July 19, 2013 State Attorney Phil Archer Alerts 200-Plus Businesses To "Grandparent Scammers" Operating in Brevard


State Attorney Phil Archer Alerts 200-Plus Businesses

 To "Grandparent Scammers" Operating in Brevard


            This week, more than 200 area businesses in Brevard County that handle wire transfers of money will be receiving large envelopes marked in red that declare “Priority—Scam Alert!”


            State Attorney Phil Archer directed staff last week to prepare the mailings in an effort to reach potential victims of the “Grandparent Scam,” a crime starting to make the rounds here, before they too lose part of their life savings. 


“Several Brevard residents have fallen victim to this scam in recent weeks and it really is devastating. We want people to be aware of it and bear it in mind before they wire money to a relative because it is like your money disappears,” said Archer.


            The scam works like this: The call comes out of the blue. It’s a flustered sounding woman, crying. The first words out of her mouth are “Poppa, it’s Sandy. I’m in trouble,” she sobs. Immediately, the grandfather is on red alert. His granddaughter is in trouble.


The details vary, but usually the tale of woe is unfolding in either a foreign country or a remote state where the vacationing young woman has met with mishap—an accident, an injury, an arrest—and there is an immediate need for money for bail, doctors, rental vehicles. And Poppa springs into action. Within 90 minutes, he has gone to the bank, withdrawn funds, and wired the money to his suffering granddaughter. If she didn’t sound just right, it’s because of the tears or the wound to her mouth, or the bad connection. And she’ll be paying him back in just days, as soon as she gets home.


Motivated by love, clouded perhaps by mental infirmary, the grandfather sits back and begins to consider. He calls other relatives to see if they have more information about the accident—and his granddaughter answers the phone at her home.


In addition to the letter alerting businesses to the scam, Archer provided a flyer that could be displayed on the business’ countertop warning potential victims.


“These scammers are always pushing the victim. ‘This is urgent. Do this now. Don’t tell anyone else.’ If you should receive such a call, and it is not just grandparents, stop, slow down. Call another relative to confirm the whereabouts of your loved one who supposedly needs your help. Once money is wired, it is virtually impossible to retrieve it and there is no recovery,” Archer warned.


If you feel you have become the victim of this scam, contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as you can, he said. The best way to defeat this scam is with knowledge, Archer said.

Lynne Bumpus-Hooper
Research and Communications Assistant for State Attorney Phil Archer


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