DA warns of latest round of ‘Granny-scam’ calls in area
NORTHAMPTON — Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan is warning residents that perpetrators of a so-called “granny-scam” are active in the area.
According to a statement from Sullivan’s office, many reports of scam activity have been received in recent weeks.
There are variations on the scam, according to the DA’s office, but all follow the same basic drill:
A caller claims to be a grandchild or someone assisting that grandchild in a dire situation, claiming to need money wired right away.
The caller will claim he or she has been arrested, in an accident or kidnapped and needs ransom money.
Outrageous though these claims may seem, victims sent about $4.5 million to scam artists in 2009, according to figures from the American Association of Retired Persons.
Those figures may actually be higher, because some of these crimes go unreported out of embarrassment, according to AARP.
In some cases the caller may use the real name of the family member, the DA’s office said.
That information can often be found through obituaries, social networking and genealogy websites and public records, the DA’s office said.
The DA’s office provided some suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of these scams:
∎ If the caller identifies him or herself as a grandchild, ask “which one?”
∎ Hang up immediately and call another family member to confirm the grandchild’s location.
∎ Tell the caller you will call them back at their home or cellphone.
∎ Do not provide any banking or credit card information over the phone.
∎ Never wire money.
The Da’s office advises anyone who receives one of these calls to contact their local police department.