Scammers Try to Exploit Travel Season
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Many people hit the road in the summer, and crooks know it. Watch out for scammers posing as loved ones who run into trouble while traveling and need your money.
Emails from overseas
You get an email that appears to come from a friend or relative who says they were traveling overseas when disaster struck. Lost or stolen bags, a car accident, or some other calamity means they’re stuck and need you to send them money. In reality, your friend or family member probably isn’t overseas, and if they are, they don’t need your money. A crook sent the fraudulent email hoping your desire to help a loved one in need will override your common sense.
The “Grandma, it’s Me” scam
plays on the same emotions and can be more believable during summer months when young people often travel. Seniors get a call from someone posing as their grandchild who claims to have been arrested or in an accident while away from home. The phony grandchild says they don’t want to bother Mom and Dad, so they ask Grandma or Grandpa to send them some money and keep it a secret. Victims may get a follow up call from someone posing as police, requesting more money on the grandchild’s behalf.
Several recent victims told our office they knew their grandchildren were on a trip and that made the con more plausible. Grandparent scammers also sometimes use information they find on social networking sites like Facebook to make their impersonation more realistic.
If you get desperate plea for money from traveling friends and family, resist the urge to send money right away. Instead:
Contact loved ones directly, such as by cell phone, and ask if they’re really in need of your help.
Ask callers questions that only the real person would know.
Report scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.