Beware of Grandparent Scams

Posted on

Mar 01, 2011


Florida - Southwest

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Local Law Enforcement is alerting the public about the dramatic increase in grandparent scams being committed in communities across Southwest Florida. The grandparent, granny scam works like this: Someone claiming to be grandchild or other close family member contacts an individual claiming to be in trouble and in need of money. The caller will have information easily obtainable through public records found on the internet such as the grandchilds name, age, sex, address, etc. in order to convince you of their identity and make the story plausible. Often, another person will get on the phone claiming to be a bondsman, law enforcement officer, lawyer to validate the need for the money and to provide information on where and how to send the money. Subsequent calls may be made to verify that the money was sent and to extend a special thank you to Grandma.
Because victims are embarrassed to come forward with personal experiences, it is difficult to know how many people in Florida have been victimized by this scam. However, accounts relating such occurrences are popping up daily in area newspapers. Criminals prey on Florida communities because they are filled with retirees who many times are physically separated from family and vulnerable to a call for help. Unfortunately, once the scam has been committed and money has changed hands, there is little law enforcement can do. These scammers are difficult to trace and prosecute.
If you receive a call or an email from a grandchild or loved one asking for money, stop and think about the situation. Would my grandchild call me in Southwest Florida with a crisis like this? If you are unsure, do your homework. Before sending any money, check the story out. Contact relatives to verify the status and whereabouts of the caller. Get a phone number from the caller and indicate youll call back. If the caller refuses to supply a call back number, then its most likely a scam. Verify the address and phone number to the jail or hospital where your grandchild is supposedly located. Call that agency and verify that your grandchild is there. Contact local law enforcement to assist in locating your grandchild and investigating whether or not you are being victimized in a scam.
If you feel you have been a victim of a grandparent scam, contact your local police department. Other sources of information and support is available by calling the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Floridas Elder Helpline toll-free at 866-413-5337 or LEAPP (Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership), a coalition of Lee County human service providers that promote awareness of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation made possible through a grant awarded to the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer's Resource Center by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. For more information about LEAPP call United Way 211. Every five seconds a person over the age of 60 is abused in some way in the United States. Please use care, caution and vigilance to guarantee prevent abuse and financial exploitation.

This article was submitted by Marilyn Gregory, Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida 239-652-6900 x240,

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