Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

We have been warning seniors about “grandparent scams” since 2008, but grandparents continue to wire money to these imposters because it’s hard to say no when Johnny calls desperate for money to help him out of a bad situation.

Most recently, an 87-year-old man told Q13 Fox that he wired $3,000 to hire a lawyer in Peru to help his “grandson” who had been in an accident and was in jail. Imagine his surprise when his real grandson called the next day and had no idea what he was talking about. Watch the video.

As a reminder, here are some tips to avoid falling victim to a similar scam:GrandmaPhone

  • Don’t fill in the blanks for the scammer. Always ask callers to identify themselves by name and ask individuals who contact you to provide information that only you and people close to you would know.
  • Do whatever is necessary to confirm the real relative’s whereabouts. Call the friend or relative claiming to need your help to confirm whether the story is true, using a phone number you know to be genuine. If you aren’t able to contact the person, call other friends or family members to confirm the situation.
  • Don’t send money unless you have verified that your relative is really in trouble. If a caller asks for your bank account number or urges you to send money via Western Union or MoneyGram for any reason, that’s a good indication of a scam. Cons prefer wire transfers because they are fast, there are transfer agents in most communities and funds can be picked up in multiple locations. If you have wired money and it hasn't been picked up yet, call the wire transfer service to cancel the transaction. Once the money has been picked up, there is no way to get it back.
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