The Palm Beach Police Department has recently seen an increase in fraudulent scams. Many of these scams target the elderly and Palm Beach Police want residents to be suspicious of any calls they receive that involves them paying out money or the purchasing of store gift cards. In an effort to prevent future occurrences, please familiarize yourself with these following scams:
• A caller pretends to be a grandchild who is in need of money because he claims to have been arrested, in a car accident or has another emergency that requires wiring him cash or purchasing store gift cards. The scammer manipulates the conversation so that the grandparent believes it is their grandchild. The scammer tells the grandparent that he does not want his parents to know and insists that no one be told about the situation. The caller asks to have money wired overseas but other victims have been directed to send the money to Canada or US locations. By the time the victim realizes this is a scam it is often too late and the money has already been retrieved by the scammer.
• In lottery scams, scammers generally send an email, fax or letter to a potential victim announcing that they have won a lottery. The scammer instructs the potential victim that they need to provide their personal bank account information and pay a few fees up front to collect his or her substantial winnings.
• Many scams are unexpected calls purported to be from businesses that many people utilize (Amazon, FPL, etc.) and ask for gift cards as payment or to receive refunds. This is a red flag for scams, and 1 in 3 business impersonator scams involve a scammer pretending to be Amazon. Don’t call back unknown numbers, don’t pay for anything with a gift card, and don’t give remote access to someone who contacts you unexpectedly.
To prevent falling victim to these scams, always be suspicious of anyone, even friends, who ask for money. Verify their circumstances independently, preferably by direct telephone contact. Ask the caller for a return telephone number - if it is a true emergency, the caller will have no problem giving you a telephone number. To confirm the caller’s identity, ask questions like parent’s birthdates or some other type of information known only to family members. Never give out personal information over the telephone or email, no matter how legitimate the call may seem. When in doubt, call the police to discuss your concerns.
Residents who believe they have been a victim to this type of scam should call the Palm Beach Police Department for assistance at (561) 838-5454. Additional information on common scams can be found at the Federal Trade Commission’s Website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.