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Calling ‘grandchildren’ for emergency cash could be a scam: BBB

By on September 16, 2021 0


FILE – A new version of the “grandparent scams” involve unsuspecting carpool drivers being used as couriers, officials say. (AP Photo / Richard Vogel, File)


A call from your grandchildren begging for help – often in the form of money – could be a scam, warns a watchdog.

Emergency scams, or “grandparent scams,” as they are commonly referred to, involve fraudsters seeking to defraud unsuspecting victims with money by pretending to be a family member or friend in trouble. , according to the Better Business Bureau.

The ruse usually begins with a phone call from a loved one in distress and in dire need of money. Scammers will try to make their claims as realistic as possible, experts warn, incorporating nicknames, travel plans and other personal details using information they’ve gathered from social media.

This usually ends with a grandparent or vulnerable relative transferring a large amount of money or gift cards to the scammer, which will never be refunded. A new version of the scam involving carpool drivers is alerting officials in some states.

In a recent warning, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said the crooks would claim they were mailing the person’s home to collect the money. However, this courier is usually an “involuntary Uber or Lyft driver”.

“Con artists prey on people’s emotions by trying to instill fear or create a sense of urgency in the hope that people will act before they think,” Carr said in a statement. “We encourage people to tell their older parents about this scam so they can spot the warning signs and avoid falling victim to it.”

Carr added that crooks sometimes call back asking for more money, which is nowhere to be found once he’s gone.

“There is one charge, theft by deception, but in these cases it is really very difficult (to get your money back) when there is no traceability,” the department’s investigator told WALB. Albany, Georgia Police, Darryl Jones. “The cash is not traceable or it is from a scrambled number.”

In another variation, parents may receive a call from a fraudster claiming that a child or other parent has been kidnapped before demanding a ransom by wire transfer, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.

The BBB ScamTracker has recorded at least 10 cases of grandparent scams so far this year. In a previous case from 2019, one person reported that his grandparents lost up to $ 2,000 in gift cards to a “family friend” who claimed to be stuck in jail.

To avoid being cheated, the watchdog says it’s important not to make rash decisions, no matter how dramatic or serious your “loved one’s” emergency may be. If in doubt, contact your friend or relative directly.

Also be aware of what your friends and family are sharing on social media and make sure their history is verified before agreeing to send money, experts said.

Any suspected incident of fraud must be immediately reported to the police.

This story was originally published September 16, 2021 4:25 pm.

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Tanasia is an Atlanta-based national real-time reporter covering Georgia, Mississippi, and the Southeastern United States. It also covers retail and consumer news. She is a Kennesaw State University alumnus and joined McClatchy in 2020.