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Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus

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“Grandma: I’m in the hospital, sick, please wire money right away.” “Grandpa: I’m stuck overseas, please send money.” Grandparent scams can take a new twist – and a new sense of urgency – in these days of Coronavirus. Here’s what to keep in mind.

In grandparent scams, scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, calling or sending messages urging you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. They pull at your heartstrings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. In these days of Coronavirus concerns, their lies can be particularly compelling. But we all need to save our money for the real family emergencies.

So, how can we avoid grandparent scams or family emergency scams? If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild, other family member or friend desperate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t send cash, gift cards, or money transfers – once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!

For more information, read Family Emergency Scams. And if you get a scam call, report it to the FTC at

(This blog is part of the FTC's imposter scam series.)





This happened to me 3 months before Coronavirus emerged. Very convincing but I asked a secret question and got the caller mixed up. Worst was he sounded like my relatives on phone.

My mom was called by a man who said he was my son & needed money and not to call us. He knew my son's name and said to wire money to New Jersey because he was in jail. Thankfully, she called me. An elderly neighbor has been called on two occasions by a mail & weeks later by a female claiming to be his long lost grandkids. He never had kids. Obviously, they were aiming for money.

When I received this type call I asked the caller What is your name?" He didn't know. I just laughed and hung up.

I was saved from a large financial loss, the same scam. I asked for the names of my daughters' six cats.

LOL I will have to try that if I ever get contacted by anyone claiming to be related to me with a foreign accent.



About six months ago I received a phone call saying it was my grandson and he was being held in jail following an auto accident. He said he needed $6,000 cash to get out of jail in NJ, but I would get it back when his lawyers got him acquitted. I almost fell for it, but called my grandson on his cell phone to be sure it was true, When he told me he was at home with his family watching TV I knew it was a scam and didn't pay.

I got a call like that yesterday and person said that they're my grandson and granddaughter stuck in Europe and need money get home i was laughing since i don't have any children and i said no im not sending anything that scam isn't going to work with me

That is so true scammers always find a way to act when there is a crisis and people are most vulnerable. I have that.

We receive this scam a couple of years ago but did not fall for it. We gave all our family a code word that only they would know in case this happens again.

I’ve had two of these calls. Saying their my grandson in jail. I recognize my grandsons voice so I always tell them the can stay in jail.

Oh yes the scammers are very hard at work during this outbreak, they know all kinds of tricks just to get into your wallet. There are probably tons of COVID-19 scams in the works so please be careful.

Helps to be a miserly old coot with no grandchildren, nieces or nephews.

Do like I do. Make sure anyone you will answer to is recorded in your phone. And block all other numbers. I've done it for years and haven't missed an important call yet. Anyone who would call me has my email address. If someone emails asking me for my phone number, I call them to make sure it's a legitimate requeat.

My in-laws just received a call, claiming ( my daughter) was in jail for a car accident & wanted $16000. She sounded like my daughter, so my mother in law asked what was the name of our cat. They hung up.

I got a call from someone who said “hi grandma”. As I have no grandchildren, I said he had the wrong number. Then he switched gears and laughed saying “no just joking, it’s your favorite nephew”. He really sounded like my nephew. He then said he had been arrested for having a small amount of pot in his car and then it wasn’t even his. I asked him where he was. He said in the precinct downtown. I live in New York City, and there is a Precinct in every neighborhood. So I asked him “where downtown?” And he said “you know, downtown”. Now was trying to get suspicious but played along. He said he needed me to send $800 by Western Union to cover his bail, and not to tell his Mim, my sister. I said “sure, just one thing, tell me your name”. He laughed and hung up!

This happen to my family today. Cause a whole bunch of headaches and lost time over this bs. Good thing my sister was able to catch on and realize it was a scam. They wanted $6,000 because my son was in a car accident in the Bronx with a broken nose and he hit a lady that was 7 months and she will be out the hospital tomorrow. Funny thing, my son is station in Germany in the army. If they give you this case #01K1481 and said they are in NJ court. It's all a scam.

This just happened to my parents today! Said my son was in car accident, a rental car, incidently he doesn't have a license right now, so I knew something was up, he said oldest grandson and of course my dad said oh " " so he of course gave away the name. Said he was in NY I also knew this wasn't true and they also used the lady that was 7 months pregnant in ICU. said my son was arrested and needed bail money. The guy on the phone apparently was his lawyer after speaking to my supposadly son at the beginning. My dad thought he sounded funny but the excuse was he broke his nose and cut his lip! Everyone warn your elderly parents. I will now post on facebook.

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