Despite the holidays being over, scammers are still out there trying to find an easy victim.
A friend of Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants was almost the latest victim.
Recently, this friend, who is a business owner in the Kanawha Valley, was contacted by an elderly relative who was called by a person posing as an attorney. This attorney said he was representing her great nephew who reportedly had been arrested in New York City while on a trip.
The caller was seeking $2,000 to bail the great nephew out of jail.
Plants’ friend, who Plants refers to as a sophisticated business owner, calls up the attorney to find out more information about his nephew being in jail.
Plants said the scammer appeared pretty legit to his friend until the so-called attorney gave out his personal account number, something they don’t normally do in these cases.
“He gives him a website and my friend goes on the website and notices it looks legit. So he calls the guy back and says alright, well tell me your account number,” said Plants. “He gives him the account number and my friend notices, the only thing off, is that it was a personal account number. It wasn’t a business account number.”
When seeking bail money, attorneys are never suppose to give out their personal account number but rather a business account number and the friend caught this.
Plants’ said his friend decided not to send any money until he called his nephew, who was attending college in Florida, to see if the story was true. That’s when the friend found out the the whole thing was a scam.
Plants said this scammer had done his research on this family.
“This caller knew the names, knew the family, knew where this person went to school,” said Plants. “He knew enough personal information to convince both the older lady and my friend who is very sophisticated that he had spoken with the nephew.”
Plants notified the FBI about the scam and an investigation is currently being conducted into the incident.
Plants said even though there is a website, he figures the individual will not get caught because it is really tough to trace these things back to those responsible.
Plants’ friend was fortunate enough to catch the scam before money was sent, but many others have not been so lucky.
Plants said people just need to be extra careful.
“Before you send any money, always call and check, double, triple check to make sure that the purpose of the call is legitimate,” said Plants.
Plants believes scammers usually get most of their information from social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.