The Grandparent Scam: How This Trick Cons Seniors

In the video below by CBS News, a convicted con man tells how he stole up to $10,000 from caring grandparents in this heartless crime. Pretending to be a grandson, he would call senior citizens and tell them he’d been in an accident, not to tell anyone, and to send him some money.

The con man said senior citizens make prime targets for the crime because they’re often more gullible. Doug Shadel from AARP adds that even doctors and lawyers fall prey to the scam, as well as others regardless of their level of education. People who should know better fall for the scam because once emotions are involved it’s much easier to pull off the theft.

The video also tells the story of an 81 year old grandmother who sent $18,000 to a “lawyer” who ended up being a thief. The woman said her emotions blinded her to what should have been an obvious crime.

The convicted scammer in the video says grandparents who get calls from grandchildren asking for money to help them out of trouble should ask a question only the real child would know the answer to, like the name of a pet. However, FBI reports suggest that many grandparent scam criminals surf the Facebook pages of their intended victims to learn personal information they then use during these phone calls.

People who think they’ve been the victim of the grandparent scam or other crimes can fill out a complaint form with the Federal Trade Commission at or call 877-382-4357. They can also contact the AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center at 800-646-2283.