"It's Me Fraud"
by Jeff Sovern
Those of us at the University of Houston Teaching Consumer Law Conference last week were treated to a report on a type of fraud I personally had never heard of and that is so new, it goes under several names, including it's me fraud and grandparent fraud. Basically, someone calls a grandparent (or sometimes a parent) claiming to be his or her grandchild facing an emergency and in need of funds.
We at Scam Victims United have been reporting on this scam for years now, calling it the Grandparent Scam. The biggest target are seniors, and the scammers use the fact that the Grandparent will want to help out their grandchild no matter what the cost.
What we recommend is that the Grandparents set up a code word with thier grandchildren, so that if the grandchild really DOES need their help and they call the Grandparent can say "What is the code word?" and if the person on the other end of the phone does not know the code word then they will know it is a scam. Don't make the code word anything that could be found on the grandchild's social networking site info, like their high school or middle name.
Another thing that Grandparents can do if they get one of these calls and have NOT set up a code word with their grandchild is to think of a name that no one in your family has, in my case I would use something like Jenny, and then ask the "grandchild" that calls them "Is your sister Jenny with you too?" If the caller says anything like "Yes, Jenny is here." or "No, Jenny is at home." then the Grandparent would know it is a scam since there is no "Jenny".
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!