Ohio Attorney General warns of family emergency scams

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is warning residents to be on alert for family emergency scams.

This scam is similar to grandparents scams, where callers pose as relatives. The con artists claim to need money right away to get out of jail or deal with a car accident.

“This is a horrible scam,” Ohio Attorney General DeWine said in a news release on Wednesday. “Con artists prey on people’s worst fears that something bad has happened to a loved one. They try to scare people into sending money right away. Once they get your money, they’re gone and the money’s gone.”

DeWine’s office said it has received more than 20 complaints since November with the average reported loss of more than $6,000.

The attorney general office offered the following tips to avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • Communicate with your family members. Talk to your family about scams and discuss how you would communicate during a true emergency.
  • Verify a caller’s claims. If you receive a call about a family member in trouble, contact someone else, such as the person’s parents, to determine the person’s location and whether the person truly needs your help. Be wary if the caller asks you not to contact any other family members. This is a tactic used by scammers. When in doubt, ask questions only your real family members would know how to answer, such as the last time you saw each other.
  • Limit sharing information online. Don’t post upcoming travel plans or detailed personal information online, and encourage your family members to take similar precautions. Scammers may use information available online to learn more about their targets and to make their ploys seem more believable. Check your account privacy settings on social media and limit who can view your information.
  • Be wary of specific payment requests. If someone tells you that you must pay using a gift card, prepaid reloadable card, money transfer, or cash, it may be a scam. These payment methods are difficult to trace and are used regularly in scams. Once the money is sent, it is very difficult to recover.

To report scams, got to OhioProtects.org or call 800-282-0515.

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