EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
MEADOWLAKES — “Hello, Grandma. This is your granddaughter, and I’ve been arrested,” says the voice on the phone. “Please don’t call my mom and dad. They’d be so mad. But can you send me $1,000 for my bail?”
Then, the person on the line, who has identified herself by the grandchild’s name, tells Grandma to wire the money to an office near the jail, but not to the jail. If Grandma bites and sends the money, her granddaughter won’t be released because she was never in jail, and the money will be long gone.
“They’re playing off the person’s emotional response and applying a sense of urgency so the victim doesn’t have a lot of time to think it rationally through,” said Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tom Dillard. “That’s just one of the many scams around. (The scammers) are definitely creative in the ways they go about conning people.”
Dillard and BCSO Capt. Chris Jett want to “arm” people against these con artists. They’ll present tactics to use to thwart scammers during The Four Lakes Forum meeting Thursday, April 26, at Meadowlakes Restaurant, 220 Meadowlakes Drive. The events starts at 5:30 p.m. with a social gathering followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at 6:30 p.m. Dinner is $15 per person.
Mail checks, which also serve as reservations, to The Four Lakes Forum, P.O. Box 1826, Marble Falls, TX 78654. Checks are due by Monday, April 23.
If you require a gluten-free meal, make a note on the check.
The program’s topic is “Sophisticated Scams: How You Can Avoid Being Taken,” though Dillard shied away from the word “sophisticated.”
“I wouldn’t say the scams are sophisticated,” he said. “A con game is still a con game, no matter what the form. The key is a lot play off the victim’s hopes and, sometimes, greed.”
He pointed out a common scam in which the criminal contacts their victim by phone, email, or social media to tell them a large sum of money will be released to them by a financial institution — as long as the person pays taxes on it up front.
“They’ll give you a number of ways to pay it, but the thing is, there was never any money,” Dillard said.
Dillard and Jett plan to discuss how these con artists operate and play on people’s emotions. They’ll outline things to look or listen for if someone emails, calls, or contacts you about a potential financial windfall, or even a child in jail.
If you’re interested in outthinking the scammers, this program is for you.