06 August 2017 - Beware, It’s a Scam

If you are connected to a computer or a cell phone, you know there are a lot of people out there who think they can spend your money better than you can. Most of us are aware of the (phony) phone calls from the IRS threatening to sue us unless we pay an amount immediately, or the e-mails asking us to help by giving our bank account number to someone from another country so they an deposit their millions in our account for safe-keeping and then they will give us a nice financial token for our help.

Well, a few weeks ago, I experienced a new and very alarming phone call scam. My home phone rang, I answered it and I hear this voice saying - “Grandpa, this is Matthew. I need your help”. Matthew is my 21-year-old grandson. I said “Matthew, it doesn’t sound like you, are you O.K.?” Matthew responded - “I have had a cold, Grandpa, so I am still a little bit hoarse. But I need your help. My friends and I were out for the evening, got pulled over by the police and they found marijuana in the car. They have us in a holding pen, and won’t release us until we can pay $4,000.00. Can you give them your credit card number, so we can get released?”

I asked him if he had called his parents and he said no because he didn’t want to embarrass them. That raised warning flags because I knew his first call would be to his parents. I asked to speak with the police officer, who after a brief pause, came on the line and identified himself. I asked him where this arrest took place and he said “Lansing”. I said - “Michigan or Illinois?” There was a slight hesitation on his part and he said “Illinois”.

I told him I knew my grandson was in Dubuque, Iowa, serving as a camp counselor for a church youth camp, so how could he get arrested in Lansing, IL? Again, there was hesitation and he insisted he was in Lansing, IL. I asked to speak to my grandson again and the officer said he was only allowed one phone call. I said “this is the same phone call.” The connection abruptly ended, no doubt because these ‘scam artists’ realized they hit a brick wall.

So grandparents, uncles, aunts, beware...if you receive a call or an e-mail asking for money to buy an airplane ticket, pay a jail fine, or buy a bus ticket, make certain you know who you are dealing with.
NEVER offer credit card information or wire money. You can always purchase a ticket, telling the company it is to be non-refundable, so it cannot be converted to cash. Don’t do anything to make it easy for the ‘scammers’ to get your money.

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