POSTED: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 6:19pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 13, 2010 - 1:34pm
A suspicious call, an e-mail from a familiar company, a request for money or personal information. It could all be a scam, and now they're taking advantage of the violence and corruption in Juarez to get money too.
Joe Rodriguez was at home when the phone rang. His grandma answered, and what sounded like a familiar voice was on the other end. Before they knew it, this "familiar" person was asking for money and they almost fell for it.
"My grandma says, 'He sounded like Javier, so if I would've had the money, I would've paid him," said Rodriguez.
Like many jobs in the borderland, Joe's is honest, hard work. So he doesn't appreciate when people try to pull a fast one on him and his family. It started when Joe's grandma picked up the phone and the person on the other end waited for his grandma to fill in the blanks.
"The guy asked, 'Guess who it is?' and my grandma said, 'Javier,'" Rodriguez said.
They have a relative named Javier in Mexico, so they thought the call was authentic. But then, it became suspicious.
"He was arrested and needed a thousand dollars to bail out," Rodriguez said.
The fake Javier claimed he was stuck in Juarez and kept pressuring them to send him money. But Joe's family was skeptical.
"So we decided to call to Chihuahua and find out if he's over there, and yes he's over there with his family, having dinner."
Annabelle Estrada from the Better Business Bureau says it's not that uncommon.
"Scammers have figured out a new way to tug at people's heart strings, and much of the time, it's senior citizens," Estrada said.
Most scams people report to the BBB are distress calls - someone who says they're in a tough spot and needs you to wire money. But now that people are in the giving spirit of the holidays, many e-mail scams are surfacing, pretending to be from companies like FedEx and UPS.
"Right now people are expecting packages anyway, everyone's using email now for these purchases," Estrada said.
Even FedEx and UPS have fraud warnings on their website, urging people to look out for e-mails demanding more money for the order to be delivered. Joe says the best advice he could give is to do your research.
"It's better to spend 10, 20 dollars on a phone call, then to spend the thousand dollars we were going to give away."