The “grandparent scam” is one that aims to trick grandparents into believing their grandchild is ill or in some kind of trouble. We all think we wouldn’t fall for such a scam, but they are designed to catch you off guard. Con artists play on your fears to make you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
In one common scenario, the grandparent receives a call from a supposed grandson, most often late at night, crying and saying he has been arrested and is in jail in Canada (or some other distant place). He pleads for the grandparent to wire him money so he can be released from jail. The grandparent may question him saying his voice doesn’t sound familiar. The grandchild responds that his voice probably sounds different because he is scared and has been crying.
Those who fall for this scam later learn their money ended up in some other country.
Before even thinking of sending money, contact a family member (or friend) of the grandchild to verify his/her whereabouts.
Be wary of unsolicited contacts asking to wire money.
Check the caller’s phone number (if you have caller ID). Out-of-country calls, in connection with wire-transfer cons, are common indicators of scams.
Now let me tell you about another scam that is happening in our area. Although you may not have applied for a grant, you could receive a telephone call from a man claiming to represent the “Federal Government Grant Department” telling you that you are eligible for a grant. He advises it will “only” cost $200.
You are then instructed to wire the money, via Western Union, to an address in India. After the money is received, you will be sent the necessary documentation papers that need to be completed in order to receive the grant money. One consumer told us the man who called had her name, address, cell phone number, birth date and Social Security number. Stop here if you receive such a call. Don’t send the money.
When you are asked by a stranger to “wire money” — especially to a foreign country — consider it a red flag. Don’t be pressured into acting quickly. Call the BBB or someone else for advice.
Dreama Jensen is area director of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. She can be reached at dreama@neindiana bbb.org. See bbb.org or call the office at 574-675-9315.