The Grandparent Scam

There a numerous amounts of scams that target many different people but there is one scam that specifically targets seniors. This scam is referred to the Grandparent Scam. A brief summary of how it works is the fraud artist would call a senior who is a grandparent and pretend to be their grandchild. They then pretend to be in some sort of trouble or an emergency situation and request money from their victim. The grandparent, vulnerable and obviously wanting to help their “grandchild”, may then withdraw money from their bank account and send it the scammer’s way.

How does the fraudster know their victim is a grandparent? Well, they make sure to do their research. Social Media for one, is a huge platform to find information on just about anyone. Here they can find their potential victim by searching for seniors who have grandchildren. They can do extensive research so when the time comes they are prepared to follow through with their scam.

A tactic frequently used by these con artists is calling the victim early in the morning or late at night to wake them up from their sleep so they are dazed and in a state of confusion. Then with panic explain how they are in some kind of emergency situation and need their grandparents help. The scammers most of the time will say they need the money right away and will tell the grandparent not to tell their parents as they don’t want to get into any more trouble.

False stories to look out for:

  • Claiming they are in jail and need bail money.
  • Claiming they’re in a foreign country and need travel money for getting back home.
  • Claiming they were in the hospital and need money for the medical expenses.
  • Claiming they were in a car accident with a rental car.
  • Claiming they need tuition money for school.

How to Protect Yourself and Those You Know

  1. Awareness! Being aware of scams is always the first step to protecting yourself as you now have knowledge of what a scam may look like in case you are approached by a scammer.
  2. If you are not certain the person is who they say they are on the phone then don’t offer any information even if they ask.
  3. Ask the supposed grandchild some personal questions that only they will know for certain.
  4. Don’t ever provide credit card information over the phone unless you are certain the other person is trustworthy.
  5. To confirm if the person is who they say they are call their parent’s regardless if they say not to.
  6. Having the person repeat their story is a perfect way to catch a criminal in a lie as the story is made up and they may forget or add in different details.
  7. If you don’t trust the other person on the phone do not wire money to them. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has recommended that under no circumstances should grandparents wire transfer money through services such as Western Union or MoneyGram to anyone who says they’re a relative.
  8. In case you’ve already shared information with the scammers, contact your banking institution to have them keep a close watch on any suspicious transactions.
  9. If you have received any suspicious calls contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.