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“Your nephew is in jail” – Crooks convince trusting victims to spend thousands on gift cards

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GLENDALE, MO (KTVI) - A phone call telling you a family member is in jail might sound suspicious, and even ridiculous, but consider this: residents are, in fact, falling for it, and it’s costing them thousands of dollars.

“We received two different calls from different sets of victims,” Glendale Police Captain Bob Catlett said.

People posing as either attorneys or police officers have called people, telling them a relative was arrested in another state.

In one instance, a couple purchased $10,000 worth of gift cards thinking they would be used as bond. Another couple spend $2,000 worth of gift cards.

The person on the other line sounds convincing. Social media has made it easy for crooks to find just enough information on family members.

“People like us need to be careful of what we post on social media. And those who aren’t familiar with social media need to be even more careful. Facebook, Instagram, where you list your family members. Where they live. Pictures of your family members,” Catlett said.

The person on the other line instructed the victims to buy gift cards and then provide the gift card and PIN numbers.

Catlett said the first thing anyone should do is hang up and contact the relative. In each of these cases, no phone call was made until it was too late – the gift cards had been used.

The phone calls were traced to line out of Canada. It is unclear who is behind the scams.