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Aside arrow A grandchild phoning for money: It could be a scam

Who wouldn't help out a grandchild who was in trouble and needed money?

Con artists know that seniors are trusting, caring and generous. In fact, it is these very genuine qualities that tend to make seniors more vulnerable to a scam. And in one scam that has made the rounds, con artists are defrauding seniors all across the country by posing as grandchildren who are in a jam and need some financial help.

In just one day alone in July, three Deltonans, all in their 80s, were taken in by this scam. Their heartbreaking losses totaled $9,000. Here's what you need to know about this scam to avoid becoming its next victim: This particular scam is initiated with a phone call, perhaps to exploit the fact that some seniors suffer from hearing loss.

"Hi, is this grandma?" the caller says. Momentarily confused, the victim may not exactly recognize the voice, but may assume they are talking to a grandchild. Using the name of one of their grandchildren, the victim may even say something to the caller like: "Is that you, Johnny?" When the caller responds "yes," the hook has been set and the scam is in full motion.

Next, the caller will say that he is in some unspecified trouble and needs money -- not a check, but cash, and they need it right away. The victim will be asked to go to the bank and withdraw the funds and then return home, and a friend will stop by to pick up the money.

At this point, several red flags should go up warning that this could be a scam. For instance:

  • It should send up a warning flag when someone, even a family member, won't accept a check and instead demands cash. 
  • Again, it should send up a warning flag when someone, even a family member, sends another person to your home to pick up money.
  • Generally, the callers are vague about the details or exact nature of their financial problem, which should serve as a sign that they might have something to hide.
  • Also, the caller's instructions include a common element of most scams - secrecy. The caller asks the victim not to tell anyone about the conversation or the loan.

Unfortunately, the criminals working this particular scam are very smooth and convincing, and the three Deltona victims failed to pick up on any of the warning signs. All three went to the bank as requested, withdrew the money and came home. A short while later, a woman came to their doors, saying they were a friend of the victims' grandchildren and were there to pick up the money.

After waiting hours, or in some cases days, all three victims called their grandchildren to ask if they had received the money. Naturally, the grandchildren didn't know anything about the money, and the victims realized they had been scammed and called the Sheriff's Office.

Get fooled by this scam, and it will be costly. If you receive a call like this, there are several things you can do. First, tell the person claiming to be your grandchild that you must go and that you will call them right back. Then, call your grandchild to find out whether this is a scam. Or you can simply hang up the phone.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352

Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151

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