Scam Series No. 3: Family Emergency Scam
Scammers may pose as relatives or friends, calling or sending messages to urge residents to wire money immediately. 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. Their goal is to trick the victim into sending money before they realize it’s a scam.
According to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge the following information will help residents of Prairie County and across the state safe:
Verify an Emergency
If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
- Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
- Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
- Report possible fraud at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
They impersonate your loved one convincingly
"It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone. Social networking sites make it easier than ever to sleuth out personal and family information. Scammers also could hack into the email account of someone you know. To make their story seem legitimate, they may involve another crook who claims to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer," the release reads from Rutledge.
They play on your emotions
Scammers are banking on your love and concern to outweigh your skepticism. In one version of this scam, con artists impersonate grandchildren in distress to trick concerned grandparents into sending money. Sometimes, this is called a “Grandparent Scam.”
They swear you to secrecy
Con artists may insist that the individual keep their request for money confidential – to keep them from checking out their story and identifying them as impostors. Victims of this scam often don’t realize they’ve been tricked until days later, when they speak to their actual family member or friend who knows nothing about the emergency. By then, the money they sent can't be recovered.
They insist that you wire money right away
Scammers pressure people into wiring money because it’s like sending cash – once it’s gone, there is no way to trace it or get it back. Impostors encourage using money transfer services so they can get the victims money before they realize it was a scam.