The Missouri attorney general's office is warning the elderly to avoid falling for the "grandparents scam."
In the typical approach, grandparents get a call from someone who says he or she is - and might even sound like - one of their grandchildren. The caller describes being in a jam and needing money, possibly to return from a foreign country, pay for car repairs or get bailed out of jail. In the plea to help a family member, the victim is then asked to send money to the caller, often by wire transfer.
"This is among the cruelest scams we've seen," Attorney General Jay Nixon said. "It attempts to play upon the love and generosity seniors have for their grandchildren, and it does nothing more than take away the hard-earned savings many of these folks cannot afford to lose."
In Missouri's most recent case, Nixon said, a caller claimed to be in jail while on vacation in Canada and said he needed bail money. Authorities helped the grandparents learn that their grandson was safe at home in the United States.
Anyone getting such a call should first verify the whereabouts of their grandchildren. And they should be aware that wiring money to Canada is often a gigantic red flag for fraud.