Weekly Stories from You: Muriel Outwits Grandparent Scammer

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Scammers know how to play on their targets emotions.

One of the worst emotion-exploiting scams is the grandparent scam: a fraudster calls claiming to be a grandchild in trouble – they may say that the car has broken down, or they’ve been robbed, or that they’ve been unjustly arrested. He says money is needed right away. The caller is convincing. He knows facts about the grandchild, and he plays on your urge to help. Muriel from Michigan was nearly a victim of this awful scam. Here’s her story of how she narrowly avoided falling for the grandparent scam:

Several years ago, I received a call from a person saying my grandson needed help with paying a large fine levied by Canada’s Fisheries.  He was being held in jail there until the fine was paid for fishing with two of his friends without a fishing license.  He had asked the caller to call me to see if I would send the money.

I was first alarmed, but almost immediately unbelieving; because they didn’t mention his name, and he didn’t drive or have any friends old enough to drive, didn’t like fishing or have any fishing equipment, and would have called his parents rather than me.  Also, the Canadian Fisheries would have seized their fishing equipment, and not levied a large fine and put them in jail.

I then asked the caller where my grandson was born; and he hung up.  My grandson was adopted, and was born in a foreign country.

I requested I be added to the no-robocalls list, but I am still received those calls in abundance. 

Grandparent-Scam2We’re glad that Muriel didn’t lose money to scammers. She did the right thing by stopping to think and resisting the scammers pressure to act right away. Had she not been able to out the scammer on the call, she might have used this tactic: hang up on the caller and independently verify the caller’s story by calling the grandchild’s parents to verify the child’s whereabouts.

Of course, the best defense would be if these scam robocalls didn’t get through to folks at all. That’s why we – and hundreds of thousands of others – have joined together to call on the phone companies to offer free, effective tools to stop robocalls. Join with us here!

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