Telephone Fraud Alert: "Grandparent Scam"

Thursday, December 20 at 04:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Recent reports of a scam targeting the elderly have increased in some Northwest Arkansas communities in the past few weeks. The Bella Vista Police Department reports receipt of at least 35 incidents of what is referred to as the “Grandparent Scam."

In the Grandparent Scam, the con artist will call an elderly person, pretending to be their grandchild, and whose name was possibly identified through online family tree and genealogy websites. The con artist will sound upset and say he/she has been detained in jail, possibly in Mexico or some distance away, and needs money to be wired for his/her release. Then another person will get on the phone, pretending to be an authority figure, such as a jailer, to instruct the elderly victim how to wire the money as soon as possible. Once the victim has wired the money, there is usually no way to get it back. 

This scam works well by playing on the traditional habits of the elderly. First, they are more likely to have a published telephone number in the phone book. Second, the volumes of information on family relationships available on the Internet make it easy for the con artist to have the correct names of grandchildren. 

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel suggests several helpful tips to help prevent falling victim to the scam:

  • Never give or wire money based on an unsolicited telephone call
  • Verify your family member’s whereabouts by calling another family member or the actual grandchild 
  • Never send money to an unknown account or entity
  • Contact your Attorney General’s Office and your local police department if you believe you have been a victim of this scam. 

Another preventative measure, advised by law enforcement, which could reduce the risk of being targeted by a con artist, is to get an unlisted or unpublished number. Even those who have fallen for the scam are advised to change their telephone number after the crime. Listings of such “verified” telephone numbers are often sold among other criminal groups as targets for other scams.

Tags: Arkansas, Consumer Protection, Fraud Alert, Privacy and Security
shredding San Antonio on 8/6/2013 at 7:42 AM
Older adults and seniors are among the common victims of fraud especially that several may not be technically knowledgeable of the different fraudulent methodologies. May this post remind everyone, young and old alike, to be more vigilant and careful in all the activities they do. Thank you for this post.

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