‘Grandparent scam’ targets the elderly
Ted Hubert
At one time the con artists launched their attacks from Africa, but more recently the favorite locale is in the land of our neighbors to the north.

Canadians, living largely as an English-speaking nation are able to trick grandpas and grandma’s into taking immediate action to help a family member in need.

Several conditions aid the thief to score more easily, including the hearing loss of a senior citizen, which makes it more difficult to recognize the voice of the caller, or a person calling saying they know the potential victim and the names of family members.

The call is made. The grandparent answers and hears the voice say: “ Hello grandma this is your favorite granddaughter.”

Then there is a pause, hoping the victim will furnish the missing information needed to pull off the scam. The grandmother says “Jane, is that you?” and furnishes the grandchild’s name to the con artist.

“Yes, grandma, I am in trouble and I need help, but please do not tell mom or dad. I need $2,500 for bail immediately, so I can get back home. I will give you the address to wire the money. Do you have a pen and paper ready now? I need the money today. Please help me.”

The address is given. The scam is set. The crook now waits for the money to arrive via Western Union or Walmart.

Before any money is wired, you need to call a family member or a close friend of the caller to see if anyone else knows that this young lady is in a cell somewhere in Canada.

Forget the request to keep the this a secret and check it out. Never give out bank numbers or other personal data that can and will be used against you.

The call could go this way: “Hello grandpa, this is your favorite grandson, Travis.”

“Hi Trav is, how are you? ” “Grandpa, I am stranded in Canada without any money, could you send $2,500 to me today, so I can get back home? My wallet was stolen and my car needs a new fuel pump. I need the money now, so would you wire some to me? Do not tell mom or dad. I will be home soon, if you can help me.”

How did the con artist know, the grandson’s name was Travis? Well, in this case, the name was picked up from the obituary in the local newspaper. This type information could come from Facebook or from many sources that is public information.

Last year grandparents lost $4.5 million to grandparent fraud, reported the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Today the “grandparent scam” is more dangerous than ever and it seems to be nationwide.

The con artist may be living in your neighborhood and is acquainted with the victim and the victim’s family. Every con artist is someone’s son or daughter. You would be surprised if you “googled” in your name in the search window to see how well you are known or how many others have the same name as you.

When and if you get such a call, be sure to question the caller. Ask personal questions about the family. Many times the caller will just hang up the phone because they are unable to answer your questions.

It may be wise to suggest that you will return the call to the grandchild’s home or cell phone. Do not ask the caller to furnish the number.

The place to register a complaint, or report a scam, is the Federa l Trades Commission (FTC) 1-877-382-4357. www.ftc. gov, Better Business Bureau, and Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office are ready to assist you too.

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2010-08-26 digital edition

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