PLATTSMOUTH – Cass County Sheriff William Brueggemann reports that local citizens have been recent victims of a telephone fraud called the parent or grandparent scam.

A sheriff’s office press release describes the scam this way:

A victim answers the phone to hear a crying voice say they've been involved in an accident, are being arrested and are calling from a friend's phone.

The crying voice will say they don’t know how to explain everything, so they will have a friend, arresting officer, attorney or doctor explain.

The first victim in Cass County withdrew $22,000  cash from their bank, and sent the cash to the address specified by the voice. The money was sent out of state by FedEx, to pay for their son not being arrested.  After the money was sent, the parent found the son was alright and did not make the phone call.

The second victim in Cass County withdrew $7,500 cash from their bank, and sent the money as instructed to an address out of state, through FedEx to pay for their granddaughter not to be arrested. After the money was sent, a family member found the family member was alright and never arrested.

The scammers are very good at what they do, they make the story very convincing and urgent.

 Sheriff’s office: “The scammers know how to get your fight-or-flight responses activated so your critical thinking faculties are not the way they are normally, acting upon the victim's emotions and sense of loyalty.

 Brueggemann: "It doesn't matter what your educational level is because it triggers something emotional."

The victim may be told they are the only person trusted enough to help. As a parent, or grandparent, your first emotion is to help and come to the aid of your son, daughter, or grandchild, and as a parent or grandparent, you don't want to make a mistake in their family decisions.

The scammers are more sophisticated, making them more dangerous. The scammers are obtaining the victim's information by using social media to learn more about their victims through face book, twitter, instagram, etc.

Sheriff Brueggemann urges anyone who receives a call like this to hit the pause button on their natural inclinations and resist the pressure to act quickly and secretly.

Sheriff: “Contact a family member of the person who supposedly called you. Get off of the phone and call your son, daughter or grandchild. They may answer the phone.”

The sheriff says wire transfers, Money Gram or cash by courier are red flags. He said courts do not accept gift cards.

 How do you AVOID these swindles?   SIMPLY HANG UP. In a situation where someone is asking for money right now using fear, excitement, or sympathy, IT'S PROBABLY A SCAM.

Examples of Common Phone Scams

  • Threatening calls from the IRS.
  • Technical support calls.
  • Fake charity appeals.
  • Lottery scams.
  • Family members in peril.
  • Bank fraud calls.
  • Insurance, health care and debt scams.
  • Website password requests.