Grandparents’ spoiling their grandchildren is a time-honored tradition.
But according to the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department, scammers are now attempting to tap into that and bilk unsuspecting seniors out of their money without them ever thinking that they’ve been had.
Instead of an elaborate hoax or an attempt to steal important personal information, San Joaquin County Sherriff Public Information Officer Les Garcia said that the scam works through a simple phone call to an unsuspecting senior. When they answer the phone, the person running the con then pretends to be a grandchild – waiting for the senior to guess their name – and spells out a dramatic story that always ends with them needing money.
A wire transfer through Western Union – which doesn’t always require identification – is typically the goal and would end up leaving the “grandparent” with no recourse or possible way to reclaim the money.
“Luckily both of the people that reported this to us caught on right away and hung up,” Garcia said. “We want to get the word out to others that this is going on so that they don’t fall for this as well.”
While the approach and the attempt to use the heartstrings of concerned “grandparents” to send money might be a new approach, constant attempts to defraud seniors – which are viewed by scammers as easy targets because of their unsuspecting nature and ripe because of retirement accounts and nest eggs – are not.
Garcia said that an attempt like this, which is more than likely carried out close to home, offers very little risk to those that are making the phone calls and setting up the money transfers.
Once they’ve made that contact and the money has been sent, they’re often in the clear and able to move on to the next victim without worrying about being caught.
“We like to say that if it sounds too good to be true than it usually is,” Garcia said. “But this is a scenario where they’re led to believe that a loved one needs help, and sometimes that can be very convincing.
“We all have grandparents and they’re people that would bend over backwards to help if they were asked to, and unfortunately that’s what these people are preying on.”
Garcia said that if anybody has been targeted by crews attempting to scam them using this approach, or they believe that they might be a victim, they should contact their local police department as soon as possible.