The grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts. Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of “Hi grandma, do you know who this is?”
When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having to do any background research. Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.) to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”
While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetuated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission found that instead of using wire transfer or gift cards, an increasing number of older adults are mailing cash to these fraudsters, with a median individual loss of $9,000. According to reports, the scammers often ask seniors to divide the bills into envelopes and place them between the pages of a magazine, then send them using various carriers, including UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service.
The FTC warns that if you or loved one receives one of these calls, don’t act right away. Call that grandchild back on a correct phone number and verify their whereabouts. If you’ve mailed cash, report it right away to the Postal Service or shipping company you used. Some people have been able to stop delivery by acting quickly and giving a tracking number.
Be sure to also file a complaint to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. Just this week alone we had a senior send over $8,000, which was intercepted by the mailing service and is in the process of being returned.
May 16. Family disturbance: The out-of-state parent receives a disturbing phone call and requests our assistance at 4:23 a.m. in the 800 block of Avenue A.
Petty theft: The customer can’t explain the 22 items hidden inside their clothing at 8:03 p.m. in the 800 block of Buchanan Boulevard.
Thought for the day: Kudos to the customers and employees who assisted in making sure the miscreant was available to meet the officers in person.
May 17. DUI: The driver explains that certain herbal products just produce the urge to drink alcohol at 2:23 a.m. in the area of Buchanan and Adams boulevards.
DUI: The speed is the first issue but the blood alcohol content soon tops the list of concerns at 11:25 a.m. in the area of Interstate 11 at mile marker 8.
Thought for the day: Clearly, with or without herbal enhancement, driving while imbibing (or shortly thereafter) is not a good choice.
May 18. Assist other: Officers are dispatched to assist with a motorcyclist down on the roadway with moderate injuries at 10:17 a.m. in the area of mile marker 37 on U.S. Highway 95.
Assist other: Officers are summoned to assist with an intoxicated subject dressed only in a blanket at 7:53 p.m. in the 900 block of Adams Boulevard.
Thought for the day: Some days the best we can hope for is to run from one issue to the next.
May 19. Possession of a dangerous weapon: The call begins as a subject with a knife and ends up a convicted felon with a sword and firearm at 5:08 p.m. in the 800 block of Nevada Way.
Family disturbance: The story and the evidence are in direct contradiction to each other at 7:43 p.m. in the 900 block of Nevada Way.
Thought for the day: Today was a real doozy.
May 20. Theft: The caller wants to report both license plates have been taken from their vehicle at 11:44 p.m. in the 500 block of Cindertree Lane.
Suspended driver’s license: The driver has a suspended driver’s license, expired license plates and no proof of insurance at 1:26 p.m. in the 600 block of Avenue M.
Thought for the day: The caller is advised the plate status is suspended and they were removed and returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
May 21. Trespass: The officer is flagged down and given an “interesting” story that turns out to be fictitious and earns an official trespass from the location at 4:49 p.m. in the 600 block of Avenue B. Attempt to locate: Officers are able to assist locating a distraught individual and transported to get badly needed assistance at 7:26 p.m. in the area of Railroad Pass.
Thought for the day: The only way to know if certain people are lying is if they’re talking.
May 22. Juvenile disturbance: A report is received of a juvenile in the tree being hit with sticks at 12:43 p.m. in the 1400 block of Marita Drive.
Suspicious vehicle: A very expensive vehicle appears to have been rolled at 7:12 p.m. in the area of mile marker 53 on U.S. 95.
Thought for the day: The kids assure officers their game of “human pinata” is really very fun (unless you’re the one in the tree).
Call of the week: Suspicious: The report of the young male with his pants pulled down is soon resolved when the youngster explains the pants are new and way too big at 4:52 p.m. May 20 in the 800 block of Montera Lane.
Tina Ransom is a dispatcher with Boulder City Police Department. She is coordinator of the Boulder City Citizen’s Academy.