As the Christmas season approaches, some criminals use that to take advantage of general human kindness, said Danville Police Chief Tony Gray.
Recently, local authorities have dealt with several residents who were defrauded out of money through a “relative in jail” scam.
Several Danville residents wired hundreds or even thousands of dollars overseas because they believed a distant relative was incarcerated and needed bail money.
The scammer emails or calls a relative claiming to be a cousin, uncle, niece or grandchild in distress overseas, Gray said.
“If you get any telephone calls from someone claiming to be in jail, check with the police first before sending any money,” Gray said. “Also, keep in mind that incarcerated people do not have Internet access. Thus, any emails you get from someone claiming to be a relative of yours in need of bail money are definitely false.”
Checking with other relatives also can help someone determine if there is indeed a relative in genuine need of bail money.
Gray said the “relative in jail” scam has been around for years but has become more of a presence in the Danville area in the last month.
The police chief said other scams, which almost always originate from career criminals residing overseas, also are starting to resurface. Gray urges residents to be cautious when dealing with any requests for donations sent through postal mail.
“A lot of people are hurting right now, so I don’t want to discourage anyone from donating to a legitimate charity or a local resident truly in need,” Gray said. “However, check with the Better Business Bureau about any unknown charity that gets in touch with you especially if the request is for a large sum of money.”