Every grandkid knows that if they are in a pinch and really need money, they can always make a discreet withdrawal from the Bank of Grandma. Unfortunately, fraudsters have learned that same lesson and are using that knowledge to prey on the elderly and bilk them out of their retirement savings.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been warning of scams that follow this story line. The unsuspecting senior citizen receives a frantic phone call from a young person purporting to be their grandchild or some other relation. The terrified kid is in an awful jam — maybe he needs money to get out of jail, or to pay a spring break hotel bill because his friends skipped town on him — and he’s counting on Grandma or Grandpa to help him out by wiring some money right away. He didn’t want to call Mom or Dad, because they’ll never forgive him, and he knows Grandma and Grandpa will keep his secret. And he’ll pay the money back, of course. The worried grandparent, secretly pleased to be of help, goes to the bank or Western Union to send the money, and they never see that money again.
It’s pathetic, of course, that crooks would consciously try to cheat older people, but they’ve been doing so since the dawn of time. What’s really heartbreaking is that the defrauded grandparents are so trusting, and have such strong senses of familial obligation, that they are inclined to send thousands of dollars on the basis of a single phone call from a person whose voice they obviously don’t know and who claims to be a relative they haven’t talked to in months. Perhaps each of us should call the elders of our families — not only to alert them to this scam, but also to re-acquaint them with the sounds of our voices.