A Rossland senior is warning others about a very crafty phone scam that targets grandparents.
Mrs. Jones (not her real name) answered her telephone earlier this week, and was greeted with, “Hello, grandma,” from a male caller identifying himself as her grandson, Jack.
The voice wasn’t familiar Mrs. Jones pointed out, which began “Jack’s” story about being in a car accident and breaking his nose.
“He said he was at the police station because he had been drinking and blew 0.1 over the limit,” explained Mrs Jones. “He was so terribly embarrassed and asked me not to tell his dad.”
Recalling the conversation, Mrs. Jones said the caller knew the name of Jack’s girlfriend, and claimed she couldn’t help, before asking his grandma to send $982 for bail.
Before hanging up, she was told Jack’s lawyer would call back with the details.
Fortunately “Jack’s” dad was at home with his mother. After prying information about the supposed drunk driving charge and accident from Mrs. Jones, he called Jack’s phone directly.
His son was at work and had no idea what grandma or dad were talking about.
“If my son wasn’t here with me, I probably would have totally bought it and sent the money,” said Mrs. Jones. “It was that clever – sure I would have thought it over for a bit, but I was convinced it was authentic.”
Cpl. Mike Wilson from the Trail RCMP says the detachment has been inundated with local reports about fraudulent calls.
“The most successful criminals use your social skills against you,” says Wilson. “They’ll use your concern and wanting to help a grandson, family member and friend, to ask for information or money – and information leads to money.”
He warns any conversation that ends with a request for cash, credit or cheque, is a red flag.
“I urge you to hang up.”
Besides ending scam calls promptly, the corporal encourages anyone using social media, to tighten security settings.
“That is where all these details come from,” he explained. “You are randomly being targeted but before that, they are data-mining you so when they make contact, they have a convincing story.”
Wilson advises the best way to deal with scam artists is to keep it simple.
“At the end of the day, it’s difficult to completely insulate yourself from things like this,” he continued. “The simplest advice to give is that anytime anyone asks for money, don’t complicate it – hang up.”
If there are concerns about validity, Wilson suggests a direct call to the person, business or agency.
“Use the number you have or look it up in the phone book or 4-1-1,” he said. “Then call whomever they are claiming to be with the number you have. I can almost guarantee at that point, the call is going to be false.”
Though Mrs. Jones doesn’t use Facebook or other social media, her family members do.
“I’ve been scammed before and caught on quickly,” she said. “Mind you, information is out there for everyone to find these days, even though I don’t use Facebook. And this was so believable and just seemed so real.”