DARIEN, Conn. – Call it the “Grandparent Scam” or the “Family Emergency Scam,” but in either case the con tricks many senior citizens out of their hard earned money each year.
To lessen the impact of such scams, Darien Police have released some steps that anyone presented with an “emergency” via a telephone call or text message should follow.
“Family Emergency Scammers may pose as relatives or friends, calling or sending messages to urge you to wire money immediately,” the department said in a press release. “They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency – like getting out of jail, paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country.”
The goal, authorities say, is to part an unsuspecting victim from their money.
The scam has reportedly become much easier to perform in recent years because information readily available on social media allows scammers to impersonate loved ones with little trouble, according to police.
Some scammers may also utilize hacked email accounts, employ other scammers to further make the situation appear legitimate or try to take on an authoritative role like that of a police detective or attorney, police said.
The scammer pleads a truly desperate situation, appealing to the victim’s emotions to convince them to wire money to a desired location, police said, adding that once the money is wired, it cannot be traced.
Before taking any steps to assist a loved one who may be in need, police recommend:
- Resisting the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verifying the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
- Calling a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
- Checking the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Not wiring money — or sending a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
Anyone who believes they may have encountered such a scam should report the incident to the Darien Police Department at 203-662-5300 or the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.