Two phone scams targeting local residents are taking aim at family ties.
On Jan. 14, 2019, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a phone scam targeting a local mother. The victim told deputies that she received several calls from a phone number out of Mexico. The scammer told the victim that he was a member of law enforcement in Mexico. The scammer said that he had the victim’s child and was holding the child for ransom. The scammers put a crying child on the phone and then demanded the victim wire all of the money she had in her possession to someone in Mexico City. The scammer demanded the victim stay on the phone and not hang up or tell anyone.
The victim soon figured out that this call was a scam and was able to confirm that her children were safe at school. She did not wire money, but instead contacted law enforcement.
In another phone scam reported recently, a local resident was contacted by someone claiming to be her grandson. The scammer told the victim that he had broken his nose and needed money for medical care. The victim knew the call was a scam and asked the scammer to provide information that only her grandson would know. The scammer was unable to answer correctly. The victim hung up and contacted law enforcement.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public of a few tips to help protect yourself from fraud:
1. Spot imposters
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company with which you do business. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.
2. Do online searches
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. Don’t believe your caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
4. Talk to someone
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
5. Don’t rely on personal information
Living in the digital age, access to information is easier than ever. Scammers are often able to get their hands on very personal information, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your personal information. If you followed the above tips and still aren’t sure, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157 to learn how to report scams.