, Port Arthur, Texas

July 16, 2013

Police warn ‘grandparent’ scam continues

The Port Arthur News

— Local police are warning citizens about a scam targeting older people dubbed the “grandparent” scam.

Groves Police Lt. Kirk Rice said the scam is continuing to target senior citizens in Groves and throughout Southeast Texas.

“These types of scams target seniors by tugging on their heart strings and purse strings,” Rice said in a press release. “The scams are designed to fool grandparents into thinking that their grandchild has been arrested, hurt or stranded, and in need of money.”

The scam itself isn’t new to the area and Rice spoke with two victims made reports of the scam on Monday.

He asks that victims immediately report the incident in order to save others from becoming a victim.

The con artist will attempt to impersonate the victim’s grandchildren and make up an urgent situation – “I’ve been arrested,” “I’ve been robbed,” “I’m in the hospital.”  The scam plays off of people’s emotions and when they hear that a family member needs help they get caught up in the moment.  

The con artists will usually ask for hundreds to thousands of dollars. The grandparent, unaware of the wire transfer scams, sends the money to a location given by the con artist because the situation has been explained as urgent and potentially harmful to the grandchild (con artist).

Only after the money is transferred, does the grandparent realize the grandchild did not make the call. In some cases, the con artists pretend to be a member of law enforcement or other professionals. Remember: Wiring money is like sending cash, once it is sent, you cannot get it back.

People of all ages need to be aware of wire transfer scams.  U.S. consumers lose millions of dollars each year to con artist using wire transfers as part of their scams.

There are several red flags that indicate a con artist is at work. Be wary of a caller who:

• Requests that money be wired

• Urgent request for money

• Claims to be stuck in a foreign country;

• Insists on secrecy

Sometimes the con artist waits for the victim to say the name of a grandchild then impersonate the person.

“If someone calls you that you do not know and suggests you wire them money, it’s a scam. Not a maybe, it’s a scam,” he said. “If this (information) saves one person from becoming a victim, then it’s worth it.”

If you have any questions, contact Lt. Kirk Rice with the Groves Police Department at 962-0244 or the Southeast Texas Better Business Bureau at 835-5348.