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Muscatine Police warn of the “Grandparent Scam” and provide tips on how to outsmart con artists targeting the elderly

MUSCATINE, Iowa – Police say they continue to  receive calls about scammers who are targeting older citizens by asking them for money.

In a press release, Muscatine Police say a recent intended target became suspicious of a scammer and started asking personal questions to identify the caller.

The press release said that the calls target individuals over age 65 either by phone or email posing as either a relative in distress or someone claiming to represent the relative (lawyer, law enforcement agent, etc.). The message begins with “Hi grandma” or “Hi grandpa” with the con artist then explaining that they are in trouble and in need of money.

A 2014 investigative report talked with a conman who said people over 65 are usually targeted because they are more gullible and accessible.

As social media continues to grow, so do the momentum of scams like these. Scammers use scare tactics to intimidate individuals by implying their grandchildren are in physical danger or in trouble, and then ask the target to send money via a wire transfer (easily retrievable with a reference number and a phony identification).

The Muscatine Police Department included tips from the National Consumers League (NCL) Fraud Center in their press release that will help detect and avoid scams like the Grandparent Scam.

·         Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills.

·         Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative0 the scam artist is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story.

·         Scam artist’s payment method of choice is the wire transfer. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.

·         Be aware that fraudsters attempting the Grandparent Scam may call late at night to confuse potential victims.

·         Consumer who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement, their state attorney general, and the NCL’s Fraud Center at Fraud.org.

Police say to ask questions, stay calm and say that you have to consult another family member before sending money, then hang up.