Spring Break Season Can Increase Grandparent Scam Calls

April 04, 2017

Grandparent Scams (part of a catagory referred to as Emergency scams) prey on your willingness to help family member in need. Scammers impersonate their targets’ loved ones, make up an urgent situation, and plead for help… and money. Thanks to social media sites, scammers can offer plausible stories and incorporate nicknames and real travel plans into the con to convince their targets.

How the Scam Works:

Emergency scams are about a family member or friend in a dire situation. You get a call, email, or social media message from someone claiming to be a family member in distress. They may say they’ve been arrested while traveling overseas, or there was an accident, medical emergency, or other calamity. They provide convincing details, such as family names, school details, etc. 

A common version is the “grandparent scam,” where the con artist contacts a grandparent claiming to be calling on behalf of their grandchild and asking for money. The plea is so persuasive and the grandparent is asked not to contact their son or daughter in order to keep their grandchild out of additional trouble with their own parents. Many times the grandparent will wires money to the scammer without verifying their grandchild's whereabouts. Only after some time has passed does the grandparent learn that their grandchild was in no danger and that they have been a victim of the scam.

Last week a Pensacola man received a call that his grandson was in a Georgia jail and needed money to be released. The man hung up from the scammer and called his daughter where he learned that his grandson was no where near Georgia. The man realized it was a scam and didn't send the money.

Tips to Spot This Scam: 

  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Check out the story with other family and friends, but call directly. Don’t call the phone number provided by the caller or caller ID. Ask questions that would be hard for an impostor to answer correctly. 
  • Know what your family members are sharing online. You may not have control over your family's social media accounts, but familiarize yourself with what they are sharing online.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.