North Alabama residents have been reporting an increase in Grandparent/Emergency scam calls over the past few weeks – but with a new twist. Scammers are targeting parents instead of grandparents stating that their child has been in an accident and was arrested on DUI charges. The con artist then requests payment be sent via money order or wire transfer to cover their bail. One North Alabama resident said that her daughter, named by the scammer, is actually 40 years old with children of her own. Scammers are hoping to trick unsuspecting parents out of hundreds of dollars – but this resident would have none of it and reported the call to the BBB.
Unfortunately, people across the nation are victimized by this scam every day. According to the AARP, “Grandparents of college-aged young people are the most frequent targets, reporting losses exceeding $110 million a year.” The details may be different, but the ploy is the same every time. Scammers expertly play on a victim’s emotions, to get them to act without thinking first. Once the victim wires the money, it’s gone and irretrievable.
How do you protect yourself? Here’s what to look out for if you receive a call like this.
- “Don’t tell mom and dad….” Typically, when a grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild, the scammer explains that he or she has gotten into trouble and needs help, and then pleads to the grandparent not to tell his or her parents.
- “My nose is broken, so I may sound strange.” This is a well-known ploy to reduce questioning from the grandparent. Having a bone broken in the face can contribute to the voice sounding different than normal. Don’t believe this excuse.
- “I need money right away to…. pay the traffic ticket…post bail…pay the ambulance.” If your “grandchild” asks you to wire thousands of dollars for reasons posting bail, repairing the car, covering lawyer’s fees, or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild has supposedly injured in a car accident, don’t believe it.
- Don’t disclose too much information. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in distress, don’t disclose any information before confirming that it really is your 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. People should also be careful sharing too much travel information on social media – a ready resource for scammers.
- Ask a question that only your grandchild will know. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know such as the name of a cousin or pet. Be careful not to ask something that can be easily identified via a social media profile (such as the name of the grandchild’s school).
- Family communication is crucial. If a student really is traveling, he or she should share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country. Let older loved ones know where you’ll be and when you plan to return. Make sure everyone in the family has contact information in case of emergency. This should include a cell phone number and email for the student and for anyone they are traveling with.
Source: BBB of North Alabama and AARP.
To read the original article, visit Busted: Con Artists Exposed . If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.