Scammers have convinced Ohio grandparents to send hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the country through the “grandparent scam,” where scammers pose as a grandchild in trouble and call grandparents asking for money.
With many Ohioans taking spring vacations, the scam could be particularly believable this time of year.
For example, if grandparents know their college-aged grandson is on spring break, they might believe a scammer who calls and says the grandson is in trouble in Mexico and needs money immediately.
When grandparents answer the phone, scammers often say “Hi Grandma” or “Hi Grandpa,” tricking grandparents into thinking their grandchild really is calling.
Since 2011, dozens of Ohio consumers have reported losing money to the scam, with an average loss of about $5,700. The money typically is sent via wire transfer to a foreign country, such as Canada or the United Kingdom. In recent months, victims say they sent the money to Peru, Spain, or Mexico.
Protect Your Family
The more scammers know about their potential victims, the more believable the scam can be. To help protect yourself and your family members, follow these Do’s and Don’ts:
• Don’t post travel plans online. Scammers could use that information to know when to contact family members.
• Do call your family members to tell them exactly where you’re going and when.
• Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can disguise the number that appears on your caller ID using a practice called “spoofing.”
• Do warn your family members about scams. Tell them not to trust callers who ask for money sent via wire transfer.
When in doubt, grandparents should ask callers 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.
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