Alaska Attorney General Warns of “Grandparent Scam” Targeting Seniors
February 29, 2012, Anchorage, Alaska - The Consumer Protection Unit of the Alaska Attorney General’s Office has recently received increased reports from victims of a “grandparent” scam targeting elderly Alaskans. Scammers have been calling grandparents in Alaska posing as grandchildren injured in car accidents in different countries. The callers, who often claim they sound different due to broken noses or other injuries, say they are in the hospital or jail and pressure grandparents to wire thousands of dollars through Western Union to pay medical bills or damages so they can return home. They often persuade grandparents not to talk to other family members about the “grandchild’s” need for help. Unfortunately, by the time the victims realize they were contacted as part of a scam the money is long gone.
There are other variations of this imposter scam, including instances where the caller knows detailed information about the person’s family. The scam is not limited to grandparents; callers may claim to be friends, nieces, nephews or other family members. The callers are usually overseas, using untraceable cell phones and fake identification. Scammers often request payment through wire transfer, because once the money is sent it cannot be recovered.
“Regardless of the details, these types of scams take advantage of the love and concern people have for family members, and the consequences can be devastating,” said Attorney General Michael Geraghty.
The Consumer Protection Unit advises anyone who receives this type of call to hang up and not send any money. If there is any question that a relative may be in need of assistance, check with family members to verify the information.