CRYSTAL LAKE – Authorities are encouraging residents to be aware of a popular scam that targets the elderly by tugging at their hearts.
The “grandparent scam” has been around since 2008, but there has been a recent surge, according to a news release from the Crystal Lake Police Department.
The scam is designed to fool people into thinking that a grandchild is hurt, arrested or stranded and in need of money.
Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from someone posing as a grandchild, the release states.
The person explains that he or she is in trouble and needs help, sometimes because of a car accident or an arrest for drug possession.
The person later pleads to the grandparents not to tell anyone and to wire thousands of dollars for reasons such as posting bail, car repairs, lawyer fees and hospital bills.
Tips to avoid the scam include:
• Communicate – Teens should share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country.
• Share information – Teens should provide the cellphone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media sites.
• Ask a personal question, but do not disclose too much. If a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild in distress, do not disclose any information before confirming it is really his or her grandchild. Don’t respond with a name, but let the caller explain who he or she is. Ask a question only the grandchild would know, such as what school he or she went to or their middle name.
For information, visit www.fbi.gov/scams-safety.