BBB Warns About "Grandparent" Phone Scam Hitting Our Area

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Updated: 12/05/2013 9:31 am
The Better Business Bureau office serving Central and Eastern Kentucky is warning of a phone scam some senior citizens have reported.

The suspicious callers allege to be a grandchild in some sort of legal trouble and say they need money wired to help.
According to the BBB, a Lexington grandmother received a call from a young man claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Chicago.  She said his voice sounded "different" as if he had a cold.  He said he had been arrested after a car accident because he'd been drinking.  He even put another man on the line, his "attorney," to back up the story and explain how her help was needed.  She grew very suspicious, hung up, and called her grandson at his home, where he was the whole time.
The BBB says a Somerset grandmother described a similar scenario.  She received a call from a female who said she was her granddaughter and that she had been arrested in Mexico and needed her to wire $1,200 to cover the bail. Luckily, this woman was smart enough to end the call and call her real granddaughter to find that she was safe and sound at home.
The scam is not new, according to the BBB, but grandparents may be more likely to believe it during the holidays, since people are traveling more for school breaks or holiday vacations.
There are various ways con artists find their targets. Here are some tips from the BBB for senior citizens and their families to avoid this scam:
        -Be cautious about how much information you put on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Con artists have been known to scour those sites for personal details to make their stories more credible when trying to convince the grandparent.
        -Ignore pleas of "don't call Mom or Dad." You may want to help out your grandchild, but that is the classic request from a con artist pulling this scam.  Call the child's home or cell phone and verify his or her current location.
        -Have a secret "password" or question to ask that only a family member would know. (Ex: Where did you go to elementary school?  What was your first pet's name?)

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