April 11, 2014

Phone Scams Once Again Making Their Way into Santa Cruz.

The latest case involved a remake on the ol’, “Your grandchild is in jail and needs bail money” scheme.   The caller impersonated a San Jose Police Officer, and ever-so courteously instructed the victim on how to use a prepaid cash/credit card from GreenDot.com. 

We have also recently heard of individuals calling and impersonating an IRS Agent asking for back-owed taxes, etc. 

The common thread in all of these scams is a request for payment through a prepaid cash/credit card or a Western Union money transfer. 

Here are some good general rules go to by EVERY TIME:
  • If the caller demands payment by phone….High likelihood it is a SCAM
  • If the caller wants payment using a prepaid cash/credit card…..Hang Up – It is a SCAM
  • If the caller wants payment via a Western Union Moneygram or other money wire service…Hang Up – It is a SCAM
These callers are unscrupulous.  Among their favorite target are the elderly.  They will call repeatedly and oftentimes berate the victim.  Simply inform them that you have made note of their number, and are recording the call to turn over to the police.  You have our permission to record such calls for evidentiary purposes.  Then, follow up with a call to the police department to report this.    

If someone tries to use the bail money scheme, remember, you can call the custody facility and verify the information through their booking unit.  Don’t use the phone number the scammer gives you.  Look up the actual number on their Webpage, compare it to the one given, and the call the number listed on their Webpage. 

Be safe and let’s not make it easy for the crooks!