‘Grandparent Scam’ making the rounds

Published on Monday, 7 July 2014 23:04 - Written by Staff Reports

The “Grandparent Scam” is back this summer.

While the scam has been around for years, it continues to proliferate as one variation of the imposter scams which dupes thousands of consumers every year, representatives with the Better Business Bureau reported on Monday.

“A grandparent’s worst nightmare is to find out that their grandchild has been injured or is in a catastrophic situation,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and chief executive officer of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “With access to a potential lifetime of savings, seniors are prime targets for scam artists who will plot to take advantage of their desire to help a loved one.”

Grandparents receive a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild who claims they are traveling abroad and are in trouble. The “grandchild” might claim he or she caused a car accident or is in trouble with the law and requires money to be wired immediately. Victims also may be contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer or lawyer representing the grandchild in court.

The “grandchild” pleads with 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.

BBB provides the following tips to help keep consumers from falling prey to scam.

n Share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country.

n Provide the cellphone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.

n Ask a personal question, but don’t disclose too much information. If a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, BBB advises that the grandparent not disclose any information before confirming that it really is their 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 the grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or the name of the family pet.

If you fall victim to the scam, report the incident to BBB and local police. For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report a fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373.