JOPLIN METRO AREA — Is there a certain time of year that criminals celebrate ‘scam season’? We don’t believe that’s true. But there are numerous local scam warnings out currently.
Phelps County is Rolla, Missouri and the Sheriff’s office shares some important information on scams. You can report scams to the FBI by clicking here: https://www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint
GRANDCHILD IN DISTRESS – A grandparent receives a frantic call from someone they believe to be their grandchild. The supposed grandchild sounds distressed and may be calling from a noisy location. The supposed grandchild claims to be involved in some type of trouble while traveling in another state, Canada or overseas, such as being arrested or in a car accident or needing emergency car repairs, and asks the grandparent to immediately wire money to post bail or pay for medical treatment or car repairs. The scammer typically asks for several thousand dollars, and may even call back again several hours or days later asking for more money. He or she may claim embarrassment about the alleged trouble and ask the grandparent to keep it a secret.
A variation of the scam may involve two scammers – the first scammer calls and poses as a grandchild under arrest. The second scammer, posing as some type of law enforcement officer, then gets on the phone with the grandparent and explains what fines need to be paid. Alternatively, the scammer may pretend to be a family friend or neighbor.
A common theme of the scam across the nation is the caller’s request for the grandparent to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram or to provide bank account routing numbers. Wiring money is like sending cash; there are no protections for the sender. Typically, there is no way you can reverse the transaction, trace the money, or recover payment from the telephone con artists.
BAIL BOND SCAM – This scam has personally affected my family. The victim is contacted via telephone by a person claiming to be a friend of a relative of the victim. The victim is told that the relative has been arrested for an outstanding warrant or some other minor charge, and needs money to get out of jail. The “friend” asks the victim for the bail money. If the victim agrees, the caller will arrange for himself or another person to pick up the money.
SWEEPSTAKES/LOTTERY – You’ve Just Won $25,000! Or a boat, or a car, or something else “valuable.” So goes the pitch. But if you’re asked to pay before you get your prize, it’s a scam. Often these outfits claim the money is for shipping, taxes, or something like that. But legitimate companies rarely require any payment or purchase up front.
Another popular scam involves a suspect calling a victim and claiming the victim has won a large amount of money or other prize. The scammer then tells the victim that all they have to do is pay a tax or handling fee to receive the prize. Most of these scams involve an attempt to get the victim to wire transfer money to the scammer using a service such at Western Union.