A new airport scam just in time for the holidays

A new airport scam just in time for the holidays

With many people getting ready to travel for the holidays, even though they should stay home, a new scam has popped up. It’s a type of impersonation scam that takes many of its cues from the grandparent scam. Let’s call it the airport jail scam.

In this scam, the scammer calls the victim pretending to be a friend or relative. They’ll claim that they’re being detained at the airport for whatever reason and need you to wire them money so they can be released. Sometimes the scammers will have a second person pose as someone in authority like a lawyer or police officer to make the scam sound more convincing and to place extra pressure on the victim. As with most scams, once you wire the money, the scammer disappears and you never see the money again.

Now, most major airports do have a detention center where people who have been arrested are held. However, unless they’ve been arrested on a federal offense, an arrestee wouldn’t be able to make a phone call until they were transferred to the local police department for processing. We first heard of this scam using Fresno Yosemite International Airport in Fresno, California as the place where the alleged friend was being held in ‘airport jail. This airport is not a major airport like LAX or Newark International and does not have a detaining area.

And just like in the grandparent scam, it is recommended that if you receive one of these phone calls that you don’t immediately make arrangements for payment. Instead, you should try to contact the person claiming to be in ‘airport jail’. You can also ask the person a question only they might know that couldn’t be gleaned from social media.

While you think you may not fall for a scam like this, reports say that some people have already fallen for it. It’s easy to be led down that path when you think a loved one may be in danger. if your friend or relative is being detained, they will not get into any additional trouble if you verify their story.