If you are a devoted grandparent or your elderly mom or dad dotes on your kids, you need to be aware of how this love and affection can be manipulated. Over the years, more and more elderly people have been targeted by what is known as a grandparent scam. In this situation, someone poses as a grandchild to fraudulently obtain money from the elderly person. This ruse can go on for months and cost elderly grandparents hundreds or thousands of dollars, seriously putting their finances at risk. Once the fraud is discovered, there is often little the elderly individual can do to recover. By learning more about this scam and educating your elderly loved ones, you can avoid being the victim of financial elder abuse.
How the Grandparent Scam Works
An individual posing as a grand- or great-grandchild phone, emails, or writes to an elderly person. This individual says they are in some sort of trouble, maybe they were arrested and they need bail or despite working hard, their bills have gotten away from them. Whatever the story, this individual may spin a tale that makes them look in need, yet not at fault for their circumstances. After their sad story is complete, they imply that they could use some help. They may be sold bold as to imply or outright state that if grandma or grandpa sent them some money, they could get themselves back on track. Many elderly grandparents are so distraught to hear their grandkids are in trouble, they are willing to do whatever they can to help. They do not think twice about checking with other family members about their supposed grandchild’s story. Ultimately, grandma or grandpa may end up mailing a check, giving over their credit card or banking information, or purchasing and sending store gift cards.
Tips for Spotting Friend and Family Imposters
There are a number of tricks scammers use to make it seem like they are really an elderly person’s friend or family member. They often find out a few details about the elderly person’s life and grandchild, such as the grandson or daughter’s name, profession, and resident city. They may also include other people in the ruse to make it sound more authoritative, like claiming another person involved is an attorney. However, there are a number of methods to use to determine if the person on the other end of the phone call or email is who they say they are or an imposter, including:
- Ask personal questions: If the other person is really a grandchild, he or she will be willing to answer some questions. Ask for information that is not likely to be public or available online. This could be their pet’s name or their mother’s maiden name. It could also be about your last holiday together.
- Do not move quickly: If someone is asking for money right away, never say yes immediately. Take down as much information as you can for how to contact this person back and where they would like the money sent, then end the conversation and begin your research.
- Do not keep it a secret, call family: One way imposters succeed in this scam is to ask a grandparent to keep their situation a secret. Do not do it. If your supposed granddaughter or son is asking for money due to a financial problem or an arrest, call their mom or dad. This enables you to check on the details you were given and can immediately uncover a scam.
It can be difficult delaying in helping a grandchild. However, once you stop and determine the situation is real and the request for financial help genuine, you and your other family members can respond.
Were You Scammed?
If you believe you or loved one have been scammed by someone claiming to be a friend or family member, contact a San Francisco elder law attorney at Brod Law Firm today. This type of scam may lead to civil liability and criminal charges.
(image courtesy of Alvarro Serrano)