Emergency or “Grandparent” Scam

Traditionally operating as a telemarketing scam throughoutNorth America, fraudsters contact potential victims while posing as a family member or friend in urgent need of cash. Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest while travelling abroad, with a request that cash be sent through a money transfer company, such asWestern Unionor Money Gram.

There are commonly two methods used in an attempt to fulfill this scam.

1)      In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from con-artist claiming to be one of his or hers grandchildren.  The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble, usually a car accident, returning from a foreign country, or even bail money and need money immediately.

A typical call can go something like this:

Con-artist: Hi, Grandma/Grandpa

Victim: Hi.

Con-artist: Do you know who this is?

Victim: John?

Con-artist: Yeah.

Victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent as the caller specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to know what has happened by asking “Can you please help me?  I’m in jail (or in the hospital / or in some type of financial need). But don’t tell Dad.  He would kill me if he found out, please sent the money ASAP. I’m scared”

Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram orWestern Union.

Variations on the scam exist such as an old neighbor, a friend of the family etc. but predominantly the emergency scam is directed toward the Grandparents.

2)      In a recent variation of this scam, compromised contact lists from hijacked email accounts are used to send the potential victim an “urgent” email request for money from a friend or relative with whom they have a correspondence. Common themes continue to be hospitalization or imprisonment while away from home.  The friend is unaware that their account has been used to send out these requests to everyone on their contact list.

IF YOU RECEIVE A SIMILAR CALL, BE SURE TO: CONTACT THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AS WELL AS THE PERSON / RELATIVE WHO IS CLAIMING ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED.

 

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