Avoiding the 'Grandparent Scam'


It starts with a phone call and a voice pleading on the other end of the line. How it it usually ends? With the recipient of the call being scammed out of thousands of dollars.

Steve is a perfect example. He doesn't want us to use his last name because his mother fell victim to the scam.

Steve said the caller told her, "Don't tell my parents about this. Please don't call my mom and dad. I just need you to send this money." As a frightened grandmother, Steve said she did what she was told.

The story the caller game his mom was that he in Canada with some friends and got arrested. He claimed that he needed her to send me some money. She was asked to send $2,000 via Western Union immediately. Hours later Steve's mother learned her grandson was home and fine. She had been scammed.

"She was embarrassed obviously," Steve said. "Embarrassed that she had done it and got taken in the scam."

This type of scam often targets the elderly and preys on their emotions. Julie Kenney is with U.S. Postal Inspection Service and explained the typical story these scammers give.

Kenney said, "They tell them they have been involved in an accident or there is an emergency and they need some money, and they need it right away and they need cash."

Postal inspectors recommend you alert elderly parents or relatives that they could be targeted... and offer some advice.

"When in doubt, believe but verify," Kenney said. "That's the most important thing. Take a moment, try to get another loved one involved in the situation."

Also, ask questions only family would know.

"Did you call your father, and what's your father's phone number again, cause I'll call him right now," Kenney said.

The Consumer Federation of America has tips to protect yourself from the 'Grandparent Scam.' To find out more, click this link.