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Attorney General Warns Of “Grandparent” Consumer Scam

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

February 21, 2012

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is warning the public about over-the-phone scams directed at elderly Vermonters, in which a person posing as the target’s grandson or granddaughter claims to be in need of money in a foreign country and asks for a wire transfer of funds, typically in the thousands of dollars. In these “grandparent scams,” the caller, who is not actually a grandchild, says that he or she has been in a car accident, or is in police custody, or for some other reason needs money, and directs the senior citizen to send a wire transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram.

The callers are actually cross-border criminals who take the grandparent’s money and run. Typically they use untraceable cell phones and display forged IDs to pick up the wire transfers. Once the money is wired, it is not recoverable.

Of late there have been reports from a number of states of such fraud-induced wire transfers being picked up in Peru, Bolivia, Greece and Spain; but the receiving location could be anywhere.

The Attorney General’s Office advises Vermonters not to send any money whatsoever in response to these calls. If there is any question about whether a relative is actually in need of funds abroad, people should first contact other members of their family to verify that the relative is really out of the country and in trouble, and then work with their family to provide assistance. To file a complaint, consumers should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424, or log onto http://www.uvm.edu/consumer/?Page=complaintform.html.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.