Don’t Become the Next Victim of the Grandparent Scam

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Police are continually warning residents about telephone con artists targeting senior citizens using a distressed loved-one tactic – otherwise known as the grandparent phone scam.

My family has been a personal victim of the scam.  Just a few months ago, my in-laws were called by a man posing as their grandson – my son, who said he was in jail begging them to please not tell us as we would be angry.

They believed it was him.  They probably even told his name to the scammers believing it was him.

They also wanted to help.  It was in their nature.

So when an “official” got on the phone saying he was an attorney at a jail in another state and needed $6,000 to release him, they wasted no time going to the bank to get the cash.  The scammers said they would have someone come by their home to pick up the money.

This is when they called us.

We were in disbelief.  I assured my husband’s parents I had just gotten off the phone with my son just hours prior, who was safely attending classes at the University of Florida. My husband took the phone and said that our son would have called us first if he was in trouble.  We told them they were being scammed and contacted the local police to make sure this person did not come by looking for the money.

An hour later, the pick-up person called, and after my father-in-law started asking pointed questions, they knew my in-laws had caught on and didn’t come by.

Thankfully, $6,000 of their retirement money was saved.

In the scam featured in the video above, the elderly resident received a call, found out his grandson was okay and then contacted the Coral Springs Police. An investigator contacted the number they left and they took the bait…..until the very end.

In the scam, much like the one my in-laws experienced, the alleged attorney explains to the “victim” that his nephew has been arrested for a crime and that they are representing them. The attorney then demands a wire transfer in order to release him from jail.  Typically they ask the transaction to be completed through Western Union or MoneyGram. The “attorney” may also ask the victim for a bank account number. Another tactic used to defraud senior citizens is advising them that their grandchild has been involved in a vehicle accident and they require medical assistance.

Once the victim wires the money; there is no way to reverse the transaction once it is sent. The money cannot be traced or recovered at a later time.

According to Coral Springs Police, these “scammers” are possibly locating their targets on the internet, through Google searches, Facebook or other social networking websites.

Residents are asked to be suspicious if they receive a phone call where a grandchild calls you from a faraway location, a grandchild is in some type of trouble, the caller asks for money via a wire transfer or your bank account information or someone posing as an attorney or legal counsel asks for funds to assist your loved one.

Contact police immediately if you receive one and never give money to anyone who demands it over the phone.  Including people posing as IRS agents.