“I lost my wallet and ID. I’m stranded — please wire money.”
“Your grandson is being held in jail. He needs bail money right away.”
Scammers try to trick you into thinking a loved one is in trouble. They call, text, email, or send messages on social media about a supposed emergency with a family member or friend. They ask you to send money immediately. To make their story seem real, they may claim to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer; they may have or guess at facts about your loved one. These imposters may insist that you keep quiet about their demand for money to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. But no matter how real or urgent this seems — it’s a scam.
If you get a call or message like this, what to do?
- Check it out before you act. Look up that friend or family’s phone number yourself. Call them or another family member to see what’s happening. Even if the person who contacted you told you not to.
- Don’t pay. Don’t wire money, send a check, overnight a money order, or pay with a gift card or cash reload card. Anyone who demands payment in these ways is always, always, always a scammer. These payment methods are like giving cash — and nearly untraceable, unless you act almost immediately.
- If you sent money to a family emergency scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, bank, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible.
- Report the message or call at FTC.gov/complaint.
Share this video to help servicemembers and their families avoid family imposter scams.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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In reply to Thank you! by felisareciojdll
In reply to hola soy una mujer que lleva by Carmen
My wife and I were almost scammed for $8000.00 for bail for our grandson who was attending a wedding and got stopped and tested. Was arrested and needed our help. We were fooled by his voice and gave us a number to call a Public defender which we did and he arranged for cash to be sent fed ex. We paid over $100 for shipping.
Got home called his father and found be had been scammed. We went back to fed ex got the package and $8000 and shipping costs refunded. We are both 79 and I guess easy targets. Thank you Lord. 4
In reply to My wife and I were almost by sassy
In reply to We're on the No Call list and by JaniceP
In reply to How do I find out if a by Yosemite Sam
You can't tell if a company is legitimate by looking at a website.
If someone says they can get your money back, be very careful. They might be scammers who will take your money or personal information.
If you sent money to a scammer by wire transfer by Western Union or MoneyGram, no one can get your money back. It's very very hard to get money back after a scam.
You could call the Attorney General in your state and ask about that company. Use this list to look up your Attorney General.
And report the scam to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint, so your information will be added to the database that the FTC and law enforcement agencies use for investigations.