Scam of the day – August 12, 2014 – Grandparent scam criminals arrested

Recently Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced that her office had arrested four scammers for running a multistate grandparent scam.  According to Attorney General Kane, these particular scammers had managed to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior citizens in eleven states.  The average age of their victims was 79.  The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that the grandparent scam costs elderly Americans 42 million dollars each year.  There are many variations of the scam.  Generally, it starts with a telephone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild of the person receiving the call.  The scammer then implores the grandparent to send money by a wire transfer to the grandchild immediately to help them out in an emergency encountered in a foreign country where the child is temporarily located.   The emergency may be a health emergency or a legal problem, such as an arrest.   They also ask that the grandparent not tell the grandchild’s parents because of embarrassment.

TIP

If you receive such a call, contact the parents or another source of accurate information as to the grandchild’s whereabouts.  You can even call the grandchild’s cell phone.  Always be wary of any request to wire funds because once money is wired, it is almost impossible to get the money back which is why this is the choice of many scammers.  Grandchildren should be wary of the amount of personal information that they make available on social media such as Facebook because scammers gather such information to make them more believable when the pose as the grandchild.  People should also be more careful as to the information that they put in obituaries as to the names and other information about grandchildren that can be used as a source of information by scam artists about surviving grandparents.

Scam of the day – April 19, 2014 – Electricity termination notice scam

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently warned consumers about a scam involving people receiving phone calls purportedly from their electric utility company threatening the consumer with having their electrical service terminated for non-payment.  The consumer is then told that the only way they can avoid having their electricity turned off is to send payment by way of a Green Dot Card.  Green Dot Cards are prepaid debit cards that can be obtained in many places.  Scammers use them frequently because unlike a check, payment cannot be stopped on a Green Dot Card and they are extremely difficult to trace.  They are very much the equivalent to having money wired which is another favorite method that scammers like to use for their payments.  Although this particular scam warning came from the Pennsylvania Attorney General, this scam is being done throughout the country.

TIPS

Whenever you get a telephone call, you can never be sure who is actually calling you.  Even your Caller ID can be fooled by clever scammers who can make it appear that the call is from a legitimate source.  State regulations require you to receive written notice before a utility can be turned off and you will also receive information as to how to make arrangements for payments.  If you do receive a call from any company that you do business with demanding payment, your best course of action is to hang up and call the business back at a number that you know is accurate to make arrangements for the payment of your bill.