The Mill Valley Police Department has had recent reports of the "Grandparent Scam" being visited on local seniors. The caller pretends to be a grandchild in need of emergency money. The telephone fraud is also known as the "Emergency Scam" and has been included in the top ten famous scams for over a decade, but the fraud seems to be gaining ground.
The ruse often includes a caller who says something like "Hi, grandma," or "Hey, it's your favorite grandson." the caller's goal is to learn the name of a recipient's actual grandchild or the caller may have already learned the grandchild's name and claims to be that person during the call. Typically, the caller says she or he has been in an accident, was arrested, is stranded or in similar trouble and needs money sent immediately. The caller also insists that the victim not tell anyone else -- which increases the odds that the fraud will be successful. By the time the elderly call recipient realizes what happened, the money is long gone and not recoverable.
This type of fraud is particularly disturbing as it plays upon a grandparent's natural desire to protect family members.
Variations of this scam include the caller claiming to be an old neighbor or friend. The scam has proliferated and become more sophisticated with the increase of information on the Internet as con artists and scammers can obtain personal information from family blogs, genealogy Web sites, social networking sites and online newspapers. Anyone, but especially seniors, should exercise skepticism when an urgent telephone call for money is received.
WATCH FOR THESE RED FLAGS:
-- Callers requesting money
--Callers requesting money be sent by wire transfer
--Urgent callers pressing for quick action and insisting on secrecy
PLEASE CALL THE MILL VALLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED A FRAUD CALL