In just the past month, several elderly North Dakotans have fallen victim to the “grandparent” scam, each losing thousands of dollars to scam artists who pretended to be a grandchild supposedly in a dire situation and in desperate need of money.
The grandparent scam is one of the common “imposter” scams that have been circulating in the state for several years, along with the Fake IRS call and the phony Sweepstakes/Lottery win. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has issued numerous warnings about these scams. Unfortunately, the consumer protection division of his office receives reports of new victims every week.
Stenehjem urged all North Dakota residents to talk to elderly parents and relatives about these scams.
“The only way to beat the scammers is to make sure our elderly relatives know what to do before they get a call,” said Stenehjem. “These scam artists are ruthless professionals who will do whatever they can to convince their victims to part with their life savings,” he continued.
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection division, said scam artists are known to target elderly individuals. “Don’t assume that elderly family members will recognize a scam call or know what to do when they get one. Get the conversation started by asking your family members if they have heard about the grandparent scam,” he said.
Grossman said to remind family members of the following:
- If the caller asks them not to tell mom or dad (or anyone), it is a giveaway that the call is a scam.
- Confirm the whereabouts of your grandchild with another family member, before sending any money.
- Scam artists like to have victims use alternative forms of payment, such as gift cards, iTunes cards, Walmart-to-Walmart transactions or wire transfers, because they can access the funds instantly and they cannot be tracked.
For more information on how to talk to elderly parents and relatives about scams, contact the Consumer Protection division at 701-328-3404, or toll-free 800-472-2600.
For information about other scams and how to protect yourself and your loved ones, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud.