DARIEN — Police are warning residents to be aware of scams after a resident nearly lost money to a fake call.
On Jan. 31, a Darien resident picked up a call from an unknown number. The caller told the Darien woman her husband had been in a car accident with the caller’s brother, who was a wanted felon. The caller said they couldn’t call the police and the victim needed to stay on the line and send money to them or they would kill her husband.
The victim followed the caller’s instructions and went to the bank. While on her way there, she flagged down two Darien police officers. The officers realized the details of the situation sounded similar to other scams tried on local residents. The Darien woman eventually went to a nearby Walmart at the instruction of the caller while police found the woman’s husband and confirmed he was safe. The Darien woman was able to end the call before sending any money.
Police said they investigate every scam call they hear of and continue to warn residents of these phone scams. Police added they believe the calls have been originating outside the country over the past several years they’ve been reported and noted the scams continue to occur in the area at an “alarming rate.”
“There are many variations to this type of phone scam and unfortunately it is often successful because it preys on a person’s fear of a loved one being harmed,” said Darien Lt. Jeremiah Marron in a press release. “Although the victims are relieved when they learn that their loved one is safe, their money will likely never be recovered.”
How to avoid falling victim to phone scams
Here are some tips from the Darien police:
Do memorize or keep a written list of family cell phone numbers that can be easily accessed if your cell phone is in use.
Do not provide family information over the telephone. Simply responding to a simple question like, “Do you know where your husband is?” can trigger a kidnapping scam.
Do attempt to identify the location of the caller as well as the family member that has purportedly been kidnapped. The scammer may be unfamiliar with the local area.
Do ask specific questions to assess the validity of the call. Asking the hostage to describe your family member may prompt the caller to stop the scam and hang up.
Dotry to buy time by repeating the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
Do not wire any funds for a “ransom.” These transactions are very difficult to trace and upon completion are considered a loss.
Do notify the local police as soon as possible, even when instructed not to.
Do save the incoming telephone number along with any text messages, voice mails, or photographs sent by the caller.
Do not panic; this scam feeds on fear. By remaining calm and rational, you may be able to figure out that the call is a hoax.