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Grandpa spots scammers

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One of my favorite parts about working at the Federal Trade Commission is hearing stories of folks avoiding a scam. A recent story involves Lou, who picked up the phone and spotted the scam almost as soon as he heard the young man call him “Grandpa.” The caller said he’d been arrested for drunk driving, needed money for bail, and wanted Lou to call a “lawyer” who would explain everything. (All while not telling “Mom.”)

“I played along with it,” said Lou, 87, who was curious to hear the scammer’s pitch. But Lou also called his daughter, a consumer lawyer. She knew this scam — someone pretends to be a friend or family member in need of money for bail, a medical emergency, or other trouble. His grandson was fine.

The scammers used common tricks.

  • They tested Lou to see how much money they could get. They first claimed bail was $7,000, but when Lou said he only had half that amount, the fake lawyer said he could get the bail reduced. Usually, scammers ask you to wire the money or get a prepaid card and give them the numbers on the card. If you do, your money will be gone.
  • They tried to keep Lou from talking to anyone. They even told Lou he could be arrested and fined if he told anyone about their conversation. Why? Scammers don’t want you talking to anyone else. They want you to act fast, without thinking too carefully.
  • The scammers used information Lou gave them to make their story seem more real. For example, the fake grandson told Lou the accident occurred “in the city.” When Lou named the District of Columbia, the fake grandson said, “Yes. In D.C.” Scammers also get information from social networking sites, or by hacking a loved one’s email account.

If you get a call like this, get off the phone and check it out. Call your loved one using a phone number you know is theirs, or call another family member. Then, tell a friend your story. By talking about this scam, you can help someone else avoid it. And please, tell us too.



Oh my!! I hope they catch this guy. This is so sad!!!
She must wake up. This happens to beautiful, loving, naive, innocent people everyday!

A few months ago I recieved a scam call from a person claiming to be from the IRS this person stated I owed back taxes to the IRS.Well as the conversation went on i wrote down all the information,this per- son was so ignorant of the fact he was hanging himself by giving me his name as of which was probably fictionious in nat- ure a fake ID# and that there was a warrant for my arrest if I didn't come up with a sum of over $7000.00.So I called the IRS and I was informed that the IRS does not cold call anyone any matter is handled via the mail.I was given a web- site address where I could report this after a while this person did not call after I reported the matter.

A tax preparation client of mine received the "grandson" call. She sent $2,000 (plus the $30) wired fee over and over. They called back daily. She admitted to me that she sent $60,000 (not counting the $30 fee each time), but I know she was too embarrassed to admit that she spent much more. She was about 65 at the time and retired from a Payroll Supervisor position with one of the World's largest CPA firms. In her earlier years she worked for me as the General Ledger supervisor. By the way, the IRS will share her loss via Form 4684.

Why not go along with it, but with this twist: tell the scammer that, to get your money to him, all he need do is provide his full name, address and phone number, his social security number, his mother's maiden name (for fun, also ask for his father's maiden name), and the name and routing number of of his bank and his account number.

I get a lot of "you just won a free cruise" scam calls. Just to mess with them, I ask the name of their company, their name, their employee number, business phone number, etc. I look up who they claim to be with online, and then point out all their lies (oh! That's not the phone number on the site, what department are you with? The chat rep on the website says that's not a real employee number, could you verify it again for me?). Most of the time, they hang up soon as I point out the first lie. There was one who didn't give up, so I stayed on the phone and got all the info directly from him while I filled out the complaint =)

What can I say, I have received so many scam calls that I do not have the exact number of calls however, it ranges in the hundreds. I have gotten calls from people pretending to be the IRS, either threatening jail and on and on. People pretending to be the fire department, police department, cancer society. With these calls I tell them that I do not do phone donations.I have had calls from people saying that they were receiving an error message from my computer which is funny because I am not connected to the internet. Now the newest scam that was tried on me was those individuals claiming to be medicare and trying to get me something free of charge if I would only give them information such as my medicare number which people should not give out because for us older individuals that number is our social security number. I told the lady that if she was from medicare then she should already have that info and then I asked her why there was a dog barking in the background. These scammers are really doing me a favor, I can now always spot them.

I haven't been called with this scam yet and hope I never will. It's very disgusting that anyone would consider using a loved one name for such a heinous crime. Shame on them.

If anyone even asks for bail and says you should just pay for it over the phone, I would be very suspicious about that. Honestly, I feel that nobody should ever do that. One way to find out if this is really someone you know is to say that you will personally go over to the police station that they are in, and if they try to prevent you from doing so, they clearly an imposter. Personally, you should never pay anyone's bail over the phone and do it in person only even if it's someone you know.

This happened to an eldergly gentleman at my church. He got a call from his "grandson" who was in jail. He went to the store to buy $7000 worth of iTunes gift cards and just happened to run into a friend who told him it was a scam. He's a pretty savvy guy so I was surprised they got so far with him, but I guess he was panicked.

This scam isn't limited to the U.S. I read a Japanese website article recently which indicated this scam had resulted in an elderly women being scammed out of a substantial amount of money by someone who claimed he was her "son" and needed the money to avoid being arrested. The article stated that elderly Japanese are frequent victims of this "ore ore" (it's me) scam.

We have rec'd. at least 7 or 8 of the "grandma/grandpa" scam calls, and 2 pretending to be from IRS, that we owed several thousands in back taxes, & were about to be arrested, I informed them that I used to own a business in taxes, payrolls, etc., & I knew IRS does NOT call, they send registered letters, the caller could not hang up fast enough ! As for the scams about "repairing my computer" , Have lost count ! One day alone there were 9 calls !! I report them ALL, as am on the Do Not Call List !!
Do they think we are stupid, or senile, because we are in our 70's and 80's ???

I received a call from the supposed IRS threatening
me with all sorts of dire consequences etc etc.
I was delighted to inform him that he'd better check his "marks" as I am an Enrolled Agent with the IRS (true).
AGAIN. Can you believe that?

LOL scamming the IRS dude! Not his best day right? Should have told him sounds like a cake job and were there any openings posted in his dept. If these People spent as much time working as they did working on scamming people they be doing good for themselves.

My brother-in-law received this call from his "grandson", problem is he does not have grandsons only granddaughters! He strung them along, for a few minutes saying yes, we will give you the money.
I had a friend that supposedly was robbed in London and needed my help getting his passport and money for the hotel. The last time my friend was in London was during WWII, and he would not set foot there again. He was a pilot.

I received one of the "grandma" calls two weeks ago, of course, with a phone number that was masked as local. When the voice with an accent replied to my "hello," he greeted me with "Hello, Grandma" and I immediately interrupted, "I ain't got no kids, I ain't got no grandkids, and I ain't got no time to listen to your scamming phone call, goodbye." I heard a deep breath and the start of a word, but I hung up and heard nothing more. I just wish the communications companies would come up with some cooperation to effectively find a way, or choose to use a method, to completely eliminate those scammers who use the local numbers and local names as masked caller ID for their calls. I know "privacy" laws probably narrow the opportunities for these companies, but something just needs to be done.

Have you tried writing you representatives in the house and senate? If enough people demand action, it can result in changes to law to facilitate hunting down these criminals and/or more funding to those enforcing existing laws.

I am the class secretary of an academy. I received a call from a "member" of the class claiming that her friend in India needed cash for her medical problem that she could not afford to provide. When I tried to respond, I could not access the "member's" email. The next day, I got through and she emailed that her computer had been hacked.

Let's not forget the phone and mail scams telling you that your car warranty is expiring, or that your Lo Jack information is not current. We are both seniors. My husband bought a new car with the car-locator feature that so many vehicles have now. In less than 2 weeks he got a letter that his car warranty was expiring and he needed to call to renew it, and another letter saying that the dealer had not properly registered his car- locator service and asking for all kinds of personal info and a credit card. Both letters were convincingly formal and very urgent. I didn't think about filing a complaint, but I will next time.

I tell them "I know this is a scam"! They always hang up on me!

I had already heard of this scam and when I got that phone call I was READY!!!!!
"I said--" Well my dear grandson you called the wrong Grandma. You know good and well I have always told you if you are in trouble, You Will sit it out in jail. So drop me a card when you get out." Then someone came on pretending to be an officer. I told him to keep the little " nasty " word. and hung up.

There haven't been enough ARRESTS of these scammers. I have been called for decades with almost every scam under the sun. Most recent to my cell phone was IRS threat to arrest me for tax evasion. Even though I have little income. Why hasn't the IRS gone after scammers proporting to be IRS employees? Why have all these callers gotten away with all these calls?

What about all the calls we get from so many different numbers claiming to be "Google". They tell us our google ad has expired and we need to renew. If we want to renew, we should press 1. When I do this I get a real person and I let them know we have never had a google account and to please take us off their calling list. Their response is "thank you and we have taken you off our calling list". Next 5 minutes same call from a different number. What's up with this? We have an in home business and need to answer all calls. Any suggestions?

Is it possible for the phone company to assign a code?, Like hitting "666" while the person is on the phone or answering machine to notify the phone company? Then if the phone company get a flood of "666" for the same number, they know they have a possible scammer.

I recently report by phone to the FTC about scam that was taking place at the moment. I feel disapointed that the lady taking my report did no seem to be interested in taking all the details. Then scamer was still on the phone and I believed that if action was taken, we could have caught this guy and his partner in Costa Rica.

I got a call from a number in Jamaica, it was a female voice and said their name was shanny, it was (876) 426-6691. They told me I won the lotto and I needed to send some money to get it processed. I knew it was a scam so I hung up.

A fast talker,that's what I call
The scammers. One called me not to long ago and said that I called and ask for help with my
Computer.I told her I didn't have
A computer and that my phone is on the no call list and not to call me again.she just said oh!
I hung up on her. By the sound of
her voice,she sounded like she was from flag...

Got that call, almost split a gut...trying not to laugh, let the guy talk, then finally stated, I don't have any

When my alleged "grandson" calls, I state that the connection is poor and I can't recognize his voice so please tell me which one he is (I do have 10 grandchildren - 7 girls, 3 boys). So he has to guess one of their names and fails every time.

When the "technical department" calls with a heavy south Asian accent reporting to me that my Windows computer has a virus, I just tell him that I only have an Apple so it must be my neighbor that has the problem.

When the local "home center" calls, I immediately ask for their address. If the address is not within 15 miles, then I decline to enlist their services stating that I only deal with "local" contractors.

When an alleged "contractor" (or his wife or son or whomever) calls I simply ask for his state-issued contractor's license number. There's either a hang-up or "we'll give that to you at your house or a bluff number spoken. If a number, then it's usually in incorrect format (6 or 7 digits in my state), or, if it's in the correct format, it's very simple to look up on the state's Web site to verify.

Travel scammers are the worst - you've qualified for a discount - "pay the deposit now and you can go anytime in the next 5 years" - the week you want won't be available or air fares have gone up or some other excuse. So just ask for their number, telling them that when you're ready to go, you'll call them back. And don't forget to get their state-issued travel agent license number along with their telephone number.
Or, if I really don't have an interest or time to engage in games with the callers, I simply hang up as they're speaking - works every time.

I want to be on the don't call list

You can add your phone number for free by visiting, or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).

If you register online, you will receive a confirmation email from You must click on the link in the email within 72 hours to complete your registration.

For more information, please see the FTC article, National Do Not Call Registry.

You guys are so worried about scammers, yet you do nothing inregards to supermarket of complaints that pile up about Comcast. Instead of being so proud of your position, Ajit Pai... Do your job!

Barking up wrong tree about Comcast:
"FCC fines Comcast $2.3 million for billing errors" 10/11/2016 is an example

Please to conduct investigation the number is 718-639-4236, who is using robotic message as resort vocational club.

On the grandparent scheme - always ask if this is _____ and use a name that is not your grandchild. I got the computer scam over and over. How can they tell I have viruses by using the phone. One day the call supposedly came from New York City. I told the caller, I had to put the phone down in order to turn on the computer. I put the phone down and went on with what I had been doing. When I lifted the receiver again, the caller had hung up. Minutes later the phone rang again. This time caller ID showed Chicago, IL. It was the same guy who said we must have been cut off before.

here is my current list of IRS scammer # since June 2017.
202-754-8549, 281-886-7370, 229-515-4240, 202-524-8875, 212-250-2018, 201-801-8181. I have had 2 just today. I just say cool I can use the vacation and hang up.

This happened to my mother-in-law a few years back. Kid claimed to be her grandson. He'd gone with friends to Vegas and spent all his money. He needed money to get home. She doubted all this because the grandkids always tell her about trips so she played along. Once he was through with his sob story she asked him why he didn't go see his aunt who lives there. He abruptly hung up. Ha!

In the last 5 days I have been contacted twice using facebook friend names by messaging the last one really blew it. I knew that this was a scam right away. He said he was given$280,000,000.00, yes a lot of cash

latest scam call I received today: Robocall saying the Department of the Treasury/IRS is going to file a lawsuit against you and to call them back at a 209 area code number. As a former IRS employee, I know quite well: the IRS does not file lawsuits - it doesn't need to, it can just levy/garnish/send an auditor.

I just got a call from someone claiming that "my number was reported to them as having a medical emergency and could I hear them?". When I replied no they hung up. The funny thing about the call was that it came on my cell phone from a number with the same area code and exchange as my cell phone so as to make it look like it might be a familiar number and get me to respond with a "yes" and give further information.

I'm been called about many scams mentioned in the FTC blogs here. I wonder if we never receive the grandparent scam because I don't post any personal pictures on my Facebook account, and what little person information FB has (outside of my name) like DOB is not correct.

I would have a hay day chomping on a grandparent scammer, as I am 60+ with an unmarried adult child, and love to eat scammers for dinner over the phone.

Grandpa got a call from a 317-207-0294 telephone # saying he was attorney representing our grandson who has an accident driving under the influence. After asking questions and feeling upset and insecure about aiding a grandson who made bad judgement, he call the mother and told her the story. Her son in jail - needing money to get out- and money to pay the attorney to represent him.

Grandpa called mom and told her the story. She called the number left to Grandpa - 317-207-0294 - supposed attorney #, and then called the son's work to see if he was there. He was, working away with no knowledge of having been drunk and in jail or having been in an accident and having a broken nose - why he sounded different on phone is talking with Grandpa. She told the caller she would get back to him. And did not!!!
Thank goodness calm prevailed or they could have been out $3800.00 the amount grandpa talked them down to from $4300.

I received multiple calls from the following phone # (704-342-3277) that is "The Grandpa/Grandma scam). The guy on the phone answered Grandpa? I said "who is this" he said "your grandson" and he proceeded to tell me a big lie about how he was in a car wreck and he was in a police station in North Carolina and he needed help ($$). From his voice I knew he was not one of my grandsons, so I said "I know this is a scam" he hung up immediately.

When I get these calls I start talking non-sense to them and keep them on the phone as long as I can. I also give them the name "Benny" regardless which one
is calling.

I've gotten many of these type calls, robocalls, accident or 'stolen wallet traveling in a foreign county'. I set up a contact in my phone under "spam" and recorded the numbers, later adding more with classifications like "resort" or "IRS" or "credit card". Only once did a number repeat. Mostly robo-calls.
If I ever get another 'live' call, i'll just ask them to hold while I get my wallet, the go cut the grass or something. Waste their time. Not mine.

Good idea, about the lawn, ha ha. Maybe I'll turn on the blender or something. I actually registered our number at and that gets rid of most calls!

I am an old woman and have experienced too many scam calls to count One scammer calls me often claiming my computer is compromised. I told him I didn't have one
( I really do ). Another wanted to know who paid my phone bill and I told him I had no phone. I wonder what he thought!

My mom got a call on this yesterday from someone pretending to be my son. He said he was in an accident down in Maryland and needed help. When she asked his name, he gave the correct name, Steven, which kept her on the phone. She said "you don't sound like Steven" but the caller said "that's because I broke my nose in the accident!" Long story short she said "let me get a pen so I can wrote down your address and phone number of where you are b/c I'll have to call you back..." When she came back to the phone they had hung up. She called us, immediately, all upset about it. We came up with the idea to have a family code word if this ever happens again! People stink!

And there is no way to get people's money back?? This is just awful. How is it possible that these people can't be tracked, arrested and the money returned?

#1; The feds should make it illegal to use fake caller ID's. They should also require phone companies to prevent hacking of caller ID. I receive so many calls with local #'s which turn out to be hacked. If you call many of them back you get an actual person or business, but not the one calling.
#2 Someone mentioned $8.50 for Caller ID. Get rid of Ma Bell... that in itself is a rip off. I went VOIP for $14.00 a month, get all the bells and whistles and can still use my old phone insturments....... Then a cell phone at $15.00 a month which also allows a black or white list of numbers you want rejected... check it out.

A few years ago I also rec'd a call from a person who called me Gramma and then proceeded to tell me that he was in an accident in Canada and needed money to get his car our of the repair shop. I played along and asked if it was Dave - of course he said yes, My oldest grandson was 6 at the time, and I have no grandsons names Dave. I asked where I should wire the money. He gave me banking information for a bank in Canada and my caller ID said that the call originated in Canada, I reported the phone number and information to Phonebusters - a Canadian fraud reporting website - which I had used previously at my position in the fraud department of a bank. I also reported it to the FTC. I have also played along with the scammers who call to say that they are from microsoft and I have a virus on my computer. I have had so many of these calls. Sometimes 4 a week. I have told them I have a MAC - which I don't - I have told them I don't have a computer. One day when I had a few minutes to spare I kept them on the line and acted really dumb - told them I don't where an address line is or how to open a browser. Then when they think I'll enter their address, I have second thoughts and tell them that I've heard that I shouldn't believe all phone calls. One even gave me a number to call back. Which I did and they answered "Microsoft"! When they "transferred" me to the person who called, his name was just shouted!! A least a wasted enough of his time that that it kept him from calling someone else. Now I just hang up. I can't block the number because they keep spoofing new ones.


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