How the Grandparent Scam Works

Remember when you were a kid, before “caller ID” (I’m showing my age here), you and your friends would make prank calls by picking up the phone and dialing any number and eventually someone would pick up the phone, you’d hang up, and laugh hard? Then do it another dozen times and with each call you would infuriate the caller, then laugh harder?

You learned that if you make enough calls, eventually you will get someone on the phone that was gullible and you could get a good laugh out of them over and over.

This same process/philosophy is what plays into telephone fraud scams. One of the easiest and most vile scams on the block is the “Grandparent Scam”.

The phone rings and an elderly person answers the phone. They may be slightly hard of hearing, and the caller says either “Grammy, Granny, Grandma, Nana, Nonna, Papa, Baba or Grandpa?”  The elderly person says ‘Yes” and the caller states “It’s your grandson!” When the elderly person responds and rattles off a name of a grandchild and says “Robby is that you”, the scammer responds “YES!” and knows he’s got a fish on the hook.

Now that the “relationship” has been established the scammer proceeds to prey upon the good nature of the grandparent and uses their love of their grandchild against them. The scammer begins to hem and haw that they’ve been arrested or are stranded or car broke down or lost their wallet and need the grandparent to wire some money to them. Once the grandparent agrees they instruct the victim to go the address of the local check cashing place that wires money and the scammer siphons as much as possible out of their victim.

This scam works so well because the victim is hooked within the first minute of the call. Once the predator sinks their teeth into their victim they will work on them until they have no money left in the world.

If there is someone in your life that could possibly, even remotely fall for this scam you need to educate them on what to look for. Put systems in place to make it difficult for them to make financial withdrawals without a cosigner.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.

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