When a loved one calls and says they are in trouble, it’s natural to want to help. But there is a reason to be hesitant, and it involves a scam that has been hitting seniors across the nation.
One example is found in what happened to Carolyn Hitchcock of Edmond, Oklahoma. She recieved a call from someone who said he was her grandson and needed help, reported KFOR.
Hitchcock explained why she believed the caller: “His laugh was just like [Landon’s], so I was convinced it was him.”
The man said he’d been injured in an accident, was arrested for drunk driving following the funeral of a friend in Florida, and needed bail money.
Naturally, Hitchcock was concerned and followed his instructions for how to wire $1,800 to him. However, when she got to the store, the cashier who was helping her caught on to the fact that Hitchcock was probably being scammed.
HItchcock realized then she’d been duped and shared some advice with KFOR. “Ask him what his name is,” she said. “He didn’t say a name.”
She added there was another dead giveaway: “He called me grandma and my grandkids call me granny.”
While these kinds of differences should flag for anyone who is naturally a suspicious person, it can be difficult when emotions are involved — which is exactly what these scam artists are counting on. KFOR offered up their own advice, as well.
Tips included asking questions only a grandchild would know, such as the name of a pet or when you last saw each other. They also issued a warning, noting that “…using a pre-paid debit card or wiring money is just like sending cash. It’s almost impossible to trace or get back.”
Months ago, WKBW TV reported on a Lancaster, New York, woman who was hit with an almost identical scam. The caller claimed to be her grandson, in Baltimore following the funeral of a friend.
He, too, said he was in trouble. And what faster way to tug at a grandmother’s heartstrings than to suggest that her beloved grandchild is struggling?
Unfortunately for him, his strong southern accent gave him away as a stranger and Rose Kuznicki called him out on his scam before he got the part where he was going to ask for money.
The con is being referred to as the “Hey Grandma” scam, and perhaps you have heard of it — or, worse, know someone who has been a target.
Kuznicki advises that people never give out information on the phone. When WKBW attempted to call back the number the scam call came from, they were repeatedly met with a busy signal.
KFOR suggested that anyone with a senior in their life sit down and talk to them about things such as the “Hey Grandma” scam. It’s tragic that people are preying on the elderly, manipulating them out of their hard-earned money through lies and deceit.
It’s important to share tips with them on how to avoid being scammed so — like Kuznicki and Hitchcock — they can avoid losing large amounts of much-needed cash, as well as their dignity from being conned.
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