Beware of the Grandma Scam

Few things are more welcome to a senior than a telephone call from a grandchild.

This is true whether that grandchild is a toddler who is just starting to speak, a young child whose interests seem to center on Justin Bieber, or a teenager passing on the news about another busy week at school.

House PhoneThen there are the calls from grandchildren who’ve already reached young adulthood and have set out to make their mark in the world. Maybe they haven’t called in a while, but that’s understandable. You may not know what they’ve been up to lately, but you can be sure they’ve been busy. And now you get that phone call you’ve always looked forward to getting …


Your grandchild identifies himself or herself by name, and asks how you’re doing. So far, so good. The voice may sound a little different than usual, but that is explained somewhat when the caller explains that he or she is calling from another state or country. Telephone reception isn’t always perfect, so that’s not hard to swallow. Besides, as your grandchild explains in the next sentence, he or she is facing a problem … and you know how stress can affect a voice.

Problem? What’s the matter?

Or, in grandparent lingo: Tell me how I can fix it.

Responses range across the board, but among the most common are:

      • I’m in a Mexican jail
      • I’ve been arrested in another state
      • I’m being held by Canadian authorities
      • I had an accident
      • I’ve been robbed

There have been plenty more reasons given for that unexpected long-distance phone call from a young adult “grandchild.” In most cases, the distress is evident in .the caller’s voice. Despite your concern or alarm, you’re touched that your grandson or granddaughter has chosen to turn to you to help solve the problem.

sending moneyAnd the way to help solve that problem nearly always is …

Send money. Usually lots of money.

There may be bail payments to make, legal fees to cover, settlements to get that grandchild out of a fix … and what kind of grandparent wouldn’t be eager to help?

In this day and age, a prudent one. One who realizes seniors nowadays are swimming in shark-infested waters. One who won’t be hoodwinked into taking a step he or she is sure to regret.

Not long ago, it was the Nigerian scam that seniors were wisely advised to be on the lookout against. Nowadays it seems the Grandma scam has supplanted the Nigerian scam as the senior-targeted scam older Americans living on fixed incomes have to be most on guard against.

Unfortunately, some seniors—just like people of other age groups—are too embarrassed to tell anyone when they’ve been taken. But law enforcement officials all across the United States advise seniors who have been targeted to speak out boldly in order to help put away the Grandma scammers and make life a little easier for other seniors who may otherwise have trouble swimming with sharks.

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