Who’s the target?
Grandparents and seniors.
How does it happen?
Someone reaches out to you via phone, email, or text message claiming to be one of your grandchildren, and they are frantic and in trouble. They will claim to have been in an accident or arrested and are now hospitalized or even stuck in another country. The “grandchild” will beg for money to be wired immediately, and they will press you not to tell their parents or other family members.
The scammer will often have done research on social media and will be able to provide details about the family, adding to their credibility. Any grandparent in this situation would want to help, but the scammer is counting on your good nature in the face of an emergency. As soon as you send them the money, they could continue to request more money until you run out and will eventually disappear once they’ve gotten your funds.
- They’re requesting you make immediate payment in the form of a wire or courier
- They’re emphasizing a sense of urgency, and consequences for failing to pay
- They’re asking you to keep the situation secret, and forbid you from speaking to anyone else
How can we stay safe?
- Review your social media privacy settings and limit what you share publicly
- Get off the phone and call or text the person who (supposedly) called. If they don’t answer, reach out to a family member, and get the real story
- Don’t give your address, personal information, or cash to anyone who contacts you
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact your financial institutions as soon as possible
- If you’ve given the scammer any of your account passwords or PINs, change them immediately
- File a report on FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)