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Hello Grandma (or Grandpa) . . . .

by Chris Cain
November 21, 2018

Thanks to a tip received from Marty Shneier, Outreach and Transportation Coordinator at the Holliston Senior Center, this reporter learned about a telephone scam that is targeting Holliston residents.  SGT Glenn Dalrymple, one of HPD's Elder Affairs officers, shared the very interesting and troubling information that is contained in this article.

Beware of phone calls from your grandson.  Not your real grandson of course.  One who claims to be your grandson that is in desperate need of money.

The call might start off like this: "Hi grandma, this is your grandson."

"Billy is that you?"

"Yes it's me Billy."  

The scammer has just learned the name to use that tricks the victim into thinking the call is legitimate.

Usually the rest of the scam goes like this . . .

The 'grandson' (or granddaughter) will claim he/she is in jail, the hospital, or has been in an accident with a dangerous person who is going to hurt them if they don't pay for the damage right now.  The scammer then directs the grandparent to go to a store and purchase gift cards or iTunes cards.  The grandparent is given a phone number to call back after securing the cards.  During that call back the grandparent must read the numbers on the cards to the scammer.  Once this is done, the scammer has access to the funds.

The scammers use untraceable phones and the gift cards themselves are untraceable.  Law enforcement is unable to track the scammers - and more importantly - the stolen money, since there is no tangible evidence of the crime (fraud) that has been committed.

Some residents have fallen victim to this scam in the amount of thousands of dollars!  Often the elderly are targeted but others have fallen victim as well.  Human nature's desire to help others is often the scammers' best friend.  Case in point, the recent discovery that the $400,000 raised through an online GoFundMe page for a homeless veteran was actually the work of scam artists.

SGT Dalrymple added, "Please remind readers that it should be a simple process to call family members (using phone numbers they know are genuine!) to check on the well-being of family members reported to be in trouble."  As an example: several years ago my mother-in-law received a call from her 'grandson.'  He asked her to wire hundreds of dollars to cover his hospital expenses while he was on vacation in Puerto Rico.  Thankfully my mother-in-law followed SGT Dalrymple's approach and called my wife who in turn texted our real son who reported he was happy and healthy at home in Brooklyn!

The bottom line: If someone is directing you to a store to buy gift cards, it is assuredly a scam.  The scammers are very convincing con men or women who may call repeatedly once they know they have someone that 'takes the bait.'  Such scams are called 'phishing.'  Not unlike the sport of fishing, when you find a spot where they bite you keep going back for more.

And, SGT Dalrymple reminds us all, "When in doubt, please call the Holliston Police Department."  508.429.1212 

 

 

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Comments (1)

Another tip is to ask the caller for some information only the real grandchild would know. E.g.: "How's your dog...wht's his name again?" Bonus points if the person in question has a cat, not a dog.

- peter simpson | 11/21/18 2:32 PM

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