Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Watch Out For Grandparents Scam


Scammers Pose As Grandchildren

Well-meaning senior citizens who think they are helping a grandchild in distress are becoming victims of another wave of the so-called “Grandparent Scam,” warns Better Business Bureau. So far, the scam has targeted grandparents in more than a dozen states and Canadian provinces and stolen as much as $19,000 from one victim alone.

“The grandparent scam preys on the love of a grandparent for their grandchildren and has proven to be an extremely lucrative con for scammers,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Fortunately, this is an easy scam to avoid as long as you don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”

Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from whom they are led to believe is their grandchild. A scammer, posing as their grandchild, explains that he or she has gotten into trouble—often in Canada—and needs their help. The “grandchild” might claim he or she caused a car accident or was arrested for drug possession. With the new wave of calls, victims are also contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer or lawyer representing the grandchild in court.

The “grandchild” pleads to the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons including posting bail, repairing the grandchild’s car, covering lawyer’s fees or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in distress, BBB advises that you don’t disclose any information before you have confirmed it really is your grandchild. If a caller says “It’s me, grandma!” don’t respond with a name but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that your grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name.

If you have fallen victim to the scam, BBB recommends that you report the incident immediately to local police or PhoneBusters Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre. Reports can be filed easily online through the PhoneBusters site at: www.phonebusters.com, or by phone, toll free at, 1-888-495-8501.

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