The grandparent scam is a type of fraud that typically targets older individuals, exploiting their emotions and trust in order to steal money. The scam often begins with a phone call, though it can also occur through email or other communication channels. Here's a general overview of how the grandparent scam works:
The scammer contacts the victim, pretending to be their grandchild or someone claiming to represent their grandchild.
The scammer may have obtained some personal information about the grandchild beforehand, such as their name, location, and other details from social media or other sources.
The scammer fabricates a crisis or emergency situation, such as being involved in a car accident, being arrested, or needing urgent medical attention.
They often use emotional manipulation and a sense of urgency to pressure the victim into taking immediate action.
Request for Money:
The scammer then requests a sum of money to address the supposed emergency.
They might claim they cannot reach their parents or another family member and, therefore, need the grandparent's financial assistance.
Instructions for Payment:
To make the situation seem urgent and critical, the scammer provides specific instructions on how the grandparent should send the money, often insisting on secrecy to avoid embarrassment or family conflict.
Transfer of Funds:
The victim, concerned for their grandchild's well-being, sends the money as instructed, usually via wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, or other difficult-to-trace methods.
Discovery of the Scam:
After the money has been sent, the victim may later discover that their grandchild was never in trouble, and they have fallen victim to a scam.
How to protect yourself:
There are two main tactics to help protect yourself from the grandparent scam.
Firstly, ask the caller specific questions that only your real grandchild would know. For example, ask them a question about another family member or maybe for a specific detail about something in your home.
The second thing you can do is reach out to your grandchild via a different form of communication. They will likely respond confused as they are not aware of the situation. You could also reach out to their parents and it will likely clear up the situation.