By now, most people are aware of the grandparent scam and how it works. It starts when an elderly person receives a telephone call, often late at night, that purports to be from the person’s grandchild who has either been arrested, had an accident or is experiencing some other emergency. The grandchild pleads for the grandparent to wire them money right away through Western Union or a similar service to get them through the emergency. The problem is that the entire call is a scam. The caller is a scam artist with a knowledge of psychology that would have made Freud envious. They choose their victims from public information including obituaries which may indicate the names of grandparents and grandchildren. Fortunately, as this scam has proliferated, so has public awareness, however, many scammers have evolved the scam so that when they call, they may use the particular term that the grandchild would use for this particular grandparent, such as “Papa Fred.” How do they know the name that the real grandchild would use for his or her grandparent? Easy. The scammers harvest this information from social media such as Facebook where many people may put up a photograph of a family function that designates the pictured people by name.
Whenever you are asked to wire money, you should immediately be skeptical. Wired funds are impossible to retrieve after they have been sent. Anytime you receive such a call with a plea for help, you should check out the story with the real grandchild or other person purported to be calling (this scam is also used by “friends” in danger). Chances are the real grandchild or friend will be right where they are supposed to be and not suffering any emergency in a foreign country.