(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned today that grandparents across the state are losing money to scam artists posing as grandchildren.
“It is reprehensible that scam artists are targeting Ohio grandparents,” said Attorney General DeWine. “This is a particularly disturbing scam, in which con artists take advantage of grandparents’ generosity and concern for their families. They pretend to be a grandchild and ask the grandparent to send money usually to another country.”
Since January 10, the Attorney General’s Office has received more than 30 reports of grandparent scams from consumers across the state.
In a typical grandparent scam, con artists call grandparents and say, “Hi Grandma” or “Hi Grandpa,” tricking grandparents into believing that their grandchild really is calling. The scammers then make up a story explaining that they are stuck in another country and need money. They often ask the grandparents not to tell the child’s parents about the situation. For example, they may say, “Please, Grandma, don’t tell my mom or dad. Let’s keep this between us.”
A Trumbull County consumer received a phone call from someone pretending to be her grandson. He claimed he was in Canada with a friend and said they had been picked up by the police. He asked her to send $3,200 via wire transfer so that he could be released. After she sent the money, she discovered her real grandson had never been in Canada.
“We want to protect Ohio families from this scam, especially as we approach the spring and summer months, when many families take vacations,” DeWine said. “Scam artists may check social networking websites to learn about someone’s vacation plans and then contact that person’s grandparents pretending to be the real grandchild.”
To protect themselves and their family members, Ohioans should avoid posting travel information online and remember never to wire transfer money to someone who calls unexpectedly, even if the caller claims to be a grandchild or other family member.
When in doubt, grandparents should ask the caller a question that only their real family members would know how to answer. They also can consider creating a code word that only family members know to use in an emergency.
For more information or to report a scam, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 1-800-282-0515.