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It’s Back! – The Grandparent Scam

It’s Back! – The Grandparent Scam - The Beacon


By: Amanda

It’s Back! – The Grandparent Scam

Your BBB has learned that scammers are once again calling individuals alleging that a family member is in legal or financial trouble overseas.  This is often called “the Grandparent Scam” because the caller will claim to be a close relative in need  The scammer impersonating the relative will then claim that they are being arrested or have been in some kind of accident overseas and need money right away to bail them out of jail or pay medical bills, among other things.  They attempt to create a sense of urgency and desperation on the part of the “relative,” and have been known to beg for the money.

There is also another version of the scam where the scammer does not claim to be a relative in need but will claim to be an attorney, law enforcement agent or even a US Embassy representative.  The scammer will still tell the consumer that their relative has had some trouble and needs money. 

Once the scammer feels that the consumer is convinced, they will then request the money be wire transferred to a third party who will in turn release the individual from jail, etc.

With vacation and travel season around the corner, the frequency of reports of these types of calls will most likely increase, so the BBB has the following tips for you if you receive one of these calls:

1.  Don’t volunteer information. The scammer may or may not have the name of the “relative” in danger.  In previous appearances of this scam, the caller would start the conversation with “Hi Grandma.”  If you respond by saying “Marcia, is that you?,” the scammer will say “Yes” and then try to pull you into the scam with the pleas for money.

 2. Resist the sense of urgency. Verify facts with friends and family before proceeding, and attempt to contact the relative directly to verify the information you’ve been given.

3. Keep in mind that wiring money is like sending cash.  Once you’ve sent it, you can’t get it back.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to this scam, contact your BBB, the Attorney General in your state, and/or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

For more information you can trust, visit

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Amanda is the Director of Bureau Affairs and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.