The Grandparent Scam
Scammers target people with phone calls, emails, or Facebook messages saying that a loved one is in trouble. Sometimes they say the loved one is in jail and needs money for bail or an attorney. Other times, they’ll claim the loved one is injured and needs money for medical treatment or an ambulance trip home.
Most often, they say the victim is a grandchild. It’s part of a process to make sure that the victim is elderly and more vulnerable. In this case, the scammers used a daughter-in-law but it’s the same principle.
One thing these scammers have in common is that you are never allowed to speak to your alleged loved one for long or ask any questions. Sometimes the victim only gets to hear “Grandma!” on the other in. Then the victim will say, “Is that you Billy?” and give the scammer a name to use.
In this case, the crook came to the house. That’s unusual. Most of these scams happen entirely over the phone or the Internet. Crooks often ask callers to pay with gift cards or wire transfers.
Don’t Give Them Money
Sheriff Frazier said the case is under investigation. Anyone with information should call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 740-286-6464.
The sheriff reminded everyone that, “Court officials nor law enforcement officers will come to your home requesting bail money for someone incarcerated. This is a scam. Do not give them money.”
If someone calls you claiming a loved one has been arrested or is in the hospital. Ask for the name of the arresting agency or hospital. Look the place up yourself and call them to verify the information. Never give out the name of the loved one. Always try to get in touch with the person they claim is in trouble.
And never, ever pay bail money, attorney fees, or medical bills with gift cards or wire transfers.
Try This Trick
Consider instituting a secret family code word or security question that only close family members use to verify there’s actually an emergency situation. If someone says they are your grandchild or daughter-in-law, ask for the code.
Because if you’re really Billy, you’ll surely know the name of Uncle Fred’s first wife or Aunt Helen’s parakeet.
I once interviewed a couple who sent $25,000 in gift cards to a scammer. This crook claimed to be their grandson and claimed he was injured on a camping trip. As bad luck would have it for them, their grandson was actually on a camping trip. That made it so much easier to fall for the scam.
Don’t let bad people prey on your love for your family. Always be vigilant.