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‘Grandparent scam’ nearing its second decade…and you’re still falling for it

This impostor scam has had a lot of stamina, and it loves to circulate in North Mississippi.

Mississippi state regulators first alerted me to the ‘grandparent scam’ in 1999. Then-Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore asked me to alert my viewers that an inordinate amount of North Mississippi seniors was getting strange calls.

Each time, the caller would claim to be the senior’s grandson or granddaughter. Using leading language techniques and manipulation to make the senior think it really was his or her grandchild, the caller would claim he or she was on Spring Break or in a car accident or some other circumstance …and “Grandpa, I’m in big trouble. I’m in jail. I can’t reach Mom or Dad, and I really need you to bail me out.”

Trap set.

The fake grandchild then asks the senior to wire the bail money through Western Union, MoneyGram…or even requests the senior’s bank account routing numbers to access cash. In 1999 — 19 years ago — Attorney General Moore said North Mississippi seniors were sending thousands of dollars to scammers via this scam.

Flash-forward to 2017. Mississippi has a new attorney general. But the same old grandparent scam was still making the rounds.

Attorney General Jim Hood was forced to issue the same alert his predecessor did nearly two decades earlier after he saw a spike in Mississippi seniors statewide once again falling for the scam. “Wiring money is identical to mailing cash,” said Hood in a press release last June. “There are no protections for the sender and no way to reverse the transaction, trace the money, or recover payment from the telephone con artists. These scammers will try to convince their victims to send any amount—from several hundred to several thousand dollars—and they may even call back hours or days later asking for more money if they were successful the first time.”

Seniors, be vigilant. Don’t take that call at face value. In fact, don’t take that call at all if you don’t recognize it on caller ID. Let it go…and if you must, hang up, then initiate a call to your grandchild’s actual phone number or to his parents to verify the truth.

Caretakers, take charge. Help screen your elderly loved ones’ calls. Tell your seniors that any request to wire money is the scam’s dead giveaway.

Let’s don’t do this again in another 20 years.

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