The Grandparent Scam

How To Spot And Shut Down The Grandparent’ Scam

It usually starts out with an email or call: “I’m in trouble and I need some money.”

Typically these fake messages are from scamsters. They target older people who are duped into thinking their grandchildren or other relatives are in need of emergency cash.

I’ve seen quite a few of these messages. Sometimes it’s implied that a neighbor or friend is in trouble. What they all have in common is a need for money to be sent — immediately.



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tracked more than 15,000 complaints regarding this swindle. More importantly, the amount of cash stolen per episode is much higher than the average scam: About $9,000. That compares to just under $500 for most other frauds.

Although the grandparent scam is fairly well known to most government watchdogs, the situation is getting worse. “When we looked at fraud reports from all age groups,” the FTC reports, “we found that aggregate losses to family and friend imposters have increased. Losses over the past year reached $41 million, as compared to $26 million in the previous year.”