AG Hood warns of "grandparent scams" targeting elderly

Grandparent scams occur when the caller requests for the victim to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram, or to provide bank account routing numbers to scammers. (courtesy)
SDN STAFF REPORT

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is warning senior citizens across the state to be aware of potential wire fraud attempts known as "grandparent scams."

Grandparent scams occur when the caller requests for the victim to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram, or to provide bank account routing numbers to scammers.

Hood's office said while reports have been made across the state, Harrison and Hinds counties have been specifically targeted.

The scammer will often frantically contact the intended victim claiming to be a loved one on vacation in some sort of distress or financial trouble. Scammers usually pose as a grandchild, family member or even a close friend or neighbor.

“Wiring money is identical to mailing cash,” Hood said. “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.”

The Mississippi Attorney General's Office also provided these tips to help seniors avoid being scammed:

• Do not wire any amount of money unless you have properly assessed the situation or in some way verified with others close to your loved one that they are actually in trouble.

• Be suspicious if your loved one requests or demands that you keep the phone call a secret by claiming to be embarrassed and/or scared.

• Avoid acting out of a sense of urgency if you receive communication from a “loved one” (scammer) who claims to be traveling and is in some sort of distress or financial bind asking you to urgently wire transfer them money.

• Immediately after receiving the call or message, attempt calling your “loved one” back at the telephone number through which you normally reach him or her if they reached out or attempted to reach out to you using an odd or long distance number.

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