|Phone, e-mail fraud: don't send the money|
|Written by Chris Lee|
“Grandma, I’m in jail. Could you please send me some money?!”
A few Phillips County residents have heard this on the other end of their phones, not knowing it wasn’t really their grandchild.
The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) along with victims’ advocate office ask those who receive questionable phone calls and too-good-to-be-true e-mails or phone calls to step back and look into it a little further.
The sheriff’s office said it has dealt with a few fraud cases involving locals. On two different occasions, residents received phone calls from those posing as grandchildren of the elderly.
The “grandchild” uses the real names of actual grandchildren to say they are in trouble and could use some money to get out of jail. How they figure out actual names is yet to be determined.
PCSO urges those who receive these type of calls to first check with other family members to see if they can get in contact with the grandchild. Also, try to find out what jail the person is supposedly in.
The sheriff’s office said in one of the calls, the individual claimed to be in a Mexican jail. PCSO said one can’t bond out of a Mexican jail. Money has to be sent to the United States Consulate who then deals with it.
Usually when one is arrested and taken to jail, the jail will have a schedule of bond so people know what their bond is. As soon as one is booked into jail, someone can go to the jail or court and post the bond for them. “You do that directly with the jail; there is no middle man involved,” the sheriff’s office said.
A call received by a Phillips County resident Thursday, Jan. 19 asked to send money to an individual who would then go and post the bond.
The sheriff’s office said the individual who received the phone call was worried someone was going to get hurt because they didn’t send the money. PCSO said the people placing these calls are most likely drug addicts looking for a way to get easy money to purchase drugs.
“They’re not going to hurt anybody; that’s not their game. All they want is the money to go buy drugs.”
From the law enforcement side of things, there isn’t much they will be able to do should someone be scammed out of their money—as was the case with one unlucky person in the county.
Most of the calls are likely placed on cell phones. PCSO said they could probably find out what carrier the phone is on, but when confronting the alleged suspect, they would most likely say, “No, I loaned my phone to my buddy.”
By the time the suspect was located, it would be tough for the one receiving the call to clearly identify the voice of the caller.
The e-mails are linked to foreign countries which makes it extra difficult to track, according to the sheriff’s office. If someone is getting hounded with spam/fraudulent e-mails, it is suggested they work with their service provider to block or send the messages to a spam folder.
Everyone is encouraged to help protect themselves but it is especially important in the elderly community. Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers and AARP have come together to form ElderWatch, which raises awareness to prevent financial elder abuse.
For more information on ElderWatch, visit www.aarpelderwatch.org.
Anyone who receives a call or other form of a suspected fraud may contact the sheriff’s office at 854-3644. However, the PCSO reminds people to not give money and confirm it with family members before ever thinking about sending money.
Holyoke Enterprise January 26, 2012