Social Media Gives Grandparent Scam New Twist | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Johanna Harold received a frightening phone call from a familiar voice - or so she thought.
"I pick the phone up and on the other end was a young man's voice that said hey grandma," said Harrold.
She said the voice sounded familiar, but she would later find out it it was part of a plan to deceive her.
The person claimed he was in Santa Cruz, had an accident and was in jail. He needed money for bail and to make restitution to the accident victim.
"I was thinking, 'oh my gosh, my grandson, what happened to him? He's out of the country'," she said.
Harrold said she was on the phone eight minutes. At first the caller was convincing, but she said the longer he talked, the more unbelievable the story seemed.
"When he told me he blew a 1/2 point over the limit, I said, 'no, he (grandson) doesn't even drink'," said Harrold.
She hung up and checked with a relative; her grandson was home.
"This is the grandparent scam. The scammers have enough personal information, and victims get panicky and they take whatever necessary steps to save their love ones," said Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida.
How do scammers get personal information? Stephens said they mine social media sites, a new twist to an old scam.
"Limit the personal information you put on Facebook or any other social media, and you should not accept friend requests from people you don't know," said Stephens.
If you want to prepare the family for an emergency call, Stephens said there are ways.
"You may want to develop a code word for the family that only the family would know," he said.
Harrold figured out it was not her grandson on the phone call and that hesitation saved her a financial headache.
Her advice to others is simple. "Ask questions, just ask questions, Do not give out information," said Harrold.