MARQUETTE, Mich (WJMN) – Scammers are no strangers to calling you up and directly trying to trick you. They have the ability to find your information and weaponized it against you.
Recently, law enforcement has reported an uptick in phone scams claiming family emergency’s and claiming to be from publishers clearing house.
Lt. Mark Giannunzio of the Michigan State Police said, “We’re seeing a huge increase in activity on phone scams. Primarily with elderly people where somebody is calling them and obviously requesting money for some reason. A lot of elderly people are falling for this scam. A specific target is they will call the elder person saying their grandson is in a jail facility in a different state and they require a $5,000 or $10,000 bail in order to get them out of jail. It’s clear to the person that’s receiving the call that this isn’t a scam, that this is legit. That they really have a relative that’s incarnated. they run to the bank and they fire off this money to wherever this person is telling them to and of course they never see this money back.”
Law enforcement wants you to know that this would not happen. If someone calls and ask you for bail confirm that the person is in jail.
Getting money back from a scam is difficult. “It’s almost impossible to track where it’s going, and it’s virtually impossible to get that money back,” Giannunzio said.
The best thing to do if you suspect a scam call is to hang up and call the official number of the agency they claim to be.
Michigan resident Matthew Brown was approached by scammers pretending to be U.S. Customs Agents.
“What happened was I received a phone call, and it sounds very professional, you know it was a man. He identified himself as Agent Rodriguez and he was calling from the Las Vegas international airport. he went thru this description of something that arrived at the airport customs office that he was obliged to notify me about.” Brown said, “The fact that it was 980,000 dollars was really kind of the first thing that my antennas kind of went up. I thought, who’s going to call me about a 980,000 dollar awards settlement.”
Brown made the right choice by reporting the scammers. The Better Business Bureau encourages people to report and stay aware.
“They are acting on urgency, they’re hoping that they can instill fear and get you to act quickly because they know if you have time to think about it or contact somebody else then you’re likely not going to send that money.” The Bureau said.
Be aware that it is unlikely government agency will ever ask you for money on the first notice.
And scammers don’t discriminate, The better business bureau says elderly people are targeted because they typically have more money. But people ages 18 to 30 are more likely to fall for a scam. So It’s important that everyone knows the warning signs.
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