Sheriff Jeff Jaeger is warning residents of another increase in scams. Deputies were kept busy this past week investigating credit card fraud and several people who reported filing their taxes only to learn from the IRS that someone had already filed using their information and gotten refund checks.
The Sheriff also noted it is college spring break time and as a result attempts of the “Grandma scam” usually increase. The grandma scam involves people phoning usually elderly residents and calling the person who answers the phone “Grandma or Grandpa”. The scammer then tells of a tale where they are stranded normally outside of the United States and need cash due to some trouble with law enforcement, vehicle break down or crash or a medical emergency. The grandparent is told not to tell anyone of the problem in order to not cause family problems, and to wire them cash in countries such as Mexico or Canada. Some tips to avoid being caught up in the Grandma scam include:
1. Don’t feed them information. If they call you grandma or grandpa don’t name off a grandchild you think it might be. If you give them a name to work with they will continue to use it to their advantage.
2. Remain calm, these are seasoned swindlers who want you to feed off the panic in their voice. Ignore their requests for privacy and alert family members to ensure the emergency is real.
3. Ask specific questions. Ask questions only your grandchildren would know.
4. Get a call back number. Most of the times the scammer is not able to provide a phone number as it is not part of the script.
Grandchildren can also help their grandparents avoid being scammed. If you are going on vacation don’t post all the details to social networks such as face book. Scammer feed upon open pages to learn the names of spring breakers, where they are going and who they are with. All these things can be used to make a scam sound more legitimate. Also check in often, keeping in touch with relatives will let them know you are safe. Finally the Sheriff encourages anyone who receives a suspicious call to phone his office and allow law enforcement to check on the legitimacy of a claim of needing help.