In a typical Grandparent Scam, a con artist calls or emails the victim posing as a relative in distress or someone claiming to represent the relative (such as a lawyer or law enforcement agent). The "relative" of the grandparent explains she is in trouble and needs their grandparent to wire them funds that will be used for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills, or another fictitious expense.
The victim is urged not to tell anyone, such as the parent of the “grandchild” because they do not want them to find out about the trouble they've gotten themselves into. The grandparent never hears from their fake grandchild again and is tricked out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
To detect and avoid the Grandparent Scam, NCL’s Fraud Center recommends the following tips:
- Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills
- Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the scam artist is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story.
- Scam artist’s payment method of choice is the wire transfer. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.
- Be aware that fraudsters attempting the Grandparent Scam may call late at night to confuse potential victims.
- Consumers who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement, their state attorney general and NCL’s Fraud Center at Fraud.org.