ALEXANDRIA, La. (Alexandria Police Department) - APD has recently received reports that the "Grandparent Scam" may be re-circulating in our area.
This scam involves a call or email from someone who claims to be a friend or relative. It is called the grandparent scam because the caller will often pretend to be a grandson or granddaughter. The caller will claim that there is an emergency (usually saying they are in jail or being held by police, often in another country) and that they need money immediately. Sometimes they may claim they have been mugged, or are having car trouble. The caller will tell the victim not to call any other relatives or police.
The caller may also claim to be a lawyer or government official or law enforcement officer of some kind. Regardless of who they claim to be, they will stress that it is important for you to send the money immediately.
These scammers often know the names of relatives and a few pieces of information about you or the person they are claiming to be. Much of this information is gleaned from social media or public documents. Often they will call in the middle of the night; first, because a person who is woken up will be disoriented and confused; second, because the victim will be reluctant to call and wake up other family members to confirm the story.
What can you do?
First, ask the caller to confirm their identity by asking them a question that would be hard for an impostor to answer. For example, if they claim to be a grandchild, ask them about something from their childhood they would remember, like a favorite pizza place you took them to, or the name of your dog. Any question is good if it is something an impostor could not find out by searching online.
One warning sign is the manner of the money transfer, especially if the impostor claims to be law enforcement or a government official. Remember, no legitimate government agency will ever ask you to send money via Western Union or Wal-Mart Moneygram, or by concealing cash in a package and shipping it.
Finally, verify their story. No matter how much the caller may beg you not to call his or her parents or other family member, always call! Many victims have lost thousands of dollars only to find out the next day that their grandchild was not in another country at all.