You’ve heard the stories; your friends have gotten them before. A far too common scam involves an imposter pretending to be a relative in trouble. (“My wallet was stolen” or “I’m in jail.”) These callers do enough homework to mention the name of the relative or other people the senior citizen knows. And by “crying,” it is difficult to recognize the voice.
The scammer usually pleads for money to be sent immediately by wire transfer, and to not tell any family members for fear of upsetting them. In one variation, the caller may instead claim to be a lawyer, police officer or someone else trying to “help” your relative.
“Many older individuals will immediately jump to the assistance of a relative, without asking questions that would verify the caller’s identity,” said Marybeth Bannon, an FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist. “In this situation, always check with another family member about whether your relative actually is in trouble and needs money, and only wire money to people you know.”
The lesson here: Don’t wire money to strangers who claim they are helping your family.
For more information about ways to avoid fraud, you can check out the FBI’s page with tips on how to prevent fraud here: FBI – Seniors
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