When it comes to our loved ones, the majority of us would do just about anything to help them out if something bad were to happen. Fraudsters know this truth and are more than happy to exploit it in order to steal from us. A common approach with phone scams is an emotional plea, and there are few things more emotional than the idea that something might have happened to someone related to us. A new phone scam trend that is aiming for the compassionate public is a scam that involves telling someone that a loved one is in prison and needs help. These scammers will make this claim and then ask for bail money in order to help the relative, and it is actually incredibly effective.
Imagine this. You are going about your day when you receive a call from a prison telling you that your child, grandchild, spouse, or sibling is in jail. You will, of course, become immediately horrified at the prospect, and start to demand answers. The individual on the phone tells you that someone has to pay your relative’s bail in order for them to be released, and asks you if you would be willing to pay it so that they can go. For most people, they would of course assume that their relative is innocent and would want to help in any way that they can, and this is what the scammers are counting on. There are a few ways to recognize the trick being played here. First of all, you cannot pay bail with a card. Bail must be paid with cash, so that means that if someone ever asks for a card to post bail, you are without question talking with a scammer. Second, if you ever receive a call about a loved one being in prison, you should without question reach out to the loved one or someone close to them in order to confirm the story. This is an easy way to catch them, particularly if the person becomes angry or upset and says that the money must be paid immediately. Under no circumstances is there an immediate time limit regarding when bail must be paid. If their story sounds unlikely to you, it’s because it almost always is.
The direction that this scam is being taken works in a few different ways. In some instances, people will call pretending to be the relative. For this, it is beneficial to ask questions that only the real person would know. In other cases, the person will be pretending to be an authority figure from the jail or prison. This can easily be confirmed by looking up the jail’s number online and calling to confirm the story. If it feels like you are being pressured over the phone to give money, you can safely assume that something is amiss and act accordingly. This scam is designed to appeal to our natural instinct to protect and help our loved ones, but going the extra mile to make sure that the story is true and not a scam is an excellent one to protect yourself. They are counting on you to make the emotional decision to immediately hand over the money, so your job is to make sure that you approach the situation with a calm head and double check before you make any moves.
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