Your BBB commonly receives consumer reports about “impostor scams.” They can come in the form of a frantic phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild in trouble–also known as the “grandparent scam.”
Another common version is the “My Awful Trip” scam, that often involves a scary email from someone posing as a friend or relative who supposedly went on vacation and got into a bad situation. In all of those, the impostor claims to need money quickly (the quicker you act, the less likely you are to check up on them and figure out the scam).
In a take on the My Awful Trip scam, one email forwarded by a consumer came from a friend whose Yahoo email account got hacked:
Sorry for the inconveniences, I am in Ukraine. I am here for a week, everything was going on fine until last night when i got attacked by some unknown gunmen, All my valuable things was stolen off me, Wallet, Credit Cards, Phones, and i was also injured on my left hands but luckily i still have my passport with me, but I have to pay for my return flight ticket and settle my hotel bills with the manager before i can leave here. I need your help finacially/LOAN at the moment I promise to make the refund once I get back home, you are my last resort and hope, Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it’s the only way I can reach you at the moment.
Fortunately, the consumer saw through the scam and didn’t send any money.
BBB offers these tips to avoid becoming victim to an impostor scam:
- 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.
- Know where to turn. If you fall victim to a scam, report the incident immediately to local police and your state Attorney General’s office.