Phone scam targeting grandparents

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Grandparents are often the first to jump to the aid of family members and some scammers are counting on that. Several seniors in Hanover are already victims in this latest scam and have lost thousands of dollars.

Scammers are calling seniors saying they are their grandchildren, and that they are in desperate need of bail money. It turns out they are not related to these grandparents and the money isn't helping anyone stuck behind bars.

Four senior citizens in Hanover County have fallen for a phone scam where someone posed as a grandchild stuck in jail, needing bail money.

"Typically what they'll say is, 'Hi Grandma, hi Grandpa, it's your favorite grandchild and I'm in trouble,'" said Deputy Barry Bland of the Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Scammers are going through the phone book, looking for people with common names for older generations and going after them. Each victim has wired thousands of dollars to help someone they think is their grandchild, only to find out someone else now has their money.

"Once that money leaves and goes into that site, it's gone," Bland said.  "It's almost impossible for us to track that money and to get it back."

Plus, if someone calls saying they need money wired to the Hanover County Sheriff's Office, the department doesn't actually have money wiring services available.

"It just saddens me that in this day and age that people will still try and take advantage of other people," said Mary Creasy, a senior citizens advocate for Senior Connections.

She says double check the information you're getting on the other line before you start sending your money.

"You should make sure that that's really your actual grandson," she said.  "You can ask questions that only your grandson would know like what your dog's name is or things like that because you do want to get the person to make sure they know who they're talking with."

So far these scammers have stolen $20,000 in total from these grandparents.

The Better Business Bureau has a hotline for senior citizens afraid they may be a fraud victim. That number is 804-780-2222.