Don't Be a Victim: Grandparent Phone Scams

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Imagine getting a call that your teenage grandchild is in trouble - he'd been in an accident and is now in jail. You would want to do what you could to help.

That call could very well be a scam that's making the rounds once again.

"They used his name and said 'are you related to him and she said yes.' And that's when he proceeded to go through everything."

The caller proceeded to tell Becky Licausi's mother that her teenage grandson had been slightly injured in an accident that wasn't his fault but was facing a DUI charge and that jail time and a record could be avoided by wiring money immediately.

"When my mother got the phone call from him, she was telling him that she didn't have $1,800 to send right now and he got very angry and hung up, but then they had someone else call and pretend that they were my son and my mother kept saying 'you just don't sound like yourself,' and he said 'I was just in a car accident. I broke my nose, I'm probably not going to sound like myself. Please don't tell anyone,' Licausi said.

Fortunately, Becky's mother called her, and she called her son's school and found out he was safely there, but every day, hundreds of grandparents do fall for this same scam. Here's what you need to know so you don't become a victim:

  • Stay calm. Say you need to consult another family member and hang up. If the emergency is real, you can still respond appropriately.
  • Ask a question only your grandchild would know, such as a favorite pet's name or a parent's birthdate.
  • Don't send money unless you are absolutely sure it is a real person.

"I think that is the biggest thing is that they are getting you upset so that you can't think about things and you are not thinking rationally. I just really don't want this to happen to anyone else and I'm just thankful that my mother called me because they are preying on older people," Licausi said.

Scammers often scour social media to figure out who a potential victim's relatives might be, but Becky has no idea how they were able to connect her mother and son in this case because her mother is not on any social media.

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