Omaha police are warning of a recent rash of scams targeting senior citizens. The "grandparent scam" has actually been around for years.
The scammer will call the victim claiming to be a grandchild in legal trouble and in need of money to be sent or wired to bond out of whatever jail they claim to be in.
One lately reported in the metro involves a person claiming to be "Officer James Miller" or "Omaha Police Detective Jim Miller" telling the potential victim to send, FedEx or UPS $7,500 in cash to addresses on the East Coast. He claims that the addresses are for bail bondsmen.
One 93-year-old victim is out $33,500 and was in the process of withdrawing $100,000 when her banker intervened and discovered the scam.
Here are a few things a potential victim can look for:
-The person claiming to be the grandchild or officer will tell the potential victim not to talk to anyone about the transaction. They will attempt to isolate the person so that no one else can interfere with the scam.
-The scammer will pressure the potential victim to do this right away. They will put pressure on the potential victim in an attempt to keep them from thinking too much about all of the holes that they may have in their story.
-If they give you a call back number with a 514 area code. The "Officer Miller" character has been using a phone with a 514 area code, which in Montreal, Canada. There are a lot of scam artists operating from Canada.
Here are a few things a potential victim should remember:
-Law enforcement would never call anyone and instruct them to send or wire money for any reason. This is not how they do business.
-Don't trust your caller ID. There are software programs out there that can spoof phone numbers and area codes so it looks like the scammer is calling from your area code when in fact they may be calling from another country.
-Trust your gut. If you think that it sounds funny or just not right, hang up.
-Call the grandchild directly and verify with them that they are not in any kind of trouble.
-Call your local police department of the Better Business Bureau senior hotline at 877-637-3334.
-Call another relative or friend. Sometimes just talking it out with someone else will make you realize just how thin the story is.
-If you do send money and then discover you have been scammed, change your phone number. As long as they have that link to you they will be relentless in trying to victimize you again. They put your number on a "suckers list" and sell that number to other scammers around the world.