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'Grandma, it’s me and I’m in trouble': More seniors losing money to family scam

KNXV Fullscreen Let Joe Know
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 09:45:25-04

It's a call none of us want to get: "Hi Grandpa. I'm in trouble and I need your help." Would you know what to say if you got that call?

Since the pandemic began, more families are losing money this way. Scott Conley's family is NOT one of them.

Scott's dad got the same call about a grandson involved in an accident. The caller posed as the grandson. Then another person asked for $7,000 to cover his bail so the grandson could get out of jail.

While Scott's father was thinking about sending it, Scott smelled a scam, called the person back posing as his father to get more information.

The FBI, Federal Trade Commission and AARP all warn this scam is on the rise. In New Jersey and New York, reports show nearly 100 victims lost about $1 million recently this way. And scammers are now using coronavirus, claiming to be a grandchild sick in a hospital and needing money.

Turns out, the grandchildren were fine. But Scott tried engaging the scammer to get a location, an ID, or something he could give to police to catch the thief. The scammer wasn't biting. She said she worked for a legal aid society doing free work trying to help people. She wouldn't say where she was located.

Scott and I both tried calling back. But by that time, we couldn't get through to anyone. Crooks don't want you calling back. It's all about surprising, making you panic and not think so you'll just wire the cash.

I advise setting up a family safe word or phrase. If you get the same call, ask for the word so you know it’s really a family member.