Police in San Francisco are urging the public to beware of money transfer scams targeting the elderly after seeing more of those crimes in recent weeks.
In what police call the “Western Union Grandmother/Grandmother” scam, suspects call elderly victims, claiming to be relatives in a desperate situation and ask for money.
In a typical scenario, the suspect will pretend to know the elderly victim–calling them Grandma or Grandpa, for example–to earn the victim’s trust and coax them into wiring money, police said.
The caller will often claim to be in a precarious situation in a distant location and in need of money fast, according to police.
To protect against these scams, San Francisco police are advising people to verify the identity of anyone who calls and requests money.
Police said anyone who receives this type of call should ask the caller which relative they are and ask them specific questions that a stranger would not know such as “what is your dog’s name” or “where did you go to elementary school?”
Those who recognize the fraud should tell the caller, since many scammers share information about gullible potential victims, police said.