New twist on the grandparent scam tries to convince you your friend is in trouble
A BBB employee received the following email this week, with the subject line “My awful trip!!!”:
I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to Rosa, Laguna – Philippine for a short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of my way to hotel where i stayed, all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.
I’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and my flight leaves shortly from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let me leave until i settle the bills,
I need urgent assistance out of here.
While it did come from one of her friends’ email address, it didn’t quite ring true. For one, the language didn’t quite sound like her friend. But the real tip off came when the BBB employee called her friend, who hadn’t been robbed, was safe at home and didn’t need assistance of any kind. The email was a scam.
The scam is similar to the very popular “grandparent scam,” where scammers call unsuspecting grandparents pretending to be a relative in trouble. Most of the time, the scammers claim to be in a foreign country and have some kind of medical or legal emergency. They then ask the victim to wire cash.
Avoid falling victim with the following tips from BBB:
Go “off the call.” If a friend or relative contacts you asking for help, stay calm. Then hang up from the call or walk away from the computer and contact the person directly to verify the story.
Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Even if they are claiming to be someone you do know, do not wire any money until you have checked out the story. Don’t give out your credit card number or other personal information, either.
Stay private. Check your privacy settings on all your social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for information on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.