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The grandparent scam

There was a desperate edge to Nancy's voice as her daughter picked up the phone.

"Is Melissa OK?" Nancy asked, not even pausing to say hello.

"Sure, Mom," her daughter replied, "she's at college. Why?"

Moments earlier, Nancy had received a disturbing phone call informing her that her granddaughter was in a distant country and had been arrested. Bail money was urgently needed. The mysterious caller did not identify Melissa by name. But the call struck terror into Nancy's heart. It didn't help that, at 84, Nancy was getting a bit forgetful and confused.

Luckily, Nancy's daughter was able to assure her that Melissa was safe at school. But the call left a lingering taste of panic for Nancy.

Preying on the fears of elderly grandparents in this way is one of the most reprehensible scams we've heard of. If Nancy had wired money to the caller, instead of checking with her daughter, she would be out thousands of dollars. 

How can we keep our seniors safe from predators like this caller?

First, if a parent is becoming confused and forgetful, keep emphasizing the importance of calling a trusted relative in case of a disturbing call giving information about a loved one. 

Second, check in with an aging parent frequently. Daily is best. Panic and confusion could prompt a senior to follow bogus instructions without doing a reality check. 

Read more about other types of phone scams directed at seniors.

37 Comments to The grandparent scam:

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marketing assignment on Thursday, March 30, 2017 1:13 AM
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custom research paper services on Thursday, April 26, 2018 2:24 AM
Thank you for sharing this experience. This blog is very informative. I am now fully aware about these kind of scams. I already researched about the scams that my family may receive in the future especially my grandparents. I also gave them tips on what to do if they receive such calls. Trust but verify. Take down the number, but send nothing until you can independently confirm your family member is, especially if it is emergency. I am not saying not to trust the caller, verifying it is the key. Call other members of the family to know if it is true.


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neiljakson on Saturday, January 27, 2018 3:27 AM
Great post but . A telephone call is made to an elderly person with a family member who is supposedly in some kind of trouble, usually claiming to be a grandson or granddaughter. These calls are often placed late at night or early in the morning when most people are not thinking that ...
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skitheporkies on Monday, August 06, 2018 10:46 PM
Moments earlier, Nancy had received a disturbing phone call informing her that her granddaughter was in a distant country and had been arrested. Bail money was urgently needed. The mysterious caller did not identify Melissa by name. But the call struck terror into Nancy's heart. It didn't help that, at 84, Nancy was getting a bit forgetful and confused.
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idarts.org on Friday, August 17, 2018 11:41 PM
This blog is just like the conversation between a daughter and the mom. Nancy is the daughter and she is talking about the health issue. By talking with each other about specific issues, we can know the problems in the family and can solve them. No, you should share the article on the above-given site.
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The mysterious caller did not identify Melissa by name. But the call struck terror into Nancy's heart.
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This is so embarrassing, irritating and most of all terrifying. How could someone get to use someones weakness to fool others. Scammers are all around not just in the real world, but the virtual and cyber world too. There you will see some of your "relatives" that you do not even know. Just like this grandparent scam. You know I have experienced this one three times last year, but now I know what to do,. I will surely be braver next time to confront and exercise my right to protect myself from these bad guys out there who is always ready to scare and scam myself and my family.
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