MoneyMoments | MidFirst Bank
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Relationship and Empathy Scams

Scammers use emotional triggers, like love, compassion, and trust, to lower a victim’s defenses and entice them to provide money or bank account information. Victims are often surprised to learn they are involved in a scam because of their emotional involvement.

Below are some common scams:

Hello Grandparent Phone Scam

In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 500,000 complaints from consumers reporting that they’d been exposed to imposter scams. The Hello Grandparent Scam is one type that deliberately targets older Americans.

Imagine being awakened in the middle of the night by someone claiming to be your grandchild in serious trouble and in desperate need of money. The caller might say he’s stranded on a school trip with no money, or has a flat tire, and beg you not to call his/her parents. Once the requested money is wired, the victim later discovers that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.

  • Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. In this type of scam, they count on fear and your concern for your loved one to make you act before you think. The more questions you ask, the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you’re on to them.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Trust your instincts and never rush into a financial decision. Don’t be fooled — if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel empowered to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.
  • Wire money with caution. Fraudsters typically request a wire transfer because they can abscond quickly with the money.

Online Dating Scams

“Romeo” scammers go to great lengths to build a trusting relationship with their victim by posting fake profiles on legitimate dating service sites or chat rooms. They spend months charming their “soul mate” by sending small gifts, professing their love, and building anticipation for a personal meeting. Ultimately, Romeo requests money, or assistance with a bank transaction. In one scenario, Romeo is stationed overseas and needs help cashing his U.S. paycheck. In another scenario, he needs airfare to visit the victim. After the money is wired, the victim never hears from Romeo again.

Charity Scams

There is probably no easier way to charm someone out of their money than to appeal to their sense of charity. Fraudulent charities develop overnight following a natural disaster or other tragedy. Fraudsters use a variety of methods to collect donations for their fictitious charity — email, telemarketing, door-to-door, street corners, malls, etc. It can be difficult to discern a legitimate charity from a fictitious one, so here are some pointers:
  • Proactively give. Rather than respond to unsolicited appeals for donations, which may be fraudulent, identify the causes most important to you, and find a reputable charity to support.
  • Write a check. Instead of dropping cash in a homemade canister or handing money to a solicitor, write a check to the charity of your choice. This ensures your money is supporting the charity, rather than the solicitor, and provides tax deduction documentation.
  • Check it out. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance provides information on individual charities. Visit bbb.org/all/charities-donors.

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