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!
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