Protecting your family and the elderly from advanced phone scams

SPOKANE, Wash. — Scammers are getting better at convincing their target to send them money. So much so, that one of them almost tricked one of our reporters.

She shared her story here.

Emily Blume got a very convincing voicemail, saying she missed jury duty and was in serious trouble.

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“Yes, this is Sergeant Curtis Huff with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. I am calling to establish contact with one Emily Blume. It is very important that I speak with you as soon as possible about an ongoing matter that I’m investigating,” the alarming voicemail said.

They said she missed her jury duty and was being held in contempt of court. All the phone numbers matched the Tacoma Courthouse website.

“You can pay by Venmo, Zelle, or Apple Pay.”

That’s when Emily knew something wasn’t right.

The Pierce County District Court confirmed this is a common scam. This is just one of many very advanced scams that are circling recently.

They can target any aspect of our lives: online purchases, home-buying, romance, employment, and now, even cryptocurrency.

They’re hitting at every angle but with the right precautions, we can protect ourselves, and others.

“These scams are becoming more and more sophisticated and they’ve been around for quite a while. So these fraudsters are basically refining their techniques and they’re doing research on the numbers and the people they’re calling,” said U.S. Marshal Craig Thayer, J.D.

Scams today aren’t the run-of-the-mill obvious scams we’ve become accustomed to looking out for.

“They’ll kind of come over with an alarming alert type tone and you have to do something and you have to do it quickly,” Marshal Thayer explained.

This tactic puts people on edge.

“Law enforcement is not going to ask for payment over the phone. They’re not going to ask for your personal information over the phone,” Marshal Thayer emphasized.

Here are some more tips to identify scammers from Experian:

  • Be skeptical if someone you don’t know contacts you. Don’t share personal information. 
  • Enable multifactor authentication, for an extra layer of protection.
  • Research companies prior to making purchases, with a simple Google search of the company name and “scam.”
  • Be cautious with your phone. If you suspect something, hang up or don’t answer. You can always initiate a call yourself if you’re worried there’s a true issue.
  • Look out for suspicious payment requirements (gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, Zelle, ApplePay, or Venmo).

This is the time to not only put yourself on high alert but also talk to your parents and even grandparents.

These fraudsters are preying on the most vulnerable populations and, that’s often the elderly.

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