|Debbie Pecor, Senior Paralegal|
As a grandmother, I love when my grandchildren call just to talk. To think that they took time out of their day to give me a call to see how I am doing or tell me how their day is going just warms my heart.
I am, however, seeing a trend in clients who say that they or their child’s grandparent received a phone call from “their” child or grandchild who identifies himself by name, may even say what school she is in, or may say that he or she is in a foreign country on a trip with friends and he’s in a lot of trouble and “needs money quick!” And if they are calling the grandparent, they also say, “Please don’t tell Mom or Dad; they will be so mad that I got into trouble!” They call their grandparent by name (Granny, Grampa, Poppie, Nana, etc.). Or it could even be someone claiming to be a police officer saying that your grandchild is in trouble, or had a bad accident, or any type of story that will pull at your heart-strings. What is the first thing we want to do??? Jump into action, of course.
The instructions almost always include that the money transfer needs to be done through PayPal in smaller increments (usually $500 or less) and asks the grandparent to make as many transfers as it takes to equal the amount of money they need. The caller may also ask the grandparent to send the money in their “friend’s” name because there is no way for them to pick it up. DON’T DO IT!!!!!! Call your grandchild and be sure that they are okay before you do anything!!!! And after that, call the police! In one instance, a very nice police officer called the grandchild and had him talk to his grandfather and assure him that he was okay, BEFORE the money was sent (thanks to a very smart clerk at the store where the cards were being purchased who continued to ask the grandparent if she could call the police and the grandparent finally agreed).
How did they know what to call you, and all that information that a grandparent thinks only their grandchild would know???? In most cases, from the grandchild’s cell phone that lists “Grandpa” or “Nana” as the contact name. The rest they can get from your grandchild’s Facebook page. Technology that was supposed to make it easier for us to keep in contact is being used by scammers.
Please don’t let your grandparents be victims. If your cell phone lists your grandparent(s) by the name you call them, please change it to their first name with no mention of how they are related to you.
To those clerks who are helping elderly clients use PayPal, it doesn’t hurt to be a little wary. If a customer has never used PayPal or Green Dot or whatever they are buying for the first time, ask them why they chose to use it now. Let’s help each other not to be taken advantage of by people who are too lazy to work and would rather scam someone out of their hard-earned money.