Give The Older Folks In Your Life A Heads Up About The Grandma Scam
Family get togethers are planned to be festive, but with what we’re seeing
out there affecting grandparents across the country, we hope you’ll also see a
get together as a chance to warn the
aging folks in your family. There is a need and a chance to give them a heads up
on a pervasive
problem they may not know about: the grandma scam. Although the government,
and sometimes the media publicize these predatory traps for elders, somehow the
word doesn’t get
around fast or far enough. Here at
www.AgingParents.com , we work with a lot of families who
have elders and we’ve been sounding the alarm since 2007 on this one. But it
Intelligent people, doctors, lawyers, professionals and non professionals alike
are being victimized.
Anyone can be caught off guard.
Here’s how the grandma scam works.
A call from a young person is made to the targeted older person, often at
night, after aging person is asleep. Half awake, grandma answers the phone.
”It’s me, Grandma” the caller says. Grandma immediately falls into the trap and
says “Michael, is that you?” Or any grandchild who is named instantly becomes
the identity of the caller. ”Yes, it’s Michael” the scammer says quickly. He
then says he’s in trouble in some named city far away or even a foreign country.
He’s lost his passport, or been arrested, he’s in the hospital, he’s very sick,
or some concocted tale of needing help desperately. There is pain in his voice.
He says how much he loves his Grandma and please don’t tell his parents. He
needs money right away for the bill or for a lawyer to get him out of jail or to
get a new passport, etc. Would Grandma please wire the money? The instructions
are crazy if you think about them. The targeted victim has to act right away.
But repeatedly, older gullible people are swayed by the feeling of wanting to
help a grandchild in need.
Your aging loved one can be easily tricked under the right circumstances.
Wanting a call from grandkids is the starting point for scammers. It triggers an
emotional response to the plea for help. Scammers sometimes make calls during
the day and use the “I love you, you’re the best Grandma ever” ploy before the
pitch for money. “I love you” is something the grandparent wants to hear and the
emotional hook is the basis of the con man’s success. Warn the grandparents to
ask the caller a question only a real grandchild would know: the name of a pet,
a parent’s birth date or a nickname.
When you see older loved ones this holiday season, take some time, not at the
family meal, but before or after it, to bring this up and enlighten them. A
friendly warning just might make Grandma think before sending money to anyone
without checking out the sob story. If it’s too late, you can file a complaint
online with the Federal Trade Commission at
www.ftc.gov and to the AARP Fraud
Watch Network, atwww.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call 1-800-646-2283.
Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder Law Attorney, Healthy aging and protecting our