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Privacy & Security USA > Alerts > Emergency or “Grandparent” Scam

Emergency or “Grandparent” Scam

The “Emergency Scam” (sometimes called the “Grandparent Scam”) is not new, but after seeing an increase in occurrences, we are reminding our clients to be aware of this scam and to warn their relatives.

Traditionally, fraudsters contact potential victims while posing as a family member or friend in urgent need of cash. Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest while travelling abroad, with a request that cash be sent through a money transfer company, such as Western Union or Money Gram.
 
In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from a con-artist pretending to be their grandchildren. The caller says that they are in trouble, usually a car accident, returning from a foreign country, or even in jail and need money immediately.

A typical call can go something like this:

Con-artist: Hi, Grandma/Grandpa
Victim: Hi.
Con-artist: Do you know who this is?
Victim: John?
Con-artist: Yeah

Victims don't verify the story until after the money has been sent as the caller specifically asks “Can you please help me? I'm in jail (or in the hospital / or in some type of financial need). But don't tell Dad. He would kill me if he found out, please sent the money ASAP. I'm scared".  

Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends the money requested.
 
Variations on the scam are an old neighbor, a friend of the family etc. but predominantly the emergency scam is directed toward the Grandparents. 

Recently, compromised contact lists from hijacked email accounts have been used to send potential victims an “urgent” email request for money, from a friend or relative with whom they have a correspondence. Common themes continue to be hospitalization or imprisonment while away from home. The friend or relative is unaware that their account has been used to send out these requests to everyone on their contact list.

Call to Action

If you have received a request for money, take measures to verify the requestor’s identity and the legitimacy of their story before you complete the transaction. If you suspect you may be a victim of this or any type of fraud Contact Us.