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How the grandparent scam works

It is hard to believe that scam artists would be targeting elderly individuals over the holidays, but that is what happens. This blog post comes from a Facebook news feed story.

In the story, a 78-year-old grandmother received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson. She knew her grandson well enough to know that the call could not be legitimate. She is still sharp and hung right up. Elder financial abuse occurs more often than many realize with one in five seniors over the age of 65 becoming a victim. One estimate places the cost to U.S. seniors at approximately $36 billion a year.

Grandparent/relative scams

This perennial has been around for years, but it was striking that comments on the Facebook post mentioned something similar had recently happened to others. The scammers have developed more sophisticated tactics and often use marketing lists or telephone lists.

Usually the caller does not have actual details and starts with a “Hi Grandma.” A reply of “John, if that you?” confirms an elderly woman has a grandson. Sometimes the call will come in the middle of the night with a story of an arrest or a car breaking down. Whatever the scenario, there is then a request to send money.

The scammer might ask your loved one to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram and stay on the phone applying pressure until the wire transfer goes though. These services are often preferred, because they allow the easy pick up of cash.

Do not allow elders to become victims

If you learn that an older parent or relative has been taken advantage of, take quick action. You may be able to stop a wire transfer. Law enforcement may also be able to assist in finding the culprit. Talking with elderly family members over the holidays about how these scenarios happen can keep loved ones from becoming victims.

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