There’s a new warning about a scam we’ve uncovered before. Police say the “Grandparent Scam” is a growing problem.
The scam targets seniors, who are contacted under the guise that their grandchild is in trouble and needing emergency cash.
Police are sending letters to local neighborhood watch groups and HOAs. They are asking everyone to warn their neighbors, friends, parents or grandparents about the scam.
11 News has talked to several seniors who over the years have almost been ripped off by the scam.
Carmella Hornstein got one of those calls back in 2011. The caller claimed to be her grandson Paul who had gotten into some trouble in Canada and needed help.
“He says 'I need $11,200 for bail and I need it tonight,'” said Hornstein.
At first she believed it was really her grandson on the line, but as the conversation went on, red flags starting popping up.
“He said 'Grandma, I love you.' And my daughter and granddaughter will testify that he is not a warm, affectionate person, and he would never say 'Grandma, I love you,'” said Hornstein.
Hornstein encourages all grandparents to be suspicious; it saved her thousands of dollars.
While Hornstein didn’t fall for the scam, 96-year-old Ellen Jones almost did back in 2009.
"My granddaughter had been in a wreck in Canada and would need $900 to get out, so I did what a grandmother would do, started getting the $900,” said Jones.
Jones went to the bank to get the money, but learned it was a scam before she sent the money.
As we’ve warned you before, thieves are getting smarter and making the scam more convincing. They do this by learning the grandkids’ names and their information off Facebook.
This was something that almost tricked Lena Callender, who we talked to back in September.
Callender was part of one of Betty Sexton’s Call for Action Report. The caller claimed to be an attorney with the U.S. Embassy. He knew her grandson’s name and even let her speak to someone claiming to be her grandson.
Callender was told if she wired $2,400 to Mexico City and didn’t tell anyone, he’d get home safely.
"I thought I was a smart woman until I hooked up with these people and found out just how slick they were,” said Callender.
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
-Seniors should ignore the warning not to tell anyone and call to check on their grandkids anyway.
-Ask the caller detailed questions that only family knows.
-Get the names and numbers of the people demanding money; if they refuse to give it to you, you know it’s a scam.
-Once you realized you’ve been scammed, contact the wire service immediately and ask them to stop payment on your check.
The most helpful thing any of us can do is spread the word to our parents, neighbors and friends.
If you get a call like this, you are asked to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov.
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