My grandmother was defrauded by a pair of con artists pretending to be me. Who can I report this crime to?
January 20, 2011 11:27 PM Subscribe
My grandmother was just defrauded by a pair of con artists who, pretending to be me, told her that I was in a car accident in Canada and needed her to wire money. She's fine, but lost a few thousand dollars. She said that she doesn't mind losing the money (she's just happy I'm safe), and doesn't want to be bothered by the police. I respect that decision, but I'm concerned that if let off the hook, the con artists in question will be able to prey on others -- they are obviously targeting elderly people. Who can I report this fraud to?
(Additionally, and out of curiosity -- any thoughts on how they discovered my relationship with my grandmother?)
posted by tweebiscuit to Law & Government (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Details of the con: A man claiming to be me (I'm 27) called my grandmother and tearfully told her that I was involved in a car accident in Canada. He then gave the phone to a "lawyer", who asked her to wire money to help me. She's a sharp woman, but they were very convincing and pushed all the right buttons -- they said that they called her because she was "most likely to be home" (actually true, since my parents commute frequently between cities and aren't always easy to reach), and that she shouldn't tell my parents because I wanted to be the one to tell them. It wasn't until one of my cousins (who live near her) remembered that she had seen a Facebook post of mine that day that she realized it was a con.
I'm curious ask to how they found enough information about me, her, and our relationship to pull off the con. Presumably they grabbed a database somewhere -- maybe something listed emergency contacts? She also remarked a number of times that "He sounded just
like you", and while the low fidelity of a phone call, the degradation of hearing as one ages, and the talking-through-tears certainly helped, I certainly have enough videos on the Internet
that they could have done a little homework and mimicked my voice -- and anyone who's good enough at social engineering to pull off this con certainly has a bit of acting ability. This strikes me as an interesting and unsettling unanticipated (for me, at any rate) side-effect of self-publishing on the internet -- the more information about you that exists and is easy to access, the easier you are to impersonate.