"Grandparent Scam" Takes Advantage of Elderly
Scammers claiming to be "grandchildren" in distress scam grandparents
ANCHORAGE – The Consumer Unit of the Alaska Attorney General’s Office has been receiving a large amount of complaints about a scam known as the “Grandparent Scam.”
The scam targets the elderly and the perpetrators claim to be grandchildren in different countries. Often, when asked, the callers will claim they sound different due to injuries, like a broken nose.
"The girl said, 'hi grandma do you know who this is?' I said no," said Elain Fleetwood, and added the girl she was on the phone with sounded older. "She said, 'you don't know your own granddaughter?'" A grandparent to five granddaughters, she contemplated which one was on the line.
"Melissa? 'Yes, it is Melissa.' I was feeding her the information." The perpetrator claimed to be in Canada for a wedding and had been thrown in jail for having drugs and alcohol in her vehicle.
"I told her I was willing to help, but she needed to talk to her mom. I wasn't going to do anything behind her mom's back." The scammer then got angry with Fleetwood and told her she didn't want to upset her mother. "I asked to talk to someone at the police station and that is when I got cut off."
Months later they called back, but they never got any money from this target. Fleetwood called police and they verified her concern that it was just a scam.
Fleetwood is just one of many victims asked to wire large sums of money through Western Union to pay for medical or damage bills so their loved ones can return home.
According to officials, the scammers will ask that they do not discuss the phone call with relatives, and by the time a victim has realized what has happened the money has disappeared.
The scam is not limited to “grandparents.” Friends, aunts, uncles and other family members have been targeted.
“Regardless of the details, these types of scams take advantage of the love and concern people have for family members and the consequences can be devastating,” said Attorney General Michael Geraghty, in a press release February 29.
If you receive a similar call you are advised to hang up.
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