DEAR SUN SPOTS: Regarding the Nov. 14 Sun Spots about robocalls and scams, I’d like to remind people that certain scam calls are circulating again. The caller will say, “This is your grandson. I had a car accident in New York and they are charging me with reckless driving.”  It did really sound like my grandson and the story was plausible. I hung up before the caller could ask for money, but he gave me a number to call back, probably to then ask to have money sent. I hope people will ask questions if they receive such a call. This scam is well-known in some circles, but just in case it could really be a grandson, ask for a name and other identifying information, then they will probably hang up.

— Marilyn, Leeds

ANSWER: Readers, this is a very real scam and it has happened to my own dear mom. These calls often occur in the early hours of the morning when the victim of the scam may still be sleeping and are then startled awake by the ringing phone and are disoriented.

In my mother’s case, the male caller said, “This is your grandson in Maine.” And my mom said, “James?” and the caller said, “Yes!” He then went on to say he had been in a car with friends on the way to a concert the previous evening. He explained that they had gotten pulled over; his friend had drugs in the glove box which he hadn’t known about; and they were in the Portland jail and being held for $1,200 bail.

He was afraid to call his parents and asked my mother to please not tell them. He said his attorney would be calling her back in a few minutes to let her know how to send the money.

Mom called me to ask if I could find out my 20-year-old nephew’s whereabouts and if he really was in jail in Portland. She didn’t have his cellphone number, but I did. Within minutes, I had him on the phone. He was in the library studying at Southern Maine Community College. Meanwhile, mom also called another grandson who lives near her and is a state trooper. He was able to drive over to her home in time to be there to answer the call from “the attorney.” When he answered the phone, he played along with the scammer for a while and gleaned as much information as he could. Then he was able to report the incident and calm his grandmother down.

Readers, I cannot stress it enough, you do not have to answer your phones if you don’t recognize the number of the caller. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call them back at your convenience.

All these robocalls and scams are terrible, I know, and can leave you feeling unsafe in your own home. NEVER give out information about yourself to a caller. And please, don’t worry about being polite. HANG UP. These people bank on your curiosity, loneliness and vulnerability. You are in control of who you talk to so don’t be intimidated by these scammers.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].

 

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