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TheStreet Open House

MoneyGram Warns Consumers About Scam Targeting Elderly

Stocks in this article: MGI

MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI), a leading global money transfer and payment services company, is alerting the public about a scam targeting the elderly. It’s called the “Grandparent Scam,” and law enforcement officials around the country say they’re seeing an increase in the crime.

With this scam, the victim receives a phone call from someone who claims to be their grandchild or a person with their grandchild. The fraudster then claims the grandchild is in trouble and needs money fast. The scam artist tells the victim not to call the grandchild’s parents and urges that money be sent quickly. The victim’s fear for their loved one will often motivate them to send the money.

“While this scam has been around since 2008, it’s becoming more elaborate,” says Kim Garner, SVP Global Security at MoneyGram. “As consumers become wise to it, the fraudsters are adapting sometimes using email and social media to target victims, which makes the scam more difficult to detect.”

Some scammers use the internet and social media to research their victims and the loved ones they’re impersonating, making their act even more believable. Some will even target a wider range of individuals by claiming to be the victim’s niece, nephew, or other family members.

Common Red Flags

  • A phone call or e-mail from a “grandchild” claiming to be traveling in a foreign country. The fraudster may claim he or she has been arrested, mugged or been in an accident and needs money wired ASAP. The caller doesn’t want his or her parents to be told.
  • A call from someone pretending to be a police officer, a lawyer, a doctor, or some other person who is with the victim’s “grandchild.” Sometimes the fraudster will even have the phony “grandchild” talk first and then hand the phone over to an accomplice…to further spin the fake tale.
  • A call or email to a military family claiming that a problem came up during their “grandchild’s” military leave that requires money to solve.

If a consumer suspects he or she is being scammed, they should hang up the phone, delete the email, or end any back-and-forth messaging. Then immediately contact the family member whose security is in question to verify the story. Finally, report the suspected scam to the local police, and file reports with the Federal Trade Commission and National Consumers League.

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