Attorney General Chris Carr is warning Georgians about the latest version of the grandparent scam. The scam still starts with a phone call from someone pretending to be your grandchild, one of his/her friends, a lawyer or a law enforcement officer. The caller then describes an urgent scenario requiring that thousands of dollars be sent immediately, e.g. your grandchild will go to jail if you don’t send bail money or he or she became ill while traveling in a foreign country and needs money to come home. If impersonating the grandchild, the scammer may speak softly or cry so that the victim is less likely to question why the grandchild’s voice sounds different. The “grandchild” may beg you not to tell their parents what’s going on. They may even tell you to lie to the bank if questioned about the reason for the withdrawal. In a new twist, rather than asking the victim to wire money, pay with gift cards or even mail cash, (all red flags of a scam), the scammers say they will send someone to the person’s house to pick up the money. Once the victim pays the money to the courier (often an unwitting Uber or Lyft driver), there’s virtually no way to get it back. What’s more, the scammers may call back, claiming they need more money.
“Scam artists prey on people’s emotions by trying to instill fear or create a sense of urgency in the hopes that people will act before thinking things through,” says Attorney General Carr. “We encourage people to tell their older relatives about this scam so they can spot the warning signs and avoid becoming victims.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following tips to protect yourself from this scam:
- If you receive a phone call of this nature, get off the phone and call your grandchild directly to verify his/her whereabouts. If you can’t reach your grandchild, contact the parents – even if you were asked not to do so.
- Remember that a scammer can discover many personal details about someone via social media or through identity theft, so do not trust a caller at face value, even if they provide the name or certain details about your grandchild.
- Limit what you share on social media and check your privacy settings.
- Never give your address, personal information or money to someone who calls you out of the blue.