HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Attorney General's office reminded Mississippians to be vigilant against scammers after a recent increase in wire fraud scams targeting grandparents.
Commonly referred to as "grandparent scams," the caller typically requests for grandparents or the intended victim to wire money through Western Union or to provide bank account routing numbers. Reports of this type of scam have been reported throughout the state, particularly in Hinds and Harrison Counties, according to a press release from the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office.
"Wiring money is identical to mailing cash," Attorney General Jim Hood said. "There are no protections for the sender and no way to reverse the transaction, trace the money, or recover payment from the telephone con artists. These scammers will try to convince their victims to send any amount—from several hundred to several thousand dollars—and they may even call back hours or days later asking for more money if they were successful the first time."
The scammers often pretend to be a family member or loved one in an emergency or distress. WDAM7 spoke with a Hattiesburg man that fell victim to the scam after being told his grandson had been jailed.
"The Person calling sounded just like my grandson," he said. "I love my grandson, he's in trouble. I said if he needs it, I don't want him to be in jail. I'll get you $4,000."
The AG's office offered the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of the scam:
- Do not wire any amount of money unless you have properly assessed the situation or in some way verified with others close to your loved one that they are actually in trouble.
- Be suspicious if your loved one requests or demands that you keep the phone call a secret by claiming to be very embarrassed and/or scared.
- Avoid acting out of a sense of urgency if you receive communication from a “loved one” (scammer) who claims to be traveling and is in some sort of distress or financial bind asking you to urgently wire transfer them money.
- Immediately after receiving the call or message, attempt calling your “loved one” back at the telephone number through which you normally reach him or her if they reached out or attempted to reach out to you using an odd or long distance number.
"Our goal is to help educate and make our senior citizens and loved ones aware of these kinds of unfortunate and disheartening scams," Hood said. "I strongly urge you to never give out any personal identifying information or account numbers to anyone unless you are certain the individual is who they claim to be and will use the information for the reason they have requested it."
If you feel that you have been a victim of this scam or know of someone who has, please report it to local law enforcement and the AG's Office Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230.