The FBI is warning the public of scammers targeting senior citizen victims in grandparent scams and demanding funds by wire, mail, or couriers.
- Initial Contact: A scammer calls a senior citizen victim and poses as the victim's grandchild, who is purportedly in jail after causing an automobile accident. In some cases, the accident involves a diplomat or a pregnant woman.
- Follow-Up Contact: Another scammer contacts the victim, posing as the grandchild's attorney, and requests payment for legal fees, bond money, or medical expenses for a purportedly injured person involved in the accident.
- Further Requests: Scammers instruct victims to maintain secrecy, sometimes referring to a judge-imposed gag order, which, if broken, will result in the grandchild going to jail or incurring more fines. Scammers may also request additional money because of a serious injury or a fatality resulting from the purported accident.
- Methods of Payment: Scammers instruct victims to send funds via wire transfer; cash, packaged in magazines or books, and sent through the US mail; or to provide the money to witting or unwitting couriers, such as ride share drivers, who retrieve the money in person at the victim's residence.
From January through September 2023, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 195 victim complaints regarding grandparent scams, resulting in at least $1.9 million in victim losses.
Tips to Protect Yourself
- Do not answer telephone calls from telephone numbers you do not recognize.
- If you receive an unsolicited or suspicious call from someone claiming to be a family member and urgently requesting money, hang up. Verify the story with your family member by calling them directly. If you cannot reach them, call someone else in your family, even if scammers told you to keep it secret.
- Limit the personally identifiable information you post on social media and dating websites. Scammers may use this information to create a convincing story.
- If an unknown individual contacts you online or telephonically, do not release financial or personally identifiable information and do not send money.
The FBI requests victims report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov.
For additional information on a similar scheme, please see the previous Public Service Announcement published on the FBI IC3 website:
FBI Warns of a Grandparent Fraud Scheme Using Couriers