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POLSON - They call, they're out of the country, they've been arrested or hurt in an accident, they need money ... and they're a relative.

What do you do?

Make darned sure they're the cousin, or uncle, or whoever it is they're claiming to be before you wire them any funds.

Lake County Sheriff Lucky Larson says there have been numerous attempts recently to defraud local residents via a scheme where a caller identifies him or herself as a relative, and goes on to explain some pickle they're in.

"The caller will have some information about your family member and you," Larson says. "This information can sometimes be quite thorough."

Often, Larson says, the alleged relative claims to be in Canada or England.

"With the current technologies of the Internet and cell phones, thieves have become more adept at concealing their identities and have been successful at committing crimes from outside our borders," Larson and Undersheriff Jay Doyle said in a press release. "Before wiring money to anyone, it is important that you know who it is you are sending the money to, as once it is sent, it often cannot be recovered."

Larson recommends asking the caller for more personal information only a family member would know - bring up a childhood vacation, or pet, and see if the caller knows what you're talking about. Or, the sheriff says, contact another relative who would know if whoever the caller is claiming to be is where they say they are, and in the trouble they say they're in.

Perpetrators of this particular scheme always claim to be a family member in trouble, but Larson says people should be careful about wiring funds not only with unsolicited demands for money, but "too-good-to-be-true" deals as well.

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