Con artists getting cleverer with ‘grandparent scam’

Grandparent Scam
Grandparent scam swindling elderly out of money

COLUMBUS - Scammers are getting trickier by the day when it comes to keeping senior citizens on the phone while trying to steal their life savings.

“They are elderly, and the older the better for the scammer,” says Sgt. Dennis Kline who works in the fraud and forgery unit at the Columbus Division of Police.

Sgt. Kline says he realized the grandparent scam was making the rounds again in Columbus when a worker at a major retail store’s money order counter told him about some suspicious behavior.

“The worker said, ‘we've had three cases already today of people coming in wanting to bail out their grandchildren’” recalls Sgt. Kline. He says he tried to tell the customers they were getting scammed.

“A gentleman about in his 80s that I approached in uniform, I explained to him I was in the fraud and forgery unit, I was familiar with this scam but we just could not convince him,” he says.

The scam involves someone calling and claiming your grandchild is in danger or arrested. The caller uses clever tricks to make sure you don’t catch on that this is a scam.

“Often times they'll hand the phone off to a second party on the phone, alleging that's the attorney and that serves the purpose of getting a different voice on there so they don't continue to question whether this is my grandchild's voice,” explains Sgt. Kline.

He goes on to say that sometimes, the scammers will even go as far as arranging taxi transportation for grandparents to get to the location where they can get the money orders.

“We’re talking thousands of dollars,” says Sgt. Kline about the amount of money some people have lost. “I had one situation where a couple called me on the phone and they had sent $10,000.”

Sgt. Kline says the best way to protect your elderly loved ones is to keep your eye on their finances and have a conversation. Explain to them the nature of the scam and the different techniques scammers often use.

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