Employee Is in Jail: Phone Scam Overview
Over 99% of businesses in the United States are small businesses, consisting of less than 500 employees. The majority of start-ups (businesses started in less than one year) in the U.S. have an average of one to four employees. Every business owner knows that finding the right talent and having reliable employees is part of what ensures a business will last.
Phone scammers knowing this have taken it upon themselves to target small businesses throughout the country with a scheme that makes business owners think that their employees have landed themselves in jail. Family-owned businesses can be especially susceptible to these scams as often the employee could be a family member, similar to the grandparent phone scam.
Getting the Initial Call
This phone scam begins with a call from someone claiming to be a local law enforcement agent. They will inform you that your employee has been arrested and that they've been informed to contact you for bail money. The reasons for which your employee has been arrested may vary, from drunk-driving to unpaid parking tickets and other minor infractions.
The scammer posing as an officer will research your company and provide the name of an employee, they'll state that the employee did not have anyone else to call and that they have said they would pay back the money with their next paycheck. The phone scammer will then ask for credit card information or for a wire transfer of the bail money.
Avoiding This Scam
Don't panic when someone calls claiming to be an officer and that an employee or other person close to you has been arrested. A real officer would never call and ask for payment information or a wire transfer for bail money. Instead you would need to go directly to the station.
If you get a call like this take down the information of the caller, hang up, and then try to get in direct contact with the employee who has supposedly been jailed. The number one rule is to remain calm and maintain a clear head.
Report the Scammers
If you get a call from a law enforcement impostor immediately contact your local law enforcement to report the situation. It's likely that scammers are also trying to defraud others in your community with the same ploy they tried on you.