February 10, 2012 – London, ON - Well-meaning senior citizens who think they are helping a grandchild in distress are becoming victims of another wave of the so-called “Grandparent Scam,” warns Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario. Just recently, the Windsor Police Financial Crimes Unit issued a statement regarding an elderly Windsor woman who lost $2800.00 to this type of scam.
“The grandparent scam preys on the love of a grandparent for their grandchildren and has proven to be an extremely lucrative con for scammers,” said Jan Delaney, President of the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario. “Fortunately, this is an easy scam to avoid as long as you don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”
Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from whom they are led to believe is their grandchild. A scammer, posing as their grandchild, explains that he or she has gotten into trouble and needs their help. The “grandchild” might claim he or she caused a car accident or was arrested for drug possession. With the new wave of calls, victims are also contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer or lawyer representing the grandchild in court.
The “grandchild” pleads to the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons including posting bail, repairing the grandchild’s car, covering lawyer’s fees or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in distress, BBB advises that you don’t disclose any information before you have confirmed it really is your grandchild. If a caller says “It’s me, grandma!” don’t respond with a name but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that your grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name.
If you have fallen victim to the scam, BBB recommends that you report the incident immediately to local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Reports can be filed easily online at www.antifraudcentre.ca, or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.