‘Tis the season for turkey, tinsel and toys. Unfortunately, all too often it’s the season for scams, as well.
Last week’s headlines told the story of an 82-year old Tampa woman who apparently fell for a “grandparent scam” and lost over $700,000.
This is one of the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors, according to the National Council on Aging.
Someone phones pretending to be the victim’s grandchild, and claims to need money urgently as the result of an accident or arrest. The grandchild’s supposed “attorney” then gets on the phone and asks the victim to withdraw cash from her bank account to make the problem go away, instructing her to lie to bank personnel if they ask the reason behind the massive withdrawals, and to say that the cash is simply for “home improvements.”
The recent Tampa victim did make multiple bank withdrawals to the tune of more than $700,000. Couriers came to her house to pick up the cash and deliver it to the fraudsters.
The Takeaway: These so-called “grandparent scams” are extremely common and are highly effective in tricking vulnerable family members who think they are helping and protecting their grandchildren. If you are targeted in one of these scams, and before handing over money, gift cards, or whatever else is requested, make sure to consult with a trusted advisor, like an accountant, attorney, banker, or financial advisor. Often, another set of eyes and ears will help demonstrate that this is only a scam preying on your fears and concern for your family. There is strength in numbers, so don’t be shy about calling on your financial advisor or other trusted person to act as your financial bodyguard.