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Grandparent Scam
updated: Dec 12, 2012, 1:25 PM

Source: Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department

Emergency or "Grandparent" Scam

Santa Barbara- The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office wants to make everyone aware of the latest "Emergency Scam" or sometimes referred to as the "Grandparent Scam" that has been around for years but, has recently been occurring here in the Santa Barbara area.

We want to warn and caution the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints the Sheriff's Office has received in the last two weeks. In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren. The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. Typically they claim being in a car accident, trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money. Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram or Western Union.

The purpose of this News Release is to educate the public about specific fraudulent marketing and identity theft. If you feel that you have been a victim of this scam, you are encouraged to contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a complaint on their IC3 form, which not only forwards complaints to the appropriate agencies, but it collates and analyzes the data.

Our advice to avoid being victimized in the first place is to 1) resist the pressure to act quickly; 2) try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate; and 3) NEVER wire money based on a request made over the telephone or in an e- mail, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash, once you send it, you cannot get it back.

The Internet Complaint Center website is www.ic3.gov, the procedures and directions for filing a complaint can be made through this website.


Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 353343 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 01:45 PM

Wow the scammers must be really good actors or must do their homework to know the grandchildren's names etc.


 COMMENT 353349 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 01:59 PM

I have an elderly friend that bought into this scam and sent out $10K. The person posed as a grandson with a bad connection (so the name was obscured), coming from Mexico. He stated his parents were traveling and that he couldn't reach them and needed the money to get out of jail.


 COMMENT 353354 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 02:05 PM

I got two of these calls in the last few days. Same guy, same message! The second time I asked for his name. He gave me one and when I told him he had the wrong grandma he said, "This isn't my grandma?" His message was that he was in jail on a DUI, he had rear-ended someone from a foreign country. The DUI was forgiven but he had to repay the foreigners for damages to their car before he could get out of jail. Needless to say, I just hung up.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 02:21 PM

I wish they would call me.


 COMMENT 353376 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 02:39 PM

Some of these scammers get personal details off young peoples' Facebook pages, and they mention stuff that makes them sound legit.


 COMMENT 353387P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 03:06 PM

My Mom was almost scammed this way last year. Supposedly my nephew was locked up in Ecuador on drug possession charges. Mom called his Mom (my sister) in New York who said, "I can't talk right now, Jack is taking >the nephew< to the airport." That's when Mom knew she'd been fooled. Fortunately it was before she had done anything with $.

These scammers are good. The elderly can and do fall for it. Mom had never heard of the scam because she only reads a hardcopy newspaper and watches PBS news. They don't cover this stuff much because everybody knows about it. (Yogi Berra would have said that if he was alive maybe.)


 SHARON93111 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 04:16 PM

This is another reason to stay in contact with your family so you know what your grand kids are doing. It easier now with facebook, e-mail and phones.


 COMMENT 353489 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 07:50 PM

They also get details out of a grandparent's spouses obituary, which is about as low as it gets.


 COMMENT 353545 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 07:23 AM

They are on the email too. I got one today from London via my out-of-state friend's email. Says she, her husband have been mugged and lost all their I. D. and credit cards and need money quick to satisfy the hotel bill and book flights home for her family.


 COMMENT 353547P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 07:27 AM

We used to get these all the time from a real grandchild; thankfully, he's outgrown this phase!


 COMMENT 353549 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 07:30 AM

The scammer might just have to say, "Grandma?", and she probably responds back with one of her granchildren's names. He/she doesn't even have to know that much when they make the call.


 COMMENT 353797 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 06:14 PM

This happened to my godparents in upstate NY. They got a phone call from a young man who just said quietly, "Grandma?" so they then said their teenage grandson's name and therefore gave away the hook. The caller claimed to be in trouble in Ecuador. Since the family does travel a lot, they didn't think it was beyond the realm of possibility and ended up sending thousands of dollars because the fake "grandson" said, "Please don't tell my parents!" So, not a lot of research is needed to pull off this scam. If the call doesn't work, they just move on to the next phone number and try it.


 COMMENT 353807 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 06:44 PM

Terrible that people would take advantage of people like this. But I wonder how many older people don't recognize their own grandchild's voice on the phone.


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