BOSTON (CBS) – According to the Better Business Bureau, the “Grandparent Scam” has been around a while but is still widespread. A grandparent receives a call from their grandchild/niece/nephew that they are traveling abroad and have gotten themselves into a trouble where they need money right away.

They may tell the grandparent they have been in an accident or their passport, phone and money has been stolen or worse they have been arrested. And they don’t want mom or dad to find out about it for they didn’t want them to go in the first place. It’s too embarrassing. So please don’t tell anyone about it.

There is so much personal information about people on the various social media pages like Facebook or Twitter that a cunning thief can create a believable story to fool the relative into thinking that they really are speaking with the grandchild or the nephew in trouble. A scammer can easily find out what school the grandkids attend and even what you may have given them for Christmas.

These calls often come in the middle of the night, waking up the grandparent.  There is a cackling noise over the phone so it’s hard to hear the person making the call and it’s hard to recognize the caller’s voice.

Now of course grandparents want to help their grandkids. Most would do anything for them, so the next morning they’d head out to Western Union to wire them the money they need. It’s only later that they’ll find out they’ve been scammed.

The best way to dodge this scam is to never wire emergency money until you do some homework. Even though the instructions were not to contact other family members, do so to find out where the grandkids are. Call the grandkid, or other family members to find out if the person in dire need of money is really traveling. More often than not, the answer will be no.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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