It’s National Consumer Protection Week. As part of this week’s event focusing on consumer education, we’re posting a daily consumer tip.
By now we hope you’ve heard about the Grandparent Scam. But did you know that the scheme continues to drain money from unwitting victims’ bank accounts? It does so by becoming deviously more sophisticated. A new twist involves a supposed grandchild or other relative who’s been arrested overseas and begs you not rat him out to his parents. He can’t talk long because a “police officer” picks up the phone and demands bail money be wired immediately.
In yet another version, a hospitalized grandchild imposter calls from an overseas hospital. He’s been hurt in a drunken driving accident and asks, “Please don’t tell my parents?” He also can’t talk for long because a “doctor” picks up the phone and says that his patient needs to rest. However, you must wire money immediately or your loved one can’t be treated.
Did you notice the new twist? In both instances, you won’t be able to speak to your supposed relative for very long—meaning you are less likely to notice that you don’t actually know this person.
In both cases, or in similar incarnations of the story, the fraudster takes advantage of your desire to help a relative in distress. The crooks are very good at acting like they know you. And in both cases, you’ll wire money to a foreign country—to a person whom you are absolutely not related—and the money is gone for good.
Remember, do not wire money to anyone without verifying for certain—and we mean certain—that it's someone you know. Call their parents or anyone else who can verify the grandchild’s whereabouts. Call the grandchild’s home and cell numbers. You’ll likely discover that he or she is very much safe and sound. Although the grandchild still might want money. Write a check and hand it over in person.
And if you have lost money in a wire transfer scam such as this one, please file a complaint with our office.