IL Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Facebook is a new tool for "grandparent scam"

  Facebook is a new tool for "grandparent scam"
Officials with the Better Business Bureau of Northeast California are warning older adults about a new twist in a telephone scam that preys on grandparents who think they are helping their grandchildren in an emergency.  The fraud, first seen in 2008, involves a grandparent getting a call from a young person claiming to be a grandson or granddaughter who got into legal trouble in a foreign country and needs emergency cash.  To stress the urgency, calls are usually made in the middle of the night, and the scammer insists that funds be sent by wire or overnight delivery.  In the past, wary would-be victims could easily rattle the scammer by asking personal questions only certain people could answer, such as the name of a childhood pet, their nickname, or the college they attended.  Today, however, with the popularity of social networking sites, the bureau said the scammer may already have that information, and a lot more.  The bureau said a Sacramento grandmother was contacted this week by young woman who claimed to be her granddaughter. The girl said she was in trouble in Canada and needed the victim to wire her $4,500 to get out of jail.  Even after asking several questions, the grandmother said she was absolutely convinced the girl was her granddaughter.  The BBB said the scammer was looking at a Facebook page the real granddaughter had posted, and simply reading off dozens of facts about the family, addresses, and where she went to college.  The information was easily accessible because the granddaughter's Facebook privacy settings weren't high enough, allowing her account to be viewed by just about anyone.

Source:  Chico (CA) Enterprise-Record (January 15, 2011)
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