common / Scam Watch

Grandparent Scams Continue to Target Ohioans

In recognition of Grandparents Day this Sunday, Sept. 7, Attorney General Mike DeWine is reminding Ohioans to watch out for the grandparent scam, a costly telephone ploy in which con artists pose as grandchildren in need.

Thus far in 2014, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received 22 complaints involving grandparent scams. Most of those consumers report losing money, and losses range from about $1,000 to as much as $8,000. Additional consumers have reported receiving the scam calls but refusing to send money.

“Grandparents naturally want to help their grandchildren, and these con artists try to exploit that,” Attorney General DeWine said. “If you get an unexpected call from someone who claims to be your grandchild or another relative who asks you to wire money to another state or country, contact another family member to verify the claim before sending any money.”

In a typical scam, a grandparent will receive a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild. The grandchild claims to be in trouble and in urgent need of money, maybe to pay a fine or to keep the grandchild out of jail. The grandparent is asked to send money immediately, often out of the country, using a prepaid money card or wire transfer. To stay out of more trouble with the parents, the caller tells the grandparent, “Please don’t tell Mom or Dad.”

Grandparents who send money likely will receive additional calls requesting more money. The scammer will claim that more money is needed to help the grandchild return home safely.

Ohioans can keep the following tips in mind to help prevent becoming a victim of this scam:

•If you get a call from a grandchild in trouble, ask questions only your real family members would know how to answer. Ask about the last time they visited or their pet’s name — something the scam artists probably won’t know. Keep in mind that scam artists may know some personal information about the grandparents or grandchildren.
•Tell your own family members to be very suspicious if a “grandchild” calls for help and insists that “Mom and Dad” shouldn’t know about the situation.
•Never wire transfer money to someone who calls unexpectedly.
•Never buy a prepaid money card and give the card number to someone who calls unexpectedly. Prepaid money cards and wire transfers are preferred payment methods of scammers.
•Watch out for any unusual banking activity or receipts from wire transfer services among your grandparents or other family members.
•Discourage your family from posting any upcoming travel plans online so that scammers can’t use that information to take advantage of your family.
Ohioans who suspect a scam or believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.-Posted 9.7, 11:17 am

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