ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Experts say a scam targeting older people is on the rise in Genesee and Monroe counties. It’s called the “grandparent scam,” and involves tricking the victim into thinking they’re on the phone with a family member in the middle of an emergency.
Experts say they’re seeing an increase in the past six months as people spend more time inside their homes, sitting by the phone.
Justin McCabe with Lifespan Fraud Prevention Department says the victim gets a call from the scammer, and it usually starts out with them asking, “Do you know who this is?”
The victim usually replies, asking if it’s their grandson or granddaughter, to which the scammer plays along. They describe a situation where they need of help, in a car accident, and in need of money.
Then, another scammer gets on the phone pretending to be law enforcement.
“It will start off as, ‘grandma I’m in jail, I need bail money, then the next person will get on the phone, they’re either the police officer, lawyer, they secure a later court date so the grandchild doesn’t go to jail if they can produce the money,” said McCabe.
If the victim falls for this, McCabe says they can lose up to $100,000 dollars or more.
“Many times, especially with this scam, they will scam and then call back after they received the money and say, guess what bail went up,” he said.
These scammers are usually from out of the country, sometimes operating in full call centers.
So how can you protect your older family members from getting in the middle of these scams on the rise?
McCabe says education is important, let them know these scammers are out there, and come up with a code word so they will always know it’s you on the phone.
“Ask them a question only they would know the answer to, to verify it is them,” he said.
McCabe says if this happens to you, you need to file a police report right away.
“Most of the laws for the banks and different financial institutions are triggered in order for them to actually investigate, and be able to do something to protect, and put fraud alerts on,” he said. “You can also file a report affidavit with the FTC.”
Lifespan does one on one case management for those ages 60 and over who have been victims of these scams. They help them get their identity back, and recover their losses. McCabe says the process of securing back your identity can sometimes take up to a year.