Recently Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced that her office had arrested four scammers for running a multistate grandparent scam. According to Attorney General Kane, these particular scammers had managed to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior citizens in eleven states. The average age of their victims was 79. The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that the grandparent scam costs elderly Americans 42 million dollars each year. There are many variations of the scam. Generally, it starts with a telephone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild of the person receiving the call. The scammer then implores the grandparent to send money by a wire transfer to the grandchild immediately to help them out in an emergency encountered in a foreign country where the child is temporarily located. The emergency may be a health emergency or a legal problem, such as an arrest. They also ask that the grandparent not tell the grandchild’s parents because of embarrassment.
If you receive such a call, contact the parents or another source of accurate information as to the grandchild’s whereabouts. You can even call the grandchild’s cell phone. Always be wary of any request to wire funds because once money is wired, it is almost impossible to get the money back which is why this is the choice of many scammers. Grandchildren should be wary of the amount of personal information that they make available on social media such as Facebook because scammers gather such information to make them more believable when the pose as the grandchild. People should also be more careful as to the information that they put in obituaries as to the names and other information about grandchildren that can be used as a source of information by scam artists about surviving grandparents.