Beware of the Grandparent Scam By: V.C. McCabe
Imagine answering your telephone and hearing the sobbing voice of a close, beloved child or grandchild telling you they’re in trouble and desperately need your help. Most loving parents or grandparents wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever and give whatever is necessary to aid a loved one in a crisis.
Now imagine finding out, too late, that the caller was a criminal impersonating your relative just to swindle money from you. That all your ready compassion and generosity, as well as your life’s savings, had been wasted on, and stolen by, a scam.
That is exactly what is happening to many kind-hearted grandparents in our region.
Malicious scammers are preying on West Virginian senior citizens, falsely claiming to be a grandchild with crocodile tears in their voice. Next comes a sob story about being jailed out of state, sometimes with a convincing interruption by another scammer pretending to be a police officer.
The details of the story vary, but the end is always the same: send cash and don’t tell anyone.
The St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) in particular are warning elderly residents about the scam after one grandmother was tricked out of $16,000 and an unrelated grandfather was conned out of $2,500.
Similar scams, such as the IRS scam in which callers demand payement for backtaxes, have been reported in other areas of Kanawha, Putnam and Calhoun counties.
Due to the nature of the cash transactions (often sent as Kmart or Walmart Moneygrams) and the lack of interest by F.B.I. in pursuing such cases, there’s little hope of ever retrieving the victims’ money or bringing the culprits to justice.
Imagine being one of these innocent elderly victims, the shock and shame they feel for being duped out of their retirement savings – a lifetime of hardwork – simply because they tried to help someone they love.
Imagine being one of their equally innocent grandchildren, the shock and guilt they feel learning their grandparent’s love for them was so viciously manipulated as part of this cruel scam.
The SAPD’s press release advises that if anyone calls asking for money, whether for bail or taxes or some other reason, hang-up immediately and verify their story through an independent third party, such as a family member or the local authorities.
Never give out personal information or financial details over the phone and never wire money to someone who calls you unless you can confirm their identity with other family members.
Protect and educate yourself and elderly family members about this and similar scams.