‘Grandparent fraud’ scam rises

Continued occurrences of “grandparent fraud” where scammers try to take advantage of elderly residents in town has prompted the Greenwich Police Department to offer tips to avoid becoming a victim.

The most recent local case of attempted grandparent fraud took place on Aug. 6 when a town resident and grandmother received a call from a man claiming to be her 16-year-old grandson. The man told the victim a story of how he’d been out of state and that after a motor vehicle accident had been arrested and needed bail money.

The victim immediately became suspicious because her alleged grandson used a generic term for “grandmother” and not the one commonly used by her family. Police said the woman astutely realized it was a scam and terminated the call. She then made direct contact with her grandson and found he was safe with his mother. No money was ever sent.

The Greenwich Police Department and many other departments across the country often receive complaints very similar to this scam. Each scam includes some sort of the following tale being told: A loved one is in danger or in a hospital or under arrest, the incident occurred overseas or where the subject attends school or where they had been on vacation, or the money needs to be wired immediately so assistance can be given and the callback numbers given to the victim originate out of country.

Officers are warning residents who receive a call similar to the Aug. 6 incident or who receive a letter stating they have won the lottery and need to send money to collect the prize, not to send any money. Instead, a call to the loved one should be initiated directly. Residents should be mindful that any call or letter stating a need to act immediately or to travel to a certain location to wire the money are all red flags, according to police.

In almost every case, the call recipient is being scammed and will never see the money again, police said. There is also little chance of an arrest being made. Scams wherein the perpetrator takes advantage of the trusting nature of an elderly grandparent are not new and are very common. These thieves are preying on compassion and trustworthiness.

The Greenwich Police Department asks that everyone share this information with seniors they know so they don’t become victims of a similar type of scam.


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