AARP warns of fake missing person scam circulating online

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 9:09 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - AARP Alabama is warning of a post urging people to flood their Facebook feeds to find a fake missing person. It has been shared across the country, including in Alabama.

“Supposedly, this was a local person, that’s what they tried to say,” said Jamie Harding with AARP Alabama. “He’s missing from the Auburn, Opelika area, but in every post on every other page, he was also missing from that area.”

It is a scam. Robert Spall is the name listed in the post. He was indeed a missing person, but he was found in Georgia in October.

Scammers are preying on people’s emotions.

“They have good hearts, and they want to do good things and try to help out somebody who might be in trouble or might be missing their pet,” Harding said.

Scammers usually keep a close eye on people sharing these posts, AARP explained. They may message individuals claiming they have found their missing relative and now need money to pay for their medical bills.

Central Alabama CrimeStoppers has even seen similar scams in the comments of their real missing person posts.

“They’ll maybe open up a GoFundMe account and try to gain money that way,” said Tony Garrett with CrimeStoppers.

Scammers will try to gain people’s trust, but it’s important to think twice and only donate to legitimate causes.

“They’ll play a long game with these kinds of things,” Harding said. “They’ll work on you and build up trust and try to gain information about you and your family and try to see sort of where your weak spots are.”

Criminals are often running multiple scams at the same time. To help you catch them, AARP is recommending the public visits their Fraud Watch Network for a look at scams circulating right now.

People can also check whether the charity they are donating to is legitimate by visiting charitynavigator.org.

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