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Be Informed about Potential Grandparents' Scam
Recently, the grandmother of one of our residential students received a frantic call from an individual that identified himself as her grandson. He explained that he had been involved in an accident, had a broken nose, and had been arrested. He needed for her to send him bail money right away and asked her not to let his parents know. The reason his voice sounded strange was explained by the broken nose. Fortunately, this grandmother decided to call her son and he called the Armstrong Police. The Armstrong officers quickly made contact with the student and determined that he did not call his grandmother.
This is a nationwide scam targeting grandparents. It is a form of an "Imposter Scam" and the Federal Trade Commission reports there were 60,000 complaints last year. The grandparent scam has been around for many years; however, the availability of personal information on the internet through social media may have contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of complaints.
The imposters use the social media sources to determine which individuals are new to a school and, in many cases, the names of the student's grandparents. After that they use an internet search to find a phone number for the grandparent. The phone call will only take a few minutes because the student is only allowed a short call by the jailers.
Students and their families should make sure that their grandparents are aware of this type of scam and never send money based upon an unconfirmed telephone call or email. In this case, a quick phone call to the Armstrong Police unraveled the scam.
If someone in your family receives this type of call, the first thing you should do is call the student on their personal cell phone, not the number given by the person who calls the grandparent. If the student does not answer, call the Armstrong Police Department at 912.344.3333 and our officers will help you locate the student.
Chief Wayne R. Willcox, MSCJ, CLEE