Florida sheriff's office warns residents about 'grandparents scam'

ILLUSTRATION - 11 October 2019, Bavaria, Würzburg: An elderly woman is using a cordless landline phone. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa (Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office is warning the public about a ‘grandparent scam’ targeting seniors. 

Although the scam is not new, the sheriff's office says criminals are perfecting their crime every day to lure in more victims. The scheme involves the perpetrator demanding that grandparents or friends send money by mail or courier. 

How does the grandparent scam work? 

A scammer will call a senior citizen and pose as the victim's grandchild, relative, or friend and say they are in jail after causing a serious automobile accident. In some instances, the scammer claims the crash involved a pregnant woman. 

Another scammer will call the victim claiming to be an attorney for the grandchild or relative, requesting payment for legal fees, bond money or medical expenses for the fictitious person who was injured. 

The victim is also told not to tell anyone as the scammer refers to a judge-imposed gag order which would result in jail or more fines, if broken. 

The scammer then asks the victim to go to the bank and withdraw money to couriers posing as Uber or Lyft drivers, who retrieve the money in person at the victim's home. The scammer reminds the victim to provide a specific story to the bank to "avoid raising suspicion."

Tips on how to avoid getting scammed

The sheriff's office has a few suggestions on how you can shield yourself from scammers. 

  1. Never answer phone calls from numbers you don't recognize.
  2. If you receive an unexpected or suspicious call from someone claiming to be family, hang up and instead verify the story with your family member by calling them directly.
  3. Limit personal information that you share on social media and dating websites because scammers may use that information to victimize you.
  4. If a stranger contact you online or by telephone or text, do not provide your financial personal information and do not send money.

If you believe you have become the victim of a grandparents scam, call the Volusia County non-emergency line at (386)-248-1777.