Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

“Your Grandson is being held in prison and you need to pay $2000 to get him released” Phone scam

My mother received a call the other day from a ‘detective’ claiming that my son was in jail in Charlotte Il. She spoke with someone impersonating my son who claimed that he sounded different because ‘he had a cold’ and ‘slept on the cell floor’.

The man claiming to be the ‘detective’ wanted her to purchase money cards in the amount of $2000 to ‘pay his bail’. My mother smelled a rat and asked the kid impersonating my son a question only he could answer which, of course, the impersonator  could not answer.

I checked the phone number they gave and the area code was from the Montreal area.

What I found disturbing was that they seemed to have a fairly complete profile on my son and mother. My guess is that they are pulling public records and assembling a profile based on those records and are using a contact management system to keep track of their interactions with their victims throughout the day.

As far as the police being able to track them down, the money cards are untraceable.  I am also assuming that the phone number they are using is probably relayed or done with a proxy/voice over IP combo. In other words, the perpetrators could be anywhere in the world.  They are targeting grandparents probably because they assume they are less likely to do simple checks like look up the phone number. By the way, if you look up the number they provided, it is listed on a number of sites as a scam with the same basic details.  Another factor is that many grandparents have a number of grandchildren so they wouldn’t know the exact whereabouts of all of them.

Based on the information they had about us, It is almost certain that they were pulling public information. I’m not sure if they were also pulling social networking information such as my and my son’s facebook pages.

The best defense regarding this scam is to make people aware of it. If someone is talking with you claiming to be a grandson, ask them a question that only they could answer.


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