Major R. Christopher West
Troop G Commander
The New York State Police in Clifton Park are warning citizens of a scam that preys on grandparents after receiving multiple calls on what is known as the “Grandparent Scam” or “Family Emergency Scam”. These scams usually involve someone calling to claim that someone’s grandchild or other relative has been arrested and a bail bondsman needs to be paid immediately. Another scam currently used attempts to convince the victim that a relative was involved in a serious accident and money is needed for medical payments. These scams ask for large sums of money transferred in unusual ways devoid of any face-to-face interaction. Once these thieves have extracted money they may also call back and try to get more.
The New York State Police offer the following tips to protect against the Grandparent Scam:
- Take a pause. Scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victims’ emotions and their love for family members.
- Verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before sending money. This is especially important if a potential victim has been warned not to do so.
- A grandparent may think they would know whether they were speaking to their own grandchild or to an imposter, but it is easy to be fooled. The caller may be crying or the background may be noisy, or the caller may claim the connection is bad.
- If the caller purports to be a bail bondsperson, ask where the relative is being held and contact the facility directly. Grandparents can also call their local police department, where officers may be able to call the jail and confirm the story.
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking to be sent money.
- Never send cash through the mail.
- Never purchase pre-paid debit cards or gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.
- Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify the identity of family members over the phone.
- Ask a question that only the real grandchild would know the answer to, such as “what was the name of your first pet?”
- Set Facebook and other social media settings to private to limit information available to scammers, such as the name of grandchildren.
Additional information about the Grandparent Scam can be found on the FTC.gov website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/scammers-use-fake-emergencies-steal-your-money