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Red Flags and Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to Scams
Article Categories: Articles
Article Tags: Fraud, Financial Education
Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2024
scams fraud western state bank
In today's digital age, scams and fraudulent activities have become increasingly sophisticated, preying on individuals of all ages and backgrounds. At Western State Bank, the two types of scams we see the most often are catfishing scams and grandparent scams, both of which use emotions and fear to trick vulnerable and trusting individuals into parting with their money.
Becoming aware of red flags and adopting preventive measures is crucial to avoid becoming the next victim of a scam.  In this article, we’re sharing stories and tips based on real scams that have happened to our customers. All names have been changed for privacy.
Catfishing Scams

John, a retiree with a passion for connecting with new people online, excitedly joins a dating platform for seniors. He meets a charming woman named Gloria, whose profile exudes warmth and sincerity. They engage in delightful conversations, sharing personal stories and forming what seems like a genuine connection.

However, as their virtual relationship progresses, subtle red flags begin to emerge. Gloria is unusually secretive about her personal life, often deflecting questions or providing vague answers. She also starts hinting at financial troubles, subtly probing John’s willingness to help.
Unbeknownst to John, he is entangled in a catfishing scam, where Gloria’s persona is a carefully crafted facade designed to exploit his trust and emotions. This scenario is just one example of the myriad scams targeting individuals across different platforms and demographics.
Catfishing Scam Red Flags:
  • Too Good To Be True: Be cautious if someone you meet online appears overly perfect or matches your ideal partner in every way. Scammers often create elaborate personas to win trust.
  • Limited Communication: If your interactions primarily occur through messaging and the person is hesitant to video chat or meet in person, it could be a warning sign.
  • Financial Requests: Be wary if the person you’re interacting with claims to be in a financial predicament and asks to borrow money. 
  • Inconsistencies in Stories: Pay attention to inconsistencies or discrepancies in the information they share about their background, family, job, or life events. Scammers may struggle to keep their lies consistent.

Grandparent Scams

Lena received a phone call from her supposed grandson sounding distressed and explaining that he had been in a car accident and needed money urgently for medical bills. Oddly, he didn’t say his name when he called, and instead referred to himself as “your grandson.” He also had an elaborate story for why he needed the money urgently, and only in the form of prepaid Visa gift cards. Lena, caught up in the emotion and fear for her grandson, missed all the red flags and fell victim to a grandparent scam. 


Tips to Avoid Grandparent Scams:
  • Urgency and Fear: Scammers often create a sense of urgency and exploit emotions like fear or concern. If someone contacts you claiming a loved one is in trouble and needs money immediately, take a moment to verify the information independently.
  • Identity: While the scammer may indeed know the name of your grandchild (many look at public social media profiles), always verify the identity of the person making the request by contacting other family members or directly reaching out to the supposed individual in distress. Scammers may use vague information to trick you into believing their story. 
  • Code Word: The Kansas Bankers Association encourages families to establish a family code word— a secret phrase or password known only to trusted family members. It serves as a safeguard against impersonators and scammers who attempt to exploit familial bonds for financial gain. 
General Tips to Avoid Scams
  • Financial Requests: Never send money or share financial information with someone you've met online, especially if they start asking for financial assistance or loans early in the relationship.
  • Consider Payment Methods: Be wary if the person insists on specific payment methods that are difficult to trace, such as prepaid cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Legitimate institutions typically offer secure and verifiable payment options.
  • Research and Verify: Before engaging in any financial transactions or sharing personal information, research the individual, company, or organization thoroughly. Look for reviews, complaints, or any red flags that could indicate a scam.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution. It's better to be overly cautious than to fall victim to a scam.
  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest scam tactics and trends. Many official websites and organizations provide resources and updates on common scams to watch out for.
  • Listen to your Bank: Pay attention to your bank's guidance. Banks possess deep expertise in identifying prevalent scam tactics. If your bank staff cautions against transferring funds and alerts you to potential scam involvement, take their advice seriously. Banks prioritize financial security and are committed to safeguarding your interests.
  • Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter suspicious behavior or believe you've been targeted by a scam, report it to the relevant authorities immediately. Prompt action can help prevent others from becoming victims.

By staying vigilant, asking questions, and verifying information, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to catfishing scams, grandparent scams, and other fraudulent activities. Protecting yourself and your loved ones starts with awareness and proactive measures.

Article Categories: Articles
Article Tags: Fraud, Financial Education