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The holiday scam you need to know about this season

There will always be bad people in the world, ready to fleece you of your money. But those people are especially bad when they take advantage of trust and goodwill during the holiday season.

Recently a Facebook friend of mine wrote that his grandfather had been the would-be subject of a fairly common type of scam targeted toward older people.

Here’s how it works: Scammers call the houses of elderly folks (this sort of information is widely available through public searches). The scammers then pretend to be a grandchild, saying something general like, “Hey Grandpa, it’s me. I’m in trouble.” They then say the “grandchild” is in jail and needs money for bail wired to them as soon as possible.

The idea is that the target will be so panicked or worried they won’t bother to check the “grandchild’s” story and will hand over the money out of love and concern. In the case of my Facebook friend, his grandfather had the forethought to hang up and call his grandson directly. (Surprise! He was definitely not in jail.)

More information and variants of the scam can be found here.

It’s easy to think, “Who falls for this stuff?” But the reality is a lot of people don’t immediately think someone is trying to take advantage of them. Sadly, their trust makes them a perfect target. Recently, two women in New York fell prey to scams very similar to the one described above. In one instance, the caller pretended to be an officer instead of a grandchild.

It’s despicable that we have to worry about things like this, especially during the holidays, when general feelings of optimism and goodwill may leave people more vulnerable.

If you have older loved ones in your family, be sure to talk to them about the dangers of scams like these. Even something as simple as asking for a name or a personal fact from the caller can be enough to expose it and keep their money (and family) safe.

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