A new wave a calls to seniors is catching a few off guard. Well-meaning senior citizens who think they are helping a grandchild in distress are becoming victims of the so-called "Grandparent Scam.'
"The newest twist we've seen is the caller says they are a friend, and that the grandchild has a broken jaw and is unable to speak to the grandparent," says Robb Hicken, chief storyteller with the BBB.
In the past week, BBB serving the Snake River Region has received four calls from concerned grandparents who recognized the scam.
Calls have also been reported with the grandchild is being held in police custody, wallet/purse stolen and/or robbed. The phone calls also claim to be from a police officer or lawyer representing the grandchild in court.
However, the scam remains the same as it preys on the love of a grandparent for their grandchildren and has proven to be an extremely lucrative con for scammers. Fortunately, this is an easy scam to avoid as long as you don't let your emotions get the best of you.
Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from whom they are led to believe is their grandchild. A scammer, posing as their grandchild, explains that he or she has gotten into trouble - often in Canada - and needs help. The "grandchild" might claim he or she caused a car accident or was arrested for drug possession.
The "grandchild" pleads to the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons including posting bail, repairing the grandchild's car, covering lawyer's fees or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in distress, BBB advises that you don't disclose any information before you have confirmed it really is your grandchild. If a caller says "It's me, grandma!" don't respond with a name but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that your grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name.
If you have fallen victim to the scam, BBB recommends you report the incident immediately to the local police and state Attorneys General office. If there is a request to wire money to Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre has established the PhoneBusters hotline and Web site to report such fraud. Reports can be filed easily online through the PhoneBusters site at: www.phonebusters.com, or by phone, toll free at, 1-888-495-8501.