Friday, April 3, 2020

Grandparents: be aware of new twist on old scam

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

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

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 or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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