CHICAGO — People across the country are getting scary phone calls from "loved ones" saying they're in danger. But, don't be fooled. It usually ends with the recipient of the call being scammed out of thousands of dollars.
"Don’t tell my parents about this. Please don’t call my mom and dad. I just need you to send this money," the son of a fraud victim recalled.
The man's mother received the call and as a frightened grandmother she did what she was asked.
"Grandma, I was in Canada with some friends and we got arrested and I need you to send me some money," the son said the grandmother was told.
She was asked to send $2,000 via Western Union immediately.
Hours later, the grandmother learned her grandson was home and fine. She'd been scammed.
"She was embarrassed obviously — embarrassed that she had done it and got taken in the scam," her son said.
Postal inspectors say this type of scam often targets the elderly and preys on their emotions.
"Tell them they have been involved in an accident or there is an emergency and they need some money, and they need it right away and they need cash," said U.S. Postal Inspector Julie Kenney.
If you have elderly parents or relatives, let them know they could be a target and offer them some advice.
"When in doubt…take a moment, try to get another loved one involved in the situation," advised Kenney.
In addition, ask questions only a family member would know.
"Did you call your father? And, what’s your father’s phone number again because I’ll call him right now," Kenney recommended.
If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam, contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455 and your local police or sheriff’s office.