The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning of a 'Grandparent Fraud Scheme' that has accounted for the highest losses in 2020.
In this scheme, the criminal actors will call their elderly victims impersonating a grandchild, family member, or legal representative of the family member, and notify them that they have been arrested and are in need of bail money. A courier will then go in-person to pick up the money from the victim's residence.
According to the FBI, from January 2020 to June 2021, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 650 reports of potential grandparent scams, resulting in more than $13 million in losses. Over 90 of those victims reported money was picked up from their home, resulting in losses of more than $3.6 million.
Below are some tips provided by the FBI on how to avoid these type of scams:
- Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites for targeting purposes.
- Be suspicious of telephone calls that require you to immediately take action and request bail money for a family member in distress. Contact the family member directly for confirmation.
- Be careful with caller IDs that look familiar. Scammers may use technology to disguise the actual number they are calling from (“spoof”) and make it appear as a trusted number.
- Never give personal identifiable information or money to anyone you have only communicated with by telephone or online.
If you believe you have been a victim of a grandparent fraud scheme, report it to your local police and to the FBI HERE.