The Grandparent Scam: Ariz. woman records scam artist in action - FOX 10 News |

The Grandparent Scam: Arizona woman records scam artist in action

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Scammers, targeting the elderly -- it's big business.

A recent survey found around $3 billion is lost each year in financial scams, targeting seniors and retirees.

One scam, called a grandparent scam, starts with a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild, in a crisis situation, they need money immediately. 

My grandmother, Nina, said she knew this was a scam from the beginning.

The call came from an unknown number which she says she usually never picks up, but this time, she did and she just so happened to record the entire call.

Caller: "Hey grandma.. what are you up to?"

Nina: "Nothing much, who is this?"

Caller: "You don't know what grandson you're speaking to?  The oldest one obviously."

Nina: "Oh.. okay.. Chris."

Caller: "Yeah, it's me."

My grandmother said she knew almost immediately that this phone call she received last Tuesday was a scam.

"He calls me grandma and that was my first clue because none of my grand kids had ever called me grandma," she said.  "But I played along with it because I thought this is really weird, so I thought I would listen to it or something."

The caller continued pretending he's her grandson, telling her he's in Las Vegas on vacation.

"So oh my God, grandma, I got arrested."

He went on to say police found drugs in the cab he was in and wants money for bail.

"You better call your mom and dad," said Nina.

"No, please, please grandma, please," he said.

"I said well, I can't help you.. you know I have cancer, I have a lot of expenses, then he started really crying," said Nina. 

Does she think he felt bad after he said that?

"No, I don't think he felt bad at all.  I think he felt bad because he didn't get any money out of me," she replied.

Nina says she can see how people fall for the scam.

"Oh yes, I can, especially seniors.  If you call, if you haven't talked to your grandson in a while, you really don't know their voices."

She didn't initially realize she recorded the call.  She happened to pick up the phone as the answering machine picked up.

"Oh my gosh, I thought how am I going to tell everyone I had this scam call and I was so shocked when I came out to the kitchen and it was recorded.  I couldn't wait to play it for everybody."

Strangely, the scammer ends the call with an "I love you."

"Alright, I'm sorry, okay.. I love you, bye bye."

"I wanted to get him off the phone.  I knew it was a scam by that time," she said.

My grandmother has no idea how this person got her information. 

Interestingly, Chris' parents were in town and heard the message and also knew it wasn't him.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were more than 2,000 of these types of "imposter scams" reported in Arizona last year.

The Grandparent Scam: Don't let it happen to you

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