Rancho Santa Fe Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said that two Rancho Santa Fe residents have recently been victims of similar scams.
These are not “new” scams, but can be costly to a victim, Wellhouser said.
Wellhouser said the scam works as follows:
“A person receives a call from someone who identifies themselves as a relative — son, daughter, grandson, etc. They say that they have been in an accident and are OK, but need to have them send some money to clear up the case.
“In one case they said they were involved in a crash with a foreign diplomat. Then they turn the phone over to a “lawyer.” The lawyer explains that they need to wire money (in their relatives name) to a foreign country. The country is the same as the so-called diplomat’s country. They tell them not to call the police, not to contact the relative, and to do this right away. The money is wired through Western Union. It sounds very official. Even to the unsuspecting victim, the relative that calls sounds like their relative.
“After they wire the money, the so-called attorney calls back and verifies the transaction. They also will ask for more money, because “there was on more thing that just came up.” Usually some type of property damage. After all this occurs, the relative just happens to call the unsuspecting victim. All of a sudden the victim realizes it was all a scam, and the relative is doing just fine and was not involved in a crash or similar incident. In the past victims have been contacted by so-called relatives that need bail money or to pay a debt.
“The tip here is to never transact this type of business over the phone. Verify who you are dealing with. Get a call back number and call them back. Call your relative and check to see if they are OK. Call the police. Residents should not send or wire transfer money to anyone based upon a phone call or series of calls without verifying facts first. Phone scammers routinely use money transfer service to fleece the elderly and any reference to such services should be considered a red flag warning. Traffic accidents are usually documented and fault is usually handled after the fact and with your insurance company — regardless who is involved.”
If you have been a victim of this type of criminal activity, contact the Sheriff’s Dept. at 760-966-3500.