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Banks seeing an increase in grandparent scams

Written on Dec 8, 2022

Each year, older adults lose billions of dollars to fraud. One of the latest fraud techniques is called “Grandparent Scams.”  

These scams will typically look something like this: an elderly person being targeted will get a phone call from an individual posing to be their grandchild. This fraudster will typically sound frantic and worried and will tell their target that they are in trouble, typically in jail and need money for bail. Many times, the fraudster will up the ante by claiming they are stuck in a foreign country or in the hospital. To further the fraud, the scammer will throw in a few family particulars that can be found online, usually by looking at social media profiles and posts. After giving just enough detail to the target, the scammer will implore their “grandparent” to wire money immediately or withdraw large sums of cash to be ready for a courier to come to their home and do not tell anyone, including family or authorities. This type of scam has taken many routes, whether it be over a phone call as described or via text message or email. 

Scammers are getting more and more detailed in their impersonations, however there’s some red flags bank employees should be on the lookout for if it seems like a customer is being targeted by a grandparent scam. Some of those red flags include: 

  • The customer wants to withdraw a large amount of cash 

  • The customer is reluctant to tell you what the cash is for, or says they are under a “gag order” or some other restriction against speaking about the withdraw 

  • The customer is hesitant to involve other bank employees in the transaction 

If you suspect a customer is the victim of a grandparent scam, involve your leadership at your bank. Especially now headed into the holiday season, grandparent scams are expected to increase as individuals are more likely to have their guard down against these types of acts.