Pinehurst Police Chief Fred R. Hanauer III would like to warn all citizens about a scam that has re-surfaced in our area. The scam, which usually targets elderly individuals, begins with the victim receiving a telephone call from someone purporting to be a family member, usually a grandchild, claiming to be in jail and in need of bail money. They may also claim to have been the victim of a crime while out of the country and are in need of money to return home. There are many variations of this scam. The victim, acting on good faith, is instructed to send money, via a wire service to a prescribed location, usually out of the country. Once the wire is sent it is practically impossible to recoup the monetary loss.

Locally, a Pinehurst resident received such a call from someone he thought was his nephew. He wired a large sum of money through Moneygram at a local CVS Pharmacy.  The calls can originate from any area code but are not usually local calls.

These scams can be avoided by following a few common sense steps.

If you should receive such a call, text message, or e-mail and can’t be sure whether it’s on the level, the best approach is to elicit as much information as possible from the caller, then contact a direct relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child of the person the caller is claiming to be and try to verify the information. For example, “I just received a call from someone who identified himself as your brother, Bill, and he said his wallet was stolen in Calgary and he desperately needs some money to get back home. Do you know if Bill is traveling in Canada right now?”

Another approach to use if you can’t reach other relatives right away is the one employed in the example quoted above: Ask the caller a question that an impersonator would not be unable to answer. Be careful to pose a question that requires more than knowledge of basic family information because that information is too easy for outsiders to look up. Instead, ask about something like a detail of a family event that someone who was not present would be extremely unlikely to know.

The FBI provides an online complaint process through the Internet Crimes Center. The Link is as follows: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

The IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the actual victim or from a third party to the complainant. We can best process your complaint if we receive accurate and complete information from you. Therefore, we request you provide the following information when filing a complaint:

  • Victim’s name, address, telephone, and email
  • Financial transaction information (e.g., account information, transaction date and amount, who received the money)
  • Subject’s name, address, telephone, email, website, and IP address
  • Specific details on how you were victimized
  • Email header(s)
  • Any other relevant information you believe is necessary to support your complaint”

You are still encouraged to report the scam to your local law enforcement agency.