Here’s a scenario based on a recent article I read:
- The telephone rings. The caller ID displays a 204 area code. You answer it.
- The caller introduces himself as Officer Scott Davidson from the Brooke Police Department.
- The caller claims that a relative has been arrested and needs $2,000 to post bail.
- The caller instructs you to purchase gift cards and relay the numbers to him over the phone.
At what point would you begin to think, “Something’s weird about this?”
If you’ve memorized every area code in the world for some reason, or happen to have some weirdly specific purpose for recognizing the 204 area code (it’s in Canada), that might have been enough. But that’s probably not most people.
If you’ve heard of the Grandparent Scam, you might recognize the pattern: an alleged police officer calling to request money to bail out a relative.
The point at which the call really goes off the reality rails, however, is when the caller tells you to buy gift cards and relay the numbers. Remember this (repeat it out loud, write it on all your telephones in Sharpie marker, whatever you need to do): you can’t post bail with gift cards.
Also: police don’t call demanding payment over the phone.
Also also: never trust a stranger asking you to buy gift cards and relay the numbers, or wire money.