We talk about the “signs” to look for when it comes to scam calls a lot on this blog. Do you think you have what it takes to spot a scammer? Thanks to his quick awareness, this grandpa stopped a scammer right in their tracks.
Lou, 87, knew he was being scammed just seconds after answering the phone. A young man called him “Grandpa” and said he’d been arrested for drunk driving. The caller asked Lou for bail money, saying Lou could call a lawyer who would explain everything (all while pleading that Grandpa wouldn’t tell “Mom”).
The FTC reports Lou “played along with it,” curious to hear how the pitch would go down. What the scammer didn’t know was that “Grandpa” had a consumer lawyer for a daughter, who had heard of this scam. Someone pretends to be a friend or family member in trouble, asking for money or bail or a medical emergency. Lou knew his grandson was fine, so he avoided this particular trap.
Here are a few tricks these scammers used to try and trap Lou:
- They tested Lou to see how much money they could get. Bail started at $7,000, but when Lou said he didn’t have that much, the “lawyer” said he could get bail reduced.
- Scammers ask for money to be wired, or put on a prepaid card. There’s no way to recover your money if you do, and it’s much more difficult to trace.
- They also tried to keep Lou from talking to anyone else – going so far as to threatening him with arrest and fines if he told anyone about their conversation. Sounds fishy, right? Scammers don’t want you to think too hard or take too much time. They want you to act fast, so they can disappear and move on the next victim.
- The scammers used real information Lou had given them to make the story seem more plausible. Have you noticed how a psychic might lead you into answering questions so it seems like they know a lot about you? It’s similar to that; the fake grandson told Lou the accident occurred “in the city.” When Lou asked if he meant the District of Columbia, the scammer said, “Yes, in D.C.” The really savvy scammers may use social media or hack emails to get information to use against you.
If you get a call like this, get off the phone and check it out. Call your loved one at their phone number, or another family member who may know about their position. If your “grandson” is stuck in a cell waiting on bail money, he’s not going anywhere – a few more minutes to check into the situation could save you a lot of money and heartache. Then, tell a friend your story. The more people share their experiences, the less scammers will be able to get away with this scam.