Protect yourself from the 'Grandparent Scam'

Seniors beware: that is probably not your grandchild calling in distress and asking for money.

The Reporter has received a handful of reports that scam artists are using the "Grandparent Scam" to target senior citizens in our city.

Victims in the Grandparent Scam will receive a phone call initiated with a phrase like, "Hi Grandma/Grandpa! Do you know who this is?" When the victim responds with a name, the con artist assumes the name is a grandchild’s and uses it to pose as the consumer’s grandchild.

The "grandchild" then describes some type of urgent trouble, often in a foreign country, and begs the grandparent to immediately wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram to pay for whatever the emergency is, be it medical treatment, bail money, auto repair, or a ticket home.

By claiming that they are embarrassed or there is no time to talk to others, the con artist tries to dissuade the grandparent from contacting the grandchild's parents or friends.

Some con artists may even investigate the identity of the grandchild before the initial phone call or pretend to be a third party such as a government official or a bail bondsman.

If you receive a call like this, police urge seniors to verify a caller's identity before wiring any money. Suggestions are to try a number where the grandchild can be reached to see if they are there and not trapped in a foreign country or to ask the caller questions only an actual grandchild would know.

Seniors are also advised to resist the urge to act quickly as the basis for this scam is to prey on emotions and pressure seniors into acting without fully checking out the situation.

Remember, once you wire money, it may be impossible to retrieve.

Renton police said they are not aware of recent cases in Renton, but Council woman Marcie Palmer said she has heard from multiple people who nearly feel victim to this old, but popular scam.

If you receive one of these calls, notify the Renton Police Department at 425-430-7500.

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