Attorney General John M. Formella issues a scam alert for New Hampshire residents, especially its older adult population, concerning a recent increase in scammers perpetrating the “Grandparent Scam.”
In a “Grandparent Scam,” a scammer calls or e-mails a victim posing as one of the victim’s relatives, typically a grandchild. The scammer posing as the relative then claims to be in trouble, often saying he or she has been arrested by law enforcement in another state or country. The scammer may also pose as a member of law enforcement and claim to have arrested or detained the victim’s relative. The scammer will instruct the victim to not tell anyone, sometimes threatening that the victim is under a “gag order” to not speak about the incident. A gag order is a court order prohibiting public disclosure or discussion of information related to a case.
In recent weeks, several New Hampshire residents have reported to both local law enforcement agencies and the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Bureau, through its consumer hotline, that they have received these calls from scammers. At least one of these incidents resulted in substantial monetary loss to the victim, who was told that a family member was in legal trouble. Another would-be victim was addressed by the scammers by a unique name only the family knows, lending credibility to the scammer’s call. Residents have reported the scammers have arranged to pick up cash directly from the residents’ homes.
The Attorney General reminds New Hampshire residents that legitimate law enforcement officials will never:
- Issue a “gag order” regarding the release of a relative over the telephone or by e-mail;
- Demand immediate payment over the telephone or by e-mail by wire transfer or in-person payment of cash or other valuables in exchange for the release of a relative; or
- Ask for your personal identifying information in exchange for the release of a relative.
The Attorney General urges New Hampshire residents to be vigilant. Anyone receiving one of these calls should take the following steps:
- Do not engage with the caller;
- Hang up immediately;
- Do not provide money or personal information, including home address;
- Contact the family member in question directly, at a known VALID number;
- Call someone you trust for an opinion about the call you just received;
- Contact your local police department immediately, especially if you have lost money or other valuables, or made arrangements for the pick-up of money or valuables from your own home; and
- Report the scam to the Office of the Attorney General – Consumer Protection Hotline
Anyone with knowledge that a vulnerable adult has been scammed or financially exploited should also contact the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, at 1-800-949-0470.