Recently the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on the infamous Grandparent scam, which occurs when a scammer calls an elderly person posing as their grandchild who has been involved in some sort of emergency and needs the grandparent to wire money to them right away. One 81 year old witness at the hearing spoke about receiving a call late at night from someone purporting to be his grandson who needed bail money after being arrested on a drug charge. In response to the call, the witness testified how he purchased a $7,000 prepaid money card and then provided the money card information to the scammer who has never been heard from again. It was only afterwards that the witness was able to reach his grandson on his cell phone to learn that the entire matter had been a scam.
The Senate Special Committee on Aging has in recent years focused much attention on scams preying upon older Americans, such as the Jamaican lottery scam, income tax scams, Social Security scams and Medicare fraud.
Never wire money unless you are absolutely sure about to whom you are wiring the money and it is not a scam. If a claim about a medical or legal emergency is made, contact the hospital or legal authorities in the area to confirm that the information is accurate. Make sure that you have the cell phone numbers of your grandchild as well as anyone with whom your child or grandchild is traveling so you can confirm any calls claiming that an emergency has arisen. Call the child directly on his or her cell phone to confirm the story. Students traveling abroad should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/. This program can help with communications in an emergency situation.