Chesterfield grandparents lose $100,000 in social media scam - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Chesterfield grandparents lose $100,000 in social media-fueled scam


A scam targeting grandparents is circulating in the Central Virginia area, according to the region's Better Business Bureau. Con artists drained $100,000 from an elderly couple in Chesterfield.

Better Business Bureau investigators say scammers are using social media to collect as much personal information as possible, like nicknames or hobbies. They use these details to help create a convincing story to manipulate unsuspecting loved ones.

Nearly all the life savings of Gail Waters' father and mother is now gone.

"(The scam) wiped out everything," said Waters, whose parents emptied their bank accounts and used all the equity on their home.

Thieves contacted Waters' parents, who are both well over 80 years old. They pretended to be the couple's adult grandson and his attorneys. The band of con artists pleaded for money, to save him from an alleged legal mess involving a car accident and foreigners. The elderly pair ultimately wired more than $100,000 to Hong Kong.

The con artists concocted a story laced with intimate details, likely learned from social media. They somehow even knew the name of the grandson's insurance company.

"What we want to do is have folks be very cautious about the information put out on Facebook. Don't tell people too many personal things," said Tom Gallagher, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia.

The Better Business Bureau also recommends making your settings as private as possible, so outsiders can't see your posts or who you're connected to.   

"(Thieves) just start tracking through friends, and it just opens up a whole pod of possibilities," continued Gallagher.
"My father is not an uneducated man. He's highly intelligent," added Waters, of her father, a former architect. "He would do anything for his family, and he was just helping his grandson."

The Better Business Bureau reports that most of the money conned away from victims isn't recovered.

Waters is also upset that the bank didn't warn her parents about potential scams when they made the wire transfer for a huge sum of money to a foreign country..

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