Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
Emergency scams, sometimes called “grandparent scams,” prey on the willingness of an unsuspecting, worried individual to help friends and family in need. Often, they will impersonate their targets’ loved ones, make up an urgent situation, and plead for help … and money. Thanks to social media sites, scammers can look up information and offer plausible stories. They may even incorporate nicknames and real travel plans into the con to convince their targets.
How the scam works
Emergency scams are about a family member or friend in a dire situation. You get a call, email, or social media message from someone claiming to be a family member in distress. They may say they’ve been arrested while traveling overseas, or there was an accident, medical emergency, or other calamity. They provide convincing details, such as family names, school details, etc.
A common version is the “grandparent scam,” where the con artist contacts a grandparent claiming to be their grandchild and asking for money. The plea is so persuasive that the grandparent wires money to the scammer, only to find out later their family member was safe and sound all along. This scam can also work in reverse, where the “grandparent” calls their grandchild pleading for help.
How to avoid emergency scams
Communicate. Loved ones should share travel plans with family…