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'Grandparent Scam' Catches Up With Digital Age

A scam that has been making the rounds for a long time is catching up with the digital age by targeting seniors on social media.

The Portland Police Bureau reminds the public that the “grandparent scam” is still active in Oregon.

It’s been around for years and hooks seniors by using their grandchildren as bait: They’re in trouble, had an accident or are being detained in another country. The person on the other end of the phone line or email message urges the potential victim to wire money.

Recently, some scammers are hacking into social media accounts and sending direct messages to family or friends requesting money. By disguising themselves as a loved one, the scammers are better able to fool the victim.

Here are the Portland Police Bureau’s tips to avoid these scams:

  • Be skeptical. Ask questions that only family members would know — like pet names or favorite foods — without revealing too much personal information.
  • Verify information. Check with family members to confirm the locations of grandchildren.
  • Don’t send money. Never wire money out of the country to persons unknown. This includes buying reloadable Visa cards.
  • Stay private. Regularly update privacy settings for social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for personal information on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.
  • Know where to turn. Victims suffering a financial loss should report incidents to local law enforcement agencies and the Oregon Attorney General’s Office or the Department of Justice.
social media scam

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