Three alleged phone scammers have been arrested in connection to an ongoing spate of “grandparent” scams. The three suspects, Jaquan Wright, Stephanie Valeriano, and Brittany Carson have been charged with financial exploitation of an elder or vulnerable person. The three were arrested in the East Tennessee county of Louden.
The alleged scam involved the conspirators calling elderly people and telling them that their children or grandchildren had been arrested. Once they got a victim to believe this lie, they would tell them that they were seeking bail money. The conspirators would then visit the victims’ homes and collect the money.
Louden Sheriff Tim Guider issued a statement about the arrests, noting “These individuals were very methodical in researching their victims’ information to the point that they knew children and grandchildren names. This and the fact that they came to their victim’s homes to collect this money is extremely concerning to us.”
The arrest is the most recent to bring in scammers accused of running a phone operation that targets older Americans. These “grandparent scams” are reportedly on the rise, with conspirators posing as law enforcement to scare their victims into complying with their demands.
For many older Americans, the idea of their loved ones locked in a cell is enough to spur them into handing over their money. Tragically, this fear can often override common sense. People who would normally not fall for scams can become much more gullible when they think their family members are in trouble.
Avoiding these troublesome scams is as simple as staying vigilant. Remember to always verify any phone calls you get by looking for a third party to corroborate what someone on the phone is telling you. If you’re being told your grandchild is in police custody, call their parent and ask them if this is the case. Alternatively, you could call the police department the person on the phone is claiming your family member is being held at.
It can help to keep in mind that the authorities aren’t going to call you to demand money over the phone. Likewise, the authorities are never going to visit you at your home to collect bail money from you. There are court-mandated processes that govern bail money, and you would need to wire money directly to a county’s court system to post bond.
Also, remember that accepting calls from blocked numbers is always a risk. Few people worth talking to will ever call you from a blocked number.