Paramedic Impersonator: Phone Scam Overview
The paramedic scam is one of the most sinister cons ever, and it's very similar to the grandparent phone scam. In this phone scam, the caller pretends to be a paramedic treating an injured loved one. They claim to need money to guarantee a life-saving procedure. If you don't comply, they may claim to have your family member hostage and threaten to kill them if you don't pay.
There are a number of red flags to these scams. However, the scammer has an edge over their victims. They catch them off guard by causing them to panic. People that are scared for their loved ones have more trouble making rational decisions, which makes them compliant to the scammer's demands.
Warning Signs of the Paramedic Scam
It's easy to get hysterical if you get a call from someone about an injured friend or family member. However, there are many reasons it's important to keep your cool. If someone really is injured, you'll have a hard time helping them if you are panicking. Another reason is that you could be a victim of the paramedic scam.
If you stay calm and collected, you may notice the following red flags that your loved one is perfectly fine and that you are being targeted by a phone scam.
No Knowledge of Your Loved One
The scammer doesn't usually have any actual information about your friends or family before calling. They will simply say that someone close to you has been hurt. They'll wait for you to blurt out a name to continue the scam. Hang up if they don't confirm the identity of the injured person.
Don't Follow Billing Policies
The caller will tell you that your loved one will be denied life-saving treatment if a payment is not made immediately. This is an obvious lie.
First of all, paramedics are not responsible for billing patients. Secondly, The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) prohibits hospitals from denying emergency care to any patient, regardless of their ability to pay.
Taking Unnecessary Time or Excessive Time on the Phone
Paramedics are very busy healthcare professionals that probably treat at least half a dozen critically injured people every day. They don't have time to chat with strangers about administrative issues. If they are trying to hold a long conversation about administrative issues that are above their pay grade, then they are probably not a paramedic at all.
Threats of Violence
Scammers behind the paramedic phone scam often change their tactics halfway through the call. If they feel that you aren't going to comply with their demands, they threaten to kill your friend or family member. They may even fire a real gun for dramatic effect.
Don't cave into pressure here. The scammer was obviously lying about the accident, so they're usually lying about having anyone hostage also. Demand to speak to the hostage to confirm their claim.
How to Report the Scam
If you are the target of this scam, you should hang up immediately and contact your loved one to make sure that they are okay. The second step is to contact your local law enforcement and state attorney general to report the incident. They may be able to track where the call came from if caller ID spoofing was not used.
You can also help spread the word in your community by reporting the number that called you in CallerSmart's phone tracer app for iPhone and iPad. If you don't have a iPhone or iPad, you can still report a number in our community phone book by running a reverse phone lookup on the number that called you.