augusta free press news

Grandparent Scam hits Waynesboro

waynesboroThe Waynesboro Police Department wants citizens to be aware that the Grandparent Scam has been occurring in the city.   The Police Department has received at least two calls from citizens saying that they were contacted by someone as a part of this scam.

The Grandparent Scam targets senior citizens in a most despicable way, preying upon their affection  for their grandchildren.  Scammers call potential victims pretending to be one of their grandchildren saying he or she is in serious trouble, a car accident or even in jail.  The “grandson” or “granddaughter”  tells the victim that he or she needs them to send money to help pay fines, medical bills, attorney’s fees, etc.  The scammer will tell the victim not to contact his or her parents (the victim’s own son or daughter) because it would make them too upset.  The scammer may even have an accomplice get on the phone pretending to be a lawyer, police officer, or doctor to enhance the ruse.  Normally, several thousand dollars are requested to be sent in a money order to a jail or hospital.

Victims in the past have reported being convinced by the scammer into believing that they are their grandchild because of how desperate they sound over the phone.

Phone calls from bogus family members is the most believable form of this con, but perpetrators also use email, social media or other forms of communication to swindle victims.  Also, perpetrators have notified prospective victims identifying themselves as arresting officers, physicians, attorneys, doctors or other person representing their family member.


Five Ways to Protect Yourself

  • Build a wall around your computer. Use both antivirus and anti-spyware software to keep intruders from stealing personal information from your computer.
  • Don’t open file attachments in emails from strangers. These can contain programs that enable crooks to get into your computer remotely. Be cautious on social media. Anything you reveal about your family, travels or schedule can be easily picked up by bad guys.
  • Ask lots of questions. If you get an impassioned call for money from a family member, take a deep breath and try not to get emotional. Instead, ask some questions that would be hard for an impostor to answer correctly. Examples are the name of the person’s pet, his mother’s birth date, or his boss’s name.
  • Slow the process down. Never say yes to a money transfer based on a single call. Always hang up and do some research, such as trying to contact the person directly on her cell or work phone, or talking with someone she is close with to corroborate the situation.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. If you fear that you have fallen prey to a scam, do not let pride get in the way of contacting authorities. And if you’ve wired money, immediately call the money transfer service to report the fraud. If the money hasn’t been picked up yet, you can retrieve it.