A well publicized scam is still finding victims in Wisconsin. A young voice on the phone says, "Grandpa, this is your grandson. I've had an accident with a rental car in Canada. Please wire $2500. I have to get it fixed. I'll pay you back. Please don't tell mom or dad."
So convincing are these scammers that one Wisconsin grandparent twice wired money and was swindled out of $19,000. The callers were not grandchildren, but people who make money by pretending to be their victim's young loved ones.
Janet Jenkins, Administrator of the Division of Consumer Protection , says that even though this fraud has received public attention, victimized grandparents continue to call the agency's hotline. Jenkins says the fraud's success means it probably will be around for a long time, so it's important for consumers to know how to avoid being caught up in it.
These impostors take advantage of elderly people because they know the special bond that exists between grandparents and grandchildren. Don't be fooled if the caller even knows the name of a real grandchild. You may have inadvertently said it or the caller might have found it somewhere on the Internet, such as your grandchild's Facebook page.
There are some simple steps to take to avoid becoming a victim:
Always be suspicious of anyone asking you to wire money, particularly to a foreign country.
Ask who is calling. Don't assume it's a grandchild just because the caller says so.
Ask the caller some questions that only a real grandchild is likely to be able to answer.
Don't agree to send any money right away. Get a phone number from the caller and say you will call back in a few minutes.
Ignore any request not to call parents. Instead, check with them as soon as possible and before sending any money.
Jenkins says if you ask a lot of questions and say you are going to call the parents, these imposters are very likely going to hang up.