prevalent scam

Siegel said the scheme above is referred to as the "grandparent scam" because of its elderly targets. Sometimes the caller lies about being in jail and needing bail money. Other times it's a car wreck and funds are needed to pay for repairs. If the well-meaning grandparents guess it's a grandchild on the other line, the scammer plays along and convinces them to send money through a wire service.

With an economy slumping, scams are booming.

The Attorney General's Office mortgage fraud task force tracked 287 complaints statewide in February. That number jumped to 1,142 in March.

Lee Pierce, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst, said he's tracked at least a 25 percent increase in Internet-based scams in March alone.

"I can't believe how many of these scams we see every day," Pierce said. "The messages and the routines change, but the format stays pretty much intact."

In an effort to keep potential victims abreast of the most prevalent scams, the Times-Union compiled the top 10 scams in Florida, according to the Attorney General's Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.The voice on the other line is out of breath.

"It's me. You've got to help me. I'm in trouble and need money."

Without ever saying a name, the trap has been sprung. The unwitting targets begin to shuffle through their mental Rolodex of who it could be, and says it for them.

"Scammers are looking to prey on our innate tendency to help those in need," Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel said.

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