There is a wonderful site, www.AginginPlace.com, that I want to share with the Active Rain community. It has great information for all of us who work with clients of a certain age or are still lucky enough to have parents.
One of the articles that I read dealt with grandparent scams. It told the story of a grandfather who called his son to say that they had just learned that their grand daughter -the son's daughter- was in a Mexican Jail and needed $1800 in bail. The granddaughter was put on the line for a brief period (just long enough to not be identified, but get the false message across) to tell her grandfather she was in jail and needed bail money. The grandparents sent the money by Western Union and then called their son to tell him the news. I wanted to make sure this was not some kind of scary urban myth - but it is a real scam.
Sure enough - even the US State Department addresses grandparent scams on its website. It explains that in these types of scams, the perpetrator often calls a grandparent or other relative pretending to be his/her grandchild/niece/nephew, etc. The caller sounds upset and typically states there are only a few moments to talk. Callers may say that they have a cold if you don't quite recognize their voice, or cue-in on feedback from the call to sound even more convincing (scam victims often report being sure they were talking to their actual relative, but it's a clever trick!). Their story generally follows a familiar line: they were traveling in another country with a friend, and after a car accident or legal infraction, they are in jail and need bail money wired to a Western Union account as soon as possible for their quick release.
Sums can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars, sometimes over the course of two or three calls. In some instances, a second scammer calls back later pretending to be a law enforcement official or attorney, to confirm the story or ask for additional money. They may even claim to be employees of a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas!
The State Department advises that should you be targeted in this type of scam, there are actions you can take to protect yourself. Although the supposed grandchild may plead with you not to tell his/her family, you should immediately reach out to parents or other relatives to verify the information you receive. In the vast majority of cases, the real relative is safely where (s)he should be - at work, school or home.
Another way to check on the story is to look at the country code of the incoming call. A lot of these calls originate in Canada with a 914 area code!
Seniors make up 12% of the population, but 35% of fraud victims. Talk to your parents!