Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

This scam usually starts with a phone call from a con posing as a grandchild in urgent need of money. Other victims have reported receiving phone calls from scammers posing as police officers or attorneys. In every case, the con says money needs to be sent immediately by Western Union or Moneygram.


  • You’re asked to send money quickly — and secretly.
  • The call or message originates from overseas — or at least appears to. However, you should be aware that technology allows scammers to bypass caller ID systems and make it look like a call is coming from anywhere.
  • The person can’t or won’t answer questions that the only the real person would know.
  • Any time someone asks you to send money by Western Union or Moneygram, it’s invariably a scam. You might also be asked to send a check or money order by overnight delivery. Con artists recommend these services so they can steal your money before you realize you’ve been cheated. Money transfers can be picked up at any service location as long as the thief/recipient has the confirmation number.


  • Always ask callers to identify themselves by name and ask to provide information that only you and people close to you would know.
  • Avoid volunteering information over the phone.
  • 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.
  • Refuse to send money via wire transfer.
  • 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.
  • Trust your gut.