Grandma Scams On The Rise This Year
With the holidays quickly approaching, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning seniors that scammers are expected to be out in force this year. A recent newscast reported that one of the oldest scams targeting seniors is still going strong and is now being reported more than ever. When Ruth McGrath decided to report this scam to her local news station, she was amazed to learn how common it is. As a result, the FBI is warning all seniors to use caution when receiving phone calls; especially those from supposed relatives asking for money.
In Ruth's case, she received a phone call from someone who said "Hi. This is your grandson." She said, "Justin? Is that you?" That was all the scammer needed to lower her defenses and bait the trap. He explained that he was in trouble in Canada and needed $2900 to bail him out of jail. She immediately sent it only to receive a call later from her daughter saying that Justin was filmed during a news spot while in St. Louis, Missouri. After calling to confirm he was really there, she had realized what had happened and immediately called the police to report the crime.
Seniors have a tendency to be targeted by scammers for several reasons. They generally have excellent credit and many even have a little "nest egg" for emergencies. They were also raised during a time when good manners, trust, caring for others, and giving to loved ones was common. These are all exploitable traits to a con artist.
The FBI and law enforcement agencies have a difficult time tracking scammers who target this group because they are less likely to report these crimes. Many seniors may be concerned what relatives may think or may just be too embarrassed to admit they were duped. Additionally, memory is generally less detailed and, many times, it takes longer before they realize they have been swindled. This makes scammers even harder for law enforcement agencies to catch and reduces the likelihood that funds can ever be recovered.
Seniors are now considered the largest portion of the population in the US holding at about 78 million strong. With the number of seniors rising and their increased use of technology, they are easier to reach regardless of the scammer's physical location. As a result, scammers will often use various methods, beyond traditional phone calls, to get in touch with people they believe they can swindle. Unfortunately, a growing number of these con artists are located outside the US, as in Ruth's case, making it even more difficult to stop them.
The FBI warns that when receiving a phone call don't mention a person's name; rather say "Who is this?" If they say "It's your grandson." respond with "Which one?" It won't take long to figure out they are making it up. Other protections include: never sign anything that is blank, don't wire money if you can't be certain who's on the receiving end, make a note of everything including the location where the money was sent, to whom, and when, and if you do wire money add a security question only the person you think you're sending money to would know. Most importantly, reporting these kinds of crimes immediately to law enforcement officials and the FBI will help them help you. You may not get your money back, but if enough of these people are put in jail, maybe the rest of them will get the message.
Warn your friends and loved ones now! Use the buttons below to spread the word.