July 9, 2012
One con game that is reaping devastating consequences throughout North America tugs at the heart strings of what is dearest to many older adults: their grandchildren. As such, the con often is referred to as the "Grandparent Scam" or "Emergency Scam."
Usually, the caller pretends to be a grandchild in need of emergency money.
The fraud often includes a caller who says something like "Hi, grandma," or "Hey, it's your favorite grandson." The caller's goal is to learn the name of a recipient's actual grandchild. Sometimes the caller may even have learned the name of the grandchildren in advance -- and claim to be a grandchild on the call.
It's unclear how the scammers are getting the names of the grandchildren or their targets. They may use public websites or simply say "Hi, Grandma!" when the phone is picked up and wait for the victim to provide the name. Some even use voice alteration equipment to sound more convincing.
The callers often play on the concern that grandparents have for their loved ones by telling them they have been in an accident, were arrested, are stranded or in similar trouble and need money immediately.
The "grandchild" also insists that the victim not tell anyone else, which increases the odds that the fraud will be successful. Of course, the intent is to get the grandparent to wire money to help.
By the time the elderly call recipient realizes what happened, the money is long gone and most likely not recoverable. Your loved one should be on guard for anyone requesting money and demanding secrecy, and if they are calling from a foreign location.
Another option is to ensure that a second set of eyes is available to help protect your loved one. If a senior is living alone, consider hiring support, such as a CAREGiverSM from the local Home Instead Senior Care® office.
Understand the impact of crime on your loved ones who have been victims.
- U.S. Impact of Crime on Elderly Article (PDF 380k)
- Canadian Impact of Crime on Elderly Article (PDF 380k)
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