Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team
SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Guide: Grandparents ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.
Those Are Not Your Grandchildren! FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov Warns Of New ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.
Grandchildren imposters are managing to finagle a skyrocketing amount of money out of people, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned on Monday.
The FTC says that its Consumer Sentinel Network has noticed a “striking” increase in the median dollar amount that people 70 and older report losing to fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.. When they started to peel back the layers, the Commission found a number of stories that involve people of that age group having mailed “huge” amounts of cash to people who pretended to be their grandchildren.
People from all age groups report having fallen for phony family and friends: the reported median loss for individuals is about $2,000, which is more than four times the median loss of $462 reported for all fraud types.
But that’s nothing compared with how much money is being bled out of the elderly: those who send cash reported median losses of a whopping $9,000. About one in four of the ripped-off elderly who report that they lost money to a family or friend imposterImposter An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. say that they sent cash: a far higher rate than the 1 in 25 of people who sent cash for all other frauds.
CBS News talked to one man who got scammed in a way that the FTC says is a common ploy.
Slick Scam Scripts
It started with a phone call one morning in April, Franc Stratton told the station. The caller pretended to be a public defender from Austin, Texas, who was calling to tell Stratton that his grandson had been in a car wreck, had been driving under the influence, and was now in jail.
Don’t be afraid, the imposter told Stratton: you can bail out your grandson by sending $8,500 in cash via FedEx. It didn’t raise flags for a good reason: Stratton had done exactly that for another family member in the past.
The cherry on top: the “attorney” briefly put Stratton’s “grandson” on the phone. The fake kid sounded injured, so Stratton drove to the bank to get the cash.
“I wrote a check out, and they gave me $8,500 cash in hundreds.”
Stratton went so far as to go to a local FedEx to overnight the money to an Austin address. But later that night, he said, he and his wife looked at each other and said “Scam!”
Fortunately, they came to their senses in time to call FedEx to have the package returned. He got his money back, but Stratton is still frustrated. Of all people, he should know better, he says: he’s retired now after a career spent working in intelligence, first for the Air Force and later as a cybersecurity programmer.
That’s how slick the scammers are, with their meticulously prepared scripts, and it shows that they know exactly how to put people into a panicked state, where they’re likely to make bad decisions. Stratton said he fell for it “because of the way that they scripted it.”
“I’m the last person, I thought, would ever fall for a scam like this.”
The FTC’s Monica Vaca says:
“A lot of people think they won’t fall for it and a lot of people don’t fall for it. But the fact of the matter is that when you get one of these calls, they sound really real. Scammers are very, very good at making you believe that you’ve got an emergency situation on your hands and they have a really powerful way of getting you to act on that.”
The FTC says that Americans have lost $41 million in the scam this year: nearly twice as much as the $26 million loss the year before.
Self-defense for grandparents
These scams are growing more sophisticated as fraudsters do their homework, looking at you and/or your grandkids up on social media to lace their scripts with personal details that make them all the more convincing.
Grandparents, no matter how savvy you are, you’ve got an Achilles heel: your love for your grandchildren. The fakers know exactly how to milk that for all it’s worth.
The FTC warns that they’ll pressure you into sending money before you’ve had time to think it through. The Commission offers this advice to keep the shysters from wringing your heart and your wallet:
- Stop. Breathe. Check it out before you send a dime. Look up your grandkid’s phone number yourself, or call another family member.
- Don’t overshare. Whatever you share publicly on social media becomes a weapon in the arsenals of scammers. The more personal details they know about you, the more convincing they can sound. It’s one of many reasons to be careful about what you share on social media.
- Pass the information on to a friend. Even if you haven’t been targeted yourself, you probably know somebody who’s either already gotten a call like this or who will.
- Report it. The FTC asks us all to please report these scams. US residents can do so online to the FTC. If you’re in the UK, report scams to ActionFraud.
Please do report these scams. Doing so helps the authorities nail these imposters before they can victimize others. See below for how to best report scams!
United States Federal Trade Commission Guidance On Grandparent Scams
New twist to grandparent scamGrandparent Scam Grandparent/Family Emergency Scam - Scammers sometimes prey on grandparents by claiming their family members are in jail or in trouble and need money quickly. They use stolen personal information such as family member names and hometowns to seem more convincing.: mail cash
Median individual losses
In 2018, the Consumer Sentinel Network has seen a striking increase in the median dollar amount that people 70 and over are saying they lost to fraud. Digging into the data, we found some common stories with an unusual twist: people 70 and older report mailing huge amounts of cash to people who pretended to be their grandchildren.
People 70 and over rarely report to the FTC that they paid a scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. with cash. But for one particular type of fraud – family and friend imposters – fully 25% of people 70 and over who reported to the FTC how they paid money told us they sent cash.
We call these family and friend imposter scams, but you may know them as the “grandparent scam” and with good reason. People 70 and over report that the scammer posed as a grandchild, usually a grandson, about 70% of the time.
People from all age groups reported median individual losses of about $2,000 to family and friend imposters – far higher than the median loss of $462 reported to us this year for all fraud types. But the story is much worse for people 70 and over who sent cash – they reported median individual losses of $9,000.
When we looked at fraud reports from all age groups, and from all Sentinel data contributors, we found that aggregate losses to family and friend imposters have increased. Losses over the past year reached $41 million, as compared to $26 million in the previous year.
Like many scams, these start with a phone call using some common ploys. In about half of the reports of cash payments, people said the caller claimed to be in jail or other legal trouble. About a third of these reports mentioned a so-called car accident (some mentioning texting or drinking while driving). In both cases, the callers play on people’s emotions and sense of loyalty: they may be told they’re the only person trusted enough to call for help, and they’re often told not to tell anyone.
These scammers are experts at impersonating people they’ve never even met. Car accident injuries, often broken noses, or uncontrolled sobbing explain away a voice that might not sound quite right. Scammers use personal details from social media sites to make their stories more believable. Or they may simply wait for their target to use a name – “Steve, is that you?” – and take the cue.
According to reports, callers often give very specific instructions about how to send cash. Many people said they were told to divide the bills into envelopes and place them between the pages of a magazine. Then, according to reports, they were told to send them using various carriers, including UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service.
What can you do about these scams? Talk about them. Many people have gotten these calls, so help others know what to do to spot and avoid the scam:
- Don’t act right away, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Call that family member or friend, and make sure you use a phone number that you know is right. Or check it out with someone else in your circle, even if the caller told you to keep it a secret.
- Be careful about what you post on social media. If your personal details are public, someone can use them to defraud you and people who care about you.
If you’ve mailed cash, report it right away to the Postal Service or whichever shipping company you used. Some people have been able to stop delivery by acting quickly and giving a tracking number. Also, tell the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. Learn more about this and other imposter scams at FTC.gov/imposters.
To download a copy of the FTC Spotlight on Grandparent scams Click Here »
A SCARS Division
Miami Florida U.S.A.
– – –
Tell us about your experiences with Romance Scammers in our Scams Discussion Forum on Facebook »
– – –
FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. (www.IC3.gov)
- The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
– – –
Visit our NEW Main SCARS Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.News.And.Information
To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org
Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2018 SCARS All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide – RSN/Romance Scams Now & SCARS/Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated (formerly the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams)
All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2018 SCARS All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.
SCARS, RSN, Romance Scams Now, SCARS|GLOBAL, SCARS, Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams, Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, SCARS|ANYSCAM, Project Anyscam, Anyscam, SCARS|GOFCH, GOFCH, SCARS|CHINA, SCARS|CDN, SCARS Cybercriminal Data Network, Cobalt Alert, Scam Victims Support GroupSupport Group In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated.
Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at legal@AgainstScams.org