News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Nov. 18, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Federal Trade Commission says scammers are posing as family members in distress to steal money from loved ones.
They often target the elderly and ask them to wire them emergency money. They also ask the loved one not to tell any other family members about their emergency.
Marguerite Cumbus, 84, said it all started with a phone call from someone claiming to be her great nephew.
"He says, 'I need some help.' I said, 'Where you at?' He said, 'I'm in Peru,'" she said.
Cumbus said he told her he was in Peru for a wedding and was in trouble.
"He said, 'I am in jail.' I said, 'What are you doing in jail?' He said, 'I was driving and I had been drinking and they locked me up.'"
She said he begged her not to tell his parents so that he wouldn't get in trouble, then he asked her for a big favor.
"I need $3,600, that's what they are going to charge me to get out of jail," he said.
She went straight to the nearest store to wire the money.
The next morning, her nephew called her.
"I said, 'What are you doing home?' He said, 'Well I haven't been anywhere. I went to school yesterday and Daddy came home and put me to work.' And I said, 'Oh my God, I've been scammed,'" Cumbus said.
The FTC warns if anyone calls claiming to be a family member and asks for money, don't give out out any information.
Ask specific questions like, "Which grandchild is this?" Keep in mind it's a red flag anytime someone ask you to wire money. Once it's wired, especially out of the county, it is very hard to get back.