DENVER -- The criminals use the love and concern of grandparents to bilk them out of thousands of dollars and the scam has become so popular, the federal government is warning people across the country.
The "grandparent scam" starts with a phone call.
Joan and Bob Anderson got that phone call just a few months ago.
When she answered the phone, Joan said, a man was on the other end of the line claiming to be her grandson.
The man told Anderson he had an accident and had hit a couple from the Dominican Republic that had rented a car.
The Brighton grandmother says she didn’t hesitate to help, not realizing that the caller was not her grandson.
He told her an attorney would call with more instructions. Sure enough, her phone rang minutes later.
“The attorney was asking us to send $1,976 through the Western Union," Anderson said.
The couple went right to the bank, got the cash and took it to Western Union. Fortunately, Bob Anderson had heard about these kind of scams before and told his wife to call their grandson just to make sure it wasn’t a scam.
Their grandson answered the phone and Joan said, “I asked him where he was and he said, 'I'm at work grandma, what's the matter?'"
"I said, 'Oh dear, I think we've been scammed out of almost 2,000 dollars,'" Anderson said.
Thankfully, they didn't give the scammers the numbers needed to complete the transaction.
However, thousands of people do. So many, the FBI issued a warning Thursday about the “Grandparent Scam.”
“The grandparents scam has been going on for quite some time," said Hope Sneed with the Better Business Bureau. "They are using the emotion and preying on their heart. Please, help me and take care of me, and I need you to do this quickly."
Sneed says the Andersons did the right thing by calling their grandson.
To protect themselves, the BBB also says families should have a code word they use only in emergencies.
Also, if you get a call from a loved one asking for money, turn the questions around on them. Ask them personal questions that only they would know.AlertMe