March 10, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster today warned Missouri senior citizens about a scam aimed at swindling grandparents out of their savings. He said since the scam started, his office has received 82 complaints, and consumer losses for Missouri seniors have reached more than $180,800.
Koster said the scammers call unsuspecting senior citizens, posing as their grandchild. The caller will say he has been in an accident, is in jail-most often for drunk driving-or that he is in some other kind of trouble. Koster said the caller often says he is in Canada and asks the grandparent to wire money. Koster said one anxious Missouri grandparent wired more than $20,000 after receiving a call from her "grandson" saying that he had been arrested for DWI in Canada and needed her to send money.
Koster said that consumer complaints to his office indicate the callers have an uncanny amount of personal information about the family and use that information to convince the grandparent that the call is authentic.
Koster traveled to the South Side Senior Center in Springfield Tuesday, to warn senior citizens about the grandparent scam as well as other scams going around Missouri. Wednesday morning, the Attorney General's office received a call from a grandfather who saw a report about the visit on a Springfield television station, and recognized that he had just been a victim of the grandparents scam. Fortunately, the grandfather was able to stop the wire transfer of $2,500 before the money was picked up by the scammers on the other end.
"It is unconscionable that these scammers pull on a grandparent's heartstrings to con them out of thousands of dollars," Koster said. "I urge anyone receiving such a call to check with family members to confirm whether the call is a hoax. And be very cautious if asked to send money to Canada or overseas - that should send up an immediate red flag. If you feel suspicious at all, report the call to the police and call Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222."
Koster is issuing a "scam of the day alert" each day this week as part of National Consumer Protection Week.