Grandparent Scam

posted on Monday, January 3, 2022 in Fraud

grandparent scam

The grandparent scam isn’t a new tactic. However, there has been a recent increase in fraudsters targeting the elderly in the “grandchild in jail” scam. Fraudsters continue to improve their strategy, making this scam all the more dangerous for the elderly population.

How does the Grandparent Scam work?

  • A fraudster contacts a grandparent posing as a grandchild who was recently arrested and is being held in jail.
  • The fraudster, posing as a grandchild, shares a compelling story claiming to be arrested for DWI or OWI and has been involved in a car accident. The fraudster explains how they, along with others in the vehicle all sustained injuries, and that they have a bond to pay anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
  • Once fooled, the grandparent accepts to pay the bond and shares their address to pay the fraudster.
  • The fraudster arrives at the grandparent’s house posing as a “bondman” to collect the cash bond. The fraudster collects the cash and leaves.
  • The next day, the fraudster calls the grandparent again with more bad news. A person injured in the accident has died and a new, more serious charge has been filed on the grandchild. This requires more money, and the grandparent may again withdraw cash to pay for the additional “bond.”

Why it works

You may be thinking, “Why would a logical grandparent fall victim to this scam?” The answer, yet simple, is complex. 

Most of us think and react logically, but the fraudsters are trained experts in putting their victims under the “ether”. The ether is the state of mind when we no longer react logically, but instead on emotion. Some of the emotions taking us out of the logical world into the ether are urgency and fear. Ether: I must react immediately to get my grandchild out of jail.

How to avoid falling for the scam?

The best advice for avoiding this type of scam, or any suspicious phone call, is to hang up immediately. If you have caller ID and you don't recognize an incoming phone number, just let it go to voicemail.

If you do wind up in a conversation, use caution if you are being pressured for information or to send money quickly. Scammers often try to bully victims into transferring money through a mobile payment app, by wiring money, or by purchasing gift cards or money orders. If you receive a call like this, report it immediately to local law enforcement.

How to report the scam?

If you have fallen victim to the Grandparent Scam, please contact Community 1st Credit Union at 866.360.5370 or stop by your local branch to speak with a C1st Representative. 

You can file complaints with the FCC about unwanted calls and spoofing. You can also find information on imposter scams and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.