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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2011 > Don’t let your family fall prey to “grandparent scams”

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Don’t let your family fall prey to “grandparent scams”


Grandparents across the state are continuing to lose money to scam artists posing as grandchildren.

Since January, the Attorney General’s Office has received dozens of reports of grandparent scams from consumers across the state. In some cases, victims lose $10,000 or more.

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. Posing as grandchildren, the scammers claim that they are stuck in another country and need money. They may say, “Please, Grandma, don’t tell my mom or dad. Let’s keep this between us.”

A Southeast Ohio consumer received a phone call from someone pretending to be her granddaughter. The caller claimed she was in jail in Mexico and needed $5,800 to be released. Thinking her granddaughter was in trouble, the grandmother wired the $5,800. After sending the money, the grandmother received additional calls asking for more money. In all, she sent $14,600. Later, she realized it was a scam; her real granddaughter was still in the U.S.

During the summer months, 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 yourself and your family:

  • Tell your loved ones about the grandparent scam.
  • Never wire transfer money to someone who calls unexpectedly, even if the caller claims to be a grandchild or other family member.
  • Ask callers questions that only your real family members would know how to answer.
  • When in doubt, hang up and call another family member.
  • Create a code word that only family members know to use in an emergency.
  • Encourage your family not to post upcoming travel plans online.


Report a scam to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office

File a consumer complaint

Request a free consumer awareness workshop

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