Don't fall for 'hey grandma' phone scam

Don't fall for 'hey grandma' phone scam
Scam alert (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Prairieville, Louisiana woman's phone rang Friday morning and she answered with a pleasant "hello."

"Grandma?," wailed the female voice on the other end.

The woman was startled but also immediately grew suspicious. None of her grandchildren call her "grandma" and all of them are boys.

Still, she decided to play along.

"Is this Morgan?" she asked.

"Yes," the girl replied. "I've been in a car wreck and they put Q-tips up my nose to stop the bleeding. That's why I sound different."

"What is Morgan's last name?" the woman asked the female caller. The scammer was then busted and the call quickly ended.

The call was just like a known scam that's been circulating for years and one that is making scam artists boatloads of money.

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Scam artists will call the homes of older people claiming to be their grandchild. Scary enough, they often know the names of the grandchildren and, in some cases, their birthdates and where they live. They've done their research and often get such information by searching social media sites including Facebook.

The scam stories vary but often include tales that the "grandchild" has been arrested on a bogus charge and needs bail money, has been kidnapped or has landed in some other sort of trouble.

They will often convince the victims to travel to a nearby Western Union office to wire money to them or the person who is "helping" them.

In 2015 alone, the Federal Trade Commission received 10,565 "family/friend imposter" fraud complaints that cost victims millions of dollars, according to the AARP.

A 31-year-old criminal who claims he has done many of these same scams told CBS News some scammers are making more than $10,000 a day duping people into thinking they are helping a relative in trouble.

The criminal told CBS News they mostly target people over the age of 65.

"They're at home," he said. "They're more accessible. Once you get them emotionally involved, then they'll do anything for you."

Fortunately, the Prairieville woman had an immediate red flag that the caller was up to no good. But often the scammers are better than that and can be very convincing. Be sure to ask plenty of questions. And save your money for your "real" grandkids.

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