‘Trust but verify’: Police warn public of recurring grandparent scam

WESTLAKE, Ohio — Police in at least one local community are warning the public about the recurring “grandparent scam,” which has targeted at least two elderly residents in the past week.

According to an advisory from Westlake police, two seniors received calls this past week from scammers pretending to be their grandchildren who need money due to being arrested or in a car crash or in a foreign country.

Neither senior fell for the scam, police said.

Police urge residents that before sending money anywhere in response to an unexpected phone call, that they make sure to verify that the story is accurate.

Grandparent scams are not new. There’s been an increasing amount of such scams.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • Communicate with your family members. Talk to your family about scams and discuss how you would communicate during a true emergency.
  • Verify a caller’s claims. If you receive a call about a family member in trouble, contact someone else, such as the person’s parents, to determine the person’s location and whether the person truly needs your help. Be wary if the caller asks you not to contact any other family members. This is a tactic used by scammers. When in doubt, ask questions only your real family members would know how to answer, such as the last time you saw each other.
  • Limit sharing information online. Don’t post upcoming travel plans or detailed personal information online, and encourage your family members to take similar precautions. Scammers may use information available online to learn more about their targets and to make their ploys seem more believable. Check your account privacy settings on social media and limit who can view your information.
  • Be wary of specific payment requests. If someone tells you that you must pay using a gift card, prepaid reloadable card, money transfer, or cash, it may be a scam. These payment methods are difficult to trace and are used regularly in scams. Once the money is sent, it is very difficult to recover.

To report scams, got to OhioProtects.org or call 800-282-0515.