Friend in need wire transfer scam - New York News

Friend in need wire transfer scam

Posted: Updated: Feb 27, 2012 03:25 PM EST

MYFOXNY.COM - Con artists are reportedly making a lot of money by convincing people there is an emergency involving a loved one. Authorities call it the "friend-in-need" flim-flam, the "Hello Grandma?" hustle, and the "It's me and I need help" swindle. The scams happen nationwide.

We recently got three emails about it from Fox 5 viewers.

Joanne from New Rochelle wrote: "My e-mail address was hacked and hundreds of people received a letter saying that I was in Madrid with my family and was robbed at gunpoint, and I needed money to get back home. They were asked to send 2200 in foreign currency"... and instructed to "please wire the money."

John from the Bronx wrote: "My granddaughter received a call that her mother was hijacked and she had to pay $1,500 to be released. She did not tell us and sent a money order to a person in Puerto Rico. It "was a scam, we called 911" but police said "they can't do anything."

A viewer named Suzy wrote: "My mother fell victim of a telephone scam. The caller pretended to be her grandson who supposedly was in trouble while on vacation in Mexico. He managed to convince her to wire multiple thousands of dollars through Western Union."

In the "grandma" scam, when the con man, speaking in a muffled voice and sounding panicked, says "Hello, Grandma" many people make the mistake of replying "Is that you, Billy?" or whatever their grandchild's name is. Once these hustlers have a actual name it is easier to pull off the scam. The so-called grandson will quickly pass the phone to an accomplice pretending to be a police officer or friend. That person will instruct the elderly victim to wire the money for bail or medical treatment or whatever other emergency the con men have concocted.

The one thing all these emergency scams have in common is wiring money. It is nearly impossible to reverse a wire transfer or trace the money.

The bottom line: Never wire money to strangers or someone you haven't met in person. If you get a call or email from someone claiming to be a friend or relative in trouble, ask lots of questions that a stranger couldn't possibly answer.

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