Thursday, May 2, 2013

Senior Citizens Target of Jailed Relative Scam

Ocean City Police and Worcester County Law Enforcement agencies have seen an alarming increase in a scams directed at senior citizens and retirees.  The scam, which is fairly common, has several variations, but in the end involves a loved one who is in trouble and needs help getting out of an embarrassing or harmful situation.

Typically, the scammer will call the victim and claim to be their grandchild, child, niece or nephew, depending on what level of information they have on the family. The scammer will tell the family member that they are in trouble, indicating that they have been arrested and are in jail, and need help. In some cases, another scammer will interact with the victim via telephone, claiming to be a lawyer, a bail bondsman, a deputy or an official from a jail to further convince the victim the scam is legitimate. The scammer will then request credit card information or money, sent to a Western Union office out of the area, in order to get them out of jail or whatever harmful situation the scam presents.
Ocean City Police have learned that scammers are accessing family knowledge, usually gained from the Internet, to make the scam more convincing. In addition, unlike most scams, the scammer does not have a foreign accident but often doesn’t resemble the voice of their family member. Often times, the scammers will blame the phone line or an illness that is making them sound different on the phone.
The Ocean City Police Department is reminding citizens to never wire money to strangers or someone you haven’t met in person. Requests to wire money are “red flag” signs that it’s a fraud. If you get a call like this, contact another family member, a trusted friend or your local police department. They can help you evaluate the situation and try to contact your loved one.
Also, police remind citizens to never provide any type of banking or credit card information to persons or entities they do not know.  If you are contacted and asked for this kind of information, it is most likely a scam.  Further, if you are told that a family member or loved one has been arrested and needs to be bailed out of jail, it is wise to verify this information by contacting other family members or law enforcement. 
Criminals can take advantage of us when we are at our most vulnerable.  By practicing a few easy proactive measures and reporting these types of scams, citizens can make it tough for criminals to take advantage of you.  Never make on-line or telephone transactions with credit cards that are directly linked to your checking/savings or money market accounts
In addition, bank and credit card accounts should be routinely monitored for suspicious and unauthorized transactions.
If you feel someone has attempted to scam you or you have been the victim of a scam or there is unauthorized activity occurring on any of your financial accounts (bank or credit) immediately contact your financial institution and report the issue.  If you are the victim of a theft report the theft to your local law enforcement agency.
Ocean City Police Dept.

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