Grandparent Fraud Increasing Because of Social Media

2 years 9 months 3 weeks ago March 28, 2014 Mar 28, 2014 Friday, March 28 2014 Friday, March 28, 2014 1:02:00 PM CDT in News
By: Megan Schultz, KOMU 8 Reporter
Embed Code Copied

JEFFERSON CITY - One type of scam against the elderly is increasing because it's easier to access personal information through social media.

"Grandparent fraud" happens when a scammer calls a grandmother or grandfather pretending to be their grandchild, and asks the grandparent to wire money.

"Your family member is in trouble. They need bail money. They need lawyer fees," said Joe Bindbeutel, head of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. "Whatever it happens to be, they put time pressure on the elderly person and of course pull on those heart strings and they are very, very successful."

Grandparent fraud has become more prevalent because personal information is now widely available through Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets.

"In the recent decade, with the prevalence of personal information being widely available to a number of people, it's easier and easier for scammers to appear that they really know the person they're talking about, that they really know your child or your grandchild," Bindbeutel said. "It has caused an uptick over the last several years."

A common type of grandparent fraud happens during spring break week for college students. If a student posts about his or her spring break location, a scammer may see that location, and then find family connections and phone numbers online. The scammer then calls the grandparents and pretends to be their grandkids or a lawyer. The scammer may say the grandchild is in jail and then request money for bail money and lawyer fees. 

"It is very, very easy in today's world to put two and two together," Bindbeutel said. "It doesn't take very much. As long as they can get a little bit of information and tie it to a family member, particularly a senior citizen or grandparent, that's all a scammer needs. They can make up a story that sounds very compelling."

He says a big component and red flag of grandparent fraud is timeliness.

"The hallmark of virtually all scams is hurry, you've got to hurry," Bindbeutel said. 

Once that money is wired, it's hard to get back.

"Once a couple [or] three days go by, it's very difficult because the money is gone on the other end," Bindbeutel said. 

He also said grandparent scammers come from all over the world.

"It's a tremendous variety," Bindbeutel said. "It's people from countries like Central America, Africa is very common, Jamaica. But we also have people that are traced back to the United States and even in Missouri."

These types of scammers also tend to be hit and run.

"They'll come into an area, they'll saturate the area, and then they'll get out quickly because they realize they're going to get caught at some point," Bindbeutel said. "Someone is going to wise up and get us on their trail, so they tend to be very spotty from area to area and frankly from country to country."

Janice Stowell Clark, an administrator at the Candlelight Lodge in Columbia, said she's seen an increase in elderly fraud over the past three years because of technology.

"We've seen quite an increase," Stowell Clark said. "As a matter of fact, just last month in February, two of our prospective residents were here because of being exploited in their homes."

She says scammers target senior citizens because they are particularly vulnerable.

"Fifty percent of people over the age of 85 have some form of forgetfulness, some dementia, something that might cause them to not be able to think as clearly or use as much good judgement as they had before," Stowell Clark said. 

But, she says, she gets it.

"I'm a grandmother so I know," Stowell Clark said. "Four grandchildren and I would do just about anything for them."

Bindbeutel agrees that senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.

"Most older folks are raised to be trusting," Bindeutel said. "They're raised to be honest and they assume other people are honest as well. They tend to be very attractive parties for financial scams because they've been responsible and put a little bit aside for themselves."

Places like the Candlelight Lodge have taken proactive measures to prevent their residents from being targets of scams.

 "We'll have seminars and different training opportunities for family members to come in and learn about best practices for trends we're seeing in the neighborhood," said Trina Almond, community outreach coordinator at Candlelight Lodge. "We also tend to track anyone that's called. We of course ask what their conditions are surrounding their call because most people aren't just picking up and calling for no reason."

There are some steps senior citizens can do to prevent fraud.

Bindbeutel says the most important preventative measure is double checking with a family member before wiring money.

"If they have any concern that a loved one is in trouble, they need to call that loved one, call their family, and make sure it's true before they do what the scammer is asking," Bindbeutel said. 

If a senior citizen thinks he or she is the target of a scam, it's important to call the Attorney General's office immediately.

"It's very important to call us immediately for their own benefit because sometimes if it's reported very quickly, we can get wire transfers reversed," Bindbeutel said.

The Attorney General fraud hotline number is 1-800-392-8222.

 

More News

Grid
List
PHELPS COUNTY - Deputies were dispatched to the intersection of County Road 3000 and County Road 3220 Tuesday around noon... More >>
3 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:44:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) that hopes to cut government waste and increase accountability... More >>
3 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:18:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Governor Eric Greitens gave his first State of the State address Tuesday, just eight days after his... More >>
6 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:33:00 PM CST in News
Columbia – The Mayor's Task Force on Medical Tourism met Tuesday to discuss possible recommendations to the Columbia City Council.... More >>
7 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 6:52:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Concerned community members gathered at Republican U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler’s office Tuesday to protest a recent development in... More >>
12 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:58:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Higher education institutions have concern over the impact of Governor Greitens' announced budget cuts that will largely decrease... More >>
12 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:41:00 PM CST in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, filed two bills on Tuesday addressing the rise of student debt. The... More >>
12 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:35:00 PM CST in News
CARTHAGE (AP) — Authorities say a 10-year-old girl has died in a southwest Missouri shooting that appears to be accidental.... More >>
14 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:01:13 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — New Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will outline his policies on jobs, ethics, public safety and education... More >>
14 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:14:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
15 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:03:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors have filed charges against one of two men arrested following an assault at the Red Roof Inn... More >>
15 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - An MU associate teaching professor is presenting a petition to the Columbia City Council Tuesday evening on behalf... More >>
1 day ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:34:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Almost 50 years after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Columbia groups still... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:08:00 PM CST in News
SUNRISE BEACH – Buying and selling personal property privately, such as furniture, clothes and cars, is commonplace in today’s world... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:18:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - After a budget resolution aimed at repealing Obamacare was reached Jan. 12, groups in Missouri plan to protest... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
CALIFORNIA (AP) - Central Missouri Democrats nominated an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Senate to run in a... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:36:00 PM CST in News
HILLSBORO (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old man died after a four-wheeler he was riding on... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:09:00 PM CST in News
NICKELVILLE (AP) - A southwest Missouri county highway is expected to be closed until Thursday as crews clean up an... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 36°
3am 30°
4am 29°
5am 29°
6am 30°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:37a
Paid Program
2:07a
Today
3:00a
Mad Money
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
9:00p
Chicago P.D.
7:00p
Arrow
8:00p
Frequency
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld