Grandparent Scam -- Inheritance Scam -- Power Of Attorney Scam
Fraudsters and scammers aren’t always strangers, sometimes they’re people you know, and sometimes they’re your relatives. Or so you think. If a fraudster finds out just the right amount of information about you they can fool you into thinking that they are family. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now with these types of fraudulent scams:
The Grandparent Scam "Story": A “grandchild” or other relative calls, saying he’s been in a terrible accident overseas and needs money immediately in order to receive medical attention. A “doctor” might get on the line to say your grandchild can’t talk anymore because he needs medical attention. You must wire money for the treatment to proceed.
- The script has different variations. Your “grandchild” has been arrested and a “cop” picks up the line to demand bail money. Your relative’s car broke down and he needs money to get it fixed. Or he’s stuck at a foreign airport and needs money to pay customs and return home. The common theme is that the “grandchild” sounds like yours but can’t talk for long because there’s an urgent situation that demands immediate funds. Often the fake grandchild will beg you not to tell his parents – anything to delay you from discovering the truth before parting with your money.
- The call might be random and the scammer will expertly fake his way through the call, picking up cues from you, including your grandchild’s name. Or it might not be random at all. Sometimes the scammers know the names of your friends or relatives. As the Consumer Federation of America points out, bad guys can find information from a variety of sources. Your relatives may be mentioned in an obituary or on a social networking site. Your email account may have been hacked, revealing the names of your relatives. Criminals use marketing databases, telephone listings and a variety of sources to find information used to trick you.
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The Inheritance Scam "Story": A fraudster that claims to be a lawyer from overseas or some other legal official sends you an email or a letter. They tell you that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money. The lawyer is administering the inheritance and has been unable to identify any of the dead person’s relatives. As a result, the money will go to the government. The lawyer suggests that, because you share the same family name as the deceased, he could pay the inheritance to you. You could then split the money between you, rather than handing it over to the government. The fraudsters will emphasize the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly. However, there is no inheritance and the person contacting you isn’t a lawyer or legal official.
What Happens Next:
- If you respond to the fraudsters, they’ll ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance. Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid up front.
- If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you can’t afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out.
- The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.
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Power Of Attorney Scam:
The Power Of Attorney Scam is where a person takes advantage of another by having them sign a financial Power Of Attorney, which grants them authority to access the other’s bank accounts and assets. After being granted the Power Of Attorney, the fraudster will then take the account monies and properties for their own use, often investing them in other areas so they are difficult to trace.
- Elder persons are particularly susceptible to financial Power Of Attorney Scams, because they often experience mental decline or injuries during aging. This is a form of elder abuse known as “Elder Financial Abuse” (see below) and is often committed by the elder person’s own relatives or close friends.
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