BBB® of the Upstate Urges Seniors Not To Fall for the Grandparent Scam

By Vee Daniel, CEO/President Better Business Bureau of the Upstate

Con-artist:  “Hi Grandma!”

Grandparent: “Hi”

Con-artist: “It’s me!  I’ve been in a terrible car accident and I need help!”

Grandparent:  “Tim, is that you? Are you alright?”

Con-artist: “Yes, it’s me, grandma. I need help. Can you please send me $1000.00 right away?”

This is an example of one of the many typical scenarios of an imposter scam known as the “Grandparent Scam.” Saying the child’s name opens it up for the scammer to continue the scam. The Grandparent Scam occurs when a scammer calls a grandmother or grandfather pretending to be their grandchild, asking the grandparent to wire money. The con-artist poses as a grandson or granddaughter, calls on the telephone and says they are in trouble, usually in a car accident, or in jail, or abroad on spring break or other vacation, and says the situation is “urgent” and they need money immediately. They’ll usually say, “please don’t tell my mom or dad” or they’ll ask that the conversation be kept “between us.” The money is requested to be sent via wire transfer. Wanting to help the grandchild, the victim sends the money. And once money is wired, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.

Some victims report that the caller didn’t sound like their grandson or granddaughter, and when they mention that to the con artist, he or she will usually blame it on the telephone connection, or will say they were hurt in the “accident” they were in.

The “Grandparent Scam” is one of many scams that target seniors. It’s not new, but it’s a scam that’s increasing. In 2017, nearly one in five people reported losing money in an impostor scheme like the grandparent scam, amounting to a loss of $328 million, according to the FTC.

Seniors are targeted because they are particularly vulnerable. Since most older folks are raised to be trusting and honest, they assume others are as well. This puts seniors at a more serious risk for financial scams like the Grandparent Scam.

The BBB recommends that you speak with your grandchildren and be informed of any upcoming trips they may be taking. Decide on a special “code word” that only you and your grandchildren would know, and if you receive a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild, ask the person for that code word. Or, ask a question that only your grandchildren would know, such as the name of a family pet. It’s very important to report scams, especially if you were a victim, but even if you just received a phone call and didn’t fall for it.

We hope that you never do, but should you become the target of a scam, call the BBB Elder Fraud program hotline at (864) 240-2080 or report it using BBB Scamtracker. To report a scam, go to You can also email questions or concerns to The mission of the BBB Elder Fraud program is to assist seniors in recognizing and resisting fraudulent offers and possible.