The Grandparent Scam
There is a scam that is out there that is taking place worldwide. It is called The Grandparent Scam. Reports have been made in the USA to the FBI about this scam starting in 2008. I want you to not be taken in by these scammers.
“This scam is all over Bulgaria (for years) and many, many old people had fallen into it. It’s very sad and stupid, but although they always talk about it in the media always new and new old people give huge amounts of money. I thought it happens only here.” – YouTuber Amortael Liberum
Here is how it works. You are a grandparent that receives a phone call like this “Grandpa, I’m so glad you’re there. This has been the most awful day of my life. I’m in jail, and I can only make this one call.” You say your grandchild’s name and the scammer learns the name and starts using it. “Please don’t call mom and dad. A lawyer assigned to my case will call you soon.”
Within 20 minutes the phone rings again. On the line is a man who identifies himself as William Reid, the attorney charged with helping your grandchild. He gives a brusque, professional rundown of the situation: The police report put the accident at 10:47 p.m. on Tuesday; the driver in the stopped car, a foreign diplomat from Trinidad named Faye M. Scott, was injured, but not seriously. She has been hospitalized and was given a series of tests, which has turned up no long-range problems. Reid rushes on with the good news: He has been able to convince the judge to drop the DUI charge by proving that the police Breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly. And he has just returned from the hospital, where Ms. Scott has agreed to accept $1,950 to cover her costs. She is ready to sign a release just as soon as that amount is wired to a Trinidad address. All the details are ready; Reid provides the address of the closest pharmacy in Berkeley where you can purchase a MoneyGram. Your grandchild can be back in his dorm that night with a clean record—as soon as you phone him with the registration number on the wire transmission. Your grandchild’s future is in your hands! – Source Psmag.com
Thanks to the Internet and social networking sites, a criminal can sometimes uncover personal information about their targets, which makes the impersonations more believable. For example, the actual grandson may mention on his social networking site that he’s a photographer who often travels to Mexico. When contacting the grandparents, the phony grandson will say he’s calling from Mexico, where someone stole his camera equipment and passport.
Common scenarios include:
- A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an e-mail) from a “grandchild.” If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly. Usually, the person claims to be traveling in a foreign country and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, getting in a car accident, or being mugged…and needs money wired ASAP. And the caller doesn’t want his or her parents told.
- Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And there have also been complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice…to further spin the fake tale.
- Military families have been victimized: after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, a con artist will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money to address.
- While it’s commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.
– Source FBI
To avoid being scammed:
- Resist the pressure to act quickly.
- Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
- Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail…especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.
What to do if you have been scammed.
Contact your local authorities or state consumer protection agency if you think you’ve been victimized. File a complaint with IC3, which not only forwards complaints to the appropriate agencies, but also collates and analyzes the data—looking for common threads that link complaints and help identify the culprits.
Local Arrests Made In Nationwide Grandparent Scam