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A grandparent phone scam is targeting Humboldt County residents, with one local couple being scammed out of over $8,000.
On April 2, 2019, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by two residents about a phone scam they believed they had fallen victim to.
According to victims, they received a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandson, who lives out of the area. The fake grandson told the victims that he had went on a trip out of the country and while there had been arrested. Another male then got on the phone and demanded the victims send $8,600 in cash to prevent the grandson from being put into prison. The fake grandson then reportedly got back on the line and asked the victims to send another $8,250.
The scammers instructed the victims to not contact anyone else, place the cash into envelopes tucked inside of magazines, and overnight the packages to an address in New York State.
The victims sent the money to the scammers and then, several days later, contacted their grandson. The grandson was unaware of the situation and stated he had not left the country.
One package sent to the scammers was returned to the victims due to an address error. The second package, containing $8,600, remains outstanding.
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. If a scammer is impersonating a loved one or government official, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
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 “Social Security call” or “grandparent scam.” 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.
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, including the names, ages, and addresses of your loved ones, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your or your loved one’s personal information.
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.