It’s an old scam with a new twist – con artists know that most grandparents would do anything to help their grandkids. They attempt to exploit that love in the “Hey Grandma, it’s me!” scam by pretending to be a grandchild in distress.
North Carolina has seen an increase in these scams recently, especially in Wake County, and the North Carolina Department of Justice has received a half-dozen reports of the scam this week alone and are urging citizens to be careful if receiving one of these calls.
In a current variation, callers claimed they were leaving a funeral with friends when their car was involved in an accident. After being arrested for DUI or possession of drugs, they need money to post bail. Then another person takes the phone claiming to be an attorney or law officer. They instruct the frightened grandparent on how to send the needed funds, usually via Wal Mart or Sam’s Club gift cards or by sending cash via UPS or Fed Ex.
Just this month alone, North Carolina grandparents fell victim to the scam losing almost $45,000 with a year’s total of $184,000 from 32 victims.
To avoid grandparent scams, North Carolina Department of Justice recommends:
~Don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize or emails from addresses that aren’t familiar to you.
~Beware of anyone who asks you to send money immediately, no matter the reason.
~Don’t share information about you or your family with anyone you don’t know who calls, emails, or contacts you through other means.
~If you get a call or a message asking for help, hang up or log off and contact the person directly at a number you know is theirs to make sure the request is legitimate.
~If someone claims to be a loved one, ask the person questions that only your real family member would be able to answer.
~Share carefully on social media. Make sure your privacy settings prevent strangers from accessing information about you or your family.
~Never wire or send money in response to a phone call, email or online message. Once the money has been received by a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back.