How can we bring down these scumbag phone scammers?
April 11, 2011 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Someone just called my grandfather claiming to be me, and tried to scam him out of several thousand dollars. Should we report this, and if so, to whom?

Someone called my grandparents with this this number on the caller ID. I'm a California resident, and that happens to be my area code so that lent some credibility at first. The story was given that a friend, "David", had died, and I was in Canada for the funeral. While there, I'd been in a car with others that was pulled over, and drugs were found in the car. Apparently he sounded enough like me that they almost got him. The scammer was asking for $5,900 to be wired in order to post bond. Fortunately my Grandpa pressed on, asked to speak with an officer, who ended up being pushy and unprofessional enough to set off alarm bells. Long story short, they didn't end up getting anything, but I can't help but feel a little violated that someone used my close relationship with my grandparents and a few personal details to try to take advantage of them.

Is it worth reporting the incident, and if so, to whom? Thanks.
posted by I, Slobot to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The number is very likely spoofed, the perpetrators out of jurisdiction. You can report it, but without more information it's unlikely any authorities can do anything other than log it.

If it makes you feel any better, these people pull this scam continously, like a call center, and just hope to hook a dumb fish. Your Grandpa was smart enough not to get hooked. Don't take it personally, it's like pickpocketing.
posted by dhartung at 11:09 AM on April 11, 2011

I called the FCC when my cell phone # was used in a scam and got a decent response--at least I told someone. The local police were polite, but there's not much they can do.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:24 AM on April 11, 2011

Best answer: Yes, report it - they might be able to see a pattern and catch the perpetrators if enough people make reports. Call your local police first, but I think it's just as (maybe even more) important to contact someone at the state level. In Michigan we're encouraged to report it to the Attorney General.

Please do so - senior fraud is a real problem, and most AG offices will do everything they can to track these people down.
posted by hms71 at 11:25 AM on April 11, 2011

There's no harm in him reporting it to the police in his jurisdiction. They likely won't do much of anything, but who knows?

This question reminded me to tell my grandpa about these scams. He's somewhat hard of hearing (dude is 92) so he'll frequently start the conversation by asking "is this charmcityblues? or charmcitysister?" That gives the scammer a name and starts the whole thing in motion.

Preying on the elderly is such a sick and cowardly scam. Ugh.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:26 AM on April 11, 2011

Best answer: Previous question.
posted by Dojie at 11:30 AM on April 11, 2011

Best answer: This is a scam that's been around for years, often called the "grandparent scam" or the "emergency scam". My grandmother was nearly a victim of it last year. The FTC has information on their website (PDF) about scams and how to report them. You should probably also contact local authorities and perhaps the local news, in case they want to warn other residents to beware of the scam.
posted by geeky at 11:36 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, please report it. The more reports, the better the odds that they can and will try to catch the scammers.
posted by theora55 at 12:30 PM on April 11, 2011

I read about others getting this type of scam on some SoCal subreddits. Since phone numbers can be spoofed, who can say where they're from. It is unlikely they'll get caught and even if they do, other scammers will take their place. But I do recommend reporting, if not to catch the bad guys, but that the government knows the problem and perhaps puts out PSAs making it a less effective scam. The FTC's website has good information but the people that fall for the scam are the more likely the last people to go to the website.
posted by birdherder at 1:14 PM on April 11, 2011

Best answer: Another previous posting on the subject.
posted by Runes at 1:17 PM on April 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input and for directing me to the previous postings with more detail. Sorry if it was a bit of a rehash. I'll be contacting the Utah Attorney General (his home state) and reporting to the FTC.
posted by I, Slobot at 4:04 PM on April 11, 2011

This type of scam has been in the news here a lot lately. People wanting money for all kinds of reasons from seniors. Because of the frequent number of incidents, the cops are getting much better at catching these people. Here at least.

Definitely report it.
posted by Taurid at 10:53 PM on April 11, 2011

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