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Authorities Warn: 'Grandparent Scam' Is Back

Feb 22, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission says around one-third of financial exploitation complaints last year came from seniors. One of the top complaint reported to the Senate Aging Committee Fraud Hotline includes what's called grandparent scams.

And AARP reports that the grandparent scam is back in force. This is where con artists identify an elderly person just by random calls, or because they've gathered somewhat intimate detail through social media.  Hillsborough County Sheriff's Detective Larry McKinnon says there's no shortage of grifts to try to separate people from their money.

“We've had scams such as I'm holding your loved one hostage, wire me money, they've beed arrested I need bail money, you have a warrant for your arrest, you need to send cash to make the warrant go away, IRS fraud, scams that we've heard,” McKinnon said.

McKinnon advises family members of elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, who still live on their own, to get on joint accounts with those vulnerable family members. Perhaps set up a daily withdrawal limit of $150.00.  And flag the account so you’re alerted should that limit be breached.  And if you have an elderly neighbor or work with the elderly and suspect someone might be taking advantage of them, he says, reach out to police. 

According to Stetson Law, the elderly are often targeted for several reasons:  because the criminals think they are easily confused, because they make poor witnesses and because they are unlikely to report a crime.  So if you ever get a call demanding money right away, don't be afraid to just hang up.

The Federal Trade Commission says around one-third of financial exploitation complaints last year came from seniors. One of the top complaint reported to the Senate Aging Committee Fraud Hotline includes what's called "grandparent scams."