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ABC News

A growing number of scam artists who target senior citizens have stolen thousands of dollars from victims in what is known as the “grandparent scam,” officials say.

The con is within a category of “impostor scams” for which there were 60,000 complaints last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And officials have urged the public to report the scams to law enforcement.

Jim and his wife of Wilmington, N.C., for example, received a call last month from a man saying he was their grandson.

The man said he had been in a car accident while traveling in the Dominican Republic. After explaining his injuries and that he badly needed money to get out of jail and return to the United States, the man begged Jim, 78, not to tell his “parents” and blamed his voice change on the accident.

“‘Con man’ is short for confidence man,” Steve Baker, director of the FTC’s Midwest region, said. “Their expertise is gaining your confidence.”

Jim, who asked ABC News not to publish his last name, worried about his grandson’s safety and health, followed the man’s instructions and wired him several installments totaling $7,200 through Western Union. He and his wife had not spoken to their several grandsons in weeks, all of whom live out of state.

Jim learned he was the victim of an imposter scam when he called his son after a day to check up on him, and the grandson was fine at home.

“I obviously felt terrible about it,” Jim said. “My first reaction was I felt stupid. I can think of 1,000 questions that would have stopped it.”

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has seen a spike in the grandparent scam targeting the elderly in North Carolina. From Jan. 20 to March. 17, the office received 12 complaints from people ranging in ages from 72 to 88 targeted by scammers posing as their grandchildren or other family members.

The scammers stole from $1,200 to $25,549 from each individual, with a total loss of $129,889 in the period.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS STORY: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/grandparent-scams-impostors-dupe-elderly-pretending-grandchildren/story?id=13240557

Comment on this Story

  • Guestduh

    This is beyond stupid! Unless you are senile there is absolutely NO way you could fall for this. Just make a few phone calls before you send cash to anyone. Call the Grandchild BEFORE you send cash, call the parents of the supposed Grandchild, the siblings or any other family member. Ask questions like whats your Mothers maiden name, dogs name. People are dumb.

  • Guest

    This scam happened to my Grandmother. She ended up sending 20,000 via Western Union. She is 86 and has no medical problems. She is very money savy and very cautious.

    Here are a couple of points:

    My grandmother has 10 grandchildren. I live the furthest away from her. The others are within a 5 mile radius of her house and I am the only one that has contact with her on a monthly basis. She has no idea what the grands are up to.

    The scammer pretended to be a cousin of mine who is currently having family issues with her sibling and parents. Her drama is posted all over facebook. The scammer made a huge point to request that my grandmother not contact “her” parents due to family issues. Whether the info was gained from facebook or not, the scammer had enough info that the things she said were very convincing. She even used an accent and sounded just like my cousin. DO NOT POST PERSONAL INFORMATION ANYWHERE ON THE NET…. ESPECIALLY FACEBOOK!!!!!

    If you look up someone on sites such as Whitepages.com or other free info sites, you will see the names of possible family members as well as their ages. If you look up my grandmother for instance, you will see the names of her 4 sons and their ages. You search their names and you get their childrens names etc. Something needs to be done to prevent this information from being that easily accessable.

    Western Union cannot advise you not to send money. WU repeatedly asked her if she needed to contact a family member to be certain that she wanted to follow through with the transaction. Apparently they were very generous in doing so but it wasn’t enough to trigger my grandmother.

    The scammers in her case, called back at least 2 more times after she had sent the money. They were pretending to be friends of my cousin wanting to make sure she was okay etc.

    Ask your children and grandchildren for a security question. Not a birthdate or something obvious. Think of questions that you would be asked for credit cards etc. Make your grandparents a notebook with everyone’s name and their questions along with the answer. If the scammer can’t answer to what “their” favorite color is, tell them you will have to call them back in a minute and report to police! Many of the these scammers will keep calling and try to wear you down.

    I hope these pointers help someone else from becoming a victim!

  • Guest

    What a moron! He must have not been close with his grandson or else he would know if he was in the Dominican Republic!

  • Guest3130

    . . .tell me there is a special place in Hell for anyone who would scam the elderly, and in such a heinous way. Please!

  • Guest1118

    someone to try that on me. I have NO children or grandchildren but since I’m a female baby boomer many think I do. How I would love to scam the scammer.

  • Guest96986

    My grandmother just got scammed yesterday by someone in the Dominican Republic….took $6000 from her. Makes me sick. When she told me the conversation her and the con artist had, there were so many times when an alarm would go off in anyone’s head yelling “scam!” I have no idea why my grandmother and this man in the story didn’t think twice. Those men who do this to the innocent elderly make me sick.


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