The Great Grandparent Scam | How To Start Important Conversations With Your Elderly Loved Ones About Various Scams & Elder Abuse.

adult children aging parent podcast smart planning 101 Dec 02, 2021
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The FBI estimates that seniors lose more than $3 billion each year to fraud. 

So what happens when a beloved grandchild calls, begging for money because a bad thing happened to them. Well, you know the answer. That's why this has to be a family conversation right now. 

The following is a story we've heard many, many times. The scammer will call an older person and say something along the lines of:

"Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?"

When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses a grandchild's name that the scammer sounds like, the scammer establishes a fake identity without doing any background research or doing any heavy lifting at all. 

Then the fake grandchild will ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem. Usually, it's something like:

  • Overdue rent or bills

  • They need their car repaired

  • Or they got into trouble and are in jail and need bond

The scammer makes it seem as if their grandchild needs help immediately and is very skilled at creating an extreme sense of urgency that makes the victim believe that the problem needs to be solved right that second, without talking to anyone in their family. They will also beg the grandparent not to tell anyone for many reasons.

Often, scammers ask to be paid via gift cards or money transfers because they generally don't require identification to collect. Unfortunately, this means that the victim may have no way of seeing the money ever again. There is no question that seniors are among the most targeted by scammers. On top of that, financial scams often go unreported because they are embarrassed.

Now, before you start thinking to yourself that all scams happen by strangers, think again.

In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. 

Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses. 


We often see an example about the "black sheep" of the family that is constantly sucking money out of Mom and Dad. The elderly victim doesn't want to see the family member go to jail, so they don't do anything about it, and they don't allow other family members to report it either.

This fact is why it is so important for adult children of aging parents and grandparents (who actually care for them) to start having conversations about these scams right now.

  • Make them aware of the types of scams that can happen to them

  • Make a plan and agree upon that plan

  • Set rules in place about how money gets given to family members or anyone



Bottom line: seniors are vulnerable to scams.  

Conversations with your elderly loved one may sometimes be difficult for several reasons. But we have to find a way to make these conversations productive and loving, but it is worth the time because, as I said earlier - $3 billion worth of fraud  yearly! 

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More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse. Please click here for more information on warning signs of elder abuse if you suspect someone you know is at risk. Or you can notify the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Adult Protective Services, by calling the 24-hour toll-free hotline: 855-444-3911.


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The information in this blog is not intended to be, nor should it be, construed as legal advice, and it is for informational purposes only. For advice specific to your situation, consult with a qualified attorney.