Have You Heard of The ‘Hey Grandma’ Scam?
There's a nasty scam making its way around the world and it has a very cruel target—your grandparents. AARP has a great example of how this scam works, but the short version is that scammers call up unsuspecting Nanas and Papas pretending to be their grandchildren in the hopes of getting money.
This isn't someone trying to get the $10 dollars your grandma tucks in your birthday card, though. The scam can be as simple as cold calling older people until they find someone willing to take the bait or it can be complex, requiring con artists to pore through social media or buy information on the corners of the deep web to target grandparents. They find out names of grandchildren, the cities they live in, and enough biographical details to make their phone call legitimate enough to convince a grandparent desperate to help their beloved grandchild.
Armed with details, the scammer calls up a grandparent claiming to be their grandchild and explains that they are in a jam and need their grandparents' help to get out of it. The solution usually involves a legal situation that requires a lot of money to resolve. When the scam is successful, victimized grandparents can end up out of a few thousand dollars.
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Anyone who is internet savvy may see this scam coming from a mile away, but older relatives may fall victim. That's why it's important to warn grandparents to be skeptical if they ever get a call from one of their grandchildren and the kid doesn't quite sound like themselves, claims that they are in danger or trouble, and requests money to solve the situation. If the situation sounds strange, trust your instincts. AARP suggests that if grandparents think they might be about to be tricked by this scam, to tell the caller they need to consult another family member first, and hang up the phone. Then call your grandchild or their parents, even if the caller asked to keep the information private. If the emergency happens to be real, then respond appropriately. If it's not, good riddance.