If you’ve never heard of phone-based theft attempts called “Grandparent Scams,” you should become aware of them because they’re costing plenty of senior citizens some serious money, not to mention the shock and fear that comes with the phone call .
It all breaks down to a simple concept: Many grandparents have a very difficult time saying no to their grandchildren, and scammers know this and want to exploit it for profit.
It’s happening everywhere, especially here in Illinois.
Man hands using smart phone
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Has Been Warning Of Grandparents Scams For Several Years Now, But People Are Still Losing Money
And it’s not just the FCC that’s sounding the alarm over Grandparents Scams. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued warnings, as has the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS):
Scammers will call or email grandparents to make urgent requests for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills, or other fictitious expenses. To make the story seem plausible, the scammer will add details about how, what or where the emergency happened, or tell you that a third person, such as a lawyer, doctor or police officer, will “explain everything to you” if you call him or her. Once the money is sent, the scammers are long gone and the grandparent loses hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
A Suburban Couple From Edgewood Recently Found Themselves Targeted For Nearly $20,000
According to a report from WGN-TV, the scammer on the phone told the senior couple, Dick and Nancy Merrill, that their grandson (age 14), had taken a car without permission and ended up running into a pregnant woman. The couple was told that the grandson needed over $18,000 for bail, and he needed it within 24 hours.
“The phone rang and a child was sobbing,” said Nancy, “… they said this is your grandson calling from the police department.”
The scammer was detailed. He gave the Merrills an officer’s name, which station their grandson was being held at, and a case number to help sell the scam.
Luckily, the Merrills took notes during the call, and immediately reached out to a family member who thought that they were being taken for a ride by the caller. That family member, their daughter-in-law, quickly produced the grandson who had supposedly been arrested (he hadn’t), showing the Merrills that they had almost been scammed.