How the Scam Works:
You answer the phone. The person on the other end claims to be a family member who was arrested while traveling overseas. They tell you to wire $1,000 in order to post bail and hire a local attorney.
You think the call sounds suspicious. But the caller provides you with convincing details. For example, he may know family names and other personal information, such as school or employer names and details about the trip.
The information is so persuasive that you wire the money. A week later, your family member returns home… safe and sound. He/she was never in trouble, and you are out $1,000.
Emergency scams come in call shapes and sizes. There’s the Grandparent Scam where con artists contact the elderly claiming to be their grandchild (or niece/nephew), urgently asking for money. Con artists also hack into email accounts and then target friends and family with frantic requests for money, claiming injury, a lost or stolen wallet, arrest, etc. They can do the same by hacking social media accounts.
The emergency scam is classic con, but the popularity of Facebook and other social media has given scammers an advantage. Scammers can offer extremely plausible stories and many have done their research – they often have custom scams based on a victim’s profession or family and can often name details about your family members. Be aware of what information about you and your family is posted online, so you won’t be caught off guard.
How to Protect Yourself from an Emergency Scam:
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To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.