Oregonians are duped out of millions of dollars annually

Last year, Oregonians reported sending more than $300,000 - most often by wire transfer - to scammers pretending to be relatives in trouble in foreign countries.

Their stories usually follows a familiar line: They were traveling overseas with a friend, got in some legal trouble, were arrested and need money to be bailed out of jail.

The "relative" asks for the money to be wired to an account as soon as possible.

Of course, none of this is true. The caller is not, in fact, your relative. If you fall for it - you have been scammed!

To avoid being scammed:

-- Do not be fooled by detailed greetings where the caller seems to know your relative's name, such as, "Hi, Grandma, it's Joey. I'm in trouble... "

Many smart scammers are able to get names and details from online directories, social networking websites or even obituaries. Some hack into email accounts to get this personal information.

-- When the supposed family member pleads with you not to tell his or her family what happened, don't trust that request. Immediately reach out to parents or other relatives to ensure your relative's safety. More than likely, your relative (grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.) is safe and sound at work, school or home - not in trouble in a foreign country.

NEVER send money before verifying the legitimacy of calls such as this, and don't send money to accounts you are not familiar with by wire transfer.

The Oregon Department of Justice can help you determine if the situation is a scam. If it fits this description, the chances are almost 100 percent that it is a scam!

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is committed to the financial and physical safety of all Oregonians.

Therefore, she urges everyone to please let the Oregon Department of Justice know if you have been scammed.

Only about 10 percent of victims of these scams report them. So the real loss is closer to $3 million!

The Oregon Department of Justice needs your help by reporting these incidents.

When in doubt, contact the Oregon Department of Justice's Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392.

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