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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.


If you lost money to a scammer who had you pay using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can now file a claim to get your money back.

This is possible because of joint investigations by the FTC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service. Western Union agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud. DOJ is using the money to provide refunds to people who were tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers.

Go to to start the claim process.

we have received 3 grandson phone calls. today I told him we know he is a fake and to please stop calling our number. they have no respect for elderly people whatsoever. We have enough sadness with sickness in our home.

I used to get calls a lot-But I'm a Comcast customer-And on there web site theres a way beyond the call blocking that you can get most of these blocked out--And since I signed up for that ive only had a couple sneak in-And do see that the FTC Is cracking down on a lot of them-But then more start right back up again-

Phone rang, caller said hello grandpa, I have a broken nose so my voice sounds funny. I ask again who was this, I am your oldest grandson.

I said I was sorry. He said I need 3500.00 for my hospital bill and they want paid now.

I told him my name is Bobbie, what's your name, I play jacks, what you play. He said I was crazy and hung up.

Received call from 301-232-5312 at about 8:20 AM. If I asked who this is. A male voice answered "this is your older grandson. Don't you recognize my voice." I answered, you are an idiot and hung up. There have been previous "missed calls" from this morning that came in when we were not at home.

Granddaughter just called her 82 year old grandpa with a story. Sad, but grandpa swears that it was HER voice. Is there a way they can "clone" someones voice?

Scammers might use technology to change their voices, but they also use fear to distract people. When scammers call and pretend there is an emergency, the person who is listening is so distracted by the story that they can't focus on whether the voice sounds right.

Scam telephone number: 781-472-4968 Beware.

My mother in law received this type of call. The young man said, "Granma, I need your help!" At first she said, "Who is this?" and he answered "You don't recognize your own grandson??" She said, "Charlie (NOT the name of any of her grandchildren), is that you? He said Yes, Granma, it's Charlie. She said, "Well, I don't have a grandson named Charlie." Ha ha . Busted.

I'm frustrated because my elderly father keeps getting these calls. I called to report it and the FTC hotline guy was really rude. Sorry it's boring to you...maybe get a new job? And his response of "Don't pick up the phone if you don't know the number is not helpful or realistic as we run the family business out of our (shared with gpa) home. Next time I won't bother reporting it. I don't need to be treated rudely on top of being interrupted with stupid scam calls.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience when you called the FTC. This article about blocking unwanted calls might have some tips you can use.

I received a call and on the other line was "my grandson" he was crying and said he needed help and I needed to send him money. I played along with it for as long as I could, funny thing I told him he sounded a lot older. When I told him he sounded older than 3 years old, which is the age of my grandson, he quickly hung up.

A fake grandson called (it sounded like him) and said that he got into a car accident and foolishly left the scene of the accident (no injury) He was arrested and needed money to guarantee a court appearance. His "attorney" told us to wire $30,000 to a bank account When we called his cell phone it turned out that he was not in Florida but in New Jersy and had not had an accident. They got nothing from us!!

They got my husband a couple years ago-he even went to Western Union & had the money home & realized that he had been screwed-went back to Western Union & they hadn't sent it yet!!Still don't know why they hadn't but..just dumb luck. I heard all about it when I got home from work & boy did I give him an earful! I am always available at work so I told him to NEVER do anything again till he checks with me first!

I just received the Grandma Fraud call an hour ago. I was certain it was my Grandson for the first few minutes. He said he had a broken nose but sounded Hispanic. My husband was home so I put him on hold so I could call my Grandson on my mobile phone. My so called Grandson asked that a write down a case number I did but did not get all of it because of the "broken nose accent" My husband at that time asked that he tell him his full name. Click, dial tone. Then, 10 minutes later a "Lawyer, Mr. Friedman" called asking if I had a case number. I lied and said no I was dis-connected before I was given the number. While talking to the "Lawyer", my Grandson called on my Mobile phone to let me know he was OK, not in Jail and had not been in an accident. My husband was yelling at the so called Lawyer who said he could not talk to him like that. My husband threatened him and ended the call. I called the Attorney General, gave the information and was treated kindly. I did a little research and cannot believe this. The Public has spent FIVE HUNDRED MILLION on this Grandparent scheme alone. Mind boggling. I put this on my Facebook page to save others. I am glad I was not home alone, that my husband is now alerted.

I was able to keep them on the phone for 12+ minutes to prevent them from calling someone else. I played along and was told to send $1,050 via a Walmart Moneygram to Florida in the name of Daniel Davila. I was told to call 215-709-0309 when the money was sent. I called Moneygram's fraud department and suggested they alert all of their Florida Walmart stores to call the FBI if "Daniel Davila" shows up. I'm sure it's a fraudulent name but they plan to use it. Put the handcuffs on him when he shows-up!

I also completed the fraud form on the FBI website.

Why isn't someone doing a "sting" on these turkeys? It's easy to play-along with them and get the info to the authorities. Let's step up the game and put some of these scammers in jail.

I have a 22 year old engineering honors student grandson who will graduate from major university in May. He calls me Grandpa. I got my disturbing "Grandpa" call this morning about 10 AM from a young man who was weeping and sobbing. His "best" friend had just died in an auto accident. The sobbing and crying was "good" making it hard to recognize his voice, but he got my sympathy immediately. Then, the knock out punch. After attending his friends funeral this morning (first red flag...funeral at 8AM?) he was offered a ride to his best friends parents home and another young man he did not really know. On the way, this man's car was pulled over for minor traffic violation and when police searched the car a stash of drugs was found in the trunk that classified the owner of the car as a "dealer". They were both arrested and put in jail and after a drug test and background check (my that was quick) my grandson was deemed clean but the DEA had stepped in to control the case and was willing to let my grandson out if a $9500 bond could be posted today. (A very small bond for such a big case..another red flag). This "grandson" said that if he could get out on bond today and agree to come back and testify against this so called "dealer", he could keep his record and reputation clean. Do not even tell his parents because he knew they would not be understanding but he knows he can trust "grandpa". Then, the "Officer" came on the phone and repeated the story saying that because the street value of the drugs was valued at $90,000, the DEA had taken over the case and the bond money of $9500 in "cash" had to be sent to the DEA office in Florida. No, a credit card or EFT by a bank would not do (a bit more of a red flag). I was asked to get the money, bring it back to my house and then call him back at a number he gave with 405 area code. The money would be picked up by Brinks or Linus, not at the bank, but at my house (another red flag). Brinks does not handle moving money or securities except to or between banks. Finally decided I was being scammed (I am a loving sympathetic grandpa who raised 3 sons in the 70's and getting calls from jail was not new to me..only minor misdemeanors). I did not recognize the area code as being near where my grandson was in college so did a reverse number lookup and found the number was unregistered and area code in Alberta, Canada. That really did it. Then I had the "bright" idea of calling my grandson on his wireless phone and so happy to learn he knew nothing of what was going on. Why did I not simply do this in the first place instead of wasting half a day? These scammers really play on your sympathy and willingness to keep your grandchildren out of trouble.

5-29-18. My husband &I just received a scam call posing to be our grandson
Who had been to Chicago for a friend's wedding. And coming home rear ended
The car in front of him who had slammed on their brakes. He said when the

Highway patrol came they found out his car insurance had been expired 2 weeks
Prior and he would be in extreme trouble if he didn't come up with $1500.00
Today and would pay us back tomorrow!, We let him know we didn't have that
Much money to loan but would give him his aunts phone number & maybe she
Could loan it to him. His aunt said there had been a call come in but was restricted.
Could not be traced and that she got scam calls like this frequently. This was
Our first scam call in our almost 80 years. Also we both noticed that the voice
Was not the same as our grandson's voice. Wish I knew how he got our phone
Number and did have our grandson's first name correct. Shame on these people
Who try to scam elderly people on social security and just getting by!

I understand why caller ID might show a different number than the line actually used. For example it might show a "call in" number for a large business or you might have your home phone transferred to your cell phone.

But, if the number is totally bogus, it is clearly fraud with the intent to mislead, and a serious offense. The FTC should prosecute a few of these cases instead of telling us to JUST be aware of the problem. Currently even legit businesses engage in the practice. That would end with one prosecution.

I a disabled and recieve an average of 6 calls a day until later recently. I started answering calls I don't know with fraud department. I don't say for who or what or a name. Now they don't want to chat, wonder why.

Granpa scam is alive & well. recd' call from (788) 554-5224 fake #
Young voice said he was in an accident etc.
I'm in Texas and the more my "grandson" spoke the more I could
detect a midwestern accent. The tell. after a brief conversation he hung up.

I have been getting calls daily and they are telling me they took $499.00 from my account to pay for my windows security that had expired. They tell you to go to and download the app to get a refund. I am not stupid. They wouldn't let me talk to their manager or billing department. They INSISTED I download the app. I have reported them to the federal government. They are harassing me constantly so beware....

They called my mom and actually stayed her actual grandson’s name
At least the bank wouldn’t cash it and told her it was a scam
Shame on these people

I answered the phone and the person on the other side said that my grandson had been in an accident and was arrested and need $3000.00. They were calling from a lawyers office. What tipped me off that is was a scram was that my grandson does not drink alcohol so how could he be drunk. it still upset me so I call my grandson who confirmed that he was at work. the number of the people is 917-773-0520 do not answer this number they just want your money.


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