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Relative in Distress Scam

A caller contacts you on the telephone identifying himself or herself as your relative. He or she asks for financial assistance because he or she just got into a car accident in a nearby jurisdiction.

Here’s how it might happen:

  • The suspect calls and says he needs money immediately. If he does not settle the accident right then and there, he will go to jail. If the victim agrees to help, the suspect will then send a friend to get the money at the victim’s house.
  • The second suspect (the friend of the ‘relative’) shows up at the victim’s house to get the money. He has been told what names to use with the victim when picking the money.
  • The victim finds out later that the relative never called and asked for the money.

What to do if approached in this manner

  • If the person asks for money, be sure to confirm that it’s really a relative – ask a question only that relative would know.
  • Confirm with another relative that the relative named is in town.
  • Go with your gut – if you don’t feel comfortable with the situation, say no and hang up the telephone.

Should you become the victim of a theft by trick, con man or other theft by deception contact your locate police district or the Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit on (202) 727-4159.