MoneyGram/Western Union scam also referred to as the “Grandpa/Grandma” scam
You receive a telephone call at home and a person claiming to be a relative (usually a grandson) tells you they are in trouble, often stating they are in Mexico or Canada. The caller may be very persuasive, and might use the actual name of your grandson or relative to try and convince you they are legitimate, even though you do not recognize their voice. The caller may already have your name or refer to you as “Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, etc.” The caller will tell you they have been arrested, detained by the police, involved in an accident, or other similar story. The caller, pretending to be the relative, will either request money be sent to them or ask you to speak to someone claiming to be a lawyer, police officer, or other official. The other person who comes onto the telephone will explain that the money is needed to avoid court fines or pay bail, pay for hospital expenses and other fictitious reasons. They will request the money to be sent via a wire transfer, usually via Western Union or MoneyGram. They may tell you not to tell anyone else, and to send the money immediately. Only after the money has been sent and you call the actual relative do you realize your family member is not out of the country or in trouble and you were victimized.
A subject approaches you and tells you they have won money in the lottery, received a settlement from 9/11, received an inheritance, or other similar story. The person will often speak with a foreign accent and will flash cash or other valuables to make the story believable while explaining they are not a U.S. citizen. They will ask for help to disburse the money to a “good cause” since they cannot take it to their home country as it will be confiscated. The suspect will ask the victim to show them that they have money to prove they are honest people. They may ask you to go to the bank and withdraw money to show good faith. During the contact the victim’s money is switched with cut paper which is not discovered until the suspect has left the area.
Listing Items for Sale on the Internet
A common scam is for the suspect to purchase an item you have listed for sale on an internet site and send a money order to you for much more money than the asking price of the item in question that you have listed. The suspect will explain that the extra money is to be used for shipping or claim it was an accounting mistake. The suspect asks the victim to cash the money order and forward the excess money back to them or to a third party for the “shipping.” After a few days the victim learns from the bank that the money order is fraudulent and all of the money sent was actually your own money you voluntarily withdrew from your bank and sent to the suspect.
Secret Shopper scam
Same as the internet scam except you have answered an advertisement for what appears to be a legitimate business. They will ask for a resume, employment application, and references. You receive your first shopping assignment along with a money order. You will be asked to cash the money order and shop at a local store. You then are asked to send the remaining money, minus your commission, via a wire transfer. The money order that was sent is fraudulent and the victim is not notified by the bank for several days after the transactions have been conducted.
Be wary of people coming to the front door of your residence that you are not expecting via an appointment. If someone unexpected comes to the door and needs to conduct business in your home or backyard do not allow them into the home without verifying who they are. If they are with a utility service they should be displaying a company ID and have a work order. You can contact the company at the listed phone number to verify they have workers in the area. Do not call the number the person at the door provides. Do not accompany them into your yard if they state they will be going into the yard. There have been several instances where criminals distract the homeowner outside or within the home while a second person enters the home while you are distracted allowing the second “worker” to steal items from within your house.. If you see suspicious subjects in your neighborhood or at your door contact the police department immediately.
Protect your kids from the internet
Much like the real world, the World Wide Web can be a dangerous place for children. Young people with unmonitored access to the Internet are exposed to a wide variety of risks, some of them life-threatening.
When it comes to where and with whom our kids are allowed to play, what they watch on TV and how they interact with strangers, responsible parents naturally exercise caution and oversight. We should be just as vigilant in safeguarding our children's Internet activities.
The resources listed below will provide parents with the knowledge and ability to protect their children from emerging threats of predators on the internet. This knowledge is becoming increasingly important to have in todays hyper-connected age of social networking and smart-phones.
Click on the links below to read more
- Internet Safety 101 - a comprehensive guide to keeping your kids safe online
- Dangers of the internet
- Age appropriate internet guidlines