April 29, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Jay Nixon says a central Missouri man was almost conned out of $8,000 this week by someone claiming to be his grandson. The man was prepared to wire the money to the caller, but he was warned by an employee at the wire transfer office that it could be a scam.
Nixon says it's a trick that's been around for years called the "grandparents scam," and warns seniors in the Show-Me state to be on the lookout.
In the typical scenario, grandparents get a call from someone who says he or she is - and may even sound like - one of their grandchildren. The caller describes being in a jam and needing money - perhaps to return from a foreign country, for car repairs or to be bailed out of jail, which was the case in central Missouri this week. Wanting to help their grandchildren, the seniors are then asked to send money, often by wire transfer, to the caller.
"This is among the cruelest scams we've seen," Nixon said. "It attempts to play upon the love and generosity seniors have for their grandchildren, and it does nothing more than take away the hard-earned savings many of these folks can not afford to lose."
In the most recent case, the caller claimed to be jailed while on vacation in Canada. He said he needed bail money. After talking to the authorities and making some phone calls, the grandparents learned that their grandson was perfectly safe at his home in the U.S.
Nixon warns grandparents who get such calls to first do some verification of their grandchildren's whereabouts. Nixon also reminds consumers that a request for a wire transfer, especially to Canada, is a red flag for fraud. Wiring money is one of the most common ways consumers lose money to con artists.