Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is warning of a new variation of the infamous “grandparents scam.” So far, the scam has targeted businesses in Washington, but could easily strike closer to home, in Southern Arizona.
The con works like this: the scammer calls a business from a restricted phone number, claiming they’re a detective with the local police department and that one of the company’s employees is in the hospital after being involved in a DUI accident. When the business owner inquires as to the name of the employee that has been in an accident, the caller will answer, “it’s the person you would least expect,” or a similar statement meant to bait the business into providing a name.
If the business owner does name an employee, the scammer will confirm that is the person, and that they need to quietly wire a significant amount of bail money to an unknown location via Wal-Mart MoneyGram, or another wire transfer service in order to keep the employee’s good reputation intact.
Sadly, this scenario can be manipulated to be used against a number of industries. If this incident happens to your establishment, please report it to your local law enforcement agency, as well as BBB. The best defense against business scams is to train staff about known scenarios so they are aware of the red flags to look for, and how to handle the call, so you don’t get burned.
- Don’t fill in the blanks for the caller: Ask a lot of questions that have answers only you or someone familiar with your employee should know.
- Do whatever is necessary to confirm your employee’s whereabouts. Get off the phone and call your employee directly to verify what you’ve been told.
- Don’t wire money. Law enforcement will never accept bail via a wire transfer service, and detectives will never solicit bail money from businesses or individuals. If a caller asks for your bank account number or urges you to wire money for any reason, it’s likely a scam. Cons prefer wire transfers because they are fast, and funds can be picked up easily and just about anywhere.