Several years ago, the "family emergency" scams--also known as the "grandparents" scam based on the use of elderly targets, started making the rounds and creating significant monetary loss for our old folks. The grandparents would receive a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild; the caller then set them up with a dramatic story about being in trouble with the law and needing upwards of $3,000 cash wired right away to pay legal fees.
One of my mom's neighbors fell for this a few years ago and lost $2,800. Once the money is wired, you can never get it back. For more information on the original scam, see https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0204-family-emergency-scams
Today, with the world coronavirus pandemic in play, there's a new twist on the old scam: The imposter "grandchild" caller urgently claims that he/she is sick and/or stuck overseas and needs money wired immediately to get healthcare or transport home.
Here is the full story on the Federal Trade Commission web site https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/grandparent-scams-age-coronavirus?utm_source=govdelivery
Here are some tips from the FTC to know about in case you receive a panicked phone call, email or text from a purported family member claiming to be in a dire situation and needing cash fast:
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
- Call a phone number for your this "family member" that you know to be genuine.
- Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Do not wire money; do not send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
- Report possible fraud at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.