Elderly residents have been a prime target in an increasing number of telephone scams over the last few months, Hurst police said in a news release.
According to the FBI website, the “grandparent scam” has been reported since 2008. Hurst police have taken four reports in 2016 but estimate that more than 20 residents have been contacted in the last three months, assistant police chief Steve Niekamp said.
In Hurst, the scam begins with a phone call to the victim notifying them that a relative, usually a grandchild, is in jail in another state or country. The caller tells the victim that the relative needs money to get out of jail. They often request money more than once and in the reports from Hurst, amounts have been $900 to $1,000.
The scammers have become smarter and more sophisticated over the years and can be extremely convincing over the phone.
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Scammers can get information about people easily through social media, and use it to make a convincing impersonation of the relative.
According to the FBI website, the calls most frequently are made during early morning or late in the evening when people aren’t thinking as clearly.
It also says senior citizens are targeted most frequently for a variety of reasons, including having great credit, being raised to be polite and trusting and being less likely to report fraud for fear of being deemed not mentally capable of taking care of their own finances.
“Some people who are actually scammed do not want to make a report because they fear their family will find out and make them go into an assisted living facility,” Niekamp said.
Hurst police officials reminded residents to never give credit card or banking information over the phone.
Be extremely cautious when wiring money because it’s almost the same as sending cash and you cannot get that money back.
If you receive a phone call similar to these. hang up immediately and try to contact the relative or other relatives to find out their whereabouts.
If you have been a victim of this crime, call your local police department to file a report.
Azia Branson; 817-390-7547, @aziabranson