Exposing phone scammers preying on families
If you have followed the blog or our YouTube Channel, you know about Nana. She is the matriarch of the family. The wise one that cares for the family and takes care of business for many generations. She loves all of us unconditionally and we love her back.
Don’t let this happen to your family.
The other day, I received a call from her that set our whole family into a panic. Mid-morning I was getting ready for the day and I received a call from Nana on my cell phone. It was abnormal for her to call in the middle of the morning. I raced for my cell phone to see the display say “Nana Cell Phone”. “Hello?” I spoke into the receiver. “Jenny? I didn’t know if I should call you. I just received a call and I promised not to tell.” Her voice trembled with uncertainty as she continued to speak.
She received a call from a female posing as my daughter Sparrow. The caller tried to disguise her voice by saying she had a cold that is why she didn’t sound normal. During the converstation, the caller never said who she just went on with “The Story”.
The Fake Sparrow said that she did something she shouldn’t and now she needs help. The story unfolded as follows. She said that she went out to a party and drank with her friends. (Sparrow is under age to drink) It continued that they were returning home and there was an accident. Police were called and Sparrow was in jail. (all fake).
The caller was stating that she has a lawyer and needed money for him to represent her in front of a judge. Fake Sparrow said that Nana could talk to the “Lawyer”. The phone was handed over to a male voice. He bellowed “Hello. Who are you calling about?” My Nana didn’t say Sparrows name. She said, “I got a call about a drinking and driving incident.” What is the name?” he said abruptly. Nana stood her ground and didn’t say the name. He yelled, “I have many clients, what is the name?” Nana refused to give a name but requested the phone number and the name of the law firm. The man on the other end provided a phone number (based on Skpe or Google Voice) and a law firm name.
Nana was clearly shaken by this news and at a loss for words. Luckly, she called me first and we were able to forumlate a plan. As I spoke with Nana I was able to text Sparrow to confirm this wasn’t true. She has been at work and returned home late that evening. She was safe. We were able to three way call Nana and Sparrow so that it was voice confirmed that this was a scam. It was still very unsettling for Nana. We went over to her house and allowed them to Facetime, so she was able to see her great granddaugther was safe at home and still in her bed. As a family we were able to pull together and come up with a a game plan that we wanted to share with you.
- The phone number will usually come in as a private number to the caller ID.
- If you think something may have happened, google the county jail inmates. It is a public record and is usually current within 1-3 hours. It even includes photos.
- Teach your family members not to give out personal information. Different generations struggle with not sharing about their family. Sometimes, this is what the scammers are looking forward to personalize the scam in hopes of getting money.
- If you think there may be the possibilty of a family member being scammed, come up with a code word. Something relatable that both parties can remember in a stressed time. Like Scooby-Doo, or favorite hobby, etc.
- Make sure if a family member ever feels like they need to bring money to be wired or give out information; have a family member be there to observe or interact during the transaction.
- Report the number via the internet. The more information that can be shared with others can help. We were able to read very similiar scams asking for various amounts of money.
Overall, as fearful as the situtation sounded it was avoided. My wish for this article is to share with other families so they knew how easliy it can happen. Scammers are local and overseas, with an accent and without. Speaking with the local Sheriff, he told me they can track down the scammers all the way overseas. The problem they occur is getting them extradited to the United States for proscution.
One in ten Americans are scammed for approximately $450. Scams by phone is up by 60% in 2017.
Please feel free to share with your loved ones to keep them safe.