The “Hi Grandma, it’s me” scam starts with a phone call from a grandchild in urgent need of money because they’re in jail in Canada…or for some other reason. Only the person on the phone is really a con artist—sometimes they pose as cops or lawyers. In every case, the scammer says you need to wire money immediately through Western Union or Moneygram.
I found many of these Red Flags of a Grandma Scam and Tips on the Washington State Attorney General’s website:
- You’re asked to send money quickly – and secretly.
- The call or message originates from overseas. (Know that technology can allow scammers to bypass caller ID systems.)
- The person can’t or won’t answer questions your relative would know.
- The person doesn’t sound like your relative but says they have a bad cold.
- You’re asked to wire money by a stranger or to send a check or money order by overnight delivery. Con artists choose these services so they can steal your money before you realize you’ve been cheated. (Money transfers can be picked up at any location, which makes it harder for authorities to catch the thieves.)
- If the caller says, “Hi Grandpa, it’s me,” do not respond by saying “Logan?” Instead, ask the caller for their name. Ask for information only you and people close to you would know.
- Call your grandchild or his or her parents to confirm whether the story is true, using a phone number you know to be genuine.
- Refuse to send money via wire transfer.
- If you have wired money and it hasn’t been picked up yet, call the wire transfer service to cancel. Once the money has been picked up, there is no way to get it back but you should still complain and file a fraud report and a police report.
- If you have been scammed into wiring money to Canada, contact Phonebusters toll-free at 888-495-8501. The Canadian Mounted Police and American FBI work together to stop and solve cross-border frauds like this.
Remember, scammers want to push you into acting quickly—without thinking. Nothing is so urgent that you have to act within the next two minutes. Breathe. Relax. Talk to someone. Still aren’t sure what to do? Call your local BBB. We are here to help.