Scam Alert: A Loved One Calls Claiming A Crisis Needing Money Immediately
A scam that is currently making its way around the country, and which particularly targets the elderly, is someone claims to be a loved one calls and says he or she is in terrible trouble. The caller further claims that the grandchild or child needs money very quickly to avoid issues and asks that money be wired immediately. Often the caller claims to be the grandchild or child as they know most of the elderly would do anything for their kin.
The caller can claim to be a police officer, a bail bond agency, or a lawyer (“Your grandchild has been arrested for a crime. They need $10,000 to pay their bail this afternoon so that they don’t have to stay in jail for maybe six months or more”). They may even say something to the effect of “We know they are innocent but need the money to begin to defend them right away.”
Sometimes the caller claims to be a medical provider (“your grandchild has been hurt in a serious accident, but we need money to immediately begin treatment so your grandchild does not suffer permanent injury”).
The callers are very, very convincing. They know how to get action from the elderly. With so much information available on the internet, it is easy for scammers to find out the names, addresses and other personal information of relatives, including grandchildren. They may use your grandchild’s name. They have even used scammer with a young sounding voice to imitate the child or grandchild — making it all the more realistic.
The caller may tell the victim to get a money order, a wire transfer or even as ridiculous as getting Apple iTunes card or Google Play cards (they will tell the victim to use those cards as the money becomes immediately available).
Are these calls a scam? In all likelihood, yes. They are preying on our older citizens to the tune of thousands of dollars every year.
Don’t be fooled. This scam has cost the unsuspecting and naive elderly tens of thousands of dollars thinking they are helping their grandchild.
One of the aims of this scam is to create sense of urgency so that the victim does not have time to think things through and recognize the scam. The scammers will stress that their loved one needs the money IMMEDIATELY or be placed in jail, sued, denied medical treatment or some other dreadful consequence. The scammers will say that time is of the essence.
Sometimes these scammers tell the victim they cannot call anyone else or tell anyone about the call as it will make the situation significantly worse. Again, it is a tactic to isolate the elderly so the scammer can prey on the elderly’s innocence.
Many times, the victim will be instructed that they cannot hang up the call but go immediately to the bank or store to withdraw money or purchase gift cards but not explain why they need the money, and the caller must listen in on the whole conversation to make sure it is done correctly. Even more frightening, sometimes the scammer or a courier will be dispatched to pick up the money. In a terrifying scenario, the scammer or courier will show up at the victim’s residence to pick up the money.
The elderly should listen to the caller and how the caller speaks. For instance, if the grandchild routinely calls the elderly “Nana” or “Pop”, the scammers will call the elderly person “Grandma” or “Grandpa”. That is a tip off that it is a scam.
Your elderly relative should be advised to call other family members to make sure the loved one is safe. Advise them to fully check out the situation, even call the police to verify the loved one is truly arrested, to verify it is not a scam.
Verify it is not a scam before money is sent!
Call Canton Elder Law Attorney Brian S. Karpe