Unfortunately, scammers will always be around. The so-called ‘grandparent scam’ has become increasingly popular amongst criminals lately, and people often lose thousands of dollars before realizing they were tricked.
As the name suggests, criminals target elderly people who are likely to be grandparents in order to get as much money out of them as possible.
They usually call or email one of the grandparents and make a false claim that their grandson or granddaughter is in distress. The con artist will be claiming to be a representative of their grandchild (such as a lawyer, doctor, police officer…) delivering the frightening message that their grandchild is in trouble.
Whether it’s driving under the influence, a sudden surgery or costs for a lawyer – they always need money for some kind of flakey expense. After telling this constructed story, they ask the grandparents to send over money to fix things.
Who would possibly even fall for this, you might think?
It turns out that some scammers can be scarily convincing and they truly use a professional approach. First, they try to learn as much about the grandchildren and the grandparents as possible in order to exploit that personal relationship. They also know very well how to impersonate people, and even if the voice doesn’t match, plenty of reasons can be given for this such as a broken nose, influence of alcohol or a bad telephone connection.
They also thoroughly check social media posts for any information, however small, they could possibly use to their own advantage. Because these fictional situations are often embarrassing or personal, they not only play on the grandparent’s emotions but also on their sense of loyalty not to tell anyone.
In other words, plenty of people still fall for it because the scammers turn it into a plausible story.
An elderly woman from Quincy, Massachusetts, was about to transfer $2,000 to one of these scammers.
The 87-year-old woman had already spent four thousand dollars earlier that day on gift cards for large stores. She was instructed to mail the gift cards and reveal the pin-codes via the telephone.
The scammers thought that they could make even more money of this poor elderly woman, so they instructed her to do the same again. They wanted her to get Walmart gift cards, and she didn’t realize that she was actually being set up. She took a cab and made her way to the store.[/imgsrc]
Luckily, the cab driver immediately stepped in when she told him about the whole situation.
Richard Spencer, who you can find driving daily in his Yellow Cab, knew that something was off. He quickly realized that this senior woman was about to get conned, once again.
“I said excuse me ma’am, but that is not your grandson,” the cab driver said. “It’s someone posing.”
The 87-year-old told him that is for her grandson, but it was a textbook scam. The fake story was that the woman’s grandson was involved in a car accident and was to blame for it. In order to prevent him from going to jail, they would need gift cards to pay for his bail.
“I don’t think so lady,” Richard said to her. “I think you’re getting scammed. I heard this before, you know.”
Instead of going to Walmart, the two then made a trip to the Quincy police station.
“I said, no, no we’re not going to Walmart. I’m calling the Quincy Police,” he later said to WBZ-TV. “I said I believe your being scammed and we’re going to try to save you some money.”
Richard’s suspicion was quickly confirmed: police officers told the woman that she was being scammed.
Unfortunately, the Quincy police department also told them that in 99.99% of these cases, the scammers never get caught. They usually operate from outside of the US, which makes catching them incredibly difficult.[/imgsrc]
The woman did lose $4,000 that day, but at least this taxi driver was able to prevent her from losing even more money. The chances are slim that the grandmother will ever see her hard-earned money back. According to the FTC, the median amount of money lost in these grandparent scams exceeds $9,000.
“I think it’s one of the scummiest crimes you can do,” the cab driver concluded. “It just goes to show what scumbags they are, they’re too lazy to go out and steal like a real criminal, they go scam people on the phone.”
The taxi driver is now being praised by the local community and police department.[/imgsrc]
“Thank you Mr. Spencer for caring. You could have chosen to remain silent and ignore the signs. But you didn’t. And for that we say THANK YOU” the police department wrote on their Facebook page.
Remarkably, in the process of helping the elderly woman, the cab driver actually got a parking ticket! However, the police department was more than happy to waive it for this Good Samaritan.
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