It happens again, and again, an elderly person receives a phone call from their “favorite” grandson asking for money. He says he’s been in an accident or been arrested, or sometimes both. He needs money for bail, or the hospital. You want to help and promise to send money. He asks you to call his “lawyer” and get instructions. The “lawyer” tells you to purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards like iTunes and call the number giving his “lawyer” the codes. The elderly person does as instructed, sometimes several times. Unfortunately, their good intentions are not needed. The caller was not their grandson, or anyone else they know, it was a scam artist. This scam has resurfaced and is currently being used against unsuspecting grandparents nationwide.
What can we do to protect ourselves from such heartless criminals?
If you get a phone call asking for help, check to know if it really is your grandson. Families can setup a password with elderly relatives so they know who they are talking to. If you receive such a call, stay calm, the perpetrator is hoping in the ensuing panic you won’t be thinking clearly. Write down all phone numbers, the one on your caller ID, as well as the one used to receive the card numbers. This will help track down and stop these criminals. Remember, the real police will never ask you to pay bail over the phone. There are no reputable lawyers, doctors, or other professional who except payment via gift cards, and certainly not over the phone.
Many of these criminals are working overseas and hard to catch. You should never wire money to anyone till you are sure who they are. Once money is sent via wire transfer it is hard to trace. So, stay calm and ask questions. Ask the caller a question only your grandson would know. Then hang-up and call your grandson to see if he is in trouble. Chances are, he is right where he is suppose to be, and perfectly fine. Next call the police and report what just happened. They will want the phone numbers ad any other information you can remember. These criminals count on you to panic, and not see the outrages nature of their request. Knowing that in a real emergency, your grandson would ask you to come to him, or send his parents, will keep you from making a very costly mistake.