AARP AARP States Washington

Don't Fall for the Grandparent's Scam


It’s a scam that hurts both financially and emotionally. Someone calls an elderly individual pretending to be his or her grandchild. They say they’re overseas, that there’s been an emergency and they need money immediately. Far too often, the unsuspecting grandparent rushes to help by wiring the money and the scammer picks it up, never to be heard from again.

There are a few clues to watch out for if you think you’re being scammed:

You must wire the money. The scammer won’t accept money any other way, it must be wired so they can pick it up.  Also be wary of callers asking you to provide funds via Green Dot or MoneyPak cards.

The person on the phone is rushed. The “grandchild” may sound like yours, but he/she can’t talk for long because there is an urgent situation they need help with.

You’re sworn to secrecy. The fake grandchild will beg you not to tell his/her parents.

If you think you’re being scammed, resist the pressure to act quickly!

Ask questions. What’s your mom’s name? Favorite pet? Where were you born? A real grandchild would obviously be able to answer these questions, while a scammer will struggle.

Ask for a phone number. A real relative won’t be shy about providing contact information.

If you fell for the grandparent’s scam, act quickly! Call the wire transfer service to cancel the transaction. Unfortunately, once the money has been picked up, there’s no way to get it back.  You can also file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at

Learn even more about the Grandparent’s Scam by watching the short video below.  You’ll hear tips straight from a convicted con-artist who stole thousands from unsuspecting consumers.

To get timely alerts on the latest scams and schemes, sign up for the AARP Fraud Watch Network at or by calling the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Call Center at 1-800-646-2283. The Fraud Watch Network is an effort by AARP and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.  The network is free, and you do not need to be an AARP member to join.

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