Sadly, scammers will exploit a grandparent’s love, concern and vulnerability for their grandchildren, using imposter fraud to target the older generation.
In this scenario, the victim of the scam receives a frantic phone call, text or email from someone posing as their grandchild. They will lie about an accident, arrest or robbery, any crises that requires urgent action. The imposter may use information taken from the victim’s social media presence, for more specific, convincing details to seem plausible.
What to Look For
If the person claiming to be a grandchild asks for money to be sent immediately via gift card, prepaid card or money wire.
If the call comes late at night when a victim is more susceptible to fear based decision making.
How to Protect Yourself
Never let worry override caution. Hang up immediately and call the grandchild/ family member directly on a known number to validate the story. Scammers will most likely plead with you to keep the crises secret, contact other family members if the grandchild cannot be reached.
Make sure your privacy settings on your social media accounts only allow people you know access to your posts and photos. Scammers search Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to target your social networks and familial information.
Do not volunteer information, scammers will fish for details they do not have, like names, places, etc., that will make the scenario more believable. Rely on the the person reaching out to you to provide specific details.
If you speak to someone claiming to be a law enforcement agent, call the law enforcement agency to verify the person’s identity and any information they may give you.
Do not be fooled by the number on the caller ID, scammers use technology to make the number appear familiar or legitimate. Hang up and call the number you know to be associated with the family member in question.
Do not send cash, wire money or cash-reload cards or wire money to any person claiming to be your grandchild. These methods of payment are difficult to trace.
Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, question it.
- You can report any fraud targeting older people to the FTC online or at 877-382-4357. You might also want to notify your state's attorney general and consumer protection office.
- If you sent money to a suspected scammer via Western Union, call the company’s fraud hotline (800-448-1492) as soon as possible. Ditto if you used MoneyGram (800-926-9400). If the transfer has not yet been paid, Western Union or MoneyGram may be able to stop the transaction and refund your money.