It was a regular day for Cecil Rogers until he received a phone call from his grandson. His grandson said he was in jail, after causing a bad car accident and needed some money transferred for bail. He begged his grandpa not to tell anyone because he didn't want anyone to know or be worried about what happened.
After hearing this, Rogers withdrew $2,300 and headed to his local Walmart to send over a money order. But when he got to Walmart, he was refused service.
Audrella Taylor, the clerk who was working that day asked Rogers why he was sending so much money. Rogers at first was hesitant to tell her, but as Taylor continued to refuse to help him, he told her why he needed to send the money.
Taylor could not believe a grandson would call his grandpa asking for money without letting him tell anyone why he supposedly needed the cash. "I'm not going to let you send that money because I think you're being scammed," she told him.
Rogers contacted his daughter and found out it was indeed a scam. Thanks to Taylor's quick thinking, the Rogers family didn't lose any money to scammers.
The grandparent scam
Sadly, the grandparent scam that Rogers experienced is rather common. Seniors want to help their grandchildren and don't often think through what the scammer is asking because they are so worried about their family member.
AARP has four suggestions to help and protect the seniors in your life from scammers
1. People don't just lose information
Remind your parents or grandparents that legitimate organizations and people who are asking for money will never call and say they've lost your information. There are systems in place for authentic organizations to keep all the information secure. There isn't ever a need to ask for information over the phone.
If a loved one has been scammed, it's confusing and upsetting. But instead of punishing the victim for making a mistake, focus on being understanding. Let them know you are on their side and want to get to the bottom of the situation so they don't lose any (more) money.
3. Ask them to explain
AARP suggests to try some reverse psychology, "If you become aware that an aged parent is playing a sweepstakes or making a 'double your money' investment, ask how you can do the same. Psychologists say this tactic sometimes prompts a warning - your parent doesn't want you to lose money, too. That's your cue to ask, 'Then why do you do it?' This could start a conversation that helps the parent come to terms with the scam."
If they do choose to tell you how to "double your money" you now have an opportunity to get the details of what they are doing. This can help you end the scam and maybe even track the scammers.
Have them talk to the police - discussing other people who have been hurt or could be hurt by these same people could help motivate your loved ones to help others.
There are other things you can do to help senior citizens not be scammed. Help your loved ones unsubscribe from scamming lists and have them not answer calls they don't recognize.
For an additional layer of security, stores are training their employees to look for situations like this and help seniors to not be scammed ... but sometimes that's not enough. Be sure to talk to your grandparents about this and let them know what a scam looks like.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.