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Police Warn of Grandparent Scams

Police Warn of Grandparent Scams

August 7, 2020

The Cedar Rapids Police Department has received several reports of residents who have received telephone calls that are apparently scams directed towards older adults, specifically grandparents.

In grandparent scams, scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, calling or sending messages urging the grandparents to wire money immediately. The scammers say they need cash to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. They intend to pull at the heartstrings of the grandparent in order to elicit money before the victims realize they have been scammed. The lies can be particularly compelling, such as the grandchild has been involved in a crash, has been arrested, or bail money is needed.

If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild, other family member or friend desperate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t send cash, gift cards, or money transfers – once the scammer gets the money, there is little chance of recovery.

Unfortunately, this scam has resulted in significant financial loss to at least two victims this week.  Scam calls can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.  If you or a family member have been victimized, please report the incident to the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5491 or use our online reporting portal at www.cedar-rapids.org/police.

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