MONEY TRANSFER WARNING
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office would like the public to be aware of a variety of money transfer scams that have been reported by several government and law enforcement agencies within our county. Many of the scams have one common denominator - money transfers. The money transfer scams that have been reported include:
Family Emergency Scams: Also known as the “Grandparent Scam” – specifically targeting elders – involves a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild in an emergency situation. The supposed grandchild calls and says they are in trouble and need money wired to them quickly.
Lotteries and Sweepstakes: You receive a check and letter stating that you have won a lottery of sweepstakes. The letter also asks that you send money for taxes or fees in order to collect your winnings.
Overpayment Scams: You are asked to deposit a check and then return a portion of the money now in your account.
Apartment Rental Scams: Scammer places an altered rental ad or real estate listing on the internet that isn’t for rent or may not even exist. The scammer asks that you wire an application fee, security deposit or the first month’s rent.
Work at Home Opportunity: A company promises you will earn a substantial income if you work at home selling their product. They only ask that you make an investment, or buy supplies first.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a Consumer Alert in October of 2009, titled “Money Transfers Can Be Risky Business,” which includes the following information on how to avoid falling victim to wire transfer scams. Remember, don’t wire money to:
A stranger – in this country or elsewhere.
Someone claiming to be a relative in crisis and who wants to keep their request for money a secret;
Someone who says a money transfer is the only form of payment that’s acceptable; or
Someone who asks you to deposit a check and send some of the money back.
If any of these sound familiar, or similar to the reason why you are wiring money, please STOP and consider this may be a scam. If you have questions, please contact the District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit at (805) 781-5856.
SCAMS TARGETING SENIORS
The "Grandparent Scam"
The District Attorney’s Office would like the public to be aware of a scam that has been reported by several departments and law enforcement agencies within our county. The “Grandparent Scam” – targeting elders – involves a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild in an emergency situation, asking for money to be wired to bail him or her out of jail in a foreign country. Recently, a scammer called a local elder, pretended to be her granddaughter in a Dominican Republic jail, and asked her for money. The scammer went so far as to pass the phone to a man who falsely identified himself as a police officer and who gave the grandmother his badge number. The “officer” also gave the elder the address of a local Western Union branch where she could wire money to her granddaughter. The concerned grandparent wired the money (in this particular case, $5,082) to the person pretending to be their grandchild, care of the “officer.” Later, the “officer” called the elder back and let her know the money transfer had been received, but that it had gotten there too late, and they would need additional money to get her granddaughter out of jail. The victim became suspicious and told the man she was not sending any more money. Later, the grandparent learned that the granddaughter was safe and not in a Dominican Republic jail, and that the grandparent had been the victim of a scam.
The District Attorney’s Office would like to remind elders in such situations that they should make inquiries to establish the true identity of the individual contacting them. Victims should be very wary of requests for money transfers and never provide bank account, credit card, or personal identification information to any caller.
The Federal Trade Commission has numerous articles regarding this type of scam. On the FTC website (www.ftc.gov), in October of 2009, a Consumer Alert article appeared titled, “Money Transfers Can Be Risky Business,” which includes the following information on how to avoid falling victim to this scam. Don’t wire money to:
someone you don’t know, in the U.S. or in a foreign country;
someone claiming to be a relative in the midst of a crisis and who wants to keep the request for money a secret;
someone who says a money transfer is the ONLY form of payment that is acceptable; or
someone who asks you to deposit a check and send some of the money back.
For additional information, please contact the District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit at (805) 781-5896.
Our current economy has more and more senior citizens looking for work at home to either supplement their income or to assist a family member who is out of work. The work-at-home schemes vary. However, the scammer typically calls on the phone or makes contact via the internet, acts as an employer, and attempts to gain access to a bank account or your social security number. Many times work-at-home scammers have people pay upfront fees for materials or sales leads. Sadly, victims get nothing in return. Some signs of a work-at-home scam include: Promises to get you a job “guaranteed”; enticements of easy money; requests for upfront money.
Door-to-Door Sales Scams
Recently a senior citizen reported that two individuals came to the door selling magazines and if they were not interested in a magazine for themselves, the subscription may be donated to the military or a charity group. The senior allowed the individuals to come into the home (because they represented themselves as neighbors) and then the senior paid for the subscription with a check. The senior was later suspicious and reported the incident to law enforcement. Further research uncovered the magazine subscription company had numerous complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. While many companies do sell door-to-door and are legitimate, some are not. It is important to remember never to buy on the spot and unless you know the solicitor, never allow them to enter your home.
NOTE: This includes 2010 U.S. Census employees that may come to your door. It is not necessary for the census employee to enter your home to conduct the census. Census employees are simply gathering names, ages, races and genders on the people living at your address. Scam artists may ask questions about your Social Security number and bank information. Don’t give out any personal financial information and if a census employee asks for a “donation,” don’t contribute because it is a scam.
Senior Internet Scams
Some common frauds directed toward senior citizens include phishing scams (cons sending emails or letters asking for you to update your personal information), foreign or domestic sweepstakes, lotteries, internet auctions, or charity frauds using solicitations via the internet. When you receive such a solicitation, never give out your personal information. Ask a relative, caretaker, friend or a member of law enforcement whether the solicitation is legitimate. As more and more seniors become internet savvy, the door is opened to scams.
BEWARE**ELDER ABUSE FRAUD**BEWARE
A senior resident of Los Osos lost $2400.00 in a telephone fraud scam on March 4th after receiving a call at his home that his "grandson" was in custody in Canada after being arrested for driving under the influence and being involved in a traffic collision. The person calling represented themselves as the "grandson" and a second male on the same call as a "public defender" who required money for bail. The victim wired the money and was actually contacted a second time by apparently the same suspect(s) who told the victim he needed an additional $2400.00 to cover additional damages. The relative/friend/co-worker in jail scam has been active for the last year and is a variation of phone and internet scams nationwide. If you receive a call of this nature, do not respond to the caller, but secure a call back name and number while you check with the person or a relative to determine if the call is legitimate. Also, if you have any questions, contact your local law enforcement agency.
For additional information or if you have questions, please contact the District Attorney’s Consumer Advisory Unit at (805) 781-5856 or visit the website: www.slocounty.ca.gov/DA.