7 On your side: Grandparent scams - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On your side: Grandparent scams

What grandparent wouldn't want to help their grandchild in an emergency. Scammers know that and use it to try to take advantage of unsuspecting elderly. 

They call it the grandparents scam because tricky criminals take advantage of the fact that an older person's hearing may not be as good and make older people think their grandchild is stranded or in some other need of help. Executive director of the Southwest Louisiana Better Business Bureau, Carmen Million says, "The reason they target the elderly is because in most cases it's hard for them to recognize voices of their grandchildren and a lot of times they may not realize which grandchild it is that is calling them."

Million explains the savvy scammer works to get the grandparent to reveal their grandchild's name.

"They'll use a scenario for instance, 'Grandma, this is your grandson.' And of course they are expecting the grandparent to say, 'Oh, is this Johnny?' And then they now know the grandson's name and they'll say, 'Yes, this is Johnny. Look Grandma, I'm in a foreign country. I'm in Paris or wherever and I've lost my wallet, I've gotten arrested. I need to fly home and I need some money because I don't have access to my wallet.'"

Million says they also pretend they're embarrassed and urge the grandparent to keep it secret promising to pay back the money when they get back in town.

"They give them instructions on how to wire money to a certain place and we know consumers who have been scammed as much as three thousand dollars," Million said

To avoid being scammed, Million recommends the consumer ask lots of questions. "Which grandchild is this? Or, who is this? Ask for a specific name and when you start questioning them, in most cases they hang up because they know they're not going to dupe you," Million said.

As well, she says sometimes they pull the same scheme by tapping into a persons email address sending emails to their friends seeking emergency money.

For more information on how to protect yourself click here.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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