Aug 15

The Grandma Scam

If you are lucky enough to have a few grandchildren, you may sometimes get a call that starts with “Hi Grandma, it’s me..” which then leaves you to rapidly sort through names in your head and quickly respond, “Is that you, Richard?” The phone connection may not be completely clear or your hearing may not quite be perfect so it is hard at first to distinguish the voice. Most of the time it is a welcome call from one of your loving grandchildren but occasionally it is a scam attempt to get you to send money for some predicament or another that the caller has fabricated.

William, who has a little hearing difficulty got duped in this scam two days in a row thinking he was helping his grandson, Steve, return from Canada after his car broke down. Steve didn’t want to let mom and dad know that he was short of funds and his grandfather wanted to help him out. William got the call that started with “Hi Grandpa” and responded with “Hi, is that you Steve?”The scammer said, “Yes, Grandpa, it’s me Steve. I’m in a little bind and could use your help.” Every grandparent wants to help their grandchild so the guard goes down and the empathy goes up. In this case, William went right to the bank and wired money to Canada per Steve’s instructions. Steve called back the next day and said his car was being fixed but he needed a little more money and William again obliged. On day three, William’s daughter and Steve’s mom, Pam, called. William asked “Is Steve back from Canada?” At this point Pam said that Steve was at college and hadn’t been in Canada at all recently. The money was gone and there was no way to recover it.

We have all undoubtedly heard about this type of scam and don’t think we would fall for it but recently a grandmother, Mary, almost did. She got the phone call that began with “Hi Grandma” from a male voice. Having two grandsons, she responded, “Is that you, David?” As the caller said, “Yes, it’s me, David” she almost instantly realized what she had done and that it was the middle of the work day, an unlikely time for David to call. She immediately hung up and called David who answered and said, “I didn’t call. I’m at work Gram.” Relieved that she didn’t fall for the scam, Mary was still very shaken that she almost got caught in it. Never wire money or give out credit card numbers over the phone without call backs to numbers you know to be your relative’s phone number and carefully confirming the person’s identity. Make your grandchildren aware of this scam so that they can identify themselves clearly when calling you.

For more tips on how to avoid the grandparent scam, see