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September 25, 2012

LITTLE ROCK - In what initially appears to be a tug at the heartstrings of loving family members, con artists are ramping up efforts to get at the pursestrings of Arkansas consumers in a ploy commonly known as the "grandparents scam."

The Attorney General's Office has received a higher-than-usual volume of inquiries about the scam in recent days. Because of the prevalence of the scam, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this special consumer alert today to help Arkansans avoid becoming victims of this type of fraud.

In the most common version of the scam, a grandparent will receive a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild or friend of a grandchild purporting to be in dire need of money. In some cases, the scammer may say that the grandchild has been in an accident, has been arrested or is in some sort of immediate danger.

Then, the scammer requests that the grandparent make a wire transfer of money. Often, they request that money be wired to a location outside the United States.

"It's disheartening that criminals would exploit our love of our families to attempt to steal money from Arkansans," McDaniel said. "Fortunately, grandparents can avoid falling victim to this type of scam by taking the time to verify the whereabouts of their grandchild and refusing to wire money following any unsolicited phone call."

Grandparents who receive calls they believe to be scams should ask the caller questions that would be difficult for an imposter to answer, McDaniel said. Further, they should make their own call to the grandchild in question, or to another relative, to confirm that there is indeed an emergency.

McDaniel encouraged consumers to be wary of anyone attempting to pressure them to wire money immediately to an unknown account or entity. Consumers are urged to view wire transfers as the same as cash; because once someone wires money, it is extremely difficult to get the money back. If money is wired to another country, it's almost impossible for it to ever be returned.

Victims of this type of scam or other scams should call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division hotline at (800) 482-8982, or visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.