Attorney General warns of grandparent scam targeting Rhode Islanders

By Alana Cerrone

Acerrone@abc6.com

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is
warning Rhode Islanders about a reappearance of the “grandparent scam”.

Scammers are targeting the elderly
and typically start with a phone call posing as a grandchild in urgent need of
money. Some scammers have even posed as a police officer or attorney.

The caller then claims an emergency
has occurred and needs to be wired money immediately.

“We have heard reports of this
scam nationwide, but lately there has been a spike of calls to Rhode Islanders,
so we are warning the public to be on alert. This scam preys upon consumers'
wallets and their heartstrings by making them believe something terrible has
happened to their beloved grandchild,” said Attorney General Kilmartin.
“Scam artists will try to make you panic, so you act quickly and wire
cash. We are warning Rhode Islanders are to be on alert for this vicious
scam.”

In other cases, the caller will even
claim to be a lawyer or close friend of the grandchild, saying he or she is in jail in a foreign country, or has been in a car accident, for example.

The scam can also happen via email
after accounts have been compromised.

Attorney General Kilmartin has put
together some potential warning signs and tips to help Rhode Islanders
recognize and prevent this scam.

Warning signs: You're asked to send
money quickly – and secretly. The call or message originates from overseas.
However, be aware that technology allows scammers to bypass caller ID systems.
The person can't or won't answer questions that only the real person would
know. Any time someone asks you to send money by Western
Union or Moneygram, it's probably a scam. You might also be asked
to send a check or money order by overnight delivery. Con artists recommend
these services so they can steal your money before you realize you've been
cheated. Money transfers can be picked up at any service location as long as
the thief/recipient has the confirmation number.

Tips:

·   Avoid volunteering information over the
phone.

·   Always ask callers to identify themselves by
name.

·   Ask for information that only you and people
close to you would know. A real relative will not have a problem answering
questions, but a scammer may not know that information.

·   Using a phone number you know to be genuine,
call the relative or friend claiming to need your help to confirm whether the
story is true. If you aren't able to contact them, call other friends or family
members to confirm the situation.

·   Refuse to send money via wire transfer. If
you have wired money and it hasn't been picked up yet, call the wire transfer
service to cancel the transaction. Once the money has been picked up, there is
no way to get it back.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014