LANSING, Mich. – State officials and the AARP are warning senior citizens, especially grandparents, of a scam that recently hit a Zeeland couple for $16,000.
The “Grandparents Scam” involves convincing a grandparent into sending cash via FedEx and buying Home Depot gift cards to share the numbers over the phone. The scammer poses as a grandchild or other relative in distress who needs the cash.
Zeeland Police said that employees at FedEx and Home Depot expressed concern to the couple, but the suspects had already manipulated the couple to the extent they followed through with the demands.
“Our job is to protect the people of Michigan – and this consumer alert is an important way to do that. It’s equally important to be aware of ways in which people try to get you to hand over your money,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, in a press release.
To stop a scam:
- Double check. Attempt to reach the loved one and/or confirm the status or whereabouts with other family members.
- Spot the red flags. If the caller is frantic on the phone and demands funds be wire transferred, sent in cash, or via gift cards—it’s probably fraud. Additionally, the caller may have just enough personal information to persuade and will likely instruct you not to tell anyone.
- Slow down. Although you will be pressured to do so, do not act right away. During the call, do not assist scammers in owning the identity of your loved one by guessing the name. Force them to tell you who they are.
- Never provide personal identifying information to an incoming caller. Never provide your bank account, credit card information, or social security number to someone who calls you. Hang up and call the company or individual back on a phone number you know to be correct to verify.