My Crime Reports have mentioned it before but be sure your elderly parents, grandparents, neighbors know about the grandparent telephone scam - apparently it's still around.
The Grandparent Scam - Don’t Let It Happen to You (Source: FBI) 04/02/12
You’re a grandparent, and you get a phone call or an e-mail from someone who identifies himself as your grandson. “I’ve been arrested in another country,” he says, “and need money wired quickly to pay my bail. And oh by the way, don’t tell my mom or dad because they’ll only get upset!”
This is an example of what’s come to be known as “the grandparent scam”--yet another fraud that preys on the elderly, this time by taking advantage of their love and concern for their grandchildren.
The grandparent scam has been around for a few years—our Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has been receiving reports about it since 2008. But the scam and scam artists have become more sophisticated. Thanks to the Internet and social networking sites, a criminal can sometimes uncover personal information about their targets, which makes the impersonations more believable. For example, the actual grandson may mention on his social networking site that he’s a photographer who often travels to Mexico. When contacting the grandparents, the phony grandson will say he’s calling from Mexico, where someone stole his camera equipment and passport.
Common scenarios include:
- A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an e-mail) from a “grandchild.” If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly. Usually, the person claims to be traveling in a foreign country and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, getting in a car accident, or being mugged…and needs money wired ASAP. And the caller doesn’t want his or her parents told.
- Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And we’ve also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice…to further spin the fake tale.
- We’ve also seen military families victimized: after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, a con artist will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money to address.
- While it’s commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.
And, our advice to avoid being victimized in the first place:
- Resist the pressure to act quickly.
- Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
- Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail...especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back.
SECURITY ALERT: U. S. Census Scam
The U.S. Census Bureau goes to great lengths to protect your information. Below are tips to help you.
If you suspect “phishing” or other scams, contact the Regional Office for your state or National Processing Center immediately for verification and further instructions.
Phishing is the criminal act of trying to get your information - usernames, passwords, social security numbers, and bank account or credit card account details - by pretending to be an entity you trust. Phishing e-mails often direct you to a website that looks real, but is fake, and may be infected with malware.
You may be the victim of a scam if someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau asks you for certain information. The Census Bureau never asks for:
- your full Social Security number
- money or donations
- anything on behalf of a political party
- your full bank or credit card account numbers
- your mother’s maiden name
Should you suspect fraudulent activity, please do the following
- if you get mail:
- check that it is an official letter signed by a U.S. Census Bureau director
- if you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form call the Regional Office for your state to verify the household survey. For business surveys please visit our Business Help Site or contact the National Processing Center
- if someone calls your household to complete a survey:
- call the National Processing Center to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee
- if someone visits your residence to complete a survey:
- check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge
- if you are still unsure then call the Regional Office for your state to verify you are in a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee
- if you get an e-mail and think it is bogus:
- do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments
- forward the e-mail or website URL to the Census Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org
- delete the message. We will investigate and notify you of the findings.