Lincoln Police have discovered that con artists are scamming seniors out of hundreds and even thousands of dollars by posing as their grandchildren.
The suspect usually begins by calling the victim and stating, "Hey, it's your favorite grandson." In this particular scam, the con artist's basic tactic is to pose as a grandchild and let the unsuspecting grandparent fill in the blanks. The caller's goal is to learn the name of the victim's actual grandchild. Sometimes the caller has learned the name of the grandchildren in advance and claims to be a grandchild during the call.
The grandparent receives a distressed phone call from someone pretending be his or her grandchild. The supposed grandchild caller explains that he or she is traveling in Canada been involved in an accident, was arrested, is stranded or in similar trouble and needs money immediately. The 'grandchild' also insists that the victim not tell anyone else - which increases the odds that the fraud will be successful. The con artist pleads with the grandparent to wire money to post bail or pay for damages, usually amounting to a few thousand dollars. By the time the elderly call recipient realizes what happened, the money is long gone. The scam is not a new one, but it has developed in sophistication over the years.
No one really knows with certainty how the con artists obtain the information. Many have speculated that it can easily be found on Internet family blogs, genealogy sites and social networking sites.
- Confirm the status of the "grandchild" on the other end of the line requesting emergency money by calling them directly on their phone or verifying the story with other family members before deciding what course to take.
- Be on guard if the "grandchild" is crying, says that he's suffering from a cold, has a broken jaw or other injury that makes him sound differently than he normally does.
- Scammers will let victims "fill in the blanks." If the conversations starts out with "It's me, your #1 grandchild," don't give a name for the fraud artist to take on.
- Requests to use a courier or to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram should be suspect. These funds are hard to track once received by con artists and are usually not recoverable by law enforcement or banking officials.