How Scammers Use Fake Emergencies to Steal Your Money
You could get a call saying your close relative is in an accident or has been arrested and needs money urgently. Calls of this nature can put you in a state of panic. Your first step would probably be to send the money needed to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one.
However, watch out! You are the target of scammers counting on your desire to help and leveraging your anxiety to extract money from you.
This tactic is simple but effective and can lead to financial losses. The good news is that you can avoid falling for it if you fully understand how it works.
In this blog post, we will walk you through the different ways scammers use fake emergencies to steal from you. By the end of this article, you will have all you need at your fingertips to stay safe.
10 Tactics Con Artists Use to Steal Your Money
Any fraudster impersonating your loved one, a police officer, medical personnel, or anyone else intends to get money from you as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they usually execute their scams successfully because of the effectiveness of their tactics. Let’s explore the 10 most common ones:
Con artists want you isolated at all costs so you have no time to verify the information they are giving you. If they pretend to be your relative, then they might say that you shouldn’t inform other relatives about the situation to avoid complicating it. Most people would feel obliged to keep it a secret because they don’t want to hurt their loved one who’s in trouble.
In reality, you should do the opposite. Inform as many relatives as you can and don’t send money to anyone until you’re sure.
This tactic is usually effective because it comes with fear and anxiety. You will be eager to do everything to save your loved one. Fraudsters count on your desire not to complicate an already terrible situation by wasting time.
The sense of urgency is built into their stories to make you panic and not take a minute to think before obliging them.
Expect to hear a well-crafted story about your beloved distressed relative from fraudsters. They know you will want to help your relative out of any form of trouble and would prey on this vulnerability to get you to make payment.
4. Emotional appeal
By tapping into your empathy or compassion, con artists create fear and urgency to make you act impulsively. They get you too upset or guilty to notice any discrepancies in their storyline.
5. Social engineering
Social engineering techniques are necessary to gain your trust and make you more willing to meet their demands.
They are happy to impersonate your loved ones, friends, government officials, or trusted organizations to create familiarity, credibility, and trust. You are likelier to trust an authority figure or someone you know without asking too many questions.
6. Limited-time offers
There’s always a deadline for meeting the demands of con artists. This timeline ensures you don’t have time to think or call others for verification.
7. Fake crisis
A fake emergency scam is incomplete without a fake crisis. Scammers can develop stories ranging from legal predicaments to medical emergencies to gain your sympathy.
Scare tactics are always embedded in these calls for you to think that something terribly might happen if you don’t act fast as per their demands. In that state of fear, you wouldn’t want to be the reason the person’s situation deteriorates.
9. Personal information
Usually, fraudsters have some information about you before contacting you with their phony emergencies. They will give you enough details to make you trust them and fall for their scam.
10. Advanced technology
Advancements in technology have made scams more believable. Con artists can now collect audio data using AI technology and clone your child or grandchild’s voice to make the story more plausible.
Some go as far as spoofing the caller ID so you don’t suspect foul play.
With deepfake AI bots, they can also make video calls with the face of your relative just to defraud you.
How to Avoid Falling for Fake Emergency Scams
To ensure your hard-earned money isn’t stolen by con artists, here’s what you need to know:
Ask the caller a personal question.
The con artist behind the call who claims to be a relative, police officer, nurse, or other personnel doesn’t know much about you. They must have gotten just enough basic information from social media to execute their mission. However, this information is limited, and that’s where you can outsmart them.
Ask them one or two personal questions only a close relative would know to verify their identity. If they can’t provide answers, hang up immediately.
Hang up and call your close relative.
Fraudsters try to create urgency for you to act without thinking. So, the best thing you can do for yourself is hang up and organize your thoughts. If the person claims to be your relative, call their number directly or contact another close relative and tell them about the incident.
Don’t be quick to send money.
One of the ways to identify contrived emergencies is through the requests of payment through unusual methods. If the person calling you asks for money through gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or other unusual methods, be on your guard.
A direct transfer to a regular bank account is traceable and reasonable enough for an emergency.
Find out who stands behind the call.
To know who’s calling you, reverse search the number. This way, you’ll find out the caller’s real name, address, and even personal details such as education history and employment data.
If a call is made with a blocked caller ID, it gets more difficult to see who’s trying to reach out to you. However, it’s possible. Try dialing *69, which traces the number of the last person who called you. Another number to call is *57, particularly when you believe that you’re being scammed.
Use social media wisely.
Be careful who you share your private information and activities with on social media. Most of the information is obtained from your timelines and profile bio.
Don’t tell anything personal about yourself online, even if you think that a person can be trusted.
Get updates on the latest techniques.
Many people have fallen victim to fake emergency scams because of deep fakes from unknown numbers. Such video calls are often difficult to detect as a hoax if you are unaware of this level of AI technology. Older people are more susceptible to this trick because they are not tech-savvy.
Enlighten your household about any advancements in the tactics con artists employ to defraud people. Tell your loved ones to always verify any information before sending money.
When fake emergencies are targeted at you, you can end up losing your hard-earned money. However, don’t be naive and do due diligence before trusting anyone.
With the above-mentioned tips, you’ll know how to protect yourself and your loved ones.