Facebook Can Aid and Increase Success Rate of the ‘Grandma Scam’

facebook_logoJust by virtue of owning a Facebook profile, we are giving people a peek into our lives – a window, so to speak. The size of that window mostly depends on how much we post on Facebook.

However, Facebook itself is structured in such a way that what our friends post can also influence the size of that window. You could be a stickler for privacy, but then your friend may not be. Any scammer could use what he learns about your friend to get to you and to trick you into believing his lies. In fact, even if you don’t even have a Facebook account, scammers could still use the social networking site to harm you.

Take a situation that’s happening today for example. Police have been getting several reports of scammers targeting senior citizens by using Facebook. These scammers would gather information from the Facebook page of the grandchild and use what he learns in order to make a plausible, believable appeal to the target.

The scammer would call the grandparent and ask for money, often conjuring tales of a crisis in order to get sympathy. To add a bit of depth to the story, the scammer would use the names of other family members, even citing details about family outings, parties, or what not.

For example, in Arizona, the common scam involves a fictitious trip to mexico, an accident, and imprisonment. The scammer would often tell the grandparents to keep the incident to themselves, trying to break off any means of confirmation for the old couple.

Authorities have taken to calling the scheme “The Grandma Scam”. It’s not a new scam per se. Con artists have been doing it for years – but with Facebook in the picture, the scammers have just added another tool to their box, a powerful one at that. Just imagine if the scammers use the name of someone who has really gone to Mexico for the holidays and posted about it on Facebook. It would add a huge chunk of believability to the story and would give the victims little reason to question the caller.

The police have already sent letters to various Western Union outlets and other money-wire services warning them about the scam. Employees were also urged to warn possible victims of the scam and to ask them whether they’re certain that the person they talked to really is their grandchild.

It’s usually easy to expose an impostor. A few well-placed questions can have the scammer’s plan crumbling within minutes. Also, a simple call to the grandchild’s family can usually confirm whether or not something was up. However, these scammers are wily and attack a person’s vulnerability. They exploit the grandparents’ love for their grandchildren, causing the couple to be overcome with worry and to think that the money is immaterial – a cruel strategy, especially if one considers the age group being targeted.

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