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TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued an alert warning Tuesday about a new pandemic-related scam targeting parents and grandparents.

The typical scam involves a caller pretending to be a grandchild locked up and asking for bond money.

“The scammer often spoofs the phone number of a local law enforcement agency, then requests a bail payment to release the family member,” states the press release. “Now, there are reports of imposters employing the same scam but using the COVID-19 health crisis to add urgency to an already stressful situation. The scammer claims that due to the health crisis, bail payment must be paid immediately over the phone to reduce person-to-person contact, often implying the relative under arrest may contract COVID-19 while in custody.”

The Attorney General’s Office says to hang up if you receive one of these calls. Then, call your relative that was supposedly under arrest before calling law enforcement to report the scam.

Imposter scams take many different forms and can originate from an email, phone call or text message. Imposter phone calls are effective because spoofing technology allows scammers to change the information displayed on caller IDs to give the appearance that their calls are coming from a government entity.

To avoid falling victim to an imposter scam, the Attorney General’s Office provided the following tips:

• Do not automatically trust the number listed on the caller ID, especially with respect to unsolicited calls;

• Be wary of any individual who calls or emails asking or demanding a money wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card as payment;

• Hang up and contact the appropriate government agency or the apparent requesting entity directly;

• Never provide personal or financial information over the phone or via email in response to an unsolicited communication; and

• Know that law enforcement agencies will never call threatening to arrest you or someone you know unless you provide immediate payment.

For more information on how to protect yourself or to report suspicious activity, go to myfloridalegal.com or call 1-866-9NO-SCAM.

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