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Scam of the Month

Help, Please Send Money

Preview:Grandson in jail

A call comes in and a friend or family member needs money right away. In this case, the scam was someone pretending to be the Grandson of a friend needing bail money. But there are lots of them.

This one almost got a friend. His grandson who lives in Indiana called from a prison phone and needed $5,000 bail money. At least it sounded like his grandson. He was accused of running a red light and hitting a pregnant lady. Could Granddad send $5,000 to his lawyer? Here's the lawyer's phone number and the case number. They only allowed him a minute on the prison phone.

He called the lawyer and got the bank account number and routing number to transfer the money to. Though the phone call sounded like his grandson, he really wasn't sure. He tried calling his grandson, but didn't get an answer.

On his way out the door to go to the bank, it occurred to him that it might be a scam. He called the lawyer back, and asked him where the accident took place. The lawyer paused for a while before answering "Las Vegas". My friend then called both Las Vegas jails and checked if his grandson was in either jail. He wasn't.

When he checked with authorities about reporting the attempted crime, he was told they don't investigate unless the crime was successful.

How to handle it

Whenever some young (or old) friend needs you to help them quickly with money, find a way to verify the authenticity of the request. The method cannot be something provided by the email, text or caller. The quickest is to ask, "Did you call Aunt Harriet? She's pretty rich and lives so near." Use a name doesn't exist, so you know it's a scam if they claim they tried but couldn't reach her. You could also request some information a scam artist would not have.
I recently felt pretty silly calling a client last week and verifying that a bookkeeper wanting access to their accounting computer was legitimate. I felt silly, because the email with the request was also sent to the company owner and the bookkeeper has a website. But I called anyway. They might have taken over the client's email account or known he was out of town and not checking emails frequently. Calling them to verify might have been over precautious, but that's better than making a mistake.

Date: November 2023

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