McCollum, AARP: Senior Citizens Should Beware of Costly “Grandchild Scheme”
Better Business Bureau reports scammers are posing as grandchildren to scam unsuspecting grandparents
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum and AARP has issued a consumer advisory about an emerging telephone scam that is preying on grandparents nationwide. The advisory follows the Better Business Bureau’s recent report that grandparents are being taken advantage of by Canadian con artists claiming to be their victims’ grandchildren in need of emergency cash. The grandparents believe they are helping their grandchildren out of an emergency situation, but are in fact losing thousands of dollars to the scammers.
“Anyone who preys on the love and concern a grandparent may have for his or her grandchild is absolutely unscrupulous and should be reported immediately to local and Canadian authorities,” said Attorney General McCollum. “This scam is truly despicable.”
Consumer complaints to the Attorney General’s Office have provided information about the mechanics of the scheme, which preys on the grandparent’s concern for the well-being of his or her grandchild. Typically, the grandparent receives a distressed phone call from someone pretending to be his or her grandchild. The supposed grandchild explains that he or she is traveling in Canada and is in some kind of trouble, ranging from an arrest to an auto accident. The con artist pleads with the grandparent to wire money to post bail or pay for damages, usually amounting to a few thousand dollars. One individual who contacted the Attorney General’s Office had wired $5,100 to someone he believed was his grandson, supposedly to bail his grandson out of jail. Upon contacting his grandson later, the man learned he had been scammed and reported the incident to authorities.
"It is beneath contempt to use a grandparent's love as a weapon against older Floridians," said AARP Florida State Director Lori Parham. "We urge AARP members, and all Floridians 50+, to report examples of this promptly to the appropriate authorities."
The Better Business Bureau advises that any request to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram should be seen as a red flag and an immediate tip-off that the call may be part of a scam, as these two money wire services have been prevalently used by the scammers as the means by which to obtain the money. Funds sent via wire transfer are hard to track once received by con artists and are usually not recoverable by law enforcement or banking officials.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre is reporting a significant increase in complaints for this scam. To protect themselves from this scam and other that may use a distressed loved one tactic, the BBB is advising seniors to confirm the status of their loved one by calling them directly or verifying the story with other family members before taking any further action. Floridians who believe they have been victimized by this scam should immediately report the incident to local law enforcement. Additionally, if there has been a request to wire money to Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre has established the PhoneBusters hotline and web site to report such fraud. Reports can be filed online through the PhoneBusters site, http://www.phonebusters.com, or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
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