Sacto 9-1-1
November 20, 2008
'Grandma Scam' again targets seniors in area, nationwide

Beware of the "Grandma, I need your help/Grandma, I'm in trouble" scam, warn two area women who this week contacted Sacto 911.

An Auburn woman said she fell victim to the scam, which cost her $5,400. A Carmichael woman said she was asked for $8,100, but she ended up not sending the money.

Here, in general, is how the scam works: A caller phones area seniors and immediately states, "Grandma, I need your help," or "Grandma, I am in trouble." The panicked grandmother then is asked to send money via Moneygram for bail or for airplane tickets home. Even after asking several questions and being skeptical, some victims try to send the money. Sacto 911 posted similar stories about this scam in May and August. In the first case, the woman was talked out of sending the funds by a store employee where she had gone to send the Moneygram.

"Law enforcement officials are not certain how perpetrators are obtaining phone numbers for so many senior citizens across the U.S. However, it is believed that scammers are most likely calling random numbers until they happen to reach a senior citizen," Better Business Bureau officials report in an Internet post.

An Internet search shows the scam is being attempted nationwide.

"This scam is just despicable because it preys on the emotions of seniors who want nothing more than to ensure the safety of their grandchildren," said Tim Burns, a BBB spokesman, in a bureau post in the Detroit area. "The key to avoiding this scam is to remain calm despite the 'emergency' nature of the call and to verify the identity of the caller."

The Auburn woman wanted to share her tale as a warning to other seniors. She is not being identified because she was a scam victim. Here is her story:

Cautionary story.doc

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