In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 400,000 complaints from consumers reporting that they’d been exposed to impersonation scams. The “grandparent scam” is one type that deliberately targets older Americans.
To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he’s stranded or has been mugged, and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. Once the money is wired, the victim later finds out that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.