, who is usually the victim.

In some cases, the senior citizen unknowingly “fills in the blanks” for the scammer.

For instance, the senior answers the phone, the scammer says something like, “Hi Grandma, it's me, your favorite grandchild,” the grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the caller sounds most like, and the scammer takes on that grandchild’s identity for the remainder of the call.

Police have the following suggestions to make yourself less likely as a target of this kind of scam.

  • 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.

  • Ask questions someone else is unlikely to be able to answer, such as the name and species of your grandchild's first pet.

  • Say you’ll call right back, then call your grandchild’s usual phone number. With luck, he or she will answer, and you’ll know that the supposed emergency call is a scam.

  • Contact other family members or friends and see whether they can verify the story. Scammers plead with you to keep the emergency a secret precisely so you won’t try to confirm it.

  • If you speak to someone who claims to be a police officer, do call the relevant law enforcement agency to verify the person’s identity and any information they’ve given you.

  • Trust your instincts. As the American Bar Association advises, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

  • 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 volunteer information — scammers fish for facts they can use to make the impersonation believable. For example, if the caller says, “It’s me, grandpa!” don’t say your grandchild’s name. Wait for the caller to say it.

  • Don’t let a caller rush you into making a decision.

  • Don’t send cash, wire money, or provide numbers from gift or cash-reload cards to a person claiming to be a grandchild. Scammers prefer those payment methods because they’re difficult to trace.

  • 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.

If you get call like this, call your local police agency and file a report. Police may be able to intercept the person who shows up to collect the cash from the victim.

The concerning thing about this latest version of the scam is a “courier” showing up in person at the victim’s home. This makes the interaction with the thieves even more dangerous. Involving your local police is even more important because of that.


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