Beware of Money Requests from "Vacationing Family & Friends"
March 24, 2011
Contact: Brock Bergey, 608-224-5007
MADISON – Scam artists are using the spring break season to try and trick people into thinking family or friends are in urgent need of cash while “on vacation.”
“It’s a scam that’s been around for years, and it’s turning up again in Wisconsin,” said Sandy Chalmers, Administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “Scam artists use names of family members and friends and fake emergencies to stir up emotions and cloud the judgment of their personal victims. Resisting the pressure to act immediately is a person’s best defense.”
Pleas for fraudulent financial help are made by e-mail and telephone. Scam attempts initiated by phone tend to target senior citizens – this approach is commonly referred to as the “grandparents scam.” In some cases, the caller may actually know the names of family members and pull off a clever impersonation. In the e-mail approach, the scam artist sends a message from a family member or friend’s legitimate e-mail address after hacking their account. (Two current e-mail examples are included at the end of this news release.) Both contact methods involve the scam artist asking for money to be wired, right away, to help resolve a vacation-related emergency.
“Victims are often unaware of their mistake until they talk with their loved one or friend who knows nothing about the call or e-mail for help,” added Chalmers. “Because wiring money is the same as sending cash, the chance of recovery is slim to none.”
The Bureau of Consumer Protection offers these tips to avoid being taken advantage of by a fake emergency:
- Check out the story before sending any money. Try to directly contact the family member or friend, at a phone number you know is accurate, to verify the situation.
- Remember some impostors research the people they are pretending to be and can answer basic questions about them.
- Never give out your Social Security, bank, or credit card numbers to any caller – regardless of the reason.
- Establish a “safe word” or “code word” with your family members and close friends for use in a real emergency.
- When contact is made by e-mail, be suspicious of messages that include poor grammar, spelling errors, and incorrect punctuation. (The examples below include several of these indicators.)
For more consumer information visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection's website at datcp.wisconsin.gov; via e-mail at email@example.com; or call toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.
Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 8:30 AM
My Plight ... Urgent Help Needed !!
How are you doing? Honestly, I'm doing pretty awful! I’m with family on vacation in London, England and a lot of crap has been spewing. We got mugged last night in an alley by a gang of thugs on our way back from shopping, one of them had a knife poking my neck for almost two minutes and everything we had on us including my cell phone, credit cards were all stolen,quite honestly it was beyond a dreadful experience for us but looking on the bright side we weren't seriously hurt or injured and we are still alive so that is whats important. I've reported to the cops here and canceled all our cards,it appeared I had acted quickly enough or they almost would have succeeded in cleaning out my bank account. I'm really having some difficulties clearing our hotel bills and also need to pick up a voucher ticket at the counter for us to catch a flight back home as soon as possible.
All we need right now is £1,850.00 pounds, but anything you can spare pending when we get things straighten out will be appreciated and I promise to refund as soon as we arrive home safely.
Write me back and let me know how soon you can get it to us asap.
Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 8:35 AM
I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,sorry I did not inform you about our trip.We actually made a quick travel to London UK and unfortunately attacked and mugged at gun point on the way to our hotel,all cash,credit card and cell phone were taken away from us but luckily we still have our passport with us.
I`ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our return flight leaves anytime from now but we`re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills.
Am freaked out at the moment.