The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is warning people of what it calls a “Family Emergency Scam” during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven, a common trick used by scammers is to telephone posing as relatives or friends and need you to wire money for an emergency: to get out of jail, leave a foreign country, or pay a hospital bill.
“During COVID-19, scammers are using a variation of the family emergency scams,” Raven stated. “They call or send a text message pretending to be a relative or friend who is on the other side of the border, are sick, and need money to return home. They make it sound urgent and plead with you to act quickly before you realize that it is a scam.”
Raven said one older man received a call from another individual who kept calling him uncle but did not identify himself. When the person asked the caller, “Is that you, Robert?” the caller said, “Yes, it’s Robert, and I need $2,000 to come back to Woodland.”
The Woodland resident wired the caller $2,000, and then called his family to let them know that Robert was on his way back. The man found out, to his embarrassment, that the call was a scam and he was swindled out of $2,000.
Raven offered ways to prevent being scammed including:
- Do not rush to wire money.
- Do not buy gift cards or Green Dot MoneyPak cards without being absolutely sure of the identity of the caller. Never tell anyone the security code on the back of these cards.
- Verify the identity of the caller by asking questions that a stranger would not know.
- Call the family member or friend to confirm the call.
- Check with other family members or friends even if you are told to keep it confidential.
Raven said people can also call the Yolo County Fraud Hotline at 1-855-YOLODA (1-855-496-5632) to report a suspicious call or to receive more information.
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