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North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Grandparent Scams

Con artists will try to take advantage of the fact that grandparents will do anything to help their grandchildren. These frauds are also called family emergency scams or travel scams.
The grandparent scam usually begins with a call from a person who claims to be a grandchild in trouble who needs money right away. The grandparent often responds with his or her grandchild’s name, giving the scammer the information needed to sound authentic and complete the con. In other cases, the criminal already knows the grandchild’s name through social media or other websites. The victim is asked to send thousands of dollars by wiring money or loading funds onto gift cards from the Apple Store or other businesses. Victims rarely know they’ve been scammed before the funds are lost.
To avoid grandparent scams:
  • Don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize or emails from addresses that aren’t familiar to you.
  • Beware of anyone who asks you to send money immediately, no matter the reason.
  • Don’t share information about you or your family with anyone you don’t know who calls, emails, or contacts you through other means.
  • If you get a call or a message asking for help, hang up or log off and contact the person directly at a number you know is theirs to make sure the request is legitimate.
  • If someone claims to be a loved one, ask the person questions that only your real family member would be able to answer.
  • Share carefully on social media. Make sure your privacy settings prevent strangers from accessing information about you or your family.
  • Never wire or send money in response to a phone call, email or online message. Once the money has been received by a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
For more information on grandparent scams:
·         AARP
·         Federal Bureau of Investigation
·         Federal Trade Commission
·         U.S. Department of State

We Can Help
Many victims of elder fraud are hesitant to come forward, but our Consumer Protection Division is here to help. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a grandparent scam, report it to our office online at or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.