The Grandparent Scam

by Matilda Charles

The Grandparent Scam targets seniors who fall for a trick of handing over money to an imposter grandchild. Even though it’s an old scam, it shows no sign of fading away. If anything, this scam is making a resurgence. Typically the senior will get a call, supposedly from a grandchild, and be told there’s an emergency: The grandchild is in trouble, or there’s been an accident, or a mistaken arrest. It sounds very believable.

No matter what the story, it always involves the need for secrecy — and fast cash to be wired immediately. Sometimes the story is that the money is needed to pay an attorney or for medical treatment. Perhaps the person on the other end of the phone pretends to be the police, a doctor or an attorney.

If you get one of these calls, don’t immediately agree to send money. Your first step is to verify the details. Is it really your grandchild on the other end of the phone? If you don’t recognize your grandchild’s voice, don’t feed him information by saying “Is this David?” Wait until he gives you the
name. If he doesn’t, it’s likely a scam.

Your second step is to call your grandchild’s home to verify whether he or she is actually away — or sitting right there. Whatever you do, don’t send any money without verification. Keep in mind that crooks on social media sites online can glean a lot of information. Beware naming your grandchildren on Facebook or anywhere else. If this has happened to you, you must report it to the police. But you won’t be alone. Thousands of others experienced this type of scam last year alone.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service,
P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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