Sept. 8, 2023
Carson City, NV — Ahead of National Grandparents Day on Sunday, Sept. 10, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford highlights imposter scams designed to take advantage of Nevada grandparents statewide.
"Impostors specifically target Nevada grandparents and seniors," said AG Ford. "Scammers have developed strategies to take advantage of family connections and other information to create a sense of urgency in their scams, which can cause victims to act more quickly and potentially without the caution they would normally have. Many times, these scams intend to obtain money or personal information from the targeted older victims, who may believe they are trying to assist a family member in need.”
Grandparent scams often target seniors with teenage or young adult grandchildren by pretending the grandchild is in trouble. The scammers prey on the emotions of the grandparent to create a sense of urgency; influence the victim to disregard caution; and get the grandparent to give them money or personal information. Scammers can learn names and information of family members through a variety of methods, such as accessing social media accounts that are not set to private and searching publicly available phone/address directories on the internet. The imposter may even be an acquaintance of a grandchild.
The scammer poses as the victim’s grandchild and claims they are in an emergency and need money, often claiming they need bail money or funds for a car repair while traveling. The scammer often attempts to convince the grandparent not to contact the grandchild's parents.
Imposters often disguise their voices by imitating a bad phone connection, a busy area or attempting to sound far away from the phone speaker. Combined with the typical urgency with which the requests for money are presented, these tactics are designed to confuse, frighten and manipulate the grandparent target.
Increasingly, imposters have been requesting to be paid with gift cards from companies such as Amazon, American Express, Wal-Mart or Visa. This technique is popular with scammers because once the gift card number and PIN have been sent, it is virtually impossible to reverse the transaction.
If someone contacts you claiming to be a family member urgently seeking money, here’s what to do:
Listen to your gut. Do not send money and hang up immediately. The scammer will likely use tactics that will make this hard to do. The imposter may have an excuse for contacting you through unorthodox means or from a number that you do not know. Refusing to send money and hanging up could save you from being scammed while you work to determine if the situation is real.
Then, call or text the person who purportedly called you at a phone number that you know is right — do not call or text the number that just contacted you — and confirm if the person is in trouble. In addition, always call someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if the caller said to keep it a secret. A trusted person can help you figure out whether the story is true.
If you have paid someone you suspect to be an imposter, here’s what to do:
- If you have sent money through a credit card or bank account, contact the company or bank that issued the card or account. Tell them it was a fraudulent charge and ask them to reverse the transaction and give you your money back.
- If you have sent money through wire transfer, contact the wire transfer company and tell them it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.
- If you have sent money through a money transfer app, report the fraudulent transaction to the company running the app and ask them to reverse the payment. If you linked the app to a credit card or debit card, report the fraud to your credit card company or bank. Ask them to reverse the charge.
- If you have sent money in the form of a gift card, usually by reading the gift card number and PIN over the phone or sending those numbers via text, it may not be possible to reverse the gift card transaction itself. Make sure to save the gift card and receipt from when you purchased the gift card and to save any text messages or call records from when you believe you were scammed. Call the fraud department of the company from which the gift card was purchased — this number is often on the gift card itself or available on the company’s website. Your bank may also be able to help you cancel a transaction linked to your own debit or credit card if that is what you used to purchase the gift card.
If you have been a victim of or witness to a scam, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, your local law enforcement office or the Office of the Nevada Attorney General. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including any information you have about the person or entity that contacted you.