In this scam, callers target older people by claiming to be a grandchild with an emergency need for cash. The callers try to convince their victims to immediately wire a large amount of money or provide a credit, debit or prepaid card number to help pay for a sudden personal crisis, such as a car accident, medical emergency or even bail money.
Criminals sometimes glean personal information, including friends or relatives, from social networking websites like Facebook. At other times they trick their victims into revealing the information, including names.
We encourage Iowans with older relatives to have a conversation about the grandparent scam and other telephone scams that target older people. And no matter how legitimate the "emergency" may sound or how important it may seem to act immediately, it's important to take the time needed to verify the claim. Even one phone call could save a potential victim from paying thousands of dollars.
This scam highlights the dangers of wiring money, providing prepaid money card numbers or bank account information to strangers by telephone. These transactions, which generally transfer funds abroad, are often nearly impossible to trace.
Victims of this scam should contact their local law enforcement agency and file a report. Because it generally originates from overseas, the grandparent scam can be difficult, if not impossible, to successfully investigate and recover lost funds.
888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)
Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106