Today I heard about a local victim of what has come to be known as the “Grandparent Scam.”
The victim in this case was contacted by a person who claimed to be their grandson. He told the victim that he’d been in an auto wreck in Vancouver, and needed $900 because he hadn’t purchased insurance on the rental car. The victim wired the money, then received another call from the crook, asking for an additional sum. However, by this time the victim had been informed that it was a scam.
Still, $900. Nobody needs to lose that.
If you are a grandparent, it is imperative that you are informed about this type of crime. The con artists are banking on your not being able to recognize your grandchild’s voice. Through websites like Facebook, it is very easy for criminals to get information about family members online, which can add legitimacy to a caller’s story.
If someone calls, press them for information that only the real grandchild would know. Better yet, hang up and call the grandchild directly. I’ve heard of several cases of this scam being averted by the phrase, “No, meemaw, I’m not in Canada.”
They may claim to be in jail, injured, or in some other bind, but you have to avoid panicking in this situation. Know that in most cases, that call is a scam, especially when the caller claims to be overseas. Ask for a callback number and contact the parents or the grandchild himself.
Also know that money is irretrievable once wired out of the country.
If you know someone who is a grandparent, make sure you tell them about this scam. And have your kids give them a call now and then, just so they know their voices. It’s an easy scam to avoid if you’re informed.