December 05, 2013

BBB Warns Grandparents, Other Relatives to Verify Urgent Calls for Help

 (Lexington, KY)Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky is warning of a phone scam some senior citizens have reported about suspicious phone calls they've received alleging to be from a grandchild in some sort of legal trouble and needing money wired to help.

A Lexington grandmother received a call from a young man claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Chicago. She said his voice sounded "different" as if he had a cold. He said he had been arrested after a car accident because he'd been drinking. He even put another man on the line, his "attorney," to back up the story and explain how her help was needed. She grew very suspicious, hung up, and called her grandson at his home, where he was the whole time.

A Somerset grandmother described a similar scenario. She received a call from a female who said she was her granddaughter and that she had been arrested in Mexico and needed her to wire $1200 to cover the bail. Luckily, this woman was smart enough to end the call and call her real granddaughter to find that she was safe and sound at home.

"With the holiday season here, and people traveling on school breaks or holiday visits, it might cause a senior citizen receiving one of these scam calls to be more likely to believe it," said Jack Frank, President & CEO of the BBB serving Central & Eastern Kentucky. "This is not a brand new scam, but it has resurfaced and we want to warn the public."

There are various ways con artists find their targets. Here are some tips for senior citizens and their families to avoid this scam:

  • Be cautious about how much information you put on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Con artists have been known to scour those sites for personal details to make their stories more credible when trying to convince the grandparent.

  • Ignore pleas of "don't call Mom or Dad." You may want to help out your grandchild, but that is the classic request from a con artist pulling this scam. Call the child's home or cell phone and verify his or her current location.

  • Have a secret "password" or question to ask that only a family member would know. (Ex: Where did you go to elementary school? What was your first pet's name?)

* * * * * * *

Contact the Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky to check out companies, charities, or to report problems and scams by calling the Lexington office at (859) 259-1008 or toll-free 1-800-866-6668. Services are also available by logging on to

 ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on truth-in-advertising, dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.


  CONTACT: Heather Clary, Director of Communications – (859) 519-4700