LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - The Laurel Police Department has received a complaint of a local citizen falling prey to a version of what is commonly referred to as the Grandparents Scam. The scam initiates through telephone contact between the scammer and an unsuspecting, generally elderly citizen. The scammer will either speak in a low voice or act as if they have been crying during the conversation. The scammer will ask the Grandma/Grandpa if they know who is calling. The citizen will then generally say the name of one of their grandchildren.
The scammer then acts as if he/she is the grandchild and inform the citizen that they are in jail and desperately need money. The citizen is then directed to purchase a preloaded green dot credit card in the amount requested. Once the scammer gets the code from the back of the card, they drain the money. In many cases, the scammer states that he will put a Police Officer on the line in order to give instructions on how to send the money.
Captain Tommy Cox of the Laurel Police Department says there are ways to protect yourself against this type of scam.
“Anytime anybody calls wanting money, or if they mention checks or green-dot credit cards or loadable credit cards, you know it's a scam,” said Cox “It's easy to look online in order to find the telephone number of any police department in the country where you could verify if your loved one was in jail.”
To protect yourself against these scams, here are a few tips:
1) Be aware that scammers often pose as older grandchildren who are traveling, away at college or in the military.
2) Know the two red flags to this scam are the “don't tell” plea and the request to send money, usually via wired or prepaid cards.
3) Be suspicious of phone calls demanding money, even if one of the callers claims to be a police officer or court official.
4) Avoid sending money until you can verify that it is indeed your grandchild making the request.
5) Encourage children and grandchildren not to post vacation plans online.